The 2023 Formula 1 summer break is in full swing, presenting the opportunity to take stock of how each side’s season has unfolded ahead of the season’s resumption.
From kicking off the latest ground effect era as the fastest team on the grid before falling behind Red Bull to finish a distant second in the Constructors’ Championship in 2022, Ferrari has since dropped further down the pecking order with 12 rounds gone in 2023.
The management hierarchy at Maranello deemed 2022’s efforts to be less than satisfactory, with long-standing team members and then-Team Principal Mattia Binotto deemed surplus to requirements as a result.
Former Sauber CEO and Team Principal Fred Vasseur was hired as Binotto’s replacement, tasked with leading the Scuderia back to the top. However, rather than closing the gap on Red Bull, let alone consolidating second in the pecking order, the Italian marque has perished to fourth in the Constructors’ standings.
As of the Belgian Grand Prix, F1’s oldest team has 191 points, five adrift of third-place Aston Martin, 56 behind Mercedes in second and a whopping 312 points behind leaders Red Bull.
As well as this, Ferrari has seen the departure of two high-profile team members in recent months, starting with Head of Vehicle Performance David Sanchez, who left the team following the opening round of the season in preparation for joining rivals McLaren in 2024. Laurent Mekies has also stepped down from his post as Sporting Director to enter gardening leave ahead of succeeding Franz Tost as Team Principal at AlphaTauri next year.
Prior to the summer break last year, Ferrari notched up a total of four grand prix wins – but the team has yet to win so far in 2023, achieving just three podium finishes in 12 rounds, with the most recent coming at Spa-Francorchamps, as Charles Leclerc came home in third place to sign the team’s first half of the season off on a more positive note.
However, the upturn in Belgium came off the back of disappointment in both the British and Hungarian Grands Prix.
At Silverstone, Leclerc and team-mate Carlos Sainz finished ninth and 10th respectively, before slightly improving in Budapest with a seventh and eighth-place finish.
Leclerc – who scored the team’s other two podiums, with third in Azerbaijan and second in Austria – has admitted the Scuderia have had to redefine their goals for this season with merely a win before the end of the year being the ultimate objective.
Behind runaway leaders Red Bull, the pecking order has fluctuated from race to race, with Ferrari sharing the title of best of the rest with the likes of Aston Martin, Mercedes and even McLaren in what is a tight battle to be the second-fastest team on any given weekend.
As a result, Ferrari’s results from weekend to weekend have been inconsistent, with limitations within the SF-23’s design causing issues for both Sainz and Leclerc as they struggle to string together a consistent level of pace lap upon lap.
These limitations, which Sainz has previously admitted to being “frustrating“, citing, in particular, the car’s sensitivity to wind, an issue that the Spaniard has stated cannot be addressed due to the cost cap.
Vasseur has backed up Sainz’s opinion on the effects the cost cap is having on Ferrari’s progress and has stated that the team’s goal moving forward is to remain focused on itself, rather than its rivals once the F1 action resumes after the summer shutdown.