Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur gave a rather crude viewpoint after the Scuderia’s underwhelming start to the 2023 F1 season.
Formula 1’s most historic team has not enjoyed the first two rounds of this campaign. In Bahrain, Ferrari showed promise with a pair of strong qualifying performances.
However, the race soon turned into a nightmare as last year’s technical gremlins emerged once more. Charles Leclerc had to retire his Ferrari SF-23 from the 2023 opener due to an issue. Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz lost out to Fernando Alonso in a battle for the podium.
Leclerc’s mechanical woes meant that he had to serve a ten-place grid penalty at last weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. He recovered well from twelfth to finish seventh, just behind Sainz in sixth.
But Ferrari did not appear to have the race pace to match Aston Martin and Mercedes. Most worryingly, they seemed nowhere near Red Bull’s performance levels.
In contrast, the Scuderia started last year with a one-two in Sakhir and podiums in Jeddah. They are, therefore, hoping that a return to a similar form will occur swiftly. Fred Vasseur shared his thoughts on the team’s early-season showing.
“We cannot bull***t ourselves”: Ferrari F1 boss on 2023 dip
When asked what he demands from the team, Vasseur did not mince his words.
“To not bull***t ourselves,” said the Ferrari principal, bluntly (via Autosport). “The most important thing in this type of situation is to know where we are going well and what we are doing wrong. But we cannot bull***t ourselves.
“We have to change. We need to understand where we are wrong, then we have to push. If we just speak, we will not be faster like this.
“For me, the picture is quite clear. The potential of the car is good, but it’s not enough compared to the Red Bull. Because we are not able to extract the maximum from the car every time.”
Charles Leclerc issued a similar sort of outlook as his team principal following the Saudi Arabian GP.
Charles Leclerc: there is “a lot” of work to do
Speaking to Sky Sports F1, the Monegasque suggested that Ferrari could match the cars around of them in 2023.
Leclerc had shown good pace during his first stint on soft tyres, rising to P7. However, after switching to the hard compound, both he and Sainz failed to close the gap to Mercedes ahead of them. An unfortunate safety car also scuppered the Scuderia’s well-executed overcut strategy.
“I don’t know if they [Mercedes] were out of reach,” said the Ferrari ace. “Once I got within a second and a half of Carlos, it was very difficult to get any closer than that. The pace difference wasn’t big enough.
“Honestly, I don’t think there was much more in the car today – we just need to work to find something.”
When asked how much work there was for Ferrari to get back into the 2023 F1 championship race, Leclerc simply said: “A lot. Really a lot.”
The team will look for a marked upturn in performance at the next round, the Australian Grand Prix. Last year, Charles Leclerc claimed his second win of the 2022 season at Albert Park.
Will they be able to repeat this feat in 2023? Given Red Bull’s pace, it seems unlikely – but the Scuderia will expect to challenge for the podium at the very least.
Featured image credit: Getty