Carlos Sainz stresses on long F1 season for the real test as Frederic Vasseur also adds on continuing to push despite the slow start. 

For Ferrari, it would appear that it is the “little  things” that prevent them from getting to the summit of F1. 2007 was the last time they won the drivers’ title with Kimi Raikkonen.  Even last season after their brilliant start with back to back wins for Charles Leclerc, little niggles here and there would get in the way throughout the campaign and hamper them.

For 2023, there was renewed hope but in Bahrain, Leclerc suffered a brand new issue which brought about his retirement and in Saudi Arabia, they didn’t have enough legs eventually. The tyre degradation continues to haunt them and for Sainz even, it hasn’t been hugely solid first two races where he had to dig deep.

“I think it’s simply a sign that there’s someone out there just doing a bit of a better job than us and that we need to raise the bar,” said Sainz. “But while we are raising the bar every year and becoming a stronger team, the others are doing the same, so it’s a bit like what Lando was saying about McLaren”.

“No, it’s not only how much you can progress from one year to another, it’s how much you can progress relative to the rest of the field. And I’ve been in Ferrari three years and the progress I’ve seen inside the team from 2021 to 2023 is huge. It’s just so far it hasn’t been enough to beat either Red Bull or Mercedes. ‘21, we were P3, last year we were P2”.

“And now, obviously, the start of the season has been tough and we’ve faced issues with race pace and reliability that we honestly didn’t expect to face and it caught us a bit out of guard, but we’re putting everything in place to make sure it doesn’t happen. And I think the right exam has to be done a bit more later in the year and towards the end of the year, because also one other area where I think it’s important is development and the capacity to improve the mistakes that you do”.

“I think we’re going to do a good job this year on development, that we have a very clear target of what we need to improve from the car, the car is responding exactly same as in the wind tunnel. So we know where the car is weak and on what we want to work,” summed up Sainz, who noted about Ferrari having a development plan in place which will come about as the season progresses.

But after back to back 1-2s for Red Bull and their obvious pace advantage that they have, at this stage of the season, it is not likely that they can be caught. Mercedes has already given up but Ferrari is keeping the optimism going. Team boss Vasseur concurred about the updates that they have in place with Australia likely to see some.

“I think that we will have some small updates coming in Australia but the main issue we have to always be at maximum,” said Vasseur to media. “In Saudi Arabia, we did not extract 100% of the car but we have to be focused on this before we focus on updates. I think for sure every single team on the grid, we are bringing upgrades every single weekend”.

“We have a declaration to the FIA on the Thursday morning and you can see every single team is bringing upgrades and will continue to do it and it is not because we are not performing or we are not performing that we change the plan, the updates you will see in Australia, that the parts are already in production”.

“It’s not because I went to the factory and said to the guys that we have to push that we will have updates in Australia, it is not working like this,” summed up Vasseur, who believes pushing on is in the DNA of the sport and just because they haven’t had the start they hoped for, they wouldn’t shut down business and give up”.

“I think so, we have to continue to push,” continued Vasseur. “It is not the right attitude to think about the gap and will we be able to close the gap but we have to be focused on ourselves but we know when we are weak and we have to improve on this one, what is the outcome when we do a decent step but if you start to think about what is the future potential with development and so”.

“We know that we have to improve but we know that it’s the DNA of our sport and not just due to our current situation. We know that we have to work and continue in the office and push like hell,” summed up Vasseur. For Ferrari, like the other teams on the grid, they realise Red Bull are in a league of their own already after just two Grands Prix. It is a step by step approach and should they iron out the niggles that marred their 2022 campaign, then perhaps Red Bull may not have it all their own way.

Here’s Frederic Vasseur on Aston Martin not being an inspiration

Here’s Ferrari trio on Saudi Arabia situation