Frederic Vasseur says Ferrari must face the reality of its situation and not “bullshit itself” in the wake of the first two disappointing races of its 2023 season.
In Saudi Arabia, Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc finished a distant sixth and seventh from the race’s dominant Red Bull duo, but the Scuderia was also outpaced by Aston Martin and Mercedes.
The Italian outfit had hoped that its unsatisfactory race pace in Bahrain had been track-specific and that its gap to Red Bull would be reduced in Jeddah. But that hope was dashed on Sunday.
While Leclerc qualified just 0.155s behind poleman Sergio Perez on Saturday, Sunday’s proceedings saw the Monegasque and Sainz execute reasonably good first stints before their pace subsided after their switch to Pirelli’s hard rubber.
Sainz didn’t hold back his view of Ferrari’s main plight, insisting the SF-23 is “eating its tyres alive” whether in clean or dirty air.
“The last stint on the hard [tyres] proves that we are not where we want to be, that we still deg more than the Mercedes, that we still deg more than the Aston Martins. We lack a bit of race pace,” said the Spaniard.
“Right now, we’re not where we want to be in terms of race pace, in terms of car in general the balance even in dirty air following.
“We just struggled a bit, and if we already overheat the tyres in clean air then imagine following. We just eat them alive.”
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After the race, a candid Vasseur called the underperformance as he saw it, insisting that the first order of business this week would be to understand why the Scuderia’s level of performance is falling short of expectations. And there would be no sugar-coating in the team’s assessment.
“The most important thing in this kind of situation is to know where we are going well and what we are doing wrong. But we cannot bullshit ourselves,” commented Vasseur. .
“We have to change. We have to understand where we are wrong, and we have to push. It’s not [good enough] to speak, we will not be faster like this.
“For me the picture is quite clear. The potential of the car is good, but it’s not enough compared to Red Bull, because we are not able to extract the maximum from the car every time.”
The common denominator between Sainz and Leclerc’s race was the fall off in pace of both drivers on the hard compound tyre, which will be the short-term focus of Ferrari’s investigation.
“The first stint went pretty well and Charles had a good comeback, but he was with the soft [tyre] and nobody knows about the different compound,” he said.
“Carlos was in a decent pace on the first stint with the medium, compared to the others, but we lost completely the ground with the hard [tyre].
“It’s where we have to understand that the main issue is. If we have some improvement to do, it’s clearly on the management of the different compound.”
Despite the Scuderia’s early struggles, Vasseur remains convinced of the longer-term potential of the team’s SF-23, pointing to the car’s speed in qualifying as evidence of its capabilities.