‘Leclerc to be more aggressive and Ferrari aiming to attract Mercedes personnel’

Total-Motorsport.com take a closer look at what to expect from Ferrari ahead of the 2024 Formula 1 season

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Ferrari were the only team to defeat Red Bull in 2023 and they fell just three points short of beating Mercedes to second in the Constructors’ Championship.

Frederic Vasseur will spend his second season in charge of Formula 1’s most famous team and all eyes will be on how Carlos Sainz handles the knowledge that Lewis Hamilton will replace him in 2025.

Charles Leclerc, who signed a new long-term contract in January, had a strong end to last season and is hoping to get back on the top step of the podium.

Total-Motorsport.com journalists Adam DickinsonJasmine HughesJoe Krishnan, Ed Spencer and Brandon Sutton take a look at what to expect from Ferrari in 2024.

Joe Krishnan: Expect a more aggressive Leclerc

The only team to stop Red Bull winning a race last season, Ferrari are entering a critical period after signing Hamilton from 2025 onwards.

Of course, their main target will be to beat Mercedes after losing out by just three points in 2023. But they need to aim higher to lay down a marker for when Hamilton arrives – and that means securing wins in Monza, Singapore and more. They have shown they can match Red Bull at those circuits.

I think we’re going to see a less forgiving and more aggressive Leclerc this year. He’s fighting to prove he’s still Ferrari’s main man ahead of Hamilton’s arrival and, having failed to convert any of his five pole positions from last year, he has work to do.

The SF-24 Ferrari F1 2024 car | Scuderia Ferrari press office

Then there’s Sainz. He needs to put himself in the shop window, so is he going to play ball and accept team orders? It’s certainly an intriguing dynamic for Vasseur to deal with.

We’re all hoping the Scuderia can finally deliver on their promise after years of underwhelming results. If they can navigate past the politics, Red Bull be looking over their shoulder with some concern.

Constructors’ Championship prediction: 2nd

Brandon Sutton: Ferrari to be inseparable with Mercedes and McLaren

Vasseur’s first season in charge of F1’s oldest team can go down as a success as Ferrari managed to claim the only non-Red Bull victory and experienced a renaissance in the latter stage of the season finding some new pace to contend, or lead, the front of the chasing pack.

They retained their one-lap qualifying pace that earned them their victory in Singapore, whilst Leclerc took five of the team’s seven pole positions including three in the last five races of the season. Yet, race pace still evaded them in comparison to Red Bull meaning they couldn’t use fully use their Saturday speed.

I’m expecting them to be inseparable from Mercedes and McLaren, so inseparable that they will be firmly sandwiched between the pair with barely any points between them, however they are changing concepts so it could take them a bit of time to get up and running.

Hopefully they can find a second a lap, enough to make up for the half-second Red Bull has on everyone, and then we will have a fight between Leclerc and Max Verstappen with Hamilton set to join that dream scrap from 2025.

Constructors’ Championship prediction: 3rd

Ed Spencer: Time for excuses must end now

Expectations are always heightened for Ferrari, but after a mediocre 2023, the pressure on the Maranello-based team to start winning again is rising.

All the ingredients are there to win, but what’s stopping Ferrari from challenging Red Bull is a habit of making poor decisions in critical moments, exacerbating the team’s almost 20-year wait for a title.

Vasseur enters his second season as Ferrari’s team principal with plenty of respect from paddock judges for the job he’s already with the team. But the Frenchman isn’t guaranteed to execute his vision for the team if results are deemed unsatisfactory by Ferrari chairman John Elkann.

On the driver front, Leclerc is one of the strongest on the grid and is outstanding over one lap, whilst Sainz needs a great season with his F1 future at stake.

Constructors’ Championship prediction: 3rd

Adam Dickinson: Ferrari will be Red Bull’s closest challengers

Well Ferrari definitely won the off-season didn’t they? The mood around Maranello has been totally transformed from 12 months ago when their 2022 title challenge had evaporated and uncertainties over Vasseur abounded.

With this season’s cars set to be more of an evolution of 2023, I really think they can continue their end-of-season form and be the second-best team in F1 to start the year. You can make the argument that Leclerc and Sainz are the best driver pairing on the grid, and I back the Spaniard to have a stellar closing season.

Carlos Sainz won the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

The more the odds are stacked against Sainz, the more he thrives and he’s shown he can deal with the uniquely Ferrari shenanigans better than Leclerc. However, Leclerc found his own form at the tail end of 2023 too without the pressure of a title fight.

I suspect Red Bull – or at least Verstappen – will remain out of reach in more races than not but out of last season’s chasing pack, I’ve got the most confidence in Ferrari that they can be best of the rest in 2024.

Constructors’ Championship prediction: 2nd

Jasmine Hughes: Ferrari will look to attract Mercedes personnel

Ferrari appear to be coming at this season with a fresh mind and an almost-clean slate, with team principal Vasseur having described the 2024 challenger as “95% new”.

Will this be enough to put up a strong fight against the uber-competitive Red Bull? Unlikely, but it could be what helps Ferrari to outperform Mercedes, after the German team narrowly pipped Ferrari to second in the constructors’ standings last year.

There’s a sense that Ferrari will be wanting to impress this year, as Hamilton’s move to the Italian team draws nearer with each day. Ferrari will want to avoid painting Hamilton’s audacious decision as a mistake, but equally, will seek to depict itself as a worthy destination for any Mercedes personnel it might hope to poach along with Hamilton.

With Ferrari entering its second year of Vasseur leadership, we could be looking at a neater, tighter operation — a change from the strategic nightmare of 2022. If Ferrari can remember all four tyres during a pit stop, and prevent itself from making overly-silly strategic choices, they should Mercedes beat.

Constructors’ Championship prediction: 2nd

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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