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Formula 1 British GP

Why Ferrari reverted to Imola-spec F1 upgrades at Silverstone

The upgrades Ferrari introduced at Barcelona's F1 round exacerbated issues with bouncing

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-24

Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz had their Formula 1 cars dialled back to their Imola-spec parts as the Italian squad hoped to find an answer to its recent performance problems.

The team had introduced two larger-scale upgrade packages this season: one at Imola, and the other at Barcelona, as it sought to maintain a regular cadence of adding performance to the car. The Imola upgrades appeared to work out for the most part and allowed Ferrari not only to keep pace with the front-runners, but to win the Monaco Grand Prix.

A small drop-off at the Canadian Grand Prix, when Ferrari was wrong-footed by the conditions in Montreal, preceded the introduction of the Spain package - a collection of modifications to the floor, diffuser and bodywork to move the game on from the Imola upgrades.

However, the grand prix appeared to expose and exacerbate an issue that Ferrari had faced with bouncing; although the SF-24 seemed to produce the problem to a small degree, the Spain upgrades made it particularly irksome as it seemed to carry through the high-speed corners.

Prior to the weekend, Sainz stated: "Bouncing 100% costs you time. What I think is that it costs you even more time than what you think. And not only the time that you lose by the bouncing in a high speed corner, but also the potential time that you might lose in other corners that you're not bouncing by the fact of having bouncing in a 6g high speed corner."

In short, exposing the tyres to the cyclical loading of bouncing can create variance in grip, and so the tyres are more prone to overheating or sliding.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-24

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-24

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

In an effort to uncover the root cause, Ferrari has returned the car to the state it was in during the Imola weekend. The team initially split its cars, Sainz with a presumed full reversion from FP1 onwards, and Leclerc taking the Imola spec for Saturday's sessions. This handed Ferrari the data it needed from running in split specs.

This, the drivers say, has helped reduce some of the bouncing produced by the car as the floor builds downforce - although it still remains present.

"We've lost some performance since Monaco, as a matter of fact," Leclerc said. "We are looking into it. That's also why we are doing all these tests.

"We came to the conclusion that it was the right choice to come back for this weekend, mostly because of bouncing. We'll take the right decision for the future very soon. What we did yesterday was very helpful to help us take the right decision going forward.

"Mercedes is in front, McLaren is in front, Red Bull is in front, and we are the ones that have been struggling for a few races.

"As I've said now for too many races, we need to bounce back and find the balance and just the performance that is in the car, that we don't quite find for now."

Perhaps 'bounce back' is an ironic choice of words, but it's true that Ferrari has taken a backwards step since its Monaco victory. And that return to form might not happen at the British Grand Prix unless rain plays a role in Sunday's race.

Leclerc said that Ferrari was struggling to get a foot in the weekend, much like it had in Canada's changeable conditions; it suggests that the SF-24 is somewhat difficult to get into its performance window when three practice sessions in similar conditions are not available.

"I feel like yesterday we learned a good amount for the team by splitting the cars," he explained. "That comes also with the fact that you are not really optimising your weekend and focusing on performance only.

"Obviously today we lose Q3 by a tenth. It was the first time I was driving with this configuration on the dry after FP3 in the wet.

"All in all, we are struggling to optimise the weekend, but I think that it will help us long-term, what we did yesterday. However, I feel like we are paying the price today a little bit."

In his appraisal of qualifying, Sainz said that the reversion to the Imola upgrades had offered a more stable platform in the higher-speed areas around Silverstone, compared to his experience of the car at Barcelona.

Watch: An all-British one-two-three - F1 British Grand Prix Saturday Update

But this will raise further questions; although Ferrari now understands that its latest updates are provoking more bouncing, it now needs to attempt to explain why. Perhaps in attempting to run the car lower, Ferrari has hit the limit of what it can do before unwanted oscillations start to sap at performance.

"It's no surprise really given our struggles recently in high-speed tracks coming to the king of the high-speed. Silverstone was always going to be a difficult weekend," Sainz concluded.

"[Going back to the Imola spec] hasn't given us any extra performance, it's just given us a little bit more consistency in the high-speed, given we have a bit less bouncing on that floor.

"We need to make the car as consistent or as predictable as possible in the high speed, knowing that obviously we're not going forward so backwards, we're just making the car a bit more consistent."

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