Ferrari boss Frederic Vasseur admitted the team were a bit too conservative with tyres at the Japanese Grand Prix after Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finished the race fourth and sixth respectively.
Ferrari’s Achilles Heel in both 2022 and 2023 Formula 1 seasons has been the excessive tyre degradation they suffered in races, but they seem to have been able to manage a bit better since the summer break this year.
Suzuka is notorious for being a tough track on tyres, but despite Ferrari not having the strong pace the showed in Singapore, where Sainz won, Fred Vasseur believes they have done well to manage the Pirelli rubber, taking it a bit too far maybe as he thinks they were too conservative.
“I think it’s a step forward compared to the beginning of the season,” the Ferrari boss said of his team’s tyre situation at Suzuka.
“But on the other hand, we were probably a bit too conservative, and I think it was true for everybody on the grid that we were more scared than the reality. It was under control in the race. And we think we did a good step forward on this one.
“It’s sure if you have a look on the first couple of races of the season, the degradation or the tyre management, were not always our biggest skill, let’s say,” Vasseur admitted.
Another clear step forward for Ferrari at Suzuka
“And coming to Suzuka with this track temp we were a bit at risk. But at the end of the day, I think we did a good job on this side.
“The race was under control, the strategy was well managed. We did well. A clear step forward compared to the first part of the season,” the Frenchman maintained.
Another aspect of Ferrari’s weaknesses, that also seemed to have improved this season is strategy, and Vasseur was happy with how the Red pit-wall operated on that front las weekend in Japan.
He reflected: “I think the first stop was really on the edge to keep the two cars in front or to put Lewis in front of the two cars, and it was a matter of tenths probably, and I think it was the right call from the team.
“The second one was a bit more strategic,” he added referring to Sainz’s late second stop. “And I think the call came also from Carlos, but we agreed that we have to extend to try to have a tyre advantage in the last couple of laps because if you copy Lewis, you are behind him, and without a big delta you stay behind him.”
However, in the end, Sainz ran out of laps and couldn’t overtake Lewis Hamilton, meaning he had to settle for sixth, exactly the place he started the race from.
Big Question: Do you think Ferrari were too conservative at Suzuka?