Ferrari made “too many mistakes” but swap of positions wasn’t one – Vasseur

2023 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Ferrari squandered their chance of a better result in the Hungarian Grand Prix by making too many mistakes in the race, team principal Frederic Vasseur admitted.

However he stood by their decision to change the running order of their drivers through the timing of their final pit stops.

Charles Leclerc suffered an especially frustrating day as he slipped from sixth on the grid to finish seventh. He lost time with a slow pit stop and was penalised for breaking the speed limit when he came in. A faulty radio and drinks tube added to his frustrations.

Vasseur said the team need to review the decisions it made and errors it committed over the race weekend, which was the first run to Formula 1’s experimental Alternative Tyre Allocation rules. He believes those errors contributed more to its poor result than the car’s performance.

“I think that first we will need time to understand what we did right and wrong,” said Vasseur after the race. “The format was different and it’s not so easy to analyse the perfect weekend and you need to get all the results to be able to do a retro-engineering on this.

“But I think on our side it’s much more the fact that we made too many mistakes, from the beginning to the end. It’s not just about the pit stop or the pit entry or the quali or the management of the tyres.

“At the end, the potential was probably better than what we showed yesterday. Today, at least with Charles, we lost 20 seconds on the race.”

Carlos Sainz Jnr finished one place behind his team mate. He started the race on the soft tyre compound in a bid to recover places after failing to reach the top 10 in qualifying. Before the weekend began Ferrari expected the Hungaroring would suit their car better than the previous venue, Silverstone, and Vasseur admitted they were disappointed to see both cars finish outside the top five.

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“It’s not the result that we were expecting coming into Budapest but I think it was largely compromised yesterday after the quali with P6 and P11,” said Vasseur after the race.

“We had to take some risk at the start, particularly with the soft [tyre]. It was a good choice but we know also that after the start we had to fit two sets of hard and it was quite tough.

“On Charles’ side I think the race was probably much better because the pace was there. But it was largely compromised with the pit entry, with the penalty and then we had an issue with the wheel gun and we lost another eight seconds on the pit stop. Plus then the traffic, he would have been probably P5, I don’t know, but it’s a missed opportunity.”

Vasseur, who took over as Ferrari team principal at the beginning of the year, said the work on addressing the errors they made will begin immediately.

“I spent the last 35 years or something like this of my life on the pit wall and every single Monday of my career you have to do the list and you have a long list of mistakes,” he told media including RaceFans in Hungary.

“Sometimes you can see it, sometimes not, but the job of the team principal is to do the list with the team members and to fix it. And I’m very open with you to say that we are doing too many mistakes.”

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However he stands by the team’s decision to move Leclerc ahead of his team mate during the race by bringing him in earlier for his second pit stop. Leclerc fell behind Sainz at his slow first stop, but jumped ahead by switching to his final set of tyres one lap before his team mate.

Vasseur defended the decision, pointing out Leclerc’s strategy gave him the opportunity to finish well ahead of Sainz.

“It was the best way for us to protect the result of the team,” he said. “At the end of the race, if you have a look, I think that the potential of Charles, considering the fact that Carlos has to start with soft and how we were with the life that Charles would have finished probably 20 seconds ahead of Carlos, it mean that it was the good choice.”

However Leclerc’s race was compromised by his penalty for speeding in the pits. “Nobody can predict before the call that you will get the penalty, you will have the issue with the wheel gun and so on,” said Vasseur.

“It’s always easy to redo the race after the chequered flag and to say it would have been different. But I think at this stage it was the right call and I’m still convinced.”

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2023 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
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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33 comments on “Ferrari made “too many mistakes” but swap of positions wasn’t one – Vasseur”

  1. Jimmy Cliff
    24th July 2023, 9:50

    Well Ricciardo clearly showed that a soft-hard-medium strategy would have worked for Sainz as well.

    Clearly Sainz failing to reach Q3 is main reason Sainz didn’t get a better result – Sainz then being stuck behind Leclerc on those faster softs after an amazing start didn’t help him much.

    Vasseur is not delivering and Ferrari should start regretting the decision to fire Binotto – a brilliant engineer that was loyal to Ferrari for a long time, helped Ferrari with a great start of 2022 and what we clearly see now in 2023 than majority of the isssues/errors run way deeper in the team/drivers than just Binotto’s management.

  2. As an outsider looking in, Fred does not seem to have made much progress with the issues plaguing Ferrari last year…..

    1. As long as Xavi is still there lecturing Leclerc at a dismissive tone, it’s pretty clear Vasseur either won’t make needed changes, or isn’t allowed to.

  3. I think it actually started with keeping Sainz behind Leclerc after he cought up. Had they then made them change positions and given Carlos a chance to see where his tyres would take him, they wouldn’t have even had to think about it for the rest of the race since both would have been on different strategies altogether.

    Having that tight moment later was probably part of why things happened in the pits as they did.

    But there is a lack of trust between the drivers and the team over strategy calls etc (and perceived favourism with letting the other guy past or not and when) that makes them slow and lack flexibility. Apart from too often making exactly the wrong calls.

    1. This! It was annoying to see Sainz on quicker tyres stuck behind his teammate. Why split strategies if you don’t act on it.

    2. I think Ferrari have manufactured that lack of trust though by moving Sainz over to benefit Leclerc several times but he never wants to reciprocate so Sainz now just refuses to help Leclerc and both drivers have to put up with being stuck behind each other. It was quite short sighted by Leclerc as he’ll probably find himself stuck behind Sainz far more than vice versa.

      1. Yes, I think you are right there @slowmo. They have created a situation where neither Sainz nor Leclerc can really trust their judgement on these kinds of things.

    3. They wasted the speed he had in those tires, obviously. That hurt his race a lot

      1. The english commentators were saying: guessing they will let sainz by now, early on, when he had soft tyres and I was like: “do you really expect that from ferrari?” and indeed not.

        1. Yeah, that’s just what my wife and I agreed. Allowing Sainz past would not have hurt Leclerc’s race at all, it was an absolute no-brainer, so it was obvious that Ferrari would refuse.

  4. Ferrari were quite rightly castigated for some of their poor strategy calls and operational errors last season. Vasseur’s new regime was supposed to be looking at this I though and bringing about some improvements. But like a lot of people I think, I cannot see that much has improved.

    In the 2023 season so far there has been little to cheer about. At least last season the car was very competitive for a lot of the season. This year Ferrari seem to be falling behind other teams who have made more improvements and taken better decisions.

    The strategy calls seem slow and indecisive. Then the relationships between both drivers and their engineers, particularly Leclerc’s seem to become strained under any pressure. I don’t know if it is internal politics or not but it does need to be sorted out.

    It needs to be said that Leclerc seems to let frustration get the better of him sometimes. He threw away sixth place by not braking in time to meet the speed pit limit. Not very professional.

  5. Yet another weekend of Ferrari mistakes… Their first in the race was not letting Carlos past and screwing his strategy, but it was definitely not the last.

    At least they are now admitting that they made mistakes, which we never got under Binotto. However, they are not improving. You can see how frustrated they are making Charles and Carlos.

    Of course, Charles didn’t help himself out with the lock up on pit entry. He would have finished a place higher without that mistake of his own, but both drivers could well have finished higher without the team continuing its pattern of mistakes.

    1. Add me to the list of people wondering why wasn’t Carlos let through when he caught up on softs?

      1. Because starting on soft tyres was a Hail Mary to recover from a bad qualifying in a track where it isn’t easy to overtake. And it probably worked better than Ferrari expected, which would have been Sainz having to destroy his tyres to get past cars in the top 10. Instead, Sainz nailed the start and got right behind Leclerc.

        At that point the best chance for both cars is returning to a normal strategy. Save tyres, try to lengthen the stint as much as possible without losing too much time, and then pit as soon as a clean air window opens.

        A similar situation happens after Leclerc’s botched pit stop. Leclerc stays within 2s of Sainz for the whole second stint. Was he faster? Should Ferrari have swapped them? No idea, but the third stint seems to suggest there wasn’t really a pace difference between the two. After the second pitstop there’s a 6s gap between the two that fluctuates a bit but doesn’t go anywhere, It grows to 8s after Sainz’s battle with Russell, then it shrinks to 5.7s when Leclerc has to go defensive against Russell.

        So, in short. Even on different tyres, they were on the same strategy, and neither driver was faster. Losing time in a driver swap would have been a mistake.

        1. This is probably what they were thinking.

          But hopefully they do take a second look at it, because Ferrari usually cuts their stints short and doesn’t get the maximum benefit from the tyres. Putting Sainz on a similar strategy makes (some) sense, but it wasn’t the only solution and while switching cars does lose a bit of time (for the leading driver) it’s not like the lead driver would have to wait around for more than one or two seconds if they prepare the swap a lap in advance.

  6. The question is how long Fred Vasseur will be at Ferrari.

    1. I give it 6 months… tops

    2. They’ll have a replacement ready before Abu Dhabi.

      Its disappointing to see Fred’s performance as team principal… The area Binotto failed at miserably was managing the drivers, the strategy and on track operations. I think there’s been a marginal improvement in strategy (as Binotto’s strategist was horrendous).. managing the drivers has actually gotten worse and on track operations have also remained the same. Binotto was more capable when it came to leading car development though.. which is something that Fred has been failing quite miserably at.

      All in all, Fred is probably as poor, if not worse as a team principal as compared to Binotto. He’s already been fired in Elkan’s mind. Now, let’s see who the next replacement will be… as there aren’t any decent options left.

      1. The one area he is better at is admitting to mistakes. He’s not doing anything to fix them, but he doesn’t stand there on camera and tell us that they did everything perfectly and it was just bad luck.

  7. and people still think Ferrari is a must in ANY driver’s career?? lol

  8. If there is a decent opportunity Sainz needs to get out of Ferrari. They are destroying his career.

    1. There are no seats in faster teams tho

      1. Let’s say both aston and ferrari aren’t shining in speed this year, consistently at least; aside from red bull, which will probably win every single race, the best bets at the moment seem to be mclaren and mercedes; merc is probably more consistently among the top 3 cars and mclaren is better right now but had more chance to fall back into the midfield.

      2. has*

    2. I mean Sainz getting in to a Ferrari was a mistake in the first place.. as he was a Perez level driver at best. Leclerc is the driver who’s career is actually getting destroyed by driving for a team like Ferrari. He would have been a different kind of beast if he was with Mercedes or Red Bull.

  9. It saddens me to see “this” Ferrari. They are (and should be) capable of so much more and be at the front. Each race weekend I hope for an improvement in their fortunes, but Hungary was once again littered with errors and Spa will probably be the same. They need to sort things out, and soon…

    1. “This” is Ferrari. Barring the second half of the 70’s and the turn of the century, “this” has always been Ferrari.

      1. @darryn

        True. Barring a short era in the 70s and the early 2000s, where they had the absolute dream team of a principal, technical head, car designer and star driver, they have just been a mess.

        Perennial underperformers is the best way to describe Ferrari. At least Mclaren can argue that post 2014, they weren’t a works team anymore, and that made winning a title near impossible, but Ferrari has no excuse.

  10. He thinks LEC would have finished 20 seconds in front of SAI? Then why is SAI still on the team? Wouldn’t you fire a driver on a top team that can’t stay within 20 seconds of their teammate? The only reason SAI was behind LEC was because the team told him to sit there.

    1. Wouldn’t you fire a driver on a top team that can’t stay within 20 seconds of their teammate?

      cough Perez cough

  11. I would really like to know whether Sainz’s race engineer informed him that Leclerc (who was 6 seconds ahead) had been given a 5 second penalty. I suspect not. They would not have been able to keep that a secret after the race. For Sainz to later find out they had done so would damage his relationship with the team far more significantly than the minimal risk of their drivers damaging their cars by driving them a bit faster for the last few laps.

    1. They don’t care what damage they do to the team’s relationship with Sainz, all they care about is their golden boy, Leclerc.

  12. Everyone talks about Fred and him not doing enough. I remember though that at the beginning of the year Vigna denied him executive power and said no to his decisions regarding the crew of the team.

    What is surprising for me is why nobody says anything regarding the utter incompetent Xavi. Binotto, Mekies, the pit stop crew and especially Xavier Marcos should have been the first to go.

    Is it so impossible to recruit competent team members form any other series?

    And one more thing, given that the current car (made by the “so competent” Binotto) is definitely not going to make a huge leapfrog in performance, could it be that they try to finish on purpose on a low place so they get more wind tunnel time for the next year?

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