Hope for Ferrari as Saudi Arabia GP data shows ‘clear’ gains on Red Bull

Michelle Foster
Charles Leclerc P3 behind the Red Bull team-mates

Ferrari and Red Bull F1 2024 cars

Halving their deficit to Red Bull from last season to Saturday’s Saudi Arabian GP, Fred Vasseur says it’s “clear” Red Bull still have an advantage but Ferrari are closing the gap.

Joining Max Verstappen on the front row of the Jeddah grid, Charles Leclerc may have lost out to Sergio Perez as well in the race but it was nonetheless a huge improvement on last year’s outing.

‘Today we are four, five, sixth tenths at the gap’

Although Leclerc qualified on the front row 12 months ago, a penalty for exceeding his quota of control electronics element meant he lined up 12th with Carlos Sainz fourth.

Tyre woes and a lack of race pace meant they finished sixth and seventh with Sainz ahead of Leclerc, both drivers more than 35s down on the lead Red Bull.

That was halved this year as Leclerc, joining the Red Bull team-mates on the podium, took the chequered flag 18s after Max Verstappen.

Vasseur puts that down to Ferrari’s overall step forward with this year’s SF-24.

“It’s never easy to have a clear picture on race performance because you don’t know when the guys are pushing,” the Frenchman told the media in Jeddah.

“But if you compare with one year ago that, plus or minus two tenths, we were at 1.1s in Jeddah, today we are four, five, sixth tenths at the gap.

“Now the performance is coming from everywhere. It’s never that you have one thing that’s five-tenths on the car.

“If we want to catch up, we needed to improve on every single area. It was our approach and it paid well.

“We did a decent step on every single area and we have to continue to push.

“We have upgrades in the pipeline, as I’m sure that has everybody, but the most important is not to bring an upgrade but to bring an upgrade that you can operate on the car.”

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The team boss revealed Ferrari will continue to push the development of the car, saying that’s something they’d do even if they were on the top step of the podium.

“If we are able to have the same improvement as we had last year, it’s encouraging,” he said.

“I’m focused on the team and focused on the fact that we have to develop the car, and even if one weekend we are in front of Red Bull, we will keep the same approach, try to do a better job that week after.

“It’s not because we are P1, P2 or P3 that you stop or develop more. We are full push and will continue with the same approach.

“We are just fully focused on the fact that we have to catch up, that it’s clear that they have an advantage on us and that we have to continue to develop and to push.

“But I think it’s a clear step forward today [Jeddah], was already a good sign last week in Bahrain, but a clear step forward today. And it’s very encouraging for everybody, and it’s the best way to get everybody fully motivated.”

Ferrari are second in the Constructors’ Championship with 49 points, 38 behind Red Bull.

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