Ferrari’s priority is ‘to not bullshit ourselves’ – Vasseur

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.”

    Read also: Leclerc rues ‘just not good enough’ Ferrari pace in Jeddah

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.


However, the Frenchman recognizes that Ferrari must uphold its car’s strength for the duration of a race weekend.

“I don’t want to push on the positive side, because the outcome of the weekend is not good and we have to be focused on what is going wrong, not on the positives,” Vasseur explained.

“But I have to keep in mind, to do a proper analysis, of what is going well and I think that qualifying went pretty well.

“For sure we always want to do a better job, and it was difficult to know exactly what was the potential of the Red Bull because Max [Verstappen] didn’t do the Q3. But at least I had the feeling that compared to Mercedes and Aston Martin we did a step forward.

“We were one tenth off, [in qualifying] they were three and four [tenths] I think, and I think we are on the right way in terms of development.

“But potential is one thing, and I think on the potential side we did a decent step. The issue is we have to stay at this maximum potential all over the weekend, and it’s not what we are doing today.

“I think on some occasions we are there. But on some occasions, or some stints of the weekend, we are not able to be at the maximum of our possibility.”

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