Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur fears the extended periods of gardening leave in F1 will end up postponing the Scuderia’s return to winning ways.
With just a single podium finish – achieved by Charles Leclerc in Azerbaijan – in the first eight races, Ferrari have endured a tough start to the 2023 season.
As well as underperforming on track, the Italian outfit are experiencing a degree of turbulence behind the scenes with a number of high-profile departures.
In March, McLaren announced the signing of Ferrari head of vehicle concept David Sanchez, with sporting director and deputy team boss Laurent Mekies also set to leave to replace Franz Tost as AlphaTauri team principal.
Vasseur has expressed his frustration with the contractual situation among engineers in F1, which he says is in stark contrast to the agility teams display in recovering from setbacks on a grand prix weekend.
The Frenchman has revealed that he has made a key hire, but that individual – believed to have been signed from a midfield team – will be unable to have an impact on Ferrari’s fortunes until 2025.
According to Motorsport.com, he said: “The issue in F1 is inertia.
“On one hand we look very agile. We change things, and overnight sometimes you have an issue, and you can fix it from one race to another one.
“But the reality of our business is that when you want to steer the boat a little bit, then we are not agile anymore. We know that if we want to recruit, we are speaking not in days, we are speaking in years.
“I signed a top guy a couple of weeks ago to join in 2025. He will only work on the car in 2025 and 2026.
“It seems a long wait. But on the other hand, if you don’t do it, it will be even worse in six months.
“You have to accept it as a basic of F1. If you stop at one stage, it means you will postpone again even more the impact.”
Ferrari introduced a major upgrade package at the recent Spanish Grand Prix, with the team abandoning their unique so-called bathtub sidepod concept for a more conventional design.
Although the revised SF23 car is yet to deliver improved results, Leclerc’s practice pace in Canada attracted the attention of Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko with Ferrari expected to be strong at this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix.
Despite Ferrari’s current position of fourth in the Constructors’ standings, 45 points behind second-placed Mercedes, Vasseur is adamant the team will continue to persevere with the current car in order to learn lessons for the future.
“I will never give up [on] this one because for us to fix it is the best way to understand and to avoid a mistake,” he said.
“For sure when you are developing, you are trying to develop different areas, and you are trying to do a better job on the car. But I think the issue we have is not a matter of details.
“We are developing the car in to this direction to try to get consistency, and to have something a bit easier to drive. Step by step, we are going on [sic] the right direction.”
After a disastrous qualifying session, Leclerc and team-mate Carlos Sainz recovered well to finish fourth and fifth respectively in Montreal, where Vasseur was encouraged by Ferrari’s performance relative to Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, who finished P2 and within 10 seconds of Max Verstappen’s race-winning Red Bull.
He explained: “In the last stint, we had with the same tyres as Alonso, with almost the same number of laps. It was plus or minus one second over 30 laps.
“For sure that you can always say that Verstappen was not flat out, but I don’t think it was like this. Compared to two or three weeks ago, we finished 10 seconds behind [Alonso]. It was almost the gap that we had at the end of Lap 1.”