Vasseur on SF-23’s high-downforce struggles: “At least we are trying to have a better understanding”

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Picture Credits Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team

Scuderia Ferrari showed at the Italian Grand Prix the difference in performance that comes from their SF23 when it runs on a low downforce track. The team’s senior performance engineer, Jock Clear, said that the car was ‘a different animal’ in Monza. However, with a high downforce track next up on the calendar in Singapore, which has been a challenge for Ferrari this season, Team Principal Fred Vasseur was asked if the team have a better understanding of their car. Vasseur told media in Monza that ‘to understand it’s one thing, to fix it, it’s another one but at least we are trying to have a better understanding of the situation.”


Scuderia Ferrari certainly went all out for the best result possible at the team’s home race. Hardly a surprise because as the team’s senior performance engineer, Jock Clear, said “Have you seen how much red there is out in the crowd. Go figure!” With a special low-downforce configuration, a new turbocharger, a fresh motor generator unit and new front and rear wings on Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz’ SF23, the eggs were very much being placed in a figurative basket by Scuderia Ferrari at this year’s Italian Grand Prix.


Even though the victory went the way of Max Verstappen for a history making 10th consecutive F1 Grand Prix win of the season, it is clear that Scuderia Ferrari provided Oracle Red Bull Racing with a real on track challenge. One point to support this is the speed they were able to carry through the corners, such as the infamous Parabolica. Jock Clear told reporters “I think we understand quite a lot of that but I’m not going to share it with you!”


In the post-race press conference, Scuderia Ferrari’s Team Principal, Fred Vasseur was asked for his thoughts on how his team’s car would perform at Singapore due to the fact that high downforce tracks have been an issue for his team this season.


Vasseur first highlighted some races such as Canada and Monaco to name but a few where his team was ‘in good shape’. However, Vasseur could see the story that the statistics show.


“But it’s true, that if you have a look the best result that we get during the season was on the low downforce. But we did a test in Zandvoort to try to understand the situation. To understand it’s one thing, to fix it it’s another one but at least we are trying to have a better understanding of the situation” Vasseur told the media in attendance post-race in Monza.


Seemingly unsatisfied by this response, the man steering the ship at Scuderia Ferrari was asked later on during the same press conference as to whether there was any hope that things might be a little bit better in Singapore than they were at the Dutch Grand Prix – the most recent high downforce track of the calendar prior to Monza.


“I think I replied exactly the same question.” quipped Vasseur. “We did a step forward in Zandvoort to understand the situation. You remember, that we made a couple of tests in FP1 and we sacrificed the FP1 for testing. It was for us to collect data to have a better vision of the situation. Now, the next step is to fix it and it’s clear also that we don’t have a lot of time, track time to do steps but at least to understand the problem is a step forward.” Vasseur concluded on the matter.

Obviously, a team like Scuderia Ferrari will always give their all at any track but it is very clear that Singapore will be a problematic circuit for them. As Jock Clear said: “It’s not going to be a race we are going to go to and be at this [Monza] level of performance straight away unless we make some big improvements.”


However, all the steps that Scuderia Ferrari seem to be making will certainly put them in good stead for 2024. It has been well reported that the team is already planning drastic changes to its car for next year to respond to the high-downforce circuit issues.


Having performed as well as they expected in Monza, the objective of ‘understanding the SF23’ is being achieved slowly but surely. Scuderia Ferrari knew they could challenge Oracle Red Bull Racing in Monza and so it proved – for some of the race at least. Now, should they manage to have a very different beast in 2024, there may be the possibility that the prancing horse could catch up with the charging bull over a whole season. However, catching up is one thing – overtaking is something else altogether.