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Vasseur ‘a bit frustrated’ as he pinpoints where Ferrari lost chance of home Imola victory

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 19: Ferrari Team Principal Frederic Vasseur looks on from the grid during the F1

Charles Leclerc delivered a podium finish for the expectant Tifosi in Imola, with the crowds bedecked in Ferrari colours and roaring on both the Monegasque driver and team mate Carlos Sainz from start to finish.

Monza might be Ferrari’s true home race, but Imola isn’t far from their factory in Maranello. There is always a huge outpouring of support whenever the Scuderia race on home soil and the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix was no exception – but with that support comes pressure.

While a third and a fifth is not a bad result, team boss Fred Vasseur was left wondering what might have been on a day that saw McLaren appear to leapfrog Ferrari to become Red Bull’s closest challengers.

READ MORE: Leclerc pleased with Imola podium as he says ‘it’s looking good’ for Ferrari in remainder of season

“Overall, it’s a kind of mixed feeling for me, because I think we did a step forward, McLaren did probably the same as us,” he said afterwards.

IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 19: Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Ferrari SF-24 on track during the

Leclerc and Sainz couldn't quite manage to find a way past either McLaren on Sunday in Imola

“We compensate I think partly the delta with Red Bull and we are not far away now. I’m a bit frustrated because I think that if we did one-two in quali we would do in the race today. If we missed something it was in quali and not in the race.”

Imola is a track where overtaking can be tricky, and the one DRS zone was shortened for 2024. Although there were overtakes, they mostly came about as a result of one driver having a much bigger tyre delta than another, thus qualifying was the deciding factor in many ways.

READ MORE: Horner praises ‘phenomenal’ turnaround by Red Bull at the end of ‘stressful’ Imola GP

But the good news for the fans at least is that the gaps at the front do seem to be closing, and while Ferrari haven’t grabbed a pole position yet, they are very much knocking on the door. The margins were tight on Saturday and again on Sunday in Imola, which could be a hint of things to come.

Leclerc: Ferrari can be ‘in the game’ with Red Bull and McLaren if they fix one specific issue

“It’s good news for me, good news for F1, good news for the championship. You have three teams [within] seven seconds after [63] laps, which is less than one-tenth a lap. It was almost the same from the beginning of the weekend.

“I think that the competition will be everywhere. The set-up of the car will be crucial next week in Monaco, the performance of the driver will be crucial. What is true is that we are at the point now where we will have to speed up the development.

“Imagine that someone could bring an upgrade one race before when you have three teams within one-tenth, you can jump from P5 to P1. It means we will have to speed up the time to market.”

MONDAY MORNING DEBRIEF: Cat and mouse between Verstappen and Norris, but how did Red Bull sneak the victory?

While the development race is very much under way, the fact Red Bull have lost to Ferrari and McLaren this year has reignited a championship that had looked to be going in only one direction at the start of the season. And with so many races to go, Vasseur was keen to express how much could still happen in 2024.

IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 19: Ferrari fans wave flags to show their support prior to the F1 Grand Prix of

Ferrari did at least deliver a podium in front of the adoring Tifosi

“First, we did only seven races out of 24, which means there are still 17 to go. At this point of the season last year we were 100 points behind Aston Martin and we finished 100 points in front of them.

“It means that the end of the championship is never after race seven. It’s even more true this season, because the gap is very close. It’s not very often that you have six or potentially eight cars who could win a race. It means that when you are not in a good shape you can move from P1 to P8, and in P8 you are scoring almost zero. It means that the championship can change in one or two weekends.

FACTS AND STATS: First Ferrari podium in Imola since Schumacher in 2006 sends the Tifosi wild

“It’s still 17 weekends to go, let’s be focused on Monaco, don’t think about the championship, or at least it’s what I will tell to my guys tomorrow… It’s very, very difficult to predict Monaco. What I can say is that I will have two drivers who are motivated. So far we always were competitive in Monaco, but again, this one is very, very difficult to predict.”

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