Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Miami International Autodrome, 2023

Ferrari puzzled by lack of pace and “opposite” performance across its cars

2023 Miami Grand Prix

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Ferrari were left frustrated by their lack of race pace in the Miami Grand Prix and confused by the differences between the performance of their cars.

Carlos Sainz Jnr finished fifth, picking up a five-second time penalty for pit lane speeding on the way, and was classified 37 seconds behind Red Bull’s race winner Max Verstappen. He expressed his surprise at Ferrari’s struggles during the race, saying he could not push without his tyres suffering.

Team mate Charles Leclerc also had a poor afternoon, finishing seventh. Team principal Frederic Vasseur said his two drivers suffered different problems during the race.

“Yesterday I think the pace was decent but we were not able to put everything together,” said Vasseur following the race on Sunday. “And today it’s quite similar.

“The first stint went pretty well for Carlos, he lost a couple of seconds on [the first] third of the race, and he lost 25s on the last two thirds. We are far too much inconsistent from one car to the other, and from one lap to the other. We have to understand why.”

Leclerc finished 10 seconds behind his team mate, but his performance on the medium and hard tyres contrasted with Sainz’s experience of the two compounds.

“It’s not just [struggling during] the race, because at some stages of the race we were okay-ish,” added Vasseur.

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“But again, the first stint on the medium for Carlos, he lost five seconds in 18 laps. I think this stage of the race was okay for us, and for Charles it was the opposite. He was in a good shape at some stages of the second stint with the hard, and he was struggling much more in the first part of the race.

“But we really need to focus our attention on this because it’s key for us. And we are aware we have to do a step.”

Vasseur said the problem of inconsistency did not stem from switching between compounds, because the change in handling and performance of one car when moving to a different tyre was not replicated by the other.

“With Charles we were more performing on the hards, and with Carlos we’re much more performing on the medium. And even with the same tyres, from one lap to the other one, we are a bit inconsistent,” he added.

Leclerc, who qualified a second off pole in seventh place after crashing in qualifying, was just as puzzled how Ferrari’s race pace struggles had manifested in different ways across the two cars.

“It was really difficult,” said Leclerc after the race on Sunday. “We were just speaking about it with Carlos, and we basically agreed that we have a car that is so incredibly difficult to be on the limit.

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“On my side, I don’t know what was going on but in the high-speed I had the car moving a lot. Not from the rear, but just the overall platform of the car was touching like crazy. So we will check the car and everything. But it didn’t feel great.

“As I was saying with Carlos, it was just a very inconsistent car today. So I’m just trying to bring the car to the end.”

Leclerc suspects Sainz did not have the same problem as he did. “I cannot speak for Carlos. I haven’t seen [his race]. I don’t think he was complaining about it that much speaking to him. But for me, it was quite crazy. So I don’t know what was going on, really.”

Leclerc sarcastically commented it was “obviously another great, great race” for him.

He said it will be “very important” Ferrari’s coming upgrades work “because now we are very far away. Like very, very far away.

“For me, I really struggle to find any explanations why we are so far in the race and so close in qualifying. This is really something we need to work on.”

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2023 Miami Grand Prix

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    Author information

    Ida Wood
    Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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    17 comments on “Ferrari puzzled by lack of pace and “opposite” performance across its cars”

    1. I don’t get the sarcastic reference.

      1. I think he was judging his own performance and wasn’t happy about his last few races.

    2. Leclerc’s comments about not being able to find the limit of the car because it keeps changing from lap to lap is worrisome for the development path. It is very tricky to build on such an unstable platform.

      That said, it should be noted that they still finished 5th and 7th and pretty level with the Mercedes. F1 teams tend to be a bit melodramatic when it comes to describing the weaknesses of their package, and translate half a tenth of difference to ‘no grip in sector 1’. Obviously the reality is a lot more nuanced, and the changes required are relatively small. The trick is in finding and applying them.

      1. If you read through the race commentary notes from “As it happened” on the F1 website you’ll see they mention that one of the Ferraris was porpoising down the straight and the other wasn’t, I was surprised they didn’t mention that in the article but it does appear to suggest that there is some major differences between the two cars.

        1. Which isn’t strange as Le clerc went maybe through his spare parts of his crashes OR his suspension wasn’t build up/ checked after his crash which made his car even more changable.

    3. It’s how they use tyres over long runs. On 1 lap right up there. The aero is fine, engine fine, but over many Laops differences between their own drivers and to other cars, tyres. Of course something in their design leads to this and drivers take different approaches but then face huge issues at different points of the race.

    4. Not a single statement being said here that exhibits confidence that Ferrari has identified its weakness and will fix the problem. Another wasted year and then more changes and more instability.

      1. Yep. Even worse it seems that they may have included a serious design flaw that causes inconsistent behavior. We’ve seen that before and it takes an age to track it down, not to mention a huge amount of money which teams can no longer spend.
        Can’t believe that we have another wasted year for both Ferrari and Mercedes.
        Who would have imagined that we’d all have to cheer on Aston Martin as the one most likely to make a solid inroad to RBR.

        1. couldntstopmyself
          9th May 2023, 8:04

          Can’t believe that we have another wasted year for both Ferrari and Mercedes.

          Don’t forget Zak Brown’s McLaren.
          But then again, they successfully introduced those advertising displays.

          1. Indeed. I’ve gotten so used to them being nearly as bad as Williams, I didn’t even consider them as being a possible front runner.

      2. Wasted decades… its not even single seasons any more. This is probably how the next 10 years will play out for Ferrari –
        Since they are now “restructuring” for Fred’s tenure in 2023… this season will be treated as a teething season. In 2024, they targeting ‘occasional wins’. They might get a couple … that will delight the critics after setting a low benchmark.
        2025 is when they will launch their championship challenge and fail again. They’ll give up after the summer break .. when they lose out to the Red Bull or Mercedes in the development race for the 15th time in 15 seasons.
        2026 they will give one more season to Fred since his “restructuring” is complete and now they’ll make a step forward with the new regulations… only for them to fail miserably again with a poor concept and poor exploitation of the rules. The rest of the season will be used as a test season.

        Fred is fired in the summer of 2026 and a new team principal will start with his restructuring in 2027. Just copy paste the new 5 seasons as exactly as per Fred’s tenure, up until the next team principal comes in for more of the same.

        1. Now, this seems like a likely prediction, let’s see how close you get!

    5. I remember watching Charl fighting Kmag for 12th (I think) and Kmag coming straight back down the inside and overtaking him again.

      Considering Charl could’ve snatched pole 24hrs earlier (unlikely, but possible), it left me scratching my head a bit, yes there was talk of tyre preservation, but he’s fighting a Haas for 12th?

      I think it’s @tifoso1989 who is an expert on all things Ferrari. But sometimes I think Ferrari is and will be a puzzle nobody can solve. I would put that Prost quote, but I think we all know it.

      It kind of adds to their ‘allure’, but they started these regs pretty close to Red Bull. First it was strategy calls, then barriers, Carlos often being completely absent in races. *I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets less screen time than anyone else in the field.

      1. It kind of adds to their ‘allure’, but they started these regs pretty close to Red Bull. First it was strategy calls, then barriers, Carlos often being completely absent in races. *I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets less screen time than anyone else in the field.

        You’re flattering them by using the term ‘allure’. They started off with a strong initial concept and lost their way when it came to extracting more performance from their package. They started off with rubbish strategists, which didn’t really improve either. Their lead driver went from fighting for wins in a competitive car, to crashing out because of overdriving in a uncompetitive car. Their other driver shouldn’t have been their other driver to being with.. he’s been rubbish from the start and continues to be rubbish.

    6. I understood Mercedes could be silenced for a few seasons (as seen post Bar Honda and Brawn GP period), before getting competitive with any upcoming new regulation. But I admit I was shocked looking at the unexplained Ferrari’s poor performance since mid last year. I guess Red Bull could be dominate the sport until year 2026…

      1. the unexplained Ferrari’s poor performance since mid last year.

        It’s not quite unexplained, though. The Mercedes-requested ride height changes had a big impact on the designs of the cars, and Ferrari – because of its characteristics and design choices – was one of the most impacted.

    7. Coventry Climax
      9th May 2023, 19:16

      Puzzled and confused (title and first sentence) seem to be the exact two words defining Ferrari. Nothing new.
      I’ll add another: incompetence. I’ll leave it to Ferrari to find the person(s) to whom that word fits best and most. Likely, that means someone will have to point to himself, which will never happen.

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