Vasseur “quite happy” for Norris and McLaren after their victory at the F1 Miami GP: “They deserve their success”

Photo Credits: Scuderia Ferrari HP
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Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur didn’t hold back in his praise for his rivals McLaren and Lando Norris after the team snatched the win at last weekend’s Miami GP.

Vasseur was even seen taking part in some of McLaren’s post-race celebrations, in a true showing of sportsmanship from the French.

Speaking after the race, Vasseur complimented his rivals, stating that they “deserve” their success after the strong performances they have been showing for the last  few seasons:

“I want to congratulate Lando [Norris] and McLaren,” said Vasseur. “I think that Lando deserves it, that he did last two or three very good seasons.

“And even if I’m fighting with Ferrari, I’m not at McLaren, but I’m quite happy for them because they deserve the success.”

The Frenchman explained that it was “no surprise” for him that the Papaya cars had such strong pace on race day, citing that the form from Friday practice and Sprint Qualifying already suggested it was there – and believes this could become a regular trend of both Ferrari and McLaren pressurising Red Bull for the remainder of the season:

“It’s not the first time of the season that [McLaren] has strong pace,” he said. “If you have a look at Melbourne for example, they were fighting with us. Overall, I think you had three teams fighting all weekend in two or three-tenths, from lap to lap or stint to stint or compound to compound.

“Lando overall, I was not surprised. On Friday [McLaren] was there, they brought an upgrade this weekend.

“If you have a look at the last couple of races, they were always there. China [they] had good pace.

“It will be like this until the end of the season. I think that we, McLaren and us, probably [will] catch up a little bit on Red Bull.”

The Frenchman is adamant that Red Bull can be put “under pressure” for the remainder of the season if the teams behind have a “good day”, unlike last season where Red Bull was almost invincible no matter what the circumstances, apart from that famous win for Sainz in Singapore:

“I think it’s almost like this from the beginning of the season depending on the track.

“Red Bull is still ahead. Max [Verstappen] could have won today without the story of the safety car. They have still a small advantage.

“What is true is that compared to one year ago when we were able to do a good job and to put everything together we are there.

“It means that we are putting them a little bit under pressure. They have to be a bit more aggressive with the strategy. They are not anymore in the comfort zone of last year when last year it doesn’t matter what happened. After lap two they were in front.

“I think it’s a game changer in the management of the race. This is an opportunity for us because if we are doing another small step I think that we will be really in position to fight with them every single weekend.”

Whilst Vasseur admitted that Norris benefited from a timely safety car after Logan Sargeant and Kevin Magnussen collided, the 55-year-old joked he “forgot his crystal ball” that would allow him to keep Carlos Sainz out on track for another lap and potentially benefit from it as well:

“I forgot the crystal ball,” he joked. “I was not aware that Sargent and Magnussen would crash the lap after. For sure, in this situation, you are a bit unlucky, or I would say that probably Lando was a bit lucky because he was the only one on track.”

Vasseur did point out the mistake from race direction which caused the safety car to hold the pack from Verstappen downwards, instead pf picking up actual race leader Lando Norris. However, he doesn’t believe this luck was the most important factor on Sunday’s race, and instead referenced that at least six cars had enough pace in hand to fight for victory in Miami:

“They are so used to having Verstappen leading the pack that they sent the safety car in front of him,” said Vasseur.

“And the safety car was quite slow and it was a very good move at the end for Lando.

“But we don’t have to extrapolate like this. I think that you had a group of four or five cars able to win today. Or even six, I think, because [Oscar] Piastri had a good pace.”

Piastri indeed had incredibly strong pace – despite having only about half the upgrades that Norris’ car was sporting – but sustained severe front wing damage after contact with Sainz, as the Spaniard went for a move in the final braking zone of the circuit, but misjudged it slightly and ran over the Australian’s front wing.

The Ferrari boss believes the race was more “chaotic” on Sainz’s side of the garage as the Spaniard finished P4 despite being ahead of Norris just a lap before the safety car came out, but stopped short of trying to rewrite history with the benefit of hindsight:

“I think the race was a bit chaotic, mainly on one side of the garage,” he said. “If you have a look, Carlos lost two positions. He was on lap one, turn one, when Perez went completely straight. Then he had the fight with [Oscar] Piastri.

“So probably he could have expected a bit better on his side. But I don’t want to redo the race after the race. What happens if, if, if. I think the feeling is that we had six cars on the pace.

“Quali is crucial, the start is crucial. And for sure then the strategy. If you stay on track and you expect the safety car, and the safety car is coming at the right moment, it’s much better.”

Reflecting on the collision which ultimately cost Piastri his front wing, Vasseur said it was very similar to an earlier incident in turn 11, when Piastri was defending his position and ran Sainz wide into the run-off area.

“It was the same two or three laps before Turn 11, when Piastri went straight, that Carlos was in front,” he said. “If Carlos took the corner, they crashed together. I think we have collectively to decide where we want to go on this one, but I think the two incidents were very similar, except that Piastri tried to take the corner on the second one.”