Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur says they are in need of improvement across the board and so cannot think finding the Red Bull “magic bullet” is all they are missing.
While Red Bull are revelling in an F1 2023 campaign of unprecedented dominance and slowly turning focus to how they keep the good times rolling next season, their rivals face a crucial winter in the bid to mount a challenge.
Ferrari did claim the distinction of being the only non-Red Bull grand prix winner, as Carlos Sainz took victory in Singapore, while the Scuderia took seven pole positions, but overall it was a bitterly disappointing campaign for Ferrari who were forced to settle for P3 in the Constructors’ Championship.
Ferrari cannot go on Red Bull ‘magic bullet’ hunt
Additional reporting by Thomas Maher
Along with Mercedes, McLaren and Aston Martin, who joined Ferrari in the F1 2023 ‘best of the rest pack’, this quartet will head into the new season intent on significantly reducing their deficit to Red Bull at the very least, but Vasseur warns Ferrari must be very cautious in how they go about it.
Red Bull’s F1 design guru Adrian Newey is regularly lauded for his contribution to the Red Bull dominance, but whether he truly is a Red Bull “magic bullet” for their success, or one is lurking somewhere else, Vasseur said this is not how Ferrari can think. Instead, focus must be on how they can improve themselves to reach the Red Bull level.
“I think the mistake would be to imagine that Red Bull, they have a magic bullet of five-tenths or that we made a step on something,” Vasseur told media including PlanetF1.com in Abu Dhabi.
As for where Ferrari can look to themselves for gains, Vasseur spoke of how parts production has improved, as well reliability, though work still needs doing in this area and all as Ferrari look to step their game up in order to challenge Red Bull.
“The performance is coming from everywhere into the company, on the fact that we are able to produce parts quicker, on the fact we have better reliability,” he continued.
“We gave up too many points this season for different reasons, for reliability, for disqualification in Austin, for impeding in qualy. This is clearly where we have to work.
“And we have to improve on aero, on engine, on every single topic. It’s not that we have something wrong and something good, and you fix something and you are making a step of four or five tenths.
“The most important thing is that the one thousand people we have in the team are convinced that they are all performance contributors, and they are all trying to push a little bit the limit, even if it’s for one thousandth of a second, which are enough then to do a huge step.”
Vasseur already sees clear progress though in this regard, explaining how Ferrari’s gains in the second half of F1 2023 came primarily from the team finding their working window, more so than bolting innovations on to make the SF-23 go faster.
“I’m more than pleased because between Zandvoort and today [Abu Dhabi], we didn’t change massively the car,” Vasseur explained.
“We had an upgrade in Japan I think, but basically we kept the same car, and we were able to do a much better job with a better understanding of the car, better set-up of the car and a better approach from the drivers.
“It means that we have room for improvement everywhere, and this feeling is a good one to develop something for next year.”
Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz will continue to race for Ferrari in F1 2024 as part of an unchanged grid.