Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur gave his assessment of Ferrari’s level of competitiveness after the Monaco GP, which represented another sub-optimal weekend for the Italian squad.
At a circuit where qualifying is paramount, Ferrari found themselves in contention for Pole Position – with Charles Leclerc setting a time to go third-fastest and only a tenth behind Max Verstappen’s fastest time.
However, a failure to communicate to Leclerc that Lando Norris was on a flying lap at the end of Q3 saw the Monegasque driver receive a 3-place grid penalty for impeding, a costly and frustratingly avoidable sanction.
This impacted Ferrari’s chances on Sunday, with Esteban Ocon’s Alpine preventing either SF-23 from staying within touching distance of Verstappen or Fernando at the front.
Front wing damage sustained early in the race after hitting into Ocon compromised Carlos Sainz’s afternoon, whilst an uninspiring starting position of 6th had a similar effect for Leclerc.
Late rain was not enough to rectify Ferrari’s afternoon, as the Scuderia stayed out for too long on the dry tyres and were forced to double-stack their drivers in a late pit stop for intermediates.
Combining these factors with a frustrated Carlos Sainz on team radio – who was unhappy after making an early first stop and losing track position – made the Monaco GP one to forget at Maranello.
Speaking after the race, however, team principal Fred Vasseur attributed Ferrari’s weekend to poor execution rather than a lack of performance:
“Carlos was vocal on the radio, but when he came back to the garage, he had a clear expectation about strategy – and the call was absolutely not a mistake,” Vasseur explained to the media.
“To say that the pace was not there in Monaco, I think it’s a bit harsh. We were in a position to fight for Pole Position.
“And starting from Pole, I think that the win was possible. Probably the drivers came to Monaco with a lot of expectations, and also the team.
“It’s not about the qualifying for me. If we are suffering from something, it’s consistency…
“As soon as we’re able to unlock this issue that we have today, starting from the first row, we’ll be able to fight for the win.”
It has not been uncommon for Vasseur to re-iterate his faith in the SF-23 this year, frequently highlighting the importance of finding consistency – rather than raw performance – for the Scuderia to triumph in 2023.
There is some truth to this analysis, given that Ferrari’s fluctuations in performance have been a clear limitation.
However, Ferrari’s pace deficit is likely due to a more fundamental flaw with the SF-23, which can be traced to a drop in pace after the new technical directive was implemented during last season’s summer break.
Updates for the Spanish GP will give the Scuderia more information about their package and its characteristics.
Perhaps more importantly, the Barcelona circuit will help the team decide if they should remain faithful to their current concept or make more radical changes for 2024 and beyond.
Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang