Barcelona Grand Prix was certainly not positive for Ferrari, despite the important development package brought to Spain. Charles Leclerc faced issues on Saturday, forcing him to start from the pitlane, and he could only recover to 11th in the race.
Carlos Sainz, who started from the front row, finished in fifth position and also battled with a slow and erratic SF-23, which is still causing headaches in Maranello. Ferrari Team Principal, Frederic Vasseur, spoke about the Spanish GP in a post-race press conference.
Question: What have you learned from the updates?
“We’ve taken a step forward in the car’s potential since Miami. We put Carlos in the front row. We took a step forward compared to Aston, but there is still a long way to go compared to Mercedes between Qualifying and the race, and we will focus on finding performance in the race.”
Question: Carlos said that the problem is in the high-speed corners…
“Yes, this also comes from the level of downforce. Our problem is not the one-lap lap potential but the inconsistency. With Charles in the first stint with Hard, the balance was lost. In the third stint with the same tyre, it was OK. Carlos did a good first and third stint, while in the second, he took 15 of his 20 seconds behind.”
Question: So the car still remains very peaky? (despite the updates)
“I don’t know. It’s difficult; we can’t compare different circuits (compared to Miami). Looking in general, we are fast in Qualifying and not in the race, and we are inconsistent in races and in the compounds.”
Question: Is the problem of inconsistency or tyre degradation?
“I don’t think it’s degradation. You degrade if you push harder, but Carlos also had good times towards the end. Charles complained about the balance from the first to the last lap of the first stint.”
Question: Did you understand what problems Charles had yesterday?
“No, we didn’t have time to investigate due to parc ferme rules, and so we changed the rear axle, and we’ll investigate what happened in Maranello.”
Question: The gap between Lewis and Carlos is 20 seconds after the updates. How do you explain it?
“Mercedes also brought a big update to Monaco. If we look at the ‘Big picture’ between Miami and today, we’ve taken a step forward in performance, but also Mercedes, and we’re a little faster in qualifying but a little inconsistent in the race. That’s our problem.”
Question: Carlos said in the first stint that he could push harder, but you recalled him. What was the reason?
“This race was difficult in managing and choosing the tyres. It was the first time that there were many strategies available. We didn’t expect the Soft to be able to do 25 laps.”
Question: Do you know where this inconsistency comes from?
“If we knew, we would have already solved it. There are so many people working there, but it’s not easy because it’s not even the same problem. In qualifying, you are also in free air. This is not true in the race, which is why Charles also had more problems being in traffic”
Question: Carlos said this might not be one of the best tracks for you, but was the performance worse than expected?
“It’s difficult to have a clear idea on which track we’ll do better. Only now are we starting to get a clearer idea of the car. Comparing Miami and Spain, we have more or less the same situation, faster in Qualifying and inconsistent in the race.
“Mercedes is a good point of reference: they brought a great package to Monaco, and the gap remained more or less the same. The problem remains the consistency.”
Question: How do you rate the weekend?
“Carlos did the best with a great lap in Qualifying and on the front row, and then he had a good race and we made good strategies, also holding two sets of Hards over the course of the weekend.
“Charles started the weekend well, then there was Qualifying, and you know how it went. We changed the car a lot at the rear, and now we will analyze what happened. In the first stint, he was complaining about the balance again, but then it improved during the race.”
Question: Do you aim to close the gap between Mercedes and potentially Red Bull? What is your development plan?
“I think we are a little faster than Mercedes in qualifying and slower in the race. Until we fix this inconsistency problem, we can’t beat them. Red Bull remains faster.”
Question: Do you think your car can suffer more from turbulence than other cars?
“It could be an option, but if you see Carlos in the second stint, he was alone, and it was a disaster”
Question: What have you learned from the tires that will be introduced at Silverstone?
“It’s not an easy thing to get a clear idea about the new tires in five laps. We did hundreds of laps on these tires, and we still don’t understand them well, so it’s impossible to understand the new ones in 5 laps. There have been tests in Bahrain, and there will be more tests in Barcelona, and we will also have a better idea of next year’s tyres.”
Question: Will the fact that the inconsistency remained (after the updates) also change your development plan?
“We will continue to work on consistency and have a car that is easier to drive. The problem is not at the chassis level but something that happens to us from stint to stint. We have very difficult stints in the free area, so it’s difficult to understand.”
Question: After Jeddah, you said that the problem was not in the concept of the car, but here you changed the car a bit. Have you changed your mind about anything?
“I joke about it because I’ve always been asked about the concept. For me, the concept is not only the shape of the sidepods. At one point, we struggled with updates, and therefore, we changed direction to open new avenues for development for parts that will arrive in the next races.”
Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang