Fred Vasseur urges Ferrari to not ‘bullsh*t itself’ over Saudi GP failures

Henry Valantine
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc with Fred Vasseur. Jeddah March 2023.

Charles Leclerc and Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur in discussion in the paddock. Saudi Arabia March 2023.

Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur has called for honest conversations back at Maranello as the Scuderia look at their errors in Jeddah.

Charles Leclerc headed into the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend with a 10-place grid penalty already confirmed, with the Ferrari driver forced to take a third Control Electronics unit on his SF-23 in only the second race of the season.

But despite having qualified only a tenth shy of the pole time set by Sergio Perez on Saturday, Leclerc was only able to recover to seventh come the race on Sunday, with Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz in sixth come the chequered flag.

Ferrari had hoped to enter the weekend and close some of the performance gap after the dominance of Red Bull in Bahrain, but appeared to fall further away from the front as Mercedes and Aston Martin showed better race pace in Saudi Arabia – Sainz admitting afterwards that the Scuderia had the fourth-fastest car at the weekend.

So when it comes to taking their next steps, the Ferrari team principal wants staff members to be honest with each other as they look for solutions.

“To not bullshit ourselves,” Vasseur told reporters in Saudi Arabia when asked what the first thing will be that he asks his engineers after the race, as quoted by Autosport.

“The most important thing in this kind of situation is to know where we are going well and what we are doing wrong. But we cannot bullshit ourselves.

“We have to change. We have to understand where we are wrong, and we have to push. It’s not [good enough] to speak, we will not be faster like this.

“For me the picture is quite clear. The potential of the car is good, but it’s not enough compared to Red Bull, because we are not able to extract the maximum from the car every time.” recommends

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Vasseur added that he was not keen on pushing too much of a positive message after the Ferrari duo finished 6th and 7th on Sunday, with tyre wear in the first stint highlighted as an issue for the drivers.

But given their closeness to the front of the field in qualifying – absence of Max Verstappen in Q3 aside – they are keeping hope that they can challenge – though “potential” on its own is not enough, according to the new team boss.

“I don’t want to push on the positive side, because the outcome of the weekend is not good and we have to be focused on what is going wrong, not on the positives,” Vasseur said.

“But I have to keep in mind, to do a proper analysis, of what is going well and I think that qualifying went pretty well.

“For sure we always want to do a better job, and it was difficult to know exactly what was the potential of the Red Bull because Max didn’t do the Q3, but at least I had the feeling that compared to Mercedes and Aston Martin we did a step forward.

“We were one tenth off [in qualifying], they were three and four [tenths] I think, and I think we are on the right way in terms of development.

“But potential is one thing, and I think on the potential side we did a decent step. The issue is we have to stay at this maximum potential all over the weekend, and it’s not what we are doing today.

“I think on some occasions we are there. But on some occasions, or some stints of the weekend, we are not able to be at the maximum of our possibility.”