Frederic Vasseur admitted the expectations at Ferrari were too high at the start of the 2023 Formula 1 season, which the team finished third in the Constructors’ Standings.
After initially fighting for wins at the start of the new ground effect era of regulations in 2022, Ferrari’s challenge faded and Red Bull with Max Verstappen walked away with both Titles last year.
And while there were hopes that the tyre degradation issues that marred the Scuderia’s 2022 campaign would be sorted for 2023, that was not the case, and Vasseur had to go through a tough start of life in the hot seat at Maranello.
And while the Reds showed slight improvement over the course of the season, the failed to beat Mercedes for runner up in the Constructors’ Standings their only highlight being Carlos Sainz’s win in Singapore.
Vasseur revealed Ferrari knew they had a tough year ahead early on, he said: “The level of expectation was a bit too high at the beginning of the season and we understood quickly the situation.
“I think after a couple of laps in Bahrain [Testing], and even a couple of laps into the simulator before going to Bahrain. But what I would keep in mind this season is the reaction of the team when we had a tough moment but remember after Jeddah or Miami or Spain or Zandvoort, Zandvoort is not so far away and we were almost lapped.
“I think that we, compared to Zandvoort, collectively made a huge step forward and this is good for the future,” the Frenchman insisted.
Improvement comes from several factors
It was clear that fixing Ferrari’s problems would take time, but there were some improvements nevertheless. Asked to pinpoint where his team has improved, Vasseur said: “The mistake would be to imagine that Red Bull, have a magic bullet of five tenths or that we made a step on something.
“The performance is coming from everywhere into the company, on the fact that we are able to produce parts quicker, we have a better reliability. We gave up too many points this season for different reasons, for reliability, for disqualification in Austin, for impeding in quali, but this is clearly where we have to work.
“And we have to improve on aero, on engine, on every single topic,” he added. “It’s not that we have something wrong and something good and you fix something and you are making a step of four or five tenths.
“The most important is that the one thousand people we have in the team are convinced that they are all contributors and they are all trying to push a little bit the limit, even if it’s for one thousands of seconds which are enough then to do a huge step.
“I’m more than pleased because between Zandvoort and today, we didn’t change massively the car,” Vasseur pointed out. “We had an upgrade in Japan I think, but basically we kept the same car and we were able to do a much better job with a better understanding of the car, better set-up of the car and a better approach from the drivers.
“We have room for improvement everywhere and this feeling is a good one to develop something for next year,” the Ferrari Team Principal concluded.
Big Question: Did Ferrari improve under Vasseur’s watch?
(Reporting by Agnes Carlier, Writing by Jad Mallak)