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Vasseur: First update package for Ferrari SF-24 at Imola

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Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur has decided to throw caution to the wind and unleash the first upgrade package for their handy SF-24 for their first home race, this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola aka Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari.

While the Red Bull RB20 has been the benchmark so far this season, it was Carlos Sainz whose victory for Ferrari in Melbourne proved they were not invincible. Ditto last time out in Miami, as McLaren’s Lando Norris showed.

Tifosi can be forgiven a sense of optimism as Vasseur rebuilds the Reds into a formidable force in F1 again. And the Frenchman is being bold to unveil what his engineers have got to make their car go faster.

Bold? Yes, because these days updates don’t always work. Ask Mercedes, Aston Martin and the like whose ‘upgrades’ tend to be worse than the ‘downgrades’ they binned. But heading to Imola, a stone’s throw from the birthplace of all Red F1 cars, namely Maranello.

Previewing Round 7 of the 2024 Formula 1 World Championship, Vasseur revealed: “After several races racing a long way from home, this weekend marks the start of the European part of the championship. The Grand Prix takes place at Imola, the closest track to our Maranello headquarters and it’s named after our founder.

“It’s also a return to the usual format, with three free practice sessions, which is why we have decided to introduce our first update package for the Ferrari SF-24 here,” confirmed the Scuderia’s boss.

Ferrari drivers Charles and Carlos will be busy in the the FP sessions

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Thus Charles Leclerc and teammate Sainz will be busy drivers on Friday putting to test what their engineers have concocted to improve the package, Vasseur continued: “That’s going to make for a very busy weekend, given that we will have to evaluate all the new parts while going through the normal programme in preparation for qualifying and the race.”

The first quarter of this season shows that Ferrari have improved as they lie P2 in the 2024 F1 Constructors’ standings after six rounds on 187 points. That’s 52 less than Red Bull at the top of the table. Last year at this time, they only had 90 points on their scorecard and were P4; 159 points down on P1.

While Red Bull, Max Verstappen certainly, does have the upper hand it is tighter behind them than it has ever been, a fact Vasseur acknowledged: “As usual, we can expect a very closely fought contest with our competitors, which means that doing a good job of fine-tuning the car set-up can be as important as any benefit the upgrades might bring.”

Vasseur: We hope we can deliver for the Tifosi

Parc Ferme: The pain of the rain

Last year the race weekend at Imola did not happen due to force majeure, when flooding overcame the Emilia Romagna region. The catastrophe caused 17 fatalities, displacing 20,000 people and causing billions of euros worth of damage.

Vasseur recalled: “After the Imola race had to be cancelled last season, we’re happy to be back. Racing in front of our fans who, I’m sure, will be packing the grandstands.

“We are confident that we can be on the pace, fighting at the front and therefore we hope we can deliver for the Tifosi,” declared Vasseur, ahead of the 31st running of a Grand Prix at Imola.

After two Sprint races in a row, for Imola, it is a return to the traditional format. With FP1 and FP2 on Friday at 13h30 and 17h00 (CEST) local time. FP3 is on Saturday at 12h30, followed by Qualifying at 16h00. The Grand Prix on Sunday is 63 laps, which is 309.049 kilometres. The start lights go out at 15h00.

Big Question: Ferrari upgrades will they work?