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Formula 1 Monaco GP

Vasseur: F1 Monaco GP quali pace shows Ferrari driver complaints are overblown

Ferrari Formula 1 boss Fred Vasseur reckons his drivers exaggerate complaints about the 2023 car’s tricky handling considering Charles Leclerc was only 0.1 seconds off polesitter Max Verstappen in Monaco.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Leclerc overcame a three-place grid penalty for blocking Lando Norris in qualifying to score sixth in his home race last weekend but made the SF-23 out to be “very difficult to drive in traffic”.

Team-mate Carlos Sainz notably tagged Esteban Ocon and ran off at Mirabeau corner on his way to eighth.

Meanwhile, an upgraded floor for the previous Miami round was conceived to make the car more “benign”, reported Ferrari driver coach Jock Clear. Although, Leclerc lost control to hit the wall in Q3.

However, team boss Vasseur reckons the SF-23 cannot be that tricky to drive since Leclerc missed out on pole in Monaco to Red Bull rival Verstappen by only 0.106s before serving his grid penalty.

Speaking to select media, including Autosport/Motorsport.com, Vasseur said: “You have always got to stay calm. If the car was so difficult to drive, I can't imagine that we could be 0.1s off Verstappen.”

He instead reckoned Leclerc and Sainz were going over the top with their venting because they were being quizzed in the immediate aftermath of track sessions, rather than having time to take stock.

He continued: “Sometimes you are jumping on the drivers five minutes after qualifying.

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal and General Manager, Scuderia Ferrari

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal and General Manager, Scuderia Ferrari

Photo by: Alessio Morgese

“I can understand perfectly their frustration but the comments that they are making half an hour after are a bit different.”

In Ferrari’s bid to close the gap to the front, Vasseur says the team must target consistency from the car rather than merely chase increasing overall downforce.

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He said: “If we are suffering on something, it is consistency over the lap, over the race or from corner to corner. It's where we have to improve but mainly for the race. We are working on it.

“I think we made a decent step forward but it's true that Miami, we were a bit inconsistent.

“But we are performing on something. The first stint of Carlos [in Monaco] was a very good one.
“It means that we have to understand this and come back stronger. But it's not that we are out of the pace.”

While Mercedes debuted a heavily revised W14 in Monaco, Vasseur reinforced that Ferrari would not change its car concept mid-season as he believes the current platform still has plenty to offer.

“It's not just about potential and package and upgrades," he continued. "We also have to operate the car in a better window.

“The first target for us is not just to put downforce on the car. It is to have the car a bit more consistent.

“On top of the update, we have big room for improvement with the current car in terms of performance.

“As long as I’m convinced we can improve the current car, it would be a mistake during the season to change completely.”

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