Fred Vasseur: Ferrari “not yet at optimal level” despite strong race

Jaden Diaz

In the fourth round of the season in Japan, Ferrari confirmed itself as the second-fastest team to start 2024. After a tricky qualifying, especially on the Charles Leclerc garage side, everything worked well on Sunday in Suzuka. From strategies to race pace, the Maranello team managed to defend itself against McLaren, taking the podium with Carlos Sainz and completing an excellent comeback race with Leclerc. Team principal Fred Vasseur was satisfied with the Japanese GP, pointing towards qualifying as the next critical area.


Ferrari’s performance in Suzuka was strong, as Vasseur explained post-race:

“I think it went very well for both drivers, both the strategy and the tyre management. If we missed something, it was yesterday.

“Carlos did very well having a solid race and Charles made a great recovery from eighth place, good team work.”

The SF-24 maximised its potential this weekend and got the better of McLaren. A key strength for Ferrari on Sunday was strategy, with the pit wall opting to give Sainz and Leclerc different approaches:

“I believe that the fastest strategy was the of the two stops,” explained Vasseur.

“We decided to change Charles’s stop to avoid traffic. We missed something compared to Perez in the first laps, when we had to give way a little to Norris and avoid the dirty air.”

The team principal then clarified that there were no discussions when, in the last quarter of the race, Leclerc lost third position to Sainz:

“They weren’t on the same strategy, and therefore, it was a simple decision. There was a second-and-a-half difference in potential. There wasn’t even a fight, actually.

“It was also clear to Charles that they were not on the same strategy. I’m convinced that Carlos’ strategy was the best, but that’s not to say that Leclerc’s wasn’t good.”



A strategic difference, therefore, dictated by the position on the track of the Monegasque driver, penalized by the difficult qualifying on Saturday. As also recognized by Leclerc himselfVasseur reiterated the need to improve on the flying lap front in order to build more linear races on Sundays:

“I think this weekend and more on Saturdays, we could have done a better job. On Sunday, the degradation was under control, and we didn’t go far from the fastest lap, almost the opposite of last year.

“We need to improve on Saturday, also from Charles, because in the race, it becomes much more difficult when you start from eighth place compared to the riders in front.”

A necessary improvement, however, does not worry Vasseur, who said he was rather focused on extracting the best from the SF-24, which, in his opinion, still has something to express in terms of potential.

“I have no idea how much Red Bull has gained with these updates. We are very focused on our car in order to make the most of the package we have available.

“At the moment, we are not yet at the optimal level. We need to focus on the set-up, weekend management and tyre management. Then we can bring updates a little later in the season.”