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Ferrari must not “bulls**t itself” over F1 form, says Vasseur

Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur says the team must not “bulls**t itself” over the situation it faces in Formula 1 this year after a disappointing Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. 

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

The Italian squad had hoped that the layout and different demands of the Jeddah circuit would allow it to pose a bigger threat to Red Bull than it was able to at F1’s season opener in Bahrain. 

However, despite Charles Leclerc managing to deliver a qualifying time good enough for the front row, the Scuderia’s race pace was lacking. 

Having initially looked strong in the early stages on fresh rubber, both Carlos Sainz and Leclerc fell away on the hard compound after the pitstops and ended up finishing sixth and seventh behind Mercedes

The result was far from ideal and comes 12 months after Ferrari had battled Verstappen all the way for glory in Saudi Arabia. 

Vasseur said that it was now vital for Ferrari to get an understanding of why things had not worked out with its car so far and not to pretend things were better than they are. 

Asked what would be the first thing he will ask the engineers, Vasseur said: “To not bullshit ourselves.

“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.  

“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.” 

Vasseur believed the critical area where Ferrari tripped up in Saudi Arabia was its management of the different tyre compounds – and especially a lack of pace on the hard. 

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal and General Manager, Scuderia Ferrari

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal and General Manager, Scuderia Ferrari

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

“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]. 

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“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.”  

Vasseur remains convinced that the SF-23 has the baseline that Ferrari needs to challenge at the front this year, but he feels the team lacks the ability for it to run at its peak throughout an entire grand prix weekend. 

He suggests that its qualifying pace, which has proved to be close to Red Bull, offers a glimmer of the potential there is in the car. 

However, he says that critical to Ferrari delivering this season is in it being able to unleash that kind of potential over the entire grand prix 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,” he 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 [Sunday].  

“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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