Will Buxton: ‘Ferrari have a mountain to climb with tyres that are just jumping off a cliff’

Michelle Foster
Scuderia Ferrari SF-23 rear wing. Bahrain February 2023

Scuderia Ferrari SF-23 rear wing. Bahrain February 2023

Ferrari’s SF-23 may be “super-fast” over a single lap but the car has shown itself to be a tyre-eater like its predecessor, so says F1’s Will Buxton.

Laying down the laps in pre-season testing Ferrari was, on the surface, one of the most consistent teams with both drivers inside the top-five on the overall timesheets.

The Scuderia also covered the third-most number of laps, 416, during a three-day pre-season test that saw very few issues although there were one or two DRS glitches.

All in all, though, it, and again one must say on the surface, looked to be a solid pre-season test for a team hoping to take the fight to Red Bull having dropped the ball last year.

But it seems, if one looks deeper, that the SF-23 may still have one problem that it’s predessor bore – eating tyres.

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“It’s good for a couple of laps but, race pace-wise, Ferrari have got a mountain to climb,” said F1 presenter Buxton.

“While Ferrari have had, seemingly, a good test, and they have a fast car, there are rumours coming from the scarlet team that they are actually in a bit of trouble.

“Because, while the car is super-reliable and we’ve seen that on track and as you said super-fast, its deg is miserable. The tyres are just jumping off a cliff.”

That’s a sentiment echoed by Auto Motor und Sport who report that Ferrari is four-tenths down on the Red Bull RB19 and that gap grows the longer a run continues.

However, new team boss Fred Vasseur has downplayed the tyre-eater concerns.

Asked about Ferrari’s high degradation, he told Motorsport Italia, “I know you’ve analysed all the stints but you’ll also have seen that we completed a lot of stages trying different things.

“And some worked well right away, others less so.

“I’m quite happy with what we’ve done in these three days. The most important thing in winter testing is being able to put in the kilometres, because when for some reason you don’t succeed, it’s a disaster.”

As for whether his drivers are happy with what they’ve seen and experienced so far, he said: “If they were happy we would probably be faced with a wrong professional approach.

“The DNA of this sport leads to always wanting to achieve more and having to do more.

“Excluding those who take the lead in qualifying, if a driver is happy with the balance it means that he isn’t pushing enough, I find it normal for a driver to ask for more and more grip, it’s part of the game.”

But, he admitted, “summing up at the end of the three days, I see that the performance is there, but obviously we don’t know much about our opponents.”