Fred Vasseur: Australia result “does not reflect” Ferrari progress

Jaden Diaz

The Australian GP rounded off a tough start to 2023 for Ferrari, with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz failing to finish in the points at the Albert Park Circuit.

A lap-1 incident ruined Charles Leclerc’s afternoon in Melbourne, preventing the Monegasque from improving his points tally and generally nightmare-ish first three rounds.

Carlos Sainz was on track to deliver an important points result for the Scuderia, recovering from the poorly-timed first red flag and battling into fourth place.

However, contact with fellow Spaniard Fernando Alonso saw the Ferrari driver receive a 5-second penalty, pushing him outside the points after an impressive comeback.

The SF-23 machine showed strong performance in Albert Park, with Sainz staying within touching distance of Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso for most of the race.

Tyre degradation and general race pace were a weakness for the Italian squad in the first two rounds of 2023, so there was certainly progress on this front.

Team principal Fred Vasseur, despite his frustration at the final result, wanted to outline the positives Ferrari can take from last weekend’s action:

“Today’s result, not scoring points, does not reflect the progress we have made as a team. 

“We have taken a step forward in terms of pure performance, and even more importantly, we had a decent and consistent race on the various tyre compounds, including the Hard.

Analisi dati Melbourne

“Qualifying did not match our potential. Our initial reaction is one of frustration, with Charles clearly unlucky to be involved in a racing incident at the start. 

“It was a good call to bring Carlos in under the first Safety Car, but following the red flag, he had to start again from P11, from which he recovered very well.

“The penalty had a devastating result on the final result for him, but despite this, we go back to Maranello knowing that we are moving in the right direction. 

“And we now have three weeks to keep working on optimising and updating the SF-23 for the coming races.”

The three-week gap until the upcoming Baku GP provides teams with an opportunity to understand their 2023 packages better and prepare upgrades.

Logistically speaking, Baku is a far more suitable location than other circuits for the teams (all based in Europe) to transport new parts to the track.

This, combined with the added time at the team’s disposal to manufacture and produce updates, will make the fourth round of the season an important one.

Several teams have outlined the danger of pursuing the wrong development direction by implementing upgrades too quickly, meaning there has been caution across the grid about bringing new components.

However, considering the relentless nature of Formula 1 and its mid-season development, the time for caution is over.

Ferrari in particular, who sit fourth in the Constructors’ standings, have plenty of work to do.

The Maranello-based squad has struggled to find pace in the opening rounds of 2023, failing to deliver the performance expected from the SF-23 over the winter break.

Whilst an element of unpredictability is expected at the beginning of a new season, Ferrari SF-23 has been no match for Red Bull even in its best moments.

Budget cap restrictions leave Ferrari with very little margin for error if they are to catch Red Bull this season, although even the most optimistic Tifosi will be sceptical of the team’s chances for the Championship.

Still, considering the regulations will remain quite consistent over the next few years, progress made this season will carry over into the next – so there is no room for complacency.

Ferrari’s performance is far greater than their current points would suggest, but in a sport where only the final results matter, they must deliver points.