Bahrain GP | Vasseur believes Ferrari tyre deg on the level of Mercedes, worse off than Aston

Spread the love

It was a painful start to the 2023 season for Scuderia Ferrari as they only scored 12 points to kick things off.

Charles Leclerc had been their lead driver throughout the weekend and took P2 from Sergio Perez at the start, but the Mexican ultimately prevailed with his superior car and overtook the Ferrari on lap 26. Nonetheless, Leclerc looked good for a comfortable P3 until his car packed in fifteen laps later.

The DNF for Leclerc moved Carlos Sainz up to 3rd, but he failed to see the chequered flag in that position as his fellow Spaniard Fernando Alonso passed him on lap 45 – and the Aston Martin finished almost 10s ahead in the end. Sainz just held off Lewis Hamilton for P4.

Speaking to the media in Bahrain after his first race weekend as Ferrari team boss, Fred Vasseur reflected on how the event went for the team.

”If I want to summarize the situation, I would say that on the quali pace we are there, we are matching Red Bull, at least in Bahrain, and it was a positive point.

”Now we have to be fully realistic. If we want to improve, we need to have a clear picture of the situation, and reliability is not at the level that we need. If we want to win races, we need to have a clean sheet on the weekend.”

Tyre degradation is always a big factor in Bahrain. Heading into the race, many predicted Ferrari would struggle in this area. Throughout the race before his DNF, Charles Leclerc looked to be managing things fairly well on that front.

However, Carlos Sainz seemed to struggle more as he had a difficult time finding a good balance throughout the weekend and lost out to Alonso in the end, with the Ferrari team principal conceding ”for sure the degradation on Carlos’ car was the main issue”.

Vasseur believes Ferrari is on a similar level to Mercedes and quite close to Aston Martin. He thinks Red Bull are on another level, though. Only the Milton Keynes-based team ran two stints on softs out of the top four teams.

”On the degradation, I think Charles would have been able to finish P3, but the degradation is probably at the level of the Mercedes and not far away or matching with Alonso, but not at the level of the Red Bull.”

”They [Red Bull] were able to do the second stint with soft when we had to put the hard to go to the end. It means that the pace difference at this stage came also from the tyre choice, but we were not able to do soft, soft and hard.

”It is like it is, that we have to, you know, the most difficult thing in my business is to be able to do a proper analysis of the situation, to know what is going well and what is going wrong and to try to get the best on the issues. Now that we have a better picture of the situation, we know exactly what we did this weekend and we have to clearly make a step forward.

”The fact that they are able to do two soft, one hard, when we have to do two hard, one soft, for sure it’s a game killer.”

Vasseur is hopeful the deficit on pace and tyre degradation can be fixed soon. The Frenchman also pointed out that Bahrain is one of the toughest races of the year on tyres.

”I don’t have my crystal ball today, and I think that it’s quite difficult to anticipate, honestly, that sometimes with tuning you can fix it. But I hope that it won’t be too long.

”Tyre degradation is much more linked to the tarmac and the track layout. I think that Bahrain is well known to be one of the most aggressive of the season.”

Photos: Scuderia Ferrari