february 27, 2024 - Ferrari


Maranello, 27 February 2024 – 95 days on from the last race of 2023, Formula 1 is back in action this weekend in Bahrain, at the start of the season boasting the most races ever, with the return of the Chinese Grand Prix and the race in Imola that had to be cancelled last year because of flooding in the surrounding area. Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz and the whole team are ready to give their all off the back of an encouraging showing last week from the SF-24 over the three days of the only pre-season test, at the same Sakhir circuit.
A modern classic. The Bahrain International Circuit is a permanent fixture on the Formula 1 calendar and, for the past three seasons, it has hosted the opening round. Its 15 corners are a mix of low, medium and high speed with three long straights, two of them designated as DRS zones. Turn 1 is usually the best overtaking opportunity, where the cars brake hard from over 300 km/h before diving into a tight right hand turn, then switching to the left hand side of the track for a section with an interesting mix of corners. Turn 4 is another passing point, before the tighter second and third sectors, with the next DRS straight leading into turn 11.
Earlier by a day. For the first time ever, the Bahrain Grand Prix takes place on a Saturday, 2 March. This is so as to maintain a one week gap and thus make for easier logistics prior to the second round at the Jeddah Corniche circuit, the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Saturday 9 March, in order to avoid a clash with the start of the month of Ramadan, which begins on 10 March. It means the usual media day now takes place on the Wednesday, with the first two free practice sessions on Thursday at 14.30 and 18.00 local (12.30 and 16.00 CET.) Final free practice and qualifying are on Friday at 15.30 and 19.00 respectively (13.30 and 17.00 CET) while the Grand Prix itself gets underway at 18.00 local (16.00 CET) on Saturday. As usual, qualifying and the race begin at sunset, when the temperatures in the desert are less oppressive.


Fred Vasseur - Team Principal

After the SF-24 completed over seven race distances during testing, when all teams ran to their own programmes, the time has finally come for everyone to show their hand. As from Thursday’s free practice, we will begin to get an idea of the pecking order and see the results of the work we and the other teams have done.
Charles and Carlos felt comfortable at the wheel of the SF-24, which is exactly what we had set out to achieve when designing it. We are up against the usual tough opponents and I want to see us adopt the same approach we had in the closing stages of last season. We must not be scared to dare if we believe a bold decision can make the difference when it comes to our performance. The car appears to be competitive, Charles and Carlos are in great shape and the mood in the team is super focused and we are determined to get a good result.


GP contested: 1074

Seasons in F1: 75

Debut: (A. Ascari 2nd; R. Sommer 4th; L. Villoresi ret.)

Wins: 243 (22.62%)

Pole positions: 248 (23.09%)

Fastest laps: 259 (24.11%)

Podiums: 807 (25.05%)



Contested: 19

Debut: 2004 (M. Schumacher 1st; R. Barrichello 2nd)

Wins: 7 (36.84%)

Pole positions: 6 (31.58%)

Fastest laps: 6 (31.58%)

Podiums: 16 (28.07%)


1. Can you sum up last week’s three day test from an engineering point of view?
We concentrated on mapping and understanding the car, with a particular focus on driveability and race pace. Tyre specification is the same as last year so there was less emphasis on analysing this aspect and more time spent focusing on the car itself. Despite the loss of track time down to the drain cover issues, we acquired all the data we wanted and completed our planned mileage, very important when it comes to consolidating aspects related to reliability. Of course, three days of testing is clearly not enough to understand and optimise a new car, but we did get a first overall impression. Correlation with simulations and the simulator, as well as the wind tunnel was pretty good and that is clearly a positive. On track, the car behaved as it had done in the simulation sessions we did with both drivers, both in absolute terms and compared to 2023 and we were also able to check how the car responded to various changes. This is very important in order to use the various tools that help us optimise the package and for future development. The drivers said the car handled well and was consistent in a variety of conditions, which was one of the goals we had set ourselves, as it can be a help when it comes to race pace and tyre management.

2. From what we’ve seen at the test, what can we expect from the first race of the season?
Getting a clear picture is very complicated because each team was running its own programme in terms of fuel load, tyre use and generally how it went about working at the track. Furthermore, the Bahrain track is subject to major changes in track condition in terms of temperature and wind over the course of the day and that impacts lap time quite significantly so you cannot compare lap times set at different moments in the day. Overall, I expect the situation won’t be that much different to what we saw at the end of 2023, with the reigning champions and our other close rivals all showing good potential. You can’t really define a pecking order at this stage, but the gaps between teams will be probably be down to just a few tenths.

3. Is there one factor that could be more important than any other in deciding the outcome of Saturday’s race?
At the start of the season, the most important things are understanding the car and reliability. At this point, whichever team has done the best job of understanding the best way to run the car and has a clear idea on how to get everything out of it, can have an advantage. As the season goes on, the more this aspect tends to level out and then the differences are down to the pure potential of the cars. Aspects relating to reliability are also better understood and improved as the cars have more miles under their belt. It means that at the beginning of the season everyone is more exposed. The changing weather conditions are also a factor in Bahrain, particularly track temperatures and the wind which can have quite an effect on performance and car balance, so a team’s ability to adapt to these changes is fundamental. We can expect quite high tyre degradation in the race itself, compared to the seasonal average, so managing this will also be a key to race pace.



Matteo Togninalli
Nationality: Italian
Born 25/9/1977
Berbenno (Sondrio)


0. The number of rookies on the grid for the first race of this Formula 1 season. This has only happened twice before, in 1951 and 1969. In fact, 19 of the 20 of the drivers who are racing this year, were on the grid for the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix. The one exception is Daniel Ricciardo, who replaced Dutchman Nyck de Vries halfway through last year. There are two teams whose stats start from zero, the renamed Kick Sauber and Racing Bulls.

2. Scuderia Ferrari’s ranking based on laps and mileage completed at the three day pre-season test, held from last Wednesday to Friday at the Bahrain International Circuit. The SF-24 completed 423 laps, equal to 2,289 kilometres. The only car to do better was the Ferrari-powered Haas VF-24, which racked up 441 laps or 2,386 km. Carlos was second on the drivers’ list, with 227 laps (1,196 km) second to Haas’ Kevin Magnussen (239 laps, 1,293 km). Charles is sixth on this list with 196 laps or 1,061 km.

59. The number of Formula 1 World Championship races held on a Saturday, as will again be the case this weekend. It’s not that unusual therefore, even if prior to last year’s event in Las Vegas, the previous time the race was on a Saturday was 38 years ago, the 1985 South African GP. The very first world championship round was held on Saturday 13 May at Silverstone. Since the championship began, at least one race has been held on every day of the week. This is mainly due to the fact that up until 1970, the Indianapolis 500 Miles was always held on 30th May, known as Memorial Day, commemorating the death of members of the United States armed forces in all wars. And from 1950 to 1960, the Indy 500 was a round of the Formula 1 World Championship. 

237. The number of laps, the most of any driver, completed in the lead of the Bahrain Grand Prix by Sebastian Vettel. The German won four times at the Sakhir circuit, in 2012 and 2013 with Red Bull and in 2017 and 2018 with Ferrari. Of the drivers on the grid this Saturday, only Lewis Hamilton has a mathematical chance of overtaking Vettel’s total, as he has currently led 214. Too far back, equal on 96, are Charles and Fernando Alonso, and Max Verstappen on 84Valtteri Bottas has led for 16, while Sergio Perez is on 3 and Carlos on 2.

300,000. The approximate population of Manama, Bahrain’s capital city, near which Sakhir’s Bahrain International Circuit is situated. In Arabic, the city’s name means “place of rest” or “place of dreams,” as it was originally located in a particularly quiet area. 

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