F1 News: Helmut Marko reveals Ferrari was “fastest on both compounds” in Canada

Jaden Diaz
20 Jun, 2023

After the hype and anticipation surrounding Ferrari over winter, the Italian squad has struggled for the majority of 2023 so far.

The Canadian GP was set to be another painful entry in the Scuderia’s season after a series of mistakes and miscommunications in qualifying put Leclerc and Sainz on the backfoot for Sunday.

Social media was already prepared to jump on Ferrari during the Safety Car period, as the decision was made to keep both drivers out on track and gain track position – whilst the rest of the field capitalised on the chance for a free stop.

However, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz showed plenty of pace in the SF-23 and managed to extend their stint on the medium tyres to pull off a one-stop and put themselves comfortably 4th and 5th.

Considering that persistent issues with tyre wear and drivability have hampered Ferrari, the Canadian GP (where only Red Bull outscored the Italian outfit) was a welcome change.

CanadianGP, Ferrari, Laurent Mekies, Charles Leclerc & Frederic Vasseur

Analysing the race pace data gives the Italian squad even more good news, as Leclerc and Sainz matched the race leaders for pace throughout the Grand Prix.

Speaking post-race, Helmut Marko made no secret of Ferrari’s threatening pace:

“It certainly wasn’t easy. We had problems getting our tyres up to temperature, especially with the hard,” he told the media in Canada.

“The race was more difficult than we anticipated. 

“I have to say, thank God Ferrari had to start so far back because they were actually the fastest on both compounds.

“Max himself also had two moments. First, he hit a bird… but luckily, we didn’t suffer any damage.”

The Ferrari duo made their first and only stops just before lap 40, within a few laps of Max Verstappen’s second pit stop – allowing for some reasonable comparison.

Leclerc and Sainz consistently set low 1:16s on the hard compound, showing very little tyre degradation. The Monegasque driver, for example, set a 1:15.9 on lap 64 of the race.

Such tyre preservation has been a rare sight at Ferrari over the last 18 months, especially after the technical directive that was implemented over the summer break last season.

CanadianGP, Ferrari SF-23

Ferrari SF-23, Charles Leclerc & Carlos Sainz durante la gara in Canada.

Max Verstappen set similar lap times, consistently within the high 1:15 and low 1:16 range – though it should be noted the Dutchman experienced slightly less drop-off in the final five laps, even on the medium compounds.

To be clear, it would be incorrect to conclude that Ferrari has caught up to Red Bull. The RB19 is still the faster and more well-rounded car, a fact that nobody at Maranello will find difficult to accept.

However, unlike in earlier rounds, Ferrari’s race pace was not a gaping weakness compared to the Austrian squad.

After eight races, the top four teams were the most closely matched they have been in 2023.

The rounds before the summer break will provide more data on whether Red Bull will be seriously challenged this season… or if Verstappen can continue securing relatively ‘easy’ race wins.

Regardless, there is at least some evidence to suggest that the gap between Red Bull and its rivals has been reduced.

Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang

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