Ferrari are in a “complicated scenario”, and their lack of competitiveness combined with key departures has made it “worse than expected, according to Italian journalist Roberto Chinchero.
The Scuderia have registered a sole podium in five races so far in 2023, having fallen behind runaway leaders Red Bull in the pecking order, currently sitting in a congested chasing pack for ‘best of the rest’ along with Aston Martin and Mercedes.
But matters were made more complicated for new team principal Fred Vasseur with the resignation of chief engineer David Sanchez back in March, before sporting director Laurent Mekies was recently signed to become the new AlphaTauri team principal for the 2024 season, to replace Franz Tost.
The high-profile departures at Ferrari combined with the team’s lack of competitiveness at the front of the field have led to significant media pressure back in Italy, according to Chinchero, with the partisan coverage of the team in its home nation like no other in the sport.
Given the magnifying glass which is placed on Maranello on a daily basis and the early trouble they have faced in 2023 so far, the Italian reporter believes the team have had a tougher time than they anticipated after pre-season testing.
“It’s quite a complicated scenario because, every year in February, there are great expectations,” Chinchero explained on the F1 Nation podcast.
“And this year, I think they were optimistic, but with the feedback coming from the Bahrain test, they have revealed a problematic and troubling scenario – and probably it’s worse than expected, much worse than expected.
“Basically at the start of the year, people are comparing the start of ‘23 with the start in ‘22. That is completely different.
“So there was, especially after the first two, three races, a very strong media, because of course there was a new team principal – I think Fred is the right person, but he needs time.
“And at the same time also, there was some polemic about the David Sanchez and Laurent Mekies departures, [which] did not help.
“Not in terms of work, but in terms of the global scenario, looks [like] we had the feeling that everybody was leaving the Scuderia, but it’s not true.
“I think Laurent and David had an offer that you can’t simply say ‘no’ and the timing was not lucky for Vasseur, but you cannot stop people like Laurent that receive an offer as the principal so it’s a quite complicated scenario.
Ferrari are looking to close the gap as much as possible to Red Bull at the front of the field, as well as leap clear of Aston Martin and Mercedes in the competitive order in the first instance if possible.
But though some teams, such as Mercedes, are introducing large upgrade packages at Imola this weekend, Ferrari are set to bring their first major improvements to the SF-23 slightly later.
“I think there is something in the new aerodynamics, but the big part will be in Barcelona,” Chinchero said.
“I think Barcelona is the key point, the turning point and I think that it’s better because in Imola, of course, the forecast will not help it and if it’s raining it’s not helping if you want to judge how good is the new update, and the same time, there is a different qualifying system. So I think Barcelona will be the turning point.”