Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finished the Japanese Grand Prix fourth and sixth respectively, and Team Principal Frederic Vasseur claims the team have made the best out of the situation.
After the highs of Singapore, Ferrari got a reality check at Suzuka, only the third fastest team this weekend, with Leclerc and Sainz finishing the race from where they started – fourth and sixth respectively.
But the Reds were able to mix it up with the McLarens on Sunday with decent race execution, and while they could not reach the podium with any of their cars, team boss Fred Vasseur insists they have maximized their potential.
Speaking in Ferrari‘s post race report, Vasseur did not miss the chance to congratulate rivals Red Bull on winning their sixth Formula 1 Constructors’ Title.
“First of all, congratulations to Red Bull for winning the Constructors’ title,” he said. “They have done a great job this season.
“As for our race, I think we did the most we could have done today, making up another four points on Mercedes,” the Frenchman added.
“At a track we knew would be difficult for our car, we always had our situation under control: Charles did well to manage his tyres, while after Carlos was undercut by Lewis (Hamilton), we decided to extend his stint on the Mediums, hoping to get the benefit towards the end. It’s very close between ourselves, Mercedes and McLaren and the order can change depending on the track, as we saw in Singapore,” he explained.
“Obviously, we can’t be happy with a fourth and a sixth place but, having gained some ground on our closest rivals, we will stay focussed and prepare to give our very best at the upcoming races,” Vasseur concluded.
Leclerc had a good race, Sainz laments losing out on fifth
Leclerc added: “It was a good race and, even though I am not completely happy with a P4, we brought home the best possible result today as McLaren were strong and we just didn’t have the pace to fight them harder.
“I had a fun battle with George (Russell), who did a great job in managing his tyres, especially the rears, which made it challenging to pass him. I took the opportunity to pass him in turn 1 when I saw a gap and it worked out well.
“We improved our understanding of this car and what we’ve learned will be useful in the future. It will be interesting to see how our competitors progress in the upcoming races,” the Monegasque concluded.
After winning in Singapore, Sainz could not manage more than sixth in Japan, outpaced all weekend by his teammate.
“I think today we had better pace than the result suggests,” the Spaniard said. “We had a very good start and we were quick straight away.
“During the first two stints I managed my tyres well and had good pace, but we got undercut by Lewis (Hamilton) after the second stop and that compromised my race. I tried to extend my stint to have better tyres at the end and gave everything to close the gap quickly.
“Unfortunately, the race was a couple of laps too short for me today and we had to settle for sixth,” the Ferrari driver lamented.
“As always, we will analyse the whole weekend when we are back home to see if we could have done something differently, but on the positive side I think the pace was there today.
“We will regroup and recharge our batteries before heading off to Qatar,” Sainz concluded.
With six races remaining in the 2023 F1 season, Ferrari are third in the 2023 Constructors’ Championship, and have their sights set on Mercedes’ second place with a 20-point-gap to bridge if they are to succeed.