Ferrari boss Frederic Vasseur insisted McLaren had a decent car even before the major upgraded they brought to Austria that seemed to turn their season around.
McLaren had a rough start to their 2023 Formula 1 season, their MCL60 not up to the team’s expectations early on, and as a result Technical Director James Key, responsible for this year’s car, was shown the doors at Woking.
Since then, and especially after their major upgrade which they brought to the Austrian Grand Prix, McLaren have shown great improvement, and racking up five podiums since, their latest two being a second and third for Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri respectively at the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix last week.
While Mercedes earlier said they were having a look at McLaren and their impressive upgrades that turned their fortunes around, Ferrari’s Fred Vasseur had a different view, and was less impressed.
He believed that McLaren had a decent car before Austria’s upgrades despite the struggles, and gave the Spanish Grand Prix as an example, where Norris qualified third on the grid.
Vasseur told Motorsport.com: “I think that they [McLaren] had a big issue at the beginning, and then they recovered pretty quickly because, even in Barcelona, they were on the second row.
“I think it was Max [Verstappen], Carlos [Sainz] and then Lando and Lewis [Hamilton] on the second row, they were already competitive.
“And this kind of track is probably suited more with their car than us. But for sure it’s not just a matter of pure potential, it’s a matter of driveability also.
“Each time you will do a step forward you will also help the driver to do a step forward, and this can be a kind of snowball effect. Still, a small step compared to Red Bull,” he concluded.
While McLaren have made a huge step, Ferrari have been showing slower progress. They took pole at Monza and in Singapore and are the only team aside from Red Bull to win a race in 2023 with Carlos Sainz claiming victory at the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix.