Ferrari upgrade boost as fast-track plan revealed by Fred Vasseur

Jamie Woodhouse
Ferrari's Charles Leclerc on track at the Australian Grand Prix. Melbourne, March 2023.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc on track at the Australian Grand Prix. Melbourne, March 2023.

Ferrari principal Fred Vasseur says the team has managed to “speed up” their development process, meaning upgrades for the SF-23 will arrive ahead of schedule.

The Scuderia’s title ambitions have taken another hit at the start of the F1 2023 campaign, the team yet to visit the podium during the opening three rounds.

Instead it has been a case of early domination for their 2022 rivals Red Bull, with Ferrari instead now left with ground to make up on Mercedes and Aston Martin ahead before they can contemplate a Red Bull challenge.

It was ahead of the Australian GP that Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz said that his team must “go onto something very different” now with their challenger as Red Bull are “superior” in all departments, and indeed, Ferrari have not been standing still.

Vasseur confirmed that already in Australia Ferrari began to “make changes” to their SF-23, with the impending start of F1 2023’s Europe-dominated stage usually the point where teams start to churn out the upgrades.

And Ferrari, according to Vasseur, are in a good place as upgrades which they had intended to introduce at the Spanish GP, instead will now be available for Imola, Ferrari’s first home race of the F1 2023 campaign and Round 6 on the calendar.

Asked by Motorsport.com if Ferrari’s development plan has long been established, or if it has been modified to bring faster gains, Vasseur replied: “There is always a development plan before the start of the season, but at the same time there is room for change depending on the needs of the car.

“We acted very quickly, already starting to make changes in Melbourne. But we can’t massively change the plan, there are budget constraints.

“But we have managed to speed up the process, some changes originally planned for Barcelona will arrive at Imola.”

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Ferrari will be one of the teams thankful for the one-month break which Formula 1 embarked on after the Australian GP, with the Azerbaijan GP now the next round at the end of April, after the Chinese Grand Prix was cancelled for 2023.

Teams are free to develop during this period, and while this will be a welcomed breather for Ferrari to regroup and reassess, it also likely will be helpful to simply move on from the emotional hurt of a very frustrating Australian GP.

Charles Leclerc was eliminated on the first lap of the race after colliding with Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin, while Sainz was infuriated by a five-second time penalty issued after a late-race collision with Fernando Alonso, dropping him to P12, the last of the classified drivers.

Ferrari have requested a right of review over that Sainz penalty following the Australian Grand Prix.