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Vasseur insists there is ‘big room for improvement’ with current Ferrari car ahead of Spanish GP

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BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 25: Ferrari Team Principal Frederic Vasseur looks on from the pitwall

Ferrari might have endured a difficult race in Monaco last weekend, but Team Principal Fred Vasseur believes there is still plenty the team can do to extract pace from their current package as he turns his attention to Spain this weekend.

Upgrades were the talk of the town in Monaco, with Ferrari’s rivals Mercedes bringing a whole new design concept for the weekend. That race saw the Silver Arrows finish ahead of both Ferrari cars, although – once again – the Scuderia didn’t lack for one-lap pace in qualifying and saw their weekend unravel on race day.

“At the end of the day we were P3 in quali, less than one-tenth off the pole position, two-hundredths off the front row," said Vasseur. "I don’t think it was a disaster. We were in a position to fight for the pole position, and starting from the pole I think the win was possible.”

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While Monaco is unique in its demands on the car, Barcelona this weekend is a much more straightforward prospect for the teams, who have completed many thousands of kilometres here in testing. They always have plenty of data to draw on, so it is a logical place to introduce upgrades to the car – but Vasseur has made it clear that, unlike Mercedes, they see no reason to complete a full redesign, but instead will be introducing incremental upgrades designed to enhance their original concept.

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 26: Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Ferrari SF-23 on track

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“There are a lot of questions, the first one is about package. I think it’s not just about potential, and package and upgrades, but we also have to operate the package in a better window. The first target for us is not just to put downforce on the car, it’s to have the car a bit more consistent, and on top of the update we have a big room for improvement with the current car in terms of performance.

“Do we have to restart from scratch on the group on the car? I would say that, as long as I’m convinced we can improve on the current car, it would be a mistake during the season to change completely the target.”

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Ferrari have already introduced parts to the SF-23, a new floor design was bolted on in Miami, before tweaks to the front and rear wings were used in Monaco. Like many teams, Ferrari missed the opportunity to test out parts in Imola, and instead will focus on Barcelona as a venue where the concept can be pushed and the working window better understood.

“The introduction of a package, you are not doing 100% of the usage of the package the first race. It will be an opportunity for us to continue to develop the car with this base and I hope we will do a step forward in Barcelona for sure, but it won’t be the end of the development of the car, we have updates for the next 2-3 races coming in after this one.

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“It’s a matter of doing a good usage of the package that you have, to do a good usage of the tyre, to do a good usage of the balance of the car. So far, we are not perfectly there and as it’s very, very tight. If you are a bit out of the right window you over-push and damage everything. But it doesn’t mean you have to change everything on the car and change your concept.”

Ferrari lie fourth in the constructors’ championship, already 29 points behind Mercedes and have just the one podium to show for their season so far, achieved by Charles Leclerc in Azerbaijan. The arrival of Aston Martin as genuine contenders has made the scramble for points and podiums even more competitive – and Vasseur knows more is expected of his team than they have delivered so far in 2023.

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“We are pushing like hell in the factory to bring updates as quick as possible because we are not happy and the results of [Monaco] are not the target and we want to do better. But we will continue to develop in any case.

“We’ll bring updates and solutions to try to improve on this area but for sure we can expect to win [this season].”

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