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Vasseur believes Red Bull are no longer in their ‘comfort zone’ after Miami GP defeat

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Frederic Vasseur has expressed his belief that his Ferrari team and McLaren can start to “trouble” Red Bull on a more frequent basis moving forward, with the Milton Keynes outfit having been beaten for the second time this season in Miami.

After sensationally winning all bar one of the 22 races staged last year, the reigning world champions have lost out twice in the opening six rounds of the 2024 campaign.

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The first of those non-Red Bull wins came in Australia, where Carlos Sainz challenged Max Verstappen for pole position and then capitalised on the Dutchman’s retirement, followed by another in Miami, where Lando Norris took advantage of a mid-race Safety Car to emerge victorious.

Speaking after last weekend’s race, Ferrari team boss Vasseur offered his thoughts on Norris’s breakthrough maiden win – which was also aided by a batch of McLaren upgrades – and the prospect of both teams edging closer to Red Bull in the coming races.

Race Highlights: 2024 Miami Grand Prix

“I want to congratulate Lando and McLaren,” Vasseur began. “I think that Lando deserves it. He did the last two or three very good seasons and even with them fighting with Ferrari… I’m not at McLaren, but I’m quite happy for them because they deserve the success.

“I was not surprised [about McLaren’s pace]; on Friday they were there, they brought an upgrade this weekend. If you look at the last couple of races they were always there [and] in China the pace was good. It will be like this until the end of the season.

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“But I think that we – McLaren and us, probably – can trouble a little bit Red Bull. Then it’s more a matter of track position or something, because it’s so difficult to overtake when you are only one or two-tenths [apart] – that’s dictated by track position.”

Pushed further on the chances of putting Red Bull under increased pressure, Vasseur added that while he feels the reigning world champions are still the overall pace-setters, he has noticed a “game changing” difference compared to the level of dominance they enjoyed in 2023.

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McLaren, Red Bull and Ferrari were all in the mix at the front of the field across the Miami Grand Prix weekend

“I think honestly that Red Bull is still ahead, probably Max could have won without the story of the Safety Car,” he commented. “I don’t want to draw conclusions on this, but [he had] a pole position and they still have a small advantage.

“What is true is that, compared to one year ago, when we are able to do a good job and to put everything together, we are there. It means we are putting them a little bit under pressure [and] they have to be a bit more aggressive with the strategy.

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“They are not anymore in the comfort zone of last year where it doesn’t matter what happened – after Lap 2 they were in front. I think that’s a game changer in the management of the race.

“I think this is an opportunity for us, because if we are doing another small step, I think we will be in a really good position to fight with them every single weekend.”

Despite their Miami defeat, Red Bull remain comfortably ahead in the constructors’ standings on 239 points, 52 clear of Ferrari and a further 63 ahead of McLaren.

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