In the wake of the four races held since the summer break, Ferrari has made significant strides in the constructors’ championship.
The team has overtaken Aston Martin for third place and narrowed the gap to Mercedes from 56 points to a mere 20.
Moreover, Carlos Sainz’s impressive victory in Singapore marked the first instance of a non-Red Bull driver taking the top spot this season.
Despite the shift in focus towards the 2024 car in the wind tunnel, Ferrari remains resolute in its pursuit of Mercedes without compromising its commitment to the upcoming season’s program.
Team principal Frederic Vasseur emphasised this dual approach, stating, “You don’t have to postpone the fight, the fight is with Mercedes today, and we have to take it.
“It’s always the best way to prepare for the future, for the mindset of the team, for everybody to be into the fight is crucial.
“And we’ll keep this fight until the end of the season.”
Vasseur underlined that this commitment is not a sacrifice but rather an essential factor for continued performance improvement.
He stated, “It’s never a sacrifice because I think that performance is coming from performance.
“It’s too late to go into the wind tunnel for this season, but what we can do on the current car will help us for next year.”
Ferrari unveiled a new floor in Suzuka, marking one of the final major upgrades for the SF-23 as developments transition from the wind tunnel to the race track.
Vasseur, however, downplayed the floor’s significance in comparison to the improved tire degradation the team showcased at Suzuka.
He explained, “What you can bring on the car is a matter of potential.
“The deg is another story, and we don’t have to mix everything.
“But for sure, potential is always helpful.
“And for less than a tenth, we would have been on the first row, and then it’s a different story, you have clean air and so on.”
Vasseur emphasised the importance of small details in Formula 1 racing, highlighting the impact on race outcomes, particularly when in competition with rival teams.
He noted, “Sometimes small details are making, at the end of the race, a mega huge difference because when you are in the fight you have to copy the others.
“It’s a different story.
“But I think it will be like this until the end of the season.
“We made the pole position in Monza for one hundredth, last week in Singapore for five hundredths, something like this, [in Japan] we lost the first row for five hundredths, and it will be a matter of hundredths for the rest of the season.”
Vasseur stressed that Ferrari has showcased strong performance for some time, even prior to the recent upgrades.
He cautioned against drawing hasty conclusions, stating, “We have also to avoid drawing too quick conclusions.
“Before the break, in Spa, we were also in good shape, but Charles [Leclerc] started fourth.
“He was theoretically on the first row, but he started from pole position and did a good race.
“It’s not exactly the reality and from race-to-race, and from track-to-track.”