Closing the deficit to Red Bull has been made a more difficult task due to the introduction of Formula 1’s cost cap, believes Ferrari team boss Frederic Vasseur.
F1 has operated under a budget cap since 2021, with the figure this year set at $135 million for each team.
Red Bull has dominated the opening half of the 2023 campaign, winning all 12 grands prix staged so far.
The Milton Keynes-based squad boasts a mammoth lead in both the Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championship, having been largely unchallenged.
But teams such as Ferrari are no longer to throw as many resources as it can at development, meaning the deficit that exists at the start of the year has become much harder to close.
“Red Bull is also bringing upgrades and upgrades and upgrades,” Vasseur said.
“And I think that everybody is improving but the reality of the regulations and the cost gap is that we are improving much less than in the past.
“It means that when there is a gap, and a real gap, it’s quite difficult to catch up.
“One weekend to the others over the last four or five weekends it was a one time [Ferrari] ahead in quali, one time McLaren, one time Mercedes.
“But we are always behind Red Bull and at least in the race they have still a huge gap.”
Ferrari currently sits fourth in the Constructors’ Championship, having endured a difficult opening 12 rounds.
The team was hopeful of fighting for the title this year after returning to the top step in 2022 – but has so far been forced to celebrate just a handful of podiums.
Vasseur insists that Ferrari is focused on itself, not its rivals, as it aims to make strides towards the front of the field.
“To catch up, it’s not that you are thinking about the Red Bull and to say well ‘what [do] we have to do?’
“You have to work on yourself. It means that we are developing, we are developing in every single direction, we are trying to improve aero, suspension and whatever we can do.
“We are pushing like hell to do a better job but if you have a look, and this is crucial, with the bouncing and so, it’s not when you are bringing upgrades that you are doing a huge step forward.”