Yet to win a grand prix this season and with their upgraded SF-23 failing to fire in Spain, Ferrari CEO Benedetto Vigna has resorted to a Japanese proverb to inspire the team: “Nana korobi, ya oki.”
Dealing with an unpredictable SF-23 that lost pace from qualifying to the grand prix, Ferrari’s best result Charles Leclerc’s third place at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, the Scuderia revamped the car ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.
Speaking about a “new path” in development, a small step forward, and creating a more consistent car, the Scuderia’s Spanish results hinted at anything but.
Carlos Sainz fell from second on the grid to fifth at the chequered flag while Leclerc, undone by a loose rear end in qualifying, started from the pit lane and struggled to make his way through the traffic before bringing his car home in a disappointing 11th place.
The numbers say that rather than moving forward, Ferrari stagnated as their gap to Red Bull in Miami was 0.658s per lap while in Spain it was 0.692s.
Leclerc said: “To be honest, we are struggling more than what I expected. We’ve had quite a few disappointing days this year so unfortunately, it’s just in line with the rest of the year.”
With the Monégasque driver, Sainz and team boss Fred Vasseur all highlighting the car’s inconsistency in the wake of the Spanish Grand Prix, CEO Vigna has tried to issue a rally cry to his troops.
“Nana korobi, ya oki!” he said during this week’s Bloomberg Capital Market Forum.
That translates as “fall down seven times, stand up eight”, fitting given that Ferrari are seven races into this season.
He added: “It applies to life, as it does to F1.
“It’s not easy, sometimes you slip four floors and you can’t see the end but with work, with passion, with skills and with the heart, in the end we recover.
“I’ve been there many times.”
Standing up, especially in just one race time, definitely won’t be easy for Ferrari given they don’t understand what the actual problem is.
“I don’t understand what we are doing wrong but we are doing something wrong,” Leclerc told Sky Sports F1.
“I went from a first hard (tyre), to a second hard in the last stint, did the same thing and the car is behaving in a completely different way.
“We have to understand and work but it’s been a few races now where we are struggling with the conditions or having a really peaky car and today is no better.”
His team-mate Carlos Sainz reckons it’s tyre management that’s costing Ferrari speed but why the car is so hard on the tyres, that’s the question.
“Honestly, I just spent the whole race managing tyres because we know we are very hard on them and with this high degradation circuit, I just couldn’t push,” he said after his home race.
“We know it’s a weakness of our car and coming to a high degradation circuit and a two-stop race, we were just managing the whole way trying to make it to the target laps of the stints and still falling short in a few of them.”
Seven races into this season Ferrari are fourth in the Constructors’ Championship having scored 100 points – that’s a whopping 187 less than Red Bull.