Ferrari principal Fred Vasseur closed the door on the suggestion that his team have a B-Spec challenger in the pipeline.
While much has been made of Mercedes’ early-season difficulties in F1 2023, it could be argued that Ferrari are in fact the team which has suffered the most underwhelming start to the new campaign.
The Scuderia started out last season as the leading team, and while their title challenge ultimately fizzled out and Red Bull rose to the summit, Ferrari were confident that they could steady the ship and come back far stronger for the new campaign.
Additional reporting by Michael Lamonato
But, while a Ferrari SF-23 that was “unprecedented in terms of speed” was teased by Ferrari CEO Benedetto Vigna, such a challenger has not materialised with Red Bull having only further reinforced their dominance, while Ferrari have a challenge on their hands to get the better of Mercedes and Aston Martin this season.
There had been rumours bubbling up then that Ferrari were looking to unleash a revised challenger, which Motorsport.com had said could arrive as soon as Round 6, the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola.
Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz merely made such a possibility more conceivable when, ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, he said that Ferrari “clearly need to change something” considering Red Bull’s superiority.
“I think we realise now that Red Bull have a clear advantage everywhere and that we need to start looking to our right and to our left,” he added when speaking to media including PlanetF1.com.
However, team boss Vasseur has poured cold water on the suggestion that Ferrari’s upgrade plan for F1 2023 will lead to a ‘Plan B’ challenger.
Asked by Motorsport.com if Ferrari will alter some basic concepts of the SF-23 as part of their development work, Vasseur replied: “No, I don’t think so.
“We have a stream of updates for different types of downforce, in Baku it’s not advisable to introduce anything new because there is the sprint race, but in Miami, Imola and Barcelona we will always have updates on the cars, and that was part of the programme.
“We have made some changes in terms of setup and the situation in Melbourne has improved, so we will continue in that direction. You will not see a ‘B’ version car, to answer the question, something completely different will not come. We will continue to update and we will do it massively.”
It was a torrid Australian GP for Ferrari as Charles Leclerc retired on the opening lap of the race after contact with Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll, while Sainz was hit with a five-second penalty for being “wholly to blame” for hitting Fernando Alonso in a late-race restart, condemning him to a P12 finish, the last of the classified runners.
It means then that Ferrari go into the Azerbaijan Grand Prix P4 in the Constructors’ Championship, 39 points behind Aston Martin in P2 and already 97 adrift of Red Bull.