Vasseur: Leclerc’s podium is a “milestone” for Ferrari, but there’s still work to be done

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Photo credit: Scuderia Ferrari

The Azerbaijan GP proved to be the uplifting weekend Ferrari needed, with Charles Leclerc claiming the first pole and podium of the season for the Italian outfit.

Speaking to the media after the race on Sunday, Fred Vasseur highlighted the positives, but also acknowledged the performance gap between Ferrari and championship leaders Red Bull.

“If you look at the last stint of the race, I am not sure that Red Bull was not planning to do two [pit stops], they were pushing like hell from the beginning to the end.”

“We were convinced at the beginning that we would do one stint, and we were managing a lot at the beginning, it meant we had a tyre advantage at the end. But overall they were faster than us, on that we don’t have to bull**** ourselves.”

“I’m not really sure [whether Ferrari’s most pressing issues are mechanical] because on one lap the pace was okay all weekend, also thanks to Charles,” Vasseur said. “Then to understand if it’s coming from aero or mechanical it’s another story.”

“I think so far what was obvious is that we are struggling with consistency. It’s a bit true this weekend. But all over the lap and all over the corners and all over the race I think the car was much more consistent this weekend and we are going in the right direction.”

Asked if Leclerc had perhaps overmanaged his tyres early on, and if there was any more potential pace to be found, Vasseur explained:

“In this case it’s quite difficult to imagine what you could do if you’d pushed more at the beginning. It’s quite difficult to estimate what could’ve been the pace at the end of the stint if you’d have pushed more at the beginning. The first couple of laps are always crucial for the tyre deg, and as we planned, at that stage, to do one stint, we were on the conservative side. But I think Fernando also: we were on the same plan.”

Leclerc’s P3 finish was the first podium of the season for him, for Ferrari—and for new team boss, Vasseur. The Frenchman spoke about what the podium meant for him and for the team as a whole after what was a difficult start to the 2023 campaign.

“It’s always important to do the first podium. I think we pushed a lot to do the podium so far, so it’s a milestone for us and for myself. I think the pace and the confidence of the team is important also. We made an important choice in terms of technical approach over the last couple of weeks and it’s paying off.”

Vasseur also praised his driver, Charles Leclerc, who impressed with his performance throughout the whole weekend, claiming a total of two poles and two podiums (P2 in Saturday’s sprint and P3 in the main race.)

“In qualy, Charles did a mega job. It’s not the first time, we knew perfectly that coming to Baku it will be an asset—if you look at the last six or seven years in Baku, he was always doing well.”