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Vasseur: Verstappen mistakes will come if he’s put under pressure in F1

Ferrari Formula 1 boss Fred Vasseur believes that having enjoyed a near-perfect 2023 season, Max Verstappen will be vulnerable to making mistakes when put under pressure by rivals.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Erik Junius

He stressed that the Italian team didn’t push the Red Bull driver hard enough this year.

Verstappen won 19 of the 22 races over the course of this season, missing out twice to his team-mate Sergio Perez in early races, and then to Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz when Red Bull had an off-weekend at the Singapore GP in September.

PLUS: The hidden joy in Verstappen's 1000 F1 laps led record

The Dutchman also got through the year having sustained virtually no damage to his RB19, although he did make contact with George Russell in Las Vegas, an incident that led to a penalty for the Mercedes driver.

“I think it is not sure that someone has a doubt on this, he did a mega season,” he said when asked by Autosport to assess Verstappen’s year.

“He was fighting with Checo in the first two or three events and then he was on another planet.

“Clearly, he didn’t do a mistake all season, and when he struggled in quali, like in Jeddah, it was due to a mechanical issue. And then he was always there, always making good starts, no contact. The only one was Vegas.

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal and General Manager, Scuderia Ferrari, on the podium

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal and General Manager, Scuderia Ferrari, on the podium

“But I think we are getting a bit closer to him, we are...I don’t want to say putting him under pressure because it is not true, [in Abu Dhabi] he was not under pressure. But he was a bit more under pressure than he was in Zandvoort, or in some other events when he was flying.”

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Vasseur stressed that while Ferrari showed stronger form in the latter races of the year, the Italian team still wasn’t close enough to really make life harder for the world champion.

“There is no doubt on the fact that he was dominating all the season," he said. "And the only issue for us is that, as everybody, he will do more mistakes when he will be under pressure. 

"But nobody was able to put him under pressure this season except us at the last two or three events, or except Carlos in Singapore.

“And it’s where he started to do some mistakes, or perhaps Red Bull did some mistakes in terms of set-up. We were too far away to put this kind of pressure on them.” 

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