Fred Vasseur on how to spot when teams are lying about Monaco performance

Michelle Foster
Fred Vasseur speaking with Charles Leclerc in the garage. Miami May 2023

Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur speaking with Charles Leclerc in the garage. Miami May 2023

Fred Vasseur says it’s “bulls**t” if any team tells you they’re preparing their cars for the Monaco race, they aren’t because it’s all about qualifying.

After an unscheduled week off when the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was cancelled due to heavy rain and flooding in the region, Formula 1 is back in action this weekend with the Monaco Grand Prix.

Billed as the jewel in the F1 crown, public opinion is split with fans either calling it a procession that doesn’t deserve to be on the calendar, or a test of driving precision and the closest you’ll ever get to a Formula 1 car.

But given the procession part is often spot on, Vasseur says this weekend is all about working towards qualifying as that’s where the race will be won or lost.

“If you’re on the front row, you can expect a win in Monaco – or at least you have the chance,” said the Ferrari team boss. “It’s definitely a good opportunity for us.

“No one in the field is preparing for the race, that would be bullshit.” recommends

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But as Charles Leclerc has shown, being fastest in qualifying around the streets of Monte Carlo doesn’t guarantee success.

He was P1 in 2021 but crashed at the end of qualifying. Although Ferrari declared his car to be okay for the race, he didn’t make it onto the grid as Ferrari found a cracked left-rear driveshaft hub after his reconnaissance lap out to the grid.

He was again fastest in qualifying in 2022 but this time the weather scuppered his chances as he pitted from the lead for intermediate tyres only to come in again two laps later for slicks.

“I do not believe too much in luck,” the home town lad said in the build-up to this year’s race, “but it’s true that when you see the records, it’s not always been easy on race day, but Saturday was good, which I hope we can reproduce a good performance this Saturday, with a better Sunday this time.

“I mean, honestly, I think Red Bull is still the team to beat. With a special lap, maybe we can beat them in qualifying.

“In the race, they are extremely quick – but again on a track like this, overtaking is very difficult.

“And not only Red Bull is quick: Aston Martin will be in the mix. Mercedes arrived with a very different-looking car, which I’m curious to see how it performs. And yeah, then we need to see where we are and what’s possible.”

But while Leclerc fell from first to fourth last season, Sainz jumped up from fourth to second. As for whether another Monaco podium, which would be his first top-three result of the season, could be on the cards, he said: “I think we will have a good chance.

“But I still think Red Bull is the favourite everywhere because they have no weaknesses. They will definitely be the team to beat.”