Helmut Marko: I don’t understand how Vasseur is always positive

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 26: Red Bull Racing Team Consultant Dr Helmut Marko looks on in the garage during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 26, 2022 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202203260445 // Usage for editorial use only //

Red Bull’s Helmut Marko, a senior advisor who has spent over a decade with the team, has made a sly remark about Fred Vasseur’s approach to his management of Ferrari.

The newly appointed Ferrari team principal finds himself in a difficult position to start 2023, with the SF-23 proving far less competitive than the Maranello squad anticipated over winter.

All of the anticipation and excitement surrounding the Scuderia started to reduce in pre-season testing and completely fell on its face after Charles Leclerc retired in Bahrain.

After four rounds, Ferrari sits on a surprisingly low 26 points – their worst start to an F1 season since 2009.

It would be unfair to suggest that the SF-23’s pace is accurately represented by this points tally, especially after Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc both lost points in Australia after getting involved in incidents.

However, amidst these early difficulties, Fred Vasseur has remained optimistic about Ferrari’s chances of unlocking more performance from the SF-23:

Speaking in an interview, Helmut Marko made brief comments about two of Red Bull’s main rivals:

“Mercedes obviously wants to improve. They are coming to Baku with new updates,” he told Blick.

“And Ferrari has been underperforming so far. However, I don’t understand how team principal Vasseur sees everything in a positive light.”

Despite question marks about Ferrari’s concept and development path, Vasseur seems confident that his team’s 2023 season is still salvageable.

Upgrades will be introduced in the upcoming rounds to determine whether the team’s general concept should be pursued and can fight for the Championship.

Fred Vasseur did not hide that the expectation in Maranello was to fight for a title in his first press conference of the year, so Ferrari’s intentions in Formula 1 are clear.

Ferrari Team Principal, Frederic Vasseur
Frederic Vasseur (FRA) Ferrari Team Principal.
31.03.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Practice Day.
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Ultimately, words will do little to improve the situation unless the SF-23’s performance takes a significant step forward – which will be the key moving forward.

Red Bull, Mercedes, and Aston Martin will all introduce upgrades more intensely from Baku onwards. This will force the Scuderia to out-develop their rivals mid-season, which has typically been a weakness in previous years.

Mercedes has been particularly vocal about their update plans, with the Silver Arrows demonstrating an encouraging development trajectory from Bahrain to Australia.

The biggest question facing Ferrari and Mercedes surrounds the long-term viability of their concepts – and whether either team will reach the “dead-end” described by Toto Wolff after round one.

Aston Martin’s development over the last 12 months has shown that significant improvements are attainable relatively quickly.

Despite this, team principal Mike Krack has pointed out that it will be difficult to make the same progress in 2023 – since Aston is starting its development from a higher baseline.

Regardless, the pressure to catch Red Bull will be more intense at Ferrari than at most teams, so the upcoming rounds will be crucial in shaping their long-term priorities for development.