The Baku blow for Ferrari which could make them more vulnerable to rivals

Henry Valantine
Charles Leclerc driving the Ferrari SF-23. Saudi Arabia, March 2023.

Charles Leclerc in action at the wheel of the Ferrari SF-23. Saudi Arabia, March 2023.

Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur has confirmed the team will not bring upgrades with them to Baku this weekend, but reassured “a flow of updates” will come to the SF-23 soon.

Ferrari have endured a difficult start to the season, with neither Charles Leclerc or Carlos Sainz having earned a podium finish in any of the three races so far – with Leclerc retiring twice and Sainz losing a P4 finish in Australia through a late time penalty which dropped him out of the points altogether, with the Scuderia losing an appeal to a right of review into the incident.

This has left the team on the back foot in the Constructors’ Championship, already a full 97 points behind leaders Red Bull and 30 behind third-placed Mercedes after only three rounds.

But the Azerbaijan Grand Prix begins a hectic run of five races in only six weeks, and the Ferrari team boss assured the car will have upgrades brought to the car at most of the rounds in this time.

With the added risk of Baku being a street circuit and hosting a Sprint event, however, Ferrari have opted not to bring upgrades to the car, as Vasseur feels they have a strong aerodynamic package in place for the demands of the high-speed Baku City Circuit.

As the team are lagging behind Red Bull, along with the rest of the field, Vasseur also ruled out the possibility of the team running a full concept change this year – instead opting to try and “massively” upgrade what they already have.

“No, I don’t think so,” Vasseur responded when asked if Ferrari will take a different approach with their car design as 2023 progresses, as per

“I think that we will have a flow of updates that some will come… Not at Baku, because Baku we have the aero package for the level of downforce, [and] with the Sprint race it’s not the easiest one. But from Miami, Imola, not Monaco, but Barcelona – each race will have an update on the car.

“We are sticking to the plan, but we’ve made some adjustments, I think, in terms of balance and behaviour. It was much better in Melbourne and we’ll continue in this direction.

“I don’t know if you can speak about… It’s not a B-car, if it’s what you want to say. We won’t come with something completely different; we’ll continue to update this one and we’ll try to update massively.” recommends

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Regarding a wholesale change to the car concept, Vasseur thinks such a switch would be the wrong thing to do for multiple reasons, not least on a financial basis, given the team’s requirement to adhere for Formula 1’s cost cap.

“You have to consider all the aspects of this,” Vasseur said.

“To do a new project during the season, to start from scratch, to do a new car… With the cost cap first, but also considering the restriction of the wind tunnel time, I don’t want to say it’s impossible, but it’s very difficult.

“Also, on our side, we have the feeling – and I hope that we are right and we are moving in the right direction – that we have still tonnes of room for improvement on the car.

“As long as we are still able to develop the car, get points on the aero, to get a better balance, to get a better stability and so [on], I think it makes sense to push in this direction.”