“We are speaking about one-tenth” — Vasseur on the very close fight between Ferrari and McLaren in 2024 F1 season

Photo credit: Scuderia Ferrari
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Ferrari has had a good start to the 2024 season. They are the only team other than Red Bull to win a race to date as Carlos Sainz took the win at Albert Park in Melbourne last month.

Behind these two teams, McLaren looks like they are establishing themselves as the third fastest one.

The lead Ferrari beat the McLarens in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Japan. In fact, both Ferraris finished ahead of the McLarens apart from in Jeddah where Oliver Bearman made his F1 debut, placing P7 ahead of Lando Norris.

However, with Norris finishing on the podium at the Chinese GP ahead of Perez and the Ferraris, as well as upgrades coming this weekend for the Woking-based team, Vasseur thinks the ability of the team’s to maximise the car’s performance on each track determines who is ahead.

“I think it’s a matter of a tenth or half a tenth. In Melbourne for example, after 60 laps we finished the race eight seconds in front. It’s more a matter of extracting the best of what we have.”

Formula One returned to China after five years and it hosted the first sprint of the season. With the standard format being changed for the Sprint weekend, Vasseur said it was difficult to understand the track with only a limited practice session.

In the Sprint race, Ferrari managed their tyres better and finished ahead of Norris who made a mess of the start as he ran off the track at turn 2 and dropped behind both.

But in the main race, the 24-year-old had better pace than the Scuderia drivers, particularly on the hard tyre. Norris finished 9.9s ahead of Charles Leclerc and over 20s clear of Carlos Sainz, showing how critical it is to everything right according to the Frenchman.

“It can be a bit track-related, I think it was very difficult to understand the tarmac [in China], also due to the format because we did a stint with soft on Friday morning and then we went to the race with medium and we didn’t do the medium before, we did one lap in qualifying.

“It means that this kind of understanding of the situation, let’s say or approach of the situation can make a difference at the end because we are speaking about one-tenth, we are not speaking half a second,” he said.

Ferrari sits 55 points clear of McLaren heading into this weekend’s Miami Grand Prix.