Failing to make an impact on the podium in their new-look SF-23, Anthony Davidson believes Ferrari have the “worst” ride quality of any car on the 2023 F1 grid.
And that, he reckons, is forcing them to raise the ride height which is costing them downforce.
Ferrari debuted their revised SF-23 at the Barcelona circuit this past weekend where Carlos Sainz qualified up in second place while his team-mate Charles Leclerc had rear-end car troubles that meant he finished qualifying down in 19th place.
But, unlike George Russell and Sergio Perez who didn’t make it out of Q2 on Saturday, the Monégasque driver wasn’t able to slice his way through the field and finished the race down in 11th place where he avoided being lapped by Max Verstappen by just a few seconds.
As for his team-mate Sainz, the Spaniard wasn’t able to turn his front row grid slot into a first podium for this season and instead fell to fifth having been overtaken by Russell and Perez, as well as Lewis Hamilton.
Former F1 driver turned pundit Davidson doesn’t believe there was anything Sainz could have done different on the day given the limitations of his Ferrari.
“Where was Carlos’ pace?” Davidson asked on Sky Sports. “Could he have done anything different? Could they have done anything different in terms of strategy?
“I was looking at Charles’ progress as well – or lack of – during the race and it just goes to show that they were at the optimum those drivers as to what the car was going to give them because Charles just stalled.
“The progress stalled very early on in the race, and others like Russell and Perez carried on making that progress.”
He added: “Maybe they’ll be better off on another circuit like in Canada they might bounce back, maybe their car is not that great in the high-speed corners.
“We saw them bouncing all weekend. Maybe they had to raise their car slightly too much and you lose the downforce as we know.
“Their car, the ride quality for me it looks the worst. Up and down.”
Throughout the opening races in this year’s championship, Ferrari’s F1 car has been strong in qualifying only to fall by the wayside on Sundays.
His fellow pundit Naomi Schiff pointed out that Ferrari’s performance in their upgraded SF-23 was in “stark contrast” to Mercedes who made gains during the grand prix in their heavily revised W14.
“We’ve know all season race days really been an issue for them [Ferrari]. I think it was really highlighted today just how bad it was,” Schiff said.
“They came to this weekend with upgrades, I think they all assumed it would be at least a little bit better than it was, but it was quite a stark contrast between the pace of the Mercedes in this race versus the Ferraris.
“I think this is a very critical time for Ferrari because they’ve been lacking in the performance for quite some time.”
And that she warns, means new team boss Fred Vasseur is going to come under pressure just as he predecessor Mattia Binotto had to deal with last season.
“We saw the pressure that came down on Mattia Binotto’s shoulders when things weren’t going right,” she continued, “so I think Fred Vasseur is really going to start putting pressure on people, he’s going to be under pressure.
“They’re trying to recruit but things just aren’t going forwards for them. They keep making strategic decisions that aren’t necessarily correct.
“There’s still a lot of pieces that aren’t fitting together and I think in this process right now, where they want to take that step forward, they want to recruit people, they need to start getting their ducks in a row a little bit.
“It’s tough for them. Charles just can’t seem to get a break whether it’s his own error or the team’s error or the weather or a bit of luck or lack of luck.”
She added: “They’ve got a lot to sort in terms of their race pace, and that ultimately that degradation on the tyres.”