Carlos Sainz Jr, Ferrari, Silverstone, 2023

Ferrari has potential to make ‘much better use’ of its car with set-up changes

2023 Hungarian Grand Prix

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The key to unlocking the Ferrari SF-23’s pace is making the correct set-up decisions, rather than bringing more upgrades, says team principal Frederic Vasseur.

After 10 races, Ferrari lie fourth in the constructors’ standings having scored two podium finishes. However they have failed to finish in the top five at four grands prix.

The team has brought some significant changes to its SF-23 since the season began. However Vasseur believes they can make greater gains by optimising the package they have from race to race.

“I’m not sure that it’s development, It’s also set-up during the weekend,” Vasseur said following the British Grand Prix. “Because the development at one stage you will have a kind of asymptote with the upgrade that you will make one or two tenths with set-up and [with] the preparation of the weekend you can do more than this.”

“You can’t bring every single week upgrades on the car,” he added. “We will have parts soon but again if I have a look on the [most recent race] weekend, I think we could have done a much better usage of the car that we have.”

Vasseur also believes the Hungaroring, where the team will race this weekend, “is probably fitting a bit more with what we are doing and where we are performing.”

However he stressed his “concern is to do a better usage of the package that we have” to ensure Ferrari perform to the best of their abilities. He believes the team had its most competitive package at the Canadian Grand Prix, but compromised its result with a poor performance on Saturday.

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“I think the best pace that we had so far was Montreal,” said Vasseur. “We fucked up the quali in Canada, but the pace overall was very strong and we came back from P10, P11 to fight with P2, P3 and that was Hamilton and Alonso. It means that the pure pace, the real pace, the best one was in Montreal. But it’s true that we scored also good points on the sprint [weekends].”

Frederic Vasseur, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2023
Ferrari “could have done much better usage of the car we have”
Vasseur has seen signs the team has begun to tackle the SF-23’s most significant shortcoming – the knife-edge handling which Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jnr have both complained about. “Clearly we improved our biggest weakness of the beginning of the season, the instability, inconsistency”, he said.

However the problem can be exacerbated by the race situation, he admitted. “It looks like we struggle a lot, perhaps a bit more than some others, when we are into the [DRS] train,” said Vasseur.

However he remains convinced that making the best out of the package should be the team’s priority, particularly this weekend.

“It’s not just a matter of the package fitting with the track. The set-up that you are doing, the preparation of the weekend, the Friday that you are doing are key. And it will be probably even more in Budapest because it’s so difficult to overtake that it will be crucial.

“Honestly, again, it’s more a matter of extracting the best of the package that we have today than to change completely the development of the car or the concept of the car.”

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2023 Hungarian Grand Prix

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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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5 comments on “Ferrari has potential to make ‘much better use’ of its car with set-up changes”

  1. What’s hilarious is that Fred states that they were encouraged by their performance in Canada, where they were the 3rd fastest team (after Red Bull and Aston). There hasn’t been a single race weekend where they’ve looked competitive for the win this entire season.

    1. That has been true of every team other than Red Bull though. At least Ferrari sneaked in a pole.

      But the season has definitely been a big disappointment. They’ve made very little gains compared to last season, even when it was already obvious their concept suffered a big setback thanks to the Mercedes shenanigans that led to the infamous TD halfway through the season.

      1. They’ve made very little gains compared to last season, even when it was already obvious their concept suffered a big setback thanks to the Mercedes shenanigans that led to the infamous TD halfway through the season.

        In what way is it any other team’s fault that Ferrari had to make changes when the FIA changed their floor testing to accurately check compliance with a rule that had existed for many years? – that’s the so-called “plank” we’re talking about, it’s been there a long while.
        Excess wear was checked only at one specific location and orientation, whereas multiple test locations existed. Ferrari exploited the failure of the FIA to routinely test completely and got caught out needing to change.

        I’ve said before, if Ferrari applied as much effort to designing something inventive that complied with the regs as they do trying to evade detection of breaking the regs, I think they could make a winning car.
        Whether they’d find a way to scupper their driver’s chances with strange strategy or something else, who knows? That’s a different conversation.

  2. Well Fred, the thing with Ferrari is that they always seem to find new ways to let themselves and the fans down.

    Yeah, better setup would be great, we all want to see others put a challenge to Max. So good luck. I will believe it when I see it, and even then, I doubt they will be able to do it consistently.

  3. Just like any other car.

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