4 - GP ARABIA SAUDITA F1/2023 - DOMENICA 19/03/2023

Vasseur: Lack of performance not coming from management

Vasseur: Lack of performance not coming from Ferrari management

In the wake of AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost telling the world he did not trust engineers, his counterpart Fred Vasseur says Ferrari’s woeful performance at the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was not a management-related issue suggesting it’s an engineering matter.

Vassuer’s comments come in the wake of his second race in charge of Formula 1’s most famous and supported teams, and a bad one at that as the Red cars were nowhere on Sunday in Jeddah; Carlos Sainz finishing sixth and Charles Leclerc seventh labouring home, half dozen seconds between the pair.

Race winner Sergio Perez beat them by 35 seconds, and if you consider the race resumed after a safety car period which bunched up the field for the lap 20 restart, that’s 1.2 seconds per lap on race pace.

Speaking to reporters after the race, Vasseur said: “It’s not a good result. We didn’t have the pace, we have to be honest. We have positive points from the weekend – the reliability, the qualy pace was much better. Our strategy was on point and our pit crew executed two good stops.

“We have to understand where the lack of performance is coming from. It is not coming from the management,” insisted Vasseur, hinting at two factions within the Scuderia, and not the ‘we win as one and we lose as one’ ethos of the recent Mattia Binotto era.

Vasseur added in the Ferrari team report: “We can’t be satisfied. There was also a big gap in our performance level between qualifying and the race. 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.”

Sainz: We were the fourth-fastest car in Jeddah

Both drivers were visibly unhappy speaking to reporters after the GP, Sainz did not mince his words either in the media pen: “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.”

Leclerc, who tried in vain to get by his teammate before reluctantly settling for seventh, echoed his teammate’s sentiments after the race: “Honestly, I don’t think there was much more in the car. We just need to work to find some pace.”

As for what exactly has to be done to get the Ferrari SF23 to the performance level of the pace-setting Red Bull RB18, Leclerc revealed:  “A lot, really a lot… Straight line they are quicker, and corners they are quicker, so a bit of everything.”

Clearly, there is some heavy pushing to be done at Maranello because the drivers are becoming frustrated, while Ferrari might hit back with their drivers, accuse Sainz of over-driving, and Leclerc of over-whining, but they don’t do because they are guilty of building them a very bad car.

Proof that it so bad? Last year Verstappen won the very same race by half a second from Leclerc after a titanic battle on the streets of Jeddah, but this Sunday the #1 Red Bull was half a minute up the road in second place with #11 a further six seconds to the good.

The harsh reality this Monday, when architects of the current Ferrari shitshow, Messrs. John Elkann and Benedetto Vigna sit down for a post-mortem [do they?] they will note after two rounds:

  • this year SAI is fourth in the standings with 20 points, LEC has six and lies eighth; VER leads on 44.
  • last year this time LEC Led the standings with 45 points, SAI was second on 33; VER third on 25.
  • today FER are fourth and have 26 points in the F1 constructors table, last year they led with 78 points on the board.

What a difference a year makes when you have design maestro Newey, flat-out on another streak of F1 genius, in your corner.