Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Monaco, 2023

Ferrari had pace to take pole and potentially win in Monaco – Vasseur

2023 Monaco Grand Prix

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Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur believes a win was possible for the team in Monaco but they will have to improve their consistency to be competitive elsewhere.

Charles Leclerc qualified third but a three-place penalty for impeding meant he started the race from sixth, with team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr two places further ahead.

Leclerc went on to finish sixth on Sunday, while Sainz ran in fourth before losing a position in the pit stop cycle, then delayed his switch to intermediate tyres by one lap compared to most of his rivals when rain arrived, and dropped to eighth as a result.

“Carlos was vocal on the radio, but when he came back to the garage he had a clear expectation about the strategy, and the call was absolutely not a mistake,” said Vasseur, who brushed off suggestions Ferrari’s race pace had been particularly poor.

“To say that the pace was not there in Monaco, I think it’s a bit harsh with us. We were in position to fight for the pole position. And starting from the pole, I think that the win was possible. Probably the drivers came to Monaco with a lot of expectation, and we also as a team.”

“The race was not a matter of pace,” he added. “We were stuck behind [Esteban] Ocon, and the frustration of Carlos came from the fact that he wanted to show the pace of the car.”

Vasseur blamed “the circumstances under the race scenario” for Ferrari not showing their pace in the race, and said “the feeling from Carlos is that we are far away from the potential of the car”.

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Though he believes the car’s potential was better than what was shown last weekend, Vasseur admitted “we are far away off the expectations” of pure performance for the Ferrari SF-23. The team must “stay calm” following that realisation, he said.

“If the car was so difficult to drive, I can’t imagine that we could be one tenth off [pole winner] Verstappen. You have to stay calm into the corners, and sometimes [the media] are jumping on the drivers five minutes after the qualifying, and I can understand perfectly their reaction.

“But the comments that they are making half an hour after are a bit different. It’s not about the quali for me. If we are suffering of something, it’s consistency. Over the lap, over the race, from corner to corner, and it’s where we have to improve. But mainly for the race, and we are working on it.”

Vasseur believes addressing that problem is the key to making the car more competitive. “I think it’s much easier to find the consistency than to find the potential,” he said. “It means that as soon as we’ll be able to unlock this issue that we have today, that starting from the first row that we’ll be able to fight for the win. It is like it is. And today we know that we have to improve.”

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2023 Monaco 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...
    Claire Cottingham
    Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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    23 comments on “Ferrari had pace to take pole and potentially win in Monaco – Vasseur”

    1. Binotto was saying exactly the same a year ago – good progress Ferrari ;)

      1. Stunning how all Ferrari team bosses do not survive the onboarding process at Ferrari and are turned into exact replicas. Unfortunately this also means we will get more of what we saw in the past rather than progress.

    2. Might have had a chance starting 3rd but didn’t due to another Ferrari clown show. Last year was even worse as had it in their hands. Even when gave the fastest cars they threw most potential wins away, now they have 3rd or 4th fastest car they have no chance. If RB and Ferrari swapped cars, RB would be tight with Aston at the top of the standings and Ferrari at best would be in rd just behind Aston and RB.

    3. If my grandmother has wheels, she would have been a bicycle.

      1. She’d be a wagon.

    4. I don’t understand something. Did they bring new people to change Ferrari, or did they want to change those people? It’s different faces with different names, but they are kinda doing and saying same things, with same results. I’m far from an expert or insider, but I think that first one that has to go is the one on top. The team seems to be his plaything. There’s no one to tell him that he may be the problem…

      1. COTD Right here.
        4 month have passed since the start of the season and the mistakes are similar.

        1. Good observation there. Yes, the issues are more to do with how Ferrari operates as a team and company than with the specific names. The last decade or so shows that. And it ties back to the times before Todt came in and brought them a string of successes after rebuilding the team in his vision in the 1990s

      2. The car is Binotto’s. The drivers are Binotto’s. Vasseur can’t change those, and he won’t want to change at least one of those.

        Various high profile people have already been replaced. Some probably still should; but Vasseur always made it clear he wanted to understand the organization first, to see them do multiple race weekends. We’re still only at race six, mind you!

        It takes time to make changes, and even more to see the effects.

        And despite all that, the team is still only 30 points away from 2nd in the constructors. Even getting Leclerc to the finish in Bahrain would have put them right about that spot given that Aston Martin benefited from that.

        1. I think people are tired of ferrari playing 2nd best and want them to win titles, so it’s a matter of expectations: ofc leclerc lost a lot of points through bad luck\mistakes\pit wall mistakes, that shouldn’t continue and they might be able to take 2nd place, the fight with merc and aston is competitive for now, but people won’t be satisfied till ferrari goes back to winning titles, they challenged for part or most of the season a few times in the last 15 years: 2010, 2012, 2017, 2018, 2022, but never really had a car that was good all season, except 2018, but they lacked the driver then.

          1. The same driver who was winning numerous races and leading the championship in both 2017 and 2018 while his title winning teammate could only manage a single win in half a decade at Ferrari?

            Another classic Binotto move to replace that driver with Carlos Sainz.

      3. I guess there is a fair element of ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’ at Ferrari. What’s needed is a more eccentric team boss who tends to care little for those who hired him. I feel that is crucial for not getting again what was already delivered before.

        1. What’s needed is results. But interestingly this only seems to apply to Ferrari. Look at McLaren; an F1 Big Name that has been languishing since 2012. But ain’t Zak cool? He’s great! And Lando! So funny! Or Alpine; one of the world’s largest manufacturers. Not to mention the biggest proponent of the move to these hybrid PUs.

          1. Whilst I agree the public opinion might be along that line, to me McLaren and Alpine are actually worse than Ferrari. Grid filling.

            1. Absolutely. People outside of the sport generally have little idea what it takes to run a successful F1 team, and that’s fine as they don’t have to. But whenever it comes to Ferrari everyone is suddenly an expert and knows that Ferrari is ‘in chaos’ and ‘needs stability’.

              As if that stability ever helped anyone at any of the teams that have spent years with the same senior people making uncompetitive cars, hiring uncompetitive drivers, and generally contributing little to F1!

              And even Red Bull which is supposedly proof of the ‘stability leads to success’ argument needed a monumental investment from Honda and some rather convenient regulatory changes to become competitive again; they were essentially a non-factor from 2014 right up until 2021, picking up only a handful of inconsequential wins.

    5. “To say that the pace was not there in Monaco, I think it’s a bit harsh with us”

      Is that harsher than saying “the pace was definitely there but as usually, Ferrari found new and inventive ways to screw up?”

    6. So basically Vasseur saying Ferrari need better (more consistent) drivers. Something like the duo driving for Mercedes? One of them would do…

      1. He’s saying the same thing he’s said all year: the car changes its handling drastically throughout the race as tyres wear and fuel loads change. Ferrari is 2nd and 3rd on average qualifying positions. The car isn’t slow, it’s just not behaving the same way throughout the race, which is obviously a problem.

        And yes, Ferrari does need its drivers to make a step in their performance. Leclerc needs his ‘Verstappen 2018’ moment, and the sooner the better. I’m not sure Sainz can just ‘be faster’, so maybe it is indeed time for a new driver.

        1. You just know that if Alonso drove one of those Ferraris, he would be further up the standing than either of their current drivers. It just seems inevitable. Alonso’s been driving for 2 decades, and you really rarely see him throw away points with dumb mistakes, whether it’s the points for 5th place or for a win.

          1. i disagree alonso would be out of ferrari and he was always vocal about them. as for charles he only made mistakes in australia and miami. again in australia there was a pit communication issue due to which he couldn’t complete 2nd q3 lap to qualify better. so only miami was his mistake but again if alonso or someone else was in the car now do you know they wouldn’t have made mistake trying to push the limits? it is easy to blame drivers with rose tinted glasses but reality is every car is different and even top
            driver in a bad inconsistent car can do so much

          2. Alonso is a great driver, of that there is no doubt. But he’s also a bit of a pr genius and masterful at putting himself in the underdog position and as somehow doing unreasonably well in supposedly average cars. But when he had the car, he didn’t always deliver; be it in 2007, in 2010, or even in 2012 which was arguably his most impressive season.

    7. I don’t think there’s any doubt that the cars and drivers have the pace for poles and wins. The issue is the support and especially strategy. The drivers can’t really do much without a decent strategy and right now they’re not getting it.

    8. To say that the pace was not there in Monaco, I think it’s a bit harsh with us. We were in position to fight for the pole position. And starting from the pole, I think that the win was possible.

      Monaco is a race track where pace is less important than position, but position at the start of the race is dictated by pace. If Max got Pole Position it was very probable he’d win unless he or the team blundered, so a good lap time and no penalties was essential for Ferrari. When you look at Ferrari’s penalty there was more they could have done to avoid being penalised. The point here is even the slowest car on the track can be the source of a penalty if that car is on a hot lap, which leaves us wondering why more care wasn’t taken in regards to warning their drivers to avoid impeding other drivers.
      Ferrari should pay less attention to Red Bull and more attention to Mercedes and Aston Martin because they are just ahead of Ferrari on the World Constructors’ Championship table.

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