Red Bull domination over? Ferrari tease new F1 reality with ‘no more comfort zone’

Thomas Maher
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, 2024 Miami Grand Prix.

Ferrari believe Red Bull's comfort zone at the front of F1 has been reduced.

Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur has a suspicion Red Bull is no longer in its comfort zone, having been defeated in two of the first six races of 2024.

Having lost only one race during the entirety of 2023, Red Bull has already been beaten at two of the six races held so far this year as Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz won in Australia, and McLaren’s Lando Norris won in Miami.

Fred Vasseur: Red Bull is still ahead, but they’re under pressure

With Max Verstappen taking pole position for every race so far this season, things have still largely worked out well for the Dutch driver in the championship.

Aside from his retirement due to a brake issue in Australia, having already been passed by Sainz, Verstappen has commanded every race up until Miami. Even in that race, the reigning World Champion looked the favourite for the win until a mid-race Safety Car put him on the back foot against Norris.

But, with Ferrari bringing extensive upgrades to their already competitive car for the next race, at Imola, team boss Fred Vasseur said he has a suspicion both Ferrari and McLaren will be able to keep the pressure up on Red Bull.

“I think it’s almost like this from the beginning of the season, depending on the track,” he said.

“Honestly, I think Red Bull is still ahead and that Max could have won today without the story of the Safety Car.

“I don’t want to draw any conclusion on this but they did the pole position and they have still a small advantage.

“What is true is that, compared to one year ago, when we are able to do a good job and to put everything together, we are there.

“We are putting them a little bit under pressure – they have to be a bit more aggressive with the strategy.

“They are not anymore in the comfort zone of last year when, last year, it didn’t matter what happened – after Lap 2, they were in front.

“I think it’s a game changer in the management of the race and this is an opportunity for us because, if you are doing another small step, I think we will really be in a position to fight with them every single weekend.”

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Fred Vasseur cautions against ‘game-changer’ upgrades

With the Ferrari getting some upgrades for Imola, Vasseur said that while the new parts might not make a huge difference in terms of performance, the field is now so close that even an extra tenth in qualifying can make a huge difference.

“Two of our competitors brought parts this weekend, and it was not a game-changer at the end of the day,” he said.

“I think we have a kind of some thought into the development of this current car and, when we are bringing something, it’s never a mega upgrade.

“It’s true that when you are in quali and you have four or five cars in one-tenth, if you bring one-tenth, it’s a game changer for the weekend.

“But a large part of the result is coming also from what we are doing with the drivers and the setup of the car during the weekend, the management of the tyres.

“We don’t have to think only about upgrades and development. It’s also the job that we are doing on track.”

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