Ferrari team boss Frederic Vasseur asserts that the upgrades it brought to the Spanish Grand Prix were a “step forward” despite a tough outing in Sunday’s race.
Following an arduous start to the season that has it winless and sitting fourth in the Constructors’ Championship, Ferrari unveiled an extensive upgrade package ahead of the weekend, including the addition of a new sidepod configuration.
While Carlos Sainz was able to secure a front-row starting berth from qualifying, the Italian outfit’s race-day struggles continued in Barcelona, with the Spaniard dropping to fifth by the chequered flag.
While Vasseur acknowledges that Ferrari still lags behind both Red Bull and Mercedes, who scored a double podium with its revised car, in race trim, the Frenchman provided a positive assessment of how the new parts on its SF-23 fared.
“We made a step forward this weekend in terms of our qualifying pace, with Carlos on the front row after the best Saturday of his season so far,” Vasseur said. “However it is clear that, in terms of race pace, Red Bull and Mercedes are quicker than us.
“As for the upgrades, I think we have made a step forward overall if you compare this weekend with Miami. Clearly, we know it is still not enough.”
Although Ferrari has consistently been Red Bull’s nearest competitor over a single lap in 2023, the Scuderia has been unable to sustain a competitive challenge on Sundays.
Both Sainz and Charles Leclerc have issued in recent weeks how the car remains increasingly difficult to drive on higher fuel runs due to the unpredictability it offers.
Despite the addition of upgrades targeted at improving race pace and overall consistency, Leclerc explained after the latest grand prix his contrasting fortunes at different points of the race on the same hard compound tyre.
Therefore, Vasseur outlines Ferrari’s biggest target is to improve the consistency of its capricious SF-23 charger rather than simply chasing performance gains.
“Our problem is not our outright performance, it is our lack of consistency,” he revealed.
“Charles’ first set of hards was a sort of a nightmare but then on his last set of the same compound he was happy with the balance: we must assess this inconsistency. Now we will focus completely on this issue before Canada.
“For sure we will continue to develop the car but this is a matter of improving by tenths of a second, whereas in the race we are looking for seconds at the moment. There is something in the car that we must unlock if we want to move forward.”
With Leclerc coming home outside of the points to compound a torrid weekend on his side of the garage, Sainz’s fifth place saw Ferrari lose further ground to both Aston Martin and Mercedes.
The Maranello squad finally surpassed the 100-point mark in Spain but now sit a substantial 50 points behind Mercedes, who took over second place from Aston Martin on Sunday, in the Constructors’ Championship.