Fred Vasseur’s extreme Ferrari solution highlights Red Bull dominance

Jamie Woodhouse
Fred Vasseur, Ferrari, looks serious. Bahrain February 2023

Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur looking serious. Bahrain February 2023

Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur joked that “removing the wing” is the only way his team could have perhaps kept Red Bull behind during the Azerbaijan GP.

Sprint day on Saturday in Baku had already given us a taste of what we could expect come race day, with Charles Leclerc having secured P1 on the grid for Ferrari, only for Sergio Perez to make his way through and win the mini race.

And with Leclerc also on pole for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Sunday proved to be a similar story.

Leclerc would get an ideal start to retain the lead, but by Lap 4 Max Verstappen was opening that mighty DRS on his Red Bull to go sailing past Leclerc down the start/finish straight and into the lead, with Perez repeating that scenario a few laps later.

From there it became the familiar story once more of Red Bull taking care of proceedings at the front, while Leclerc was able to keep the rampaging Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso at bay to secure a first podium finish of the F1 2023 campaign.

Even though that DRS zone down the main straight was shortened by 100m for the 2023 staging of the Azerbaijan GP, Ferrari still had no answer for Red Bull who looked almost like they were competing in a different formula such was the pace advantage which they had with that DRS open.

So, while Vasseur was being humorous with his response to being asked what Ferrari could do to stop them Red Bull overtakes being so easy, it did nonetheless highlight the worrying gulf in performance which Red Bull are enjoying.

“Remove the wing, but it’s not an option!” Vasseur told Sky Sports F1 with a smile.

“In Baku it’s quite difficult to fight. First we have to understand exactly the story.” recommends

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The usual trend for Ferrari, this stretching back into the past season, is for them to struggle with tyre management in race conditions and therefore lose pace as the event goes on.

Leclerc though would actually manage to find a good level of performance in the latter stages in Baku to keep Alonso behind, Alonso having felt Ferrari got “lucky” with a hard tyre that was hanging on better than expected, plus with the conditions as cloud moved in for the closing laps to cool the track. The rain sadly waited until post-race to arrive!

However, Vasseur said even that level of pace which Leclerc found would have been no match for Verstappen, who ultimately finished P2 as Perez went on to make it a double victory for his race weekend in Baku.

“Even if the pace was there at the end, we are not able to fight with Verstappen,” Vasseur admitted.

“But it is like this and we now focus on Miami. We have to learn from the race.”

Ferrari remain P4 in the Constructors’ standings heading into the Miami GP, though the gap to Red Bull out front has already grown to an alarming 118 points.