Ferrari’s senior performance engineer Jock Clear indicates that the Italian racing team aims to make the set-up window of the 2024 car much more flexible. In 2022 and in the current season, Ferrari has experienced too often that the car delivers track-specific performance and that the future car really needs to become more forgiving to achieve better results.
Even before the end of the 2023 season, the teams’ focus has already shifted to 2024. The winter break offers the teams a new opportunity to get closer to Red Bull Racing and eliminate the current shortcomings. For Ferrari it is clear what needs to be worked on. The SF-23 proved to be a fast car on specific occasions, such as in Singapore, with Ferrari being the only team to take a win besides Red Bull. At the same time, the car also showed clear shortcomings at other times in the world championship. These difficulties have urged the engineers of the Maranello racing team to work on greater flexibility of the 2024 car.
“This year the car is very different from last season,” Clear begins in conversation with the Italian branch of Motorsport.com. ‘It has always been a very difficult car; we took pole in the United States and Mexico, but it is still a very difficult car. It’s getting outside the ideal window very quickly, and that’s a challenge for us to understand why. I think we understand why. It could be part of the DNA of this car,” the engineer continues. “For next year, we’re focusing on making the car more forgiving, one that doesn’t have such a limited operating range.”
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‘That is Red Bull’s strong point, its window is so wide’
It is clear that Ferrari could at least handle the car a little better this season in such a narrower window. However, he indicates that it is a limitation during the race, because the race is long and a larger operating range is needed. “And that is Red Bull’s strong point, its window is so wide,” the Brit adds. This narrow window of the SF-23 also led to less driver confidence, often as confusion arose in the search for the ideal set-up to get the most out of the car. During the season, engineers intervened at several points with various packages of technical innovations to reduce this unpredictable nature of the car and increase its operating range, with the aim of providing more flexibility for the drivers.
Due to some shortcomings and its excessive unpredictability, it was often necessary to drive the SF-23 with an understeer configuration, far from Leclerc’s preferences. However, the latest updates have once again changed some aspects of the car, giving the Monaco driver more confidence thanks to a balance closer to his driving style. ‘But if you look at it from a different perspective, Carlos and Charles were very close this season. Both drivers pushed hard. Charles struggled in some races to be faster than Carlos, but there were also races where Carlos was really fast, such as Singapore,” Clear concludes. Ferrari still has two races to finish second in the constructors’ championship.