Ferrari remains optimistic despite F1 Bahrain GP issues as Vasseur vows the team will “continue to push like hell”

Photo credit: Scuderia Ferrari
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As anticipated, Ferrari proved to be Red Bull’s closest rival in Bahrain.

The Scuderia appears to have delivered on its promise to improve race performance and has seemingly mitigated the high tyre degradation that plagued them last year. 

Despite these encouraging signs, there was also some disappointment in the Ferrari camp, as Charles Leclerc’s debilitating brake issues prevented him from challenging the Red Bulls in earnest. 

“Yes, this is also a mixed feeling,” said Vasseur.

“One year ago, we were one second away, but we are perhaps five tenths today. And that’s [a] 50% [reduction].

“Perhaps today we did 50% of the gap, but we are not there to be at four tenths.

“But if you compare with last year and the recovery that we had during the season, that we were able to fight with them, I think we have a good opportunity.

“It’s not enough, and we are still behind. But to score the points of P3, P4 today with the circumstances, I think it’s not a drama.”

While there’s still room for improvement, Vasseur is optimistic that the SF-24 will prove more malleable than its finicky predecessor. 

“It’s also a much better base to develop this year. I think it’s much easier for them to feel the car, to understand where we are weak and where we can improve, when last year it was much more difficult to have a good read of the car.”

Max Verstappen commenced his hunt for a fourth consecutive title with a commanding win, but if the chasing pack continues to make significant progress, there’s a real chance Red Bull’s 2024 campaign might not be as bulletproof as it was last year. 

“We have 24 races,” Vasseur pointed out. 

“If you compare with last year, the last third of the season, we did five pole positions out of the last seven races, or something like this. It means that it’s a very long season. You have room for development.

“Yesterday, we were able to fight for the pole. But the deg in Bahrain is always huge for everybody.”

Vasseur admitted he’s satisfied with the progress the team has made over the past few months, adding that he’s optimistic about Ferrari’s chances of fighting for poles and victories in the upcoming rounds. 

“It means that we’ll have other occasions to get pole, other occasions to start from pole, and other occasions to win races. We will keep this approach.

“We will continue to push like hell. Everybody in the team is over-motivated.

“And I’m quite pleased with the step that we did compared to 12 months ago. Now we continue to push.”

Vasseur stressed that maximising the potential of their package and ensuring they have clean weekends going forward remains a priority for Ferrari. 

“First, I’m not focused on Red Bull, I’m focused on myself and to try to get the best from what we have. 

“It was not completely clean for us this weekend. We had too many small issues in quali yesterday, in the race today.”

Although Red Bull was undoubtedly the strongest team on race day, for others the results were not necessarily representative, given that Bahrain is historically a poor hunting ground for McLaren, Mercedes experienced cooling issues, and Leclerc was nursing a brake problem that hampered his performance. 

As such, Vasseur suggested that a clearer picture should emerge after Melbourne. 

“Also we have to consider that Jeddah will be a completely different story. It’s not the same layout, not the same track.

“We’ll have a better picture on the global situation after Melbourne, probably. But before Melbourne it will be difficult to have a clear picture of the championship.”