Ferrari has to “improve in every single area” to catch Red Bull Racing in 2024 F1 season — Vasseur

Photo Credit: Scuderia Ferrari
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Even though they are still adrift of Red Bull Racing, Ferrari no longer considers itself to be in a “useless” position to compete with Red Bull in Formula 1.

Despite the Maranello team’s rise to be Red Bull’s main rival ao far this season, they have been unable to prevent Max Verstappen from starting on pole and winning both races thus far.

However, Ferrari is certain that they can achieve this goal, even though it needs to reach a significant amount of performance before it can go head-to-head with the world champion team. But the positive for the Italian giants is that the SF-24 is much easier to drive for Leclerc and Sainz, has a much larger operating window and is good on its tyres in the race, a complete transformation in comparison to 2023.

According to team principal Fred Vasseur, this is a whole different situation from last year, when the team’s gap to the leading team declared whatever improvements it made “useless” in improving its situation.

Vasseur, thinking back on how Ferrari and Red Bull performed during the first two races, admits the RB20 holds a solid advantage right now, but the Frenchman is positive when he thinks about Ferrari’s potential with their new car.

“Now, I don’t want to be pessimistic, because it was a good weekend and we have to be optimistic and we need to enjoy these moments, but it’s clear Red Bull is still ahead.

“In quali they have perhaps two/three tenths on us, and in the race a bit more. But it’s difficult to estimate because we don’t know if they were pushing at the max.

“But the feeling is more positive that, if you come back in this region, you know if you do a step, you can put some pressure on them.

“When we were at one second [behind] it was useless, but now with a good start we can be there, we can fight. I think in Jeddah it was quite easy [for them] to overtake because they had a better top speed – it was a choice – but on some occasions we will have other opportunities.”

Ferrari has an upgrade plan to make the SF-24 more powerful. This gives Vasseur quite a bit of hope, as the team now has a solid base on which to develop.

“I am not focused at all on the championship, but I think we scored something like 45 points [actually 49] overall, and last year after three races we had 25 [actually 26]. It’s important to have a good start.

“Also, I think the fact that the car is, I don’t want to say easy to drive, and in any case it doesn’t have anything to do with the performance, but I think the car today is easier to drive than one year ago.

“This is a good base for the development, because the car is much easier to read for the drivers, so it is much easier to understand where we have to improve, and in this situation, it’s a step forward for us for the overall picture.”

The tyre degradation problems that affected Ferrari a year ago seem to have been sorted out, and the team now believes they can focus on increasing the car’s performance without having to fix various problems like they did in 2023.

“The performance is coming from everywhere, and it’s never that you have one bullet of five-tenths on the car,” he said.

“If we want to catch up, we have to improve in every single area. It was our approach last year and at the end it paid well. We did a decent step but in every single area we have to continue to push.

“For sure the aero is key. We have upgrades in the pipeline but I’m sure that everybody does. The most important thing is to bring upgrades that you can operate on the car, and I think it’s where last year we did a good job.”