‘It’s not like everything’s going wrong’ – Vasseur urges ‘calm’ as he pinpoints Ferrari’s biggest issue after first two races
Frederic Vasseur has played down Ferrari’s challenging start to the 2023 campaign, which has featured both performance and reliability concerns, but admits the Scuderia need to find some consistency moving forward if they are to join the fight at the front of the field.
Ferrari have been in the mix for pole position at the two Grands Prix held so far this season but finished behind the Red Bulls and Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin on race day at the Bahrain opener, before the Mercedes drivers also slotted ahead of them in Saudi Arabia.
That could have been different were it not for Charles Leclerc’s reliability problems, with an engine issue forcing him out from a podium position at Sakhir before subsequent power unit changes resulted in a 10-place grid penalty for the Jeddah weekend.
With Vasseur only a few months into the Team Principal role at Maranello, and Leclerc publicly stating that Ferrari need to improve “a lot”, the Frenchman offered his own assessment of where the team stand and what’s next.
“In this situation we have to think about the team and how we improve this situation, but I think we also have to stay calm – it’s not like everything is going wrong,” said Vasseur.
“[In Saudi Arabia] we made some good improvements compared to Bahrain on the one-time pace at least, we opened a little bit the gap to our competitors, not to Red Bull but to Aston Martin and Mercedes.
“I think the issue [during the race] was much more about the pace with the hard [compound tyre]; if you look at the weekend that’s something else.”
Asked if Red Bull can be caught after their back-to-back one-two finishes, Vasseur said: “I think so; we have to continue to push. It’s not the right attitude to think about the gap and think about will we be able to close the gap and so on.
“We have to focus on ourselves, we know when we are weak and we have to improve on this one. We will see what is the outcome when we do a decent step. If you start to think about what could be the future potential with development, you are lost.
“We know we have to improve, but I think it’s the DNA of our sport, not just due to the current situation, but we know we have to work. We’ll continue and you can be sure from [the] morning [after the race] I’ll be in the office and push like hell.”
As for whether Ferrari will bring anything new to their car for the next round of the season in Australia, Vasseur confirmed that upgrades are on the way – but again stressed the need to get the most out of their current package before making big changes.
“I think we’ll have some small updates coming in the next week but honestly, I don’t think that it’s coming for the potential,” said the former Alfa Romeo team boss.
“The main issue we have today – all over the weekend – is to be at our maximum and today [that] is not the case. We are not able to extract 100% of our car in every single session. We have to be focused on this before thinking about updates.”