Difficult for Ferrari to take positives finishing P6 and P7 in Jeddah

Difficult for Ferrari to take positives with P6-P7 in Jeddah

Difficult for Ferrari to take positives finishing P6 and P7 in Jeddah
Ferrari had a dismal weekend in Jeddah, and finished the 2023 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix sixth and seventh with Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc respectively, the former admitting it’s difficult to take positives.

Ferrari’s troubles continued in round two of the 2023 Formula 1 season, and despite having decent pace in qualifying, Leclerc second fastest before dropping ten places on the starting grid for exceeding his Electronics Control Unit allowance. Sainz qualified fifth.

During the race, Leclerc progressed early on but Sainz wasn’t making any inroads, and after the Ferrari pitted both drivers earlier, a Safety Car was sent out after Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin broke down.

That meant the Ferrari drivers found themselves sixth and seventh, and that’s where they stayed, Leclerc trying to overtake Sainz and failing to, while expressing his discontent with the pit wall for not moving his teammate out of the way.

“Once I got within a second and a half to Carlos, it was very difficult to get closer than that,” Leclerc told Sky Sports F1. “The pace difference wasn’t big enough. I did a small mistake when I was within DRS, and then when I lost it, that was it.

“I just stayed there,” he lamented. “It’s like this. Honestly, I don’t think there was much more anyway in the car today. We just need to work to find some pace.”

Ferrari need lots of work, and everywhere

Quizzed about the amount of work needed to sort the car’ the Ferrari ace said: “A lot, really a lot,” pointing out the areas that need improvement, saying: “Straight line they are quicker, and corners they are quicker, so a bit of everything.”

Sainz admitted the team expected better performance from their SF-23 in Jeddah, he said after the race: “Going into the race, we expected better race pace. We thought we would be on the pace of the Mercedes and Aston Martin.

“Post-race, it looks like we have some work to do, especially race pace towards the end of the stint. We just degrade too much. We cannot keep the pace of the frontrunners and we know the car isn’t where we want it to be.

“It’s difficult to take positives when you are P6 and P7, especially the last stint when they all pulled away,” the Spaniard added, after finishing over 35 seconds away from race winner Sergio Perez.

“We were the fourth-fastest car on track. We need to see why and need to improve. It’s two different tracks where our race pace is not great.

“We thought we had Mercedes and that we were quick. We thought we were okay – but today we were not okay. We need to bring developments,” Sainz insisted.

Vasseur’s baptism of fire

Needless to say, Fred Vasseur was not happy with his second race with the Scuderia, as it seems he is undergoing a baptism of fire only months into his new role.

“It’s not a good result. We didn’t have the pace, we have to be honest,” Vasseur told Sky. “We have positive points from the weekend – the reliability, the qualy pace was much better.

“We have to understand where the lack of performance is coming from. It is not coming from the management,” he maintained.

Later, in Ferrari’s press release, Vasseur added: “There was also a big gap in our performance level between qualifying and the race.

“However, there were some positives today, starting with Charles’ pace on the Soft tyres which was good and allowed him to make up six positions on his first stint. Carlos also ran well on the Mediums. Our strategy was on point and our pit crew executed two good stops.

“There is still a long way to go this season and we will continue to fight. We are fully committed to maximising our package and further developing the SF-23 for the coming rounds,” the Frenchman concluded.

Vasseur insisted after Bahrain that the woeful race pace of the SF-23 was a matter of having the wrong setup with degradation usually higher at Sakhir, but on a smooth track surface like that of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Ferrari’s trouble persisted.

Maybe it’s not a matter of just the wrong setup….