‘Ferrari’s 2022 problems are easier to tighten than to make a slow car fast’

Michelle Foster
Carlos Sainz tests Ferrari SF-23 on the opening morning of pre-season testing in Bahrain. Bahrain February 2023

Carlos Sainz tests Ferrari SF-23 on the opening morning of pre-season testing in Bahrain. Bahrain February 2023

Former Formula 1 driver Marc Surer says he’d rather be in a position of needing to resolve Ferrari’s 2022 reliability and strategy woes than trying to make a slow car “fast”.

And if there’s one thing Ferrari had last season, that was a fast car, especially on Saturdays.

It was Sundays that let the team down as their woeful reliability meant they were forced to turn down the power unit, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz also not helped by one too many strategy errors.

The good news for the Ferrari pairing is that their new team boss Fred Vasseur is confident the team has resolved the engine’s reliability issues, Ferrari rumoured to have found an extra 30hp in doing so.

That added pace coupled with the news on Thursday that Vasseur has made changes to the Scuderia’s strategy team will be a boost for his drivers. According to reports the Frenchman has decided to send Inaki Rueda back to the factory at Maranello with Ravin Jain taking over as the chief strategist.

As such Surer reckons Ferrari now have all the ingredients needed to take the fight to Red Bull.

“Ferrari can call on 30hp more this season,” the former F1 driver turned pundit told F1 Insider.

“Last season they had to turn down the engine due to reliability issues, especially in the second half. They seem to have solved the problem.

“On top of that, you had a very fast car, the mistakes were in the areas of strategy and pit stops. These set of screws are easier to tighten than to make a slow car fast.”

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But while the 71-year-old is talking up Ferrari, he’s not so sure about Mercedes’ chance of challenging.

Last season the Brackley squad struggled with a porpoising W13 and while they are hoping this year’s W14 has addressed its predecessor’s problems, they have opted to retain the zero-pod design.

Surer applauds them for that, but reckons Mercedes’ hopes could rest with the FIA and the new-for-2023 raised floor edges.

“They are courageous in sticking to their concept,” he said, “after all they had big problems with bouncing.

“They were only able to deal with this extreme bottoming out of the chassis on the straight by raising the vehicle height, but losing speed as a result.

“What could help them now: According to the regulations, the underbody has to be higher.

“Nevertheless, I rate Ferrari more highly.”

As for the rest of the field, he says: “McLaren, Alpine, Sauber, AlphaTauri and especially Aston Martin are still difficult to rate at the moment. The tests will answer a few questions about the strength at the start of the season.

“Haas should actually beat Williams – unless Mercedes gives them more support than expected as a customer team.”

This season Williams’ charge will be led by former Mercedes man James Vowles with a lot of pressure on the Briton to return the Grove team to the front of the field.

But both Williams and Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff have denied the new relationship will mean closer co-operation between Williams and Mercedes.