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sainz leclerc ferrari f1 2023

Coulthard: I believe in Ferrari and their drivers

sainz leclerc ferrari f1 2023

Despite all but gifting the 2022 Formula 1 World Championship to Max Verstappen and Red Bull, Ferrari will bounce back this season according to David Coulthard.

Ferrari’s woes last season were well-documented, creating a situation by the end of last year in which team boss Mattia Bionotto was sent packing and Fred Vasseur set to lead the Italian team henceforth, hardly the stable scenario the team will need to compete against rock solid Red Bull and an improved Mercedes team in 2023.

Nevertheless, Coulthard told Mirror Sport that he believes the F1’s most famous team has what it takes to challenge for the title in 2023: “There might be an element of just not being match fit, having not operated at that level. Ferrari are the most famous name in Formula 1, and have been the longest-running member so there might be an element of mass fatigue as well.”

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Stats from last year, show that while Charles Leclerc took an early lead in the title F1 battle last year, the Reds lost the plot with bad strategy calls, and dubious development decisions, the early season upper hand they held disappeared as their drivers were forced to chase for the latter half of the campaign.

But Coulthard remains bullish: “I believe in Ferrari, not in the mystique but in the lap time. [In 2022] they’ve had the ‘qualifying world championship’, and their car has been exceptional. Charles was their lead driver for the majority of the year in terms of being able to exploit that performance and I do feel the car has been coming stronger towards the end of the year.

“I believe in the drivers and that, because they’ve designed that car at that pace, they’ve got the right talent in the team to iron out the issues they have had. So, with all of that, Ferrari have got to be lined up for the championship in 2023.”

“Not based on it just being a red car with a prancing horse, but based on what they’ve got on their hands – a very fast Grand Prix car and two very fast and motivated drivers. So, in 2023, they have to be targeting the world championship and I think they can achieve their goals if they can iron out the issues that are blatantly obvious to everyone.”

Will Ferrari be able to rein in Red Bull and keep Mercedes at bay in 2023?

Coulthard predictsLeclerc-Verstappen-Hamilton-Austria-2022

Coulthard continued: “I would like to believe that we are going to have a three-way title battle next year. As strong as Max has been. To me, that feels like we’re a lot closer than we were at the beginning of the year.”

That’s a huge prediction considering how Red Bull pulled away as the season progressed; stats show the RB18 won 17 times last year, 15 times with Max, and twice with Checo; by the end of last season Adrian Newey’s creation was easily the best piece of kit on the grid.

Mercedes, recovered after a poor start to their season while Ferrari lost their early momentum, to the point that after the Austrian Grand Prix in July, won by Leclerc, the Red cars did not win another race.

Coulthard conceded: “Of course, I don’t have a crystal ball but it feels like, if Ferrari get on top of their reliability and operational mistakes, then they’re there. The transition of what these cars are going to become next year will be a lot easier.

“Mercedes clearly have a quick car and look like they’re going to be there. When Mercedes arrived at the beginning of the Hybrid Era, they had such a pace advantage. They really unleashed a great power unit and that allowed them to run more dirty downforce – the car didn’t need to be so efficient in the beginning because they could just power their way through.”

But the Mercedes W13 was so bad, relative to the masterpieces of power that Merc had delivered for most of the past decade, and the Red Bull RB18 was very, very good as Coulthard pointed out: “Inevitably, they made the holy grail of not only a powerful engine but also a great car.

“When you put those two things together, with a brilliant driver, you’ve got that era of dominance that continues with the stability of regulations,” concluded the Scot, a 13-time Grand Prix winner.

Ferrari will be contesting their 73rd season in F1 this year, the Reds last won a title when Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa combined to bring home the 2008 F1 constructors’ title, while the Finn is the last driver to win a title with Ferrari when he was World Champion in 2007.