Fred is in charge. Testing is done. Formula 1 in 2023 is ready to race this Sunday, but what matters for the Tifosi; where does Ferrari stand?
So, it’s race week. Testing is done, the promised changes made and a vague picture remains to try and analyze the real form leading into Formula 1 2023. Where does Ferrari fit into all of that off a hugely promising, yet such a disappointing 2022 season.
Where do we start, what do we look for following a winter of such significant Ferrari change? And how will our beloved Red Cars perform, starting in Bahrain this Sunday?
There’s so much to ponder, not least the upshot of last week’s F1 ‘Winter World Championship’.
“Overall, I think that we can be happy with the testing,” fresh Ferrari F1 Capo Frederic Vasseur admitted on Saturday. He’s a pragmatic man. Not one who talks out of turn.
“I think the car looks okay, but we don’t know about the others,” the Frenchman insisted.
Everything has gone well so far – Fred
“Today is completely different to next week’s picture. I do not remember who did the fastest lap time last year in Bahrain, but he was not on pole position for the race. And that was the same two years ago,” Vasseur said.
“It was important to do mileage and we had no issue. We were able to do run our plan this week and everything has gone well so far. We did different tests, with different levels of fuel. Some solutions worked, others a bit less. Now we analyze.
“Again, even between the start and the end of the race, it will be a different story. Bahrain, at the end of the race, the track is very, very cool and the picture will be completely different to this one.
“The most important is to tick the boxes, and on this, we did a good job. You have only three days to scan all the options for the settings of the car and items of development. When we put everything together, the best looks okay.
It’s still quite difficult to have a clear picture
“At the end, we went through so many items, and I see that the performance is there. But again, we don’t know about the others: about the engine mode, about the fuel level and so on so it’s quite difficult to have a clear picture,” Vasseur concluded.
Charles Leclerc also seems positive: “Without saying too much, I think we have a less draggy car, so that should be better this year, but it changed other characteristics. We are a little bit quicker in the straights, maybe struggling a little bit in the corners.
“Its’ all in line with what we expected, but we must still find the right set-up for these new characteristics. We are still working to find the sweet spot in set-up, so I hope there’s some margin still, that we haven’t found the sweet spot yet!” the Monegasque added.
So, reading between those lines, our 2023 outlook seems positive. Fred’s cheeky analogy to who was quick last year, and who won the early races, is the biggest hint. Remember who shot out the blocks in ‘22? Yet Ferrari slipped into a shocking spiral of mismanagement.
Fred has literally moved the ends of the world
Vasseur has literally moved the ends of the world to prevent our form from slipping again this year. That said, Ferrari’s 2022 problems were never on track. True to promise, Fred took time to analyze. Now he’s acted, making sweeping changes on pit wall and in the garage too.
Controversial strategy boss last year, the man who could do no wrong in the eyes of the ousted Mattia Binotto, has been sent to a Maranello desk for his sins. He may not have lost us the Title, but Inaki Rueda certainly cost us way too many race wins.
Former Ferrari tactician, theoretical physics mathematics guru, and first-class Oxford University alumni, Ravin Jain replaces Inaki on pit wall. But that’s not all. Fred has also very clearly defined his own and our race director Laurent Mekies’ trackside roles.
Mekies will now focus solely on team operations. Fred looks after the drivers, the media, and those sponsors. With a little luck, that will eliminate the mumbo-jumbo, the lies and the fractured messages that so underlined our misery last year.
Fred had a lot to digest – it’s a big team!
Fred also makes no bones about the gravity of his task at hand. He’s had just six weeks to move a literal Maranello mountain since picking up the reins in January: “It’s been very short notice and I have had a lot to digest – it’s a big team!
“But the first feeling is very positive, the passion and the enthusiasm are there and so far. Everything is okay, even the motivation is perhaps more visible sometimes. But at the end, the motivation and the plan is the same, when you are a racer you are a racer!” the Ferrari boss maintained.
So, do we have reason to be cheerful about Ferrari in Formula 1 2023? Well, it certainly seems so. Let the games begin. For all intents and purposes, this could very well turn out to be a classic Ferrari F1 season.