[“Super flat” Vasseur exactly what Ferrari needed in F1, says Leclerc
The Italian outfit came into the 2023 season hoping to fight for the world championship, but it fell short of its target thanks to Red Bull producing its dominant RB19 car.
Ferrari has spent much of the year trying to understand why its own SF-23 has struggled, especially in managing tyres in the race. It has, however, made rapid progress since the Dutch Grand Prix after the summer break.
The methodical approach that the team has taken seems to have unlocked answers that it needs to deliver a much better car in 2024, when it hopes to return regularly to the fight at the front.
Speaking ahead of the Qatar Grand Prix, Leclerc believed that Vasseur’s personality has been important in helping the squad make the more rational calls that are needed.
“Fred is super flat emotionally, which I think is really good in the position he is,” explained the Monegasque.
“I think as an Italian team, and as Ferrari, what I loved most is the emotions that we feel whenever we are at highs, and how passionate the people are.
“But to have this balance with Fred, I think it is also really good to have the clear vision when things are going wrong.
“And also, when things are going very strong, [sticking to the belief] that that’s not it and we still need to work very hard. I think we kind of had already that philosophy, but I think Fred has strengthened it and that’s really good.”
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23
Photo by: Ferrari
Ferrari’s Dutch GP breakthrough was the result of it electing to devote its Friday running at the track to detailed car experiments rather than working through the more usual tyre analysis.
The data it took from those efforts, which it followed up with fresh tests at the Italian GP, has produced some answers about where the weaknesses in the SF-23 come from.
Since then Leclerc and team-mate Carlos Sainz have enjoyed a better run of form, which included victory in the Singapore Grand Prix and edging out Mercedes in Japan.
Asked where the consistency had come from, Leclerc said: “Definitely the understanding that we had in Zandvoort, especially.
“And then that we confirmed it in Monza with very different characteristics and a very different track.
“That helped us to basically extract the maximum out of the car more consistently. At the beginning of the year, we were more up and down, and the car felt very different from one weekend to the other. So on that we have developed.”
But while Leclerc has hailed the progress, Sainz himself is remaining a bit more cautious – even though the recent improved tyre deg in Japan pointed to Ferrari having got on top of the worst of its issues.
“It was high tyre deg, but at the same time it was a two-stop which makes everything easier because it can cut down the tyre life,” he said.
“Our biggest weakness is tyre life more than tyre deg, and in a two-stop race you can kind of manipulate that more than if it’s a one-stop and you are on the limit of the tyres for the two stints.
“Having said that, it was good progress. We have been working a lot on the tyre management side with the drivers, with the tools of the car and we’re hoping that it’s incremental gains.
“We know F1 is never something out of the blue, it’s always incremental gains, and we’ve been doing that this season.”