Ferrari staying “calm” amid swings in performance from race to race

2023 Belgian Grand Prix

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Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur says they must remain calm over the variations in results they see from race to race.

The team was disappointed by its performance at the Hungaroring, a track it expected would suit them, where their cars finished seventh and eighth. However at Spa-Francorchamps, which looked a less promising circuit for the team on paper, Charles Leclerc took pole position and finished on the podium.

Speaking after Sunday’s race Vasseur said the changes in result from week to week showed how close the teams behind Red Bull are in performance. He contrasted Ferrari’s strong weekend at Spa with McLaren’s performance following their back-to-back podium finishes at Silverstone and the Hungaroring.

“I will stay very calm because we had the same meeting one week ago and we were at the end of the world, McLaren was flying and we were stupid and so on,” Vasseur told media after Sunday’s race in Belgium. “But from one week to the other the McLaren is at the back today and we are at the front.

“It means that we have to stay calm, to take it easy, race after race. We know that the pack is so tight that for one or two tenths you can move from P2 to P11.”

He said the team’s strong result in Belgium was a positive way to go into the summer break.

“It’s not the end of the season, we have a lot to do, but for sure today it’s good to finish the first part of the season on a positive tone. At least we will have the two weeks off with a positive race in mind.”

However Vassseur is keen to see Ferrari replicate their Spa form at other venues and in different situations. “We need a strong weekend in every single conditions: Wet, inter, slicks, long stint, short stint – that we are always there,” he said.

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“It’s good for us. Now we have to understand why we are more comfortable on some tracks than some others.

However he believes “everybody is in the same situation” in the pack behind Red Bull. “We are all a bit inconsistent because you have one or two tenths between the P2 and the P11. It means that for characteristics or for tyre management or level of downforce that you choose at the beginning of the weekend, you can do a very strong one or a poor one.

“We don’t have to draw any definitive conclusion but I think it will be like this until the end of the season, and we have to be more consistent to understand where we are weak, why we are weak, and to try to minimise this kind of weekend.”

One encouraging sign for Ferrari in their performance at Spa was the fact Lewis Hamilton wasn’t able to catch Leclerc during the grand prix. Mercedes’ tyre management has usually been superior to Ferrari’s this year.

Vasseur said their improved tyre life was a consequence of the car’s superior performance at Spa. “Sometimes it’s just that when you don’t have the pace, you have to over-push,” he explained.

“Everybody is managing, even Red Bull were managing a lot during the race. And when you don’t have the pace you have to manage or, if you push, you damage the tyres. But it’s the main driver of the situation. Like, for the strategy, it’s much easier to have a good strategy when the pace is there than when you don’t have the pace.

“When you don’t have the pace, you can do whatever you want, you will be far away. And for tyre deg it’s almost the same. When the pace is there, it’s much easier to manage. When you don’t have the pace, you have to push.”

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2023 Belgian 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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9 comments on “Ferrari staying “calm” amid swings in performance from race to race”

  1. I guess it’s good. Just we’ll have to see how calm they can stay when the italian sports newspapers start piling on the questions and blame before too soon.

    Foremost, they need to actually show that they are working towards something instead of just seeming to be clueless how to do it.

  2. Coventry Climax
    3rd August 2023, 13:45

    “It’s good for us. Now we have to understand why we are more comfortable on some tracks than some others.
    However he believes “everybody is in the same situation” in the pack behind Red Bull.

    In other words, they all -minus one- are in the process of trying to understand why they do well on one track and not on another.
    Does that also mean they all still don’t fully grasp the ground effect concept? Some two years on now, given they generally started development well before last season? Doesn’t really sound pinnacle of motorsports to me.

    I’d say this is a negative side effect of restricting everything. No budget, no allowed time, no nothing to get on top of issues.

    1. That’s something that comes up in Vasseur’s statements all year: they don’t really know where the big gains are to be found.

      His comment about close the field is has some merit, but at the same time there is a pretty static order of teams.

      In terms of finishing positions, the drivers of Red Bull (1/2), Mercedes (3/5), Ferrari (6/7), Alpine (9/11), McLaren (10/12) all line up fairly side by side. Aston Martin is the outlier for obvious reasons.

      1. Coventry Climax
        3rd August 2023, 17:10

        Yet Krack comes up with a similar story and desire to be consistent over all tracks, not just a select one or two.

  3. Charles Leclerc took pole position

    ah, not really. Het started form pole but did not take pole!

    1. @seth-space This is just semantics – he wasn’t quickest in qualifying but he definitely took pole position, that’s where he started!

      1. Semantics are important when counting..

        Round 13 – Belgium: Max Verstappen, Red Bull
        https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/article.2023-pirelli-pole-position-award.2R9heYbjz9GYUULmshNbwq.html

        The pole was for Max
        LEC was handed the first position as a result of penaltys. For the statistics, still Max took the pole.

        1. correct they changed the rules last year or the year before that. So in the stats we will see Max ..

  4. It does sound like Vasseur and Ferrari don’t really understand in detail why the car behaves as it does. I mean in view of their expectations before Hungary and then Belgium. This is a startling admission really but it does seem that Ferrari may not be alone in this. All of the team outside Red Bull are inconsistent.

    I think there is a case for there being at least some more testing allowed as others have mentioned. I don’t think there is enough pre-season testing to start with. Then, later on there is no time as there now too many races. A little more testing time and less race weekends might give us better racing?

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