Frederic Vasseur reveals that Ferrari were even “a bit too conservative” when it came to tyres in Suzuka – They had tyre wear “under control “
It’s no secret that tyre wear was a major weakness of the Ferrari SF-23, especially at the start of the 2023 Formula 1 season. However, after the Japanese Grand Prix, Frederic Vasseur insists there has been “a step forward compared to the beginning of the season. “
Last weekend in Suzuka they were even “a bit too conservative”, he admits. Because before the race, all teams had expected extremely high tyre wear, but in “reality” it was different, says the Ferrari team boss.
“In the race it was under control,” stresses Vasseur, who sees this as a good sign that Ferrari has made “a good step forward” in this area. But what about the general performance of the SF-23?
At Suzuka, Ferrari brought a new underbody, but Vasseur explains that “you can’t mix everything up”. While the new underbody is “helpful”, tyre wear is “a different story”, he stresses. Nevertheless, he is satisfied with the performance in Japan.
Although Charles Leclerc narrowly missed the podium there in fourth place, Vasseur recalls that in qualifying he was “less than a tenth of a second” short of a place on the front row of the grid. There, Leclerc (also in fourth) had been just 0.084 seconds slower than Oscar Piastri in P2.
Vasseur warns: Don’t jump to conclusions!
“And then [in the race] it’s a different story, you have a free run and so on,” Vasseur stresses, explaining, “Sometimes it’s small details that make a very big difference at the end of the race.” In this context, he also recalls the previous races.
For example, Carlos Sainz had secured pole position in Monza with a lead of just 0.013 seconds, in Singapore his lead was 0.072 seconds. And now, in Japan, it was just the other way round against Ferrari.
Vasseur therefore explains that “until the end of the season” it will still only be a matter of hundredths of a second. After individual races, one must therefore “avoid drawing conclusions too quickly”, the team boss emphasises.
“Because it’s about hundredths of a second, sometimes you take a small step and you have the feeling that everything is changing,” says Vasseur. But the “reality” is that there are differences “from race to race and from track to track”.
And even within the team among the drivers, he said, there is no clear trend. “Sometimes the set-up suits Carlos better or Charles better,” said Vasseur, who stressed that they had to “accept” that on some weekends some “do a better job”.
That’s why Ferrari want to fight for P2 in the WRC
That’s why he doesn’t want to write off the next race in Qatar just yet, although on paper the track should once again suit Red Bull and McLaren more. “After Monza, everyone told us that Singapore would be much more difficult,” he grins.
And the Singapore race, as we all know, was then won. “It’s so close, it’s also about tyre management, set-up and so on. On paper, it is not the best track for us, but we will do our best,” he therefore announces.
And he doesn’t want to give up the fight for second place in the Constructors’ World Championship against Mercedes just yet, even though since Suzuka it’s also been quite official that the title will go to Red Bull again this year.
Vasseur stresses: “That’s always the best way to prepare for the future, because the mentality of the team and the willingness of everyone to fight is crucial. And we will continue this fight until the end of the season.”
In addition, he explains that this year is also the time to learn a few things for 2024. “It’s too late to go into the wind tunnel for this season, but what we can do on the current car will help us for next year,” Vasseur stresses.
In Suzuka, they were able to close the gap on Mercedes in the world championship to 20 points again.