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Vasseur: Ferrari can’t "postpone the fight" with Mercedes to 2024 F1 season

Ferrari Formula 1 team principal Fred Vasseur says that the Maranello outfit can’t "postpone the fight" with rivals Mercedes by putting its full focus on 2024.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23

In the four races held since the summer break, Ferrari has passed Aston Martin for third place in the constructors’ championship, and cut the deficit to Mercedes in second from 56 points to 20, while Carlos Sainz became the first non-Red Bull winner of the season in Singapore.

Like other teams, Ferrari has already switched its wind tunnel programme to its 2024 car, but Vasseur insists that the team will continue to chase Mercedes without sacrificing any efforts towards next year’s programme.

"You don't have to postpone the fight, the fight is with Mercedes today, and we have to take it,” said the Frenchman.

“It's always the best way to prepare for the future, for the mindset of the team, for everybody to be into the fight is crucial. And we'll keep this fight until the end of the season."

He added: “It's never a sacrifice, because I think that performance is coming from performance. It's too late to go into the wind tunnel for this season, but what we can do on the current car will help us for next year."

Ferrari had a new floor in Suzuka, one of the last of the major upgrades for the SF-23 that are working their way from the tunnel to the track.

However Vasseur downplayed its significance in the context of the improved tyre degradation that the team demonstrated at Suzuka.

Frederic Vasseur, Scuderia Ferrari Team Principal and General Manager

Frederic Vasseur, Scuderia Ferrari Team Principal and General Manager

Photo by: Ferrari

"What you can bring on the car is a matter of potential,” he said. “The deg is another story, and we don't have to mix everything. 

"But for sure, potential is always helpful. And for less than a tenth we would have been on the first row, and then it's a different story, you have clean air and so on.

“Sometimes small details are making, at the end of the race, a mega huge difference because when you are in the fight you have to copy the others. It's a different story.

“But I think it will be like this until the end of the season. We made the pole position in Monza for one hundredth, last week in Singapore for five hundredths, something like this, [in Japan] we lost the first row for five hundredths, and it will be a matter of hundredths for the rest of the season."

Vasseur stressed that the team has shown good performance for a while, even before recent upgrades.

"We have also to avoid drawing too quick conclusions,” he said. “Before the break, in Spa, we were also in good shape, but Charles [Leclerc] started fourth. He was theoretically on the first row, but he started from pole position and did a good race.

“As it's a matter of hundredths of seconds, sometimes you do a small step, you have the feeling that everything is changed.

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“It's not exactly the reality and from race-to-race, and from track-to-track. Even the drivers, sometimes the setup is more fitting with Carlos or Charles.

“It’s sport, in the end, you can accept that one is doing a better job than the others from weekend to weekend. And I think that we have a positive competition, and this is also helping us to improve."

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