Ex-Formula 1 driver Ralf Schumacher believes Ferrari’s “biggest problem” currently isn’t the SF-23, despite Carlos Sainz having criticised it for its “unpredictability”.
Ferrari have endured a woeful start to the 2023 F1 season, with the Italians sitting fourth in the Constructors’ Championship after five races.
To add to their woes, they’re already 146 points behind Red Bull, whilst they also find themselves behind Aston Martin and Mercedes.
Qualifying pace hasn’t been much of an issue for the side, with Leclerc having claimed pole position for the main race and the sprint race recently at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, highlight that one lap performance isn’t a concern.
What does appear to be an issue is Ferrari’s race pace, with Sainz and Leclerc often going backwards rather than forwards.
Sainz believes the team’s car as it stands is “trickier” than last season’s and that it’s hard to “predict” how it’ll behave, with Leclerc having also recently criticised the SF-23 in a similar way.
“It’s not an easy car,” Sainz told The Race.
“At the moment, we are struggling a bit with unpredictability, with a very tricky car, which makes putting laps together in quali, race pace, changing conditions, tyre wear, wind, very, very tricky to predict and very tricky to adapt to.
“As a driver, leaving that aside, I feel like I understand how I need to drive this generation of cars, I understand how I want to set up the car to my liking, or at least this generation of cars to my liking. And that leaves me with less variables to think about going into a race weekend.
“It hasn’t been an easy start, as I said, but I feel like even if the car is possibly even trickier than last year, I understand that trickiness better. And I can set up and drive the car in my way.”
Schumacher, though, believes Sainz and Leclerc are the team’s biggest issue, not the car.
In the German’s eyes, the duo aren’t “consistent enough”, with both having made several driver errors in recent races.
Sainz saw his podium chances at the Miami Grand Prix vanish after unnecessarily speeding in the pit-lane, due to having approached it too quickly.
The Spaniard was awarded a time penalty as a result, whilst Leclerc crashed twice at Turn 8.
He crashed at Turn 8 once during practice and once in the closing minutes of Q3, with both having been his fault.
As a result, Schumacher believes Leclerc in particular isn’t “good enough” to be a champion, whilst he criticised Sainz for not showing consistent pace.
“I see the biggest problem with the drivers. For me, they’re just not consistent enough,” Schumacher said.
“With his mistakes, Leclerc shows that he either doesn’t have the maturity or maybe, at the end of the day, he’s not consistently good enough to win a world championship for Ferrari.
“And Sainz was eight-tenths away from Leclerc in one weekend. To be honest, the Ferrari team is currently doing a better job than both drivers.”