Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur has revealed this weekend’s Miami Grand Prix will be the start of Ferrari introducing updates to its 2023 Formula 1 car.
Having upheld ambitions of competing for the World Championship this year, Ferrari’s SF-23 has not been a match for Red Bull’s dominant RB19, and the Scuderia’s scruffy start has relegated it to fourth position in the Constructors’ standings.
While Charles Leclerc was able to beat the two Bulls to the top spot in qualifying on two occasions in Azerbaijan, Ferrari didn’t possess the speed to fight the reigning champions for the race win.
Nevertheless, Leclerc held on to claim Ferrari’s first podium of the year, and Vasseur has stated the Miami GP will be the beginning of the Italian outfit adding a series of performance developments to its car.
“We will start to bring updates on the car from Miami and for the next couple of events and we will see how the car will react to the updates,” he disclosed.
“The update is one thing but the fact that you are able to extract all of the potential out of the update is another one.”
Despite starting from pole position, Leclerc crossed the line at the end of Sunday’s 51-lap race a substantial 21 seconds behind race victor Sergio Perez.
While Vasseur declared Ferrari shouldn’t hide from the nature of its emphatic defeat, he failed to expand on whether its deficit to Red Bull came primarily from an aerodynamic or mechanical standpoint.
However, the French chief added he was encouraged by the car’s more consistent behaviour through the challenging twists and turns of the Baku City Circuit.
“Overall, they were faster than us and we don’t have to bull**** ourselves,’ he said. “Then to understand if it is coming from aero or mechanical is another story.
“I think so far what is obvious is that we are struggling with consistency. It’s true this weekend, all over the lap, all over the corners and all over the race. I think the car was much more consistent this weekend and we are going in the right direction.”
Red Bull’s extreme advantage over the rest when DRS is enabled was once again a significant talking point of the Baku weekend, particularly when other sides struggled to make overtakes happen.
Leclerc was passed comfortably by Perez early in both races, while Max Verstappen had a 30kp/h speed advantage over the Ferrari down the start-finish straight with the slot gap in the rear wing open.
Vasseur expressed confidence that Ferrari is on the right path to understanding why Red Bull is mightily strong when its DRS mechanism is in operation.
“Clearly, one of the strengths of the Red Bull today is the DRS effect,” he highlighted. “We need to understand what they’re doing, and I think we’re on it.
“We compensated part of the gap compared to last year, because it was already the case last year, but we still have mega room for improvement.”
While many teams opted to bring updates to Baku after the month-long break since Australia, Ferrari heeded the side of caution and decided against debuting new parts.
The essence of the Sprint format meant that only one practice session was afforded ahead of parc ferme regulations being enforced before Friday’s qualifying hour.
Alpine was stung bitterly by the inability to finetune the revised floor it brought to Azerbaijan, resulting in Esteban Ocon withdrawing to a pit lane start to make set-up alterations.
Along with the occasional disruption provided by Sprint weekends throughout the year, Vasseur believes teams will have to be decisive when it comes to selecting which venues it introduces upgrades.
“The format of the weekend means it is difficult to get the potential that I think is there,” he considered. “It is difficult with this format to introduce an update on the car, but it is the same for everybody and it is part of the game.
“It is true we will have to consider this in the approach for the next couple of events. Monaco is not the best place to develop the car, so we will bring small updates.
“This format pushes the teams to bring small updates and not to bring a big package.”