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Ferrari no longer feels "useless" in F1 fight against Red Bull

Ferrari feels it is no longer in a “useless” place to challenge Formula 1 rival Red Bull, despite the clear deficit it is still facing.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-24 Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB20

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

The Italian outfit has emerged as Red Bull’s main challenger so far this season, but it has found itself unable to stop Max Verstappen grabbing pole position and race wins at the first two races.

While it is clear that it needs to unlock a chunk of performance before it can think about racing wheel-to-wheel with the world champion squad, Ferrari reckons that delivering on that target is not impossible.

In fact, team principal Fred Vasseur reckons the squad is facing a completely different scenario to last year where the gap it had to the top team meant that any upgrades it delivered would have been “useless” in changing its plight.

Reflecting on the state of play between Ferrari and Red Bull after the first two races, Vasseur said: “I don't want to be pessimistic, because it was a good weekend and we have to be optimistic and we need to enjoy these moments, but it's clear Red Bull is still ahead.

“In quali they have perhaps two, three tenths on us, and in the race a bit more. But it's difficult to estimate because we don't know if they were pushing at the max.

“But the feeling is more positive that, if you come back in this region, you know if you do a step, you can put some pressure on them.

“When we were at one second [behind] it was useless, but now with a good start we can be there, we can fight. I think in Jeddah it was quite easy [for them] to overtake because they had a better top speed - it was a choice - but on some occasions we will have other opportunities.”

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal and General Manager, Scuderia Ferrari

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal and General Manager, Scuderia Ferrari

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Ferrari has an upgrade plan in place to lift the performance of its SF-24, and Vasseur is hugely encouraged by the fact the team has a solid baseline on which to build – rather than needing to address problems with the car.

“I am not focused at all on the championship, but I think we scored something like 45 points [actually 49] overall, and last year after three races we had 25 [actually 26]. It's important to have a good start.

“Also, I think the fact that the car is - I don't want to say easy to drive and in any case it doesn't have anything to do with the performance - but I think the car today is easier to drive than one year ago.

“This is a good base for the development, because the car is much easier to read for the drivers, so it is much easier to understand where we have to improve, and in this situation it's a step forward for us for the overall picture.”

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Ferrari appears to have addressed the tyre degradation issues that held it back 12 months ago, and thinks that now it is in a more straightforward push to bring more performance to the car.

“The performance is coming from everywhere, and it's never that you have one bullet of five tenths on the car,” he said.

“If we want to catch up, we have to improve in every single area. It was our approach last year and at the end it paid well. We did a decent step but in every single area we have to continue to push.

“For sure the aero is key. We have upgrades in the pipeline but I'm sure that everybody does. The most important thing is to bring upgrades that you can operate on the car, and I think it's where last year we did a good job.”

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