Frederic Vasseur explains why Ferrari can challenge Red Bull very soon

Charles Leclerc retired from the Bahrain Grand Prix following an engine-based reliability issue.

Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur is “completely convinced” that the Maranello-based team have what it takes to match and hopefully beat Red Bull, despite a massively disappointing Bahrain Grand Prix last weekend.

Despite a reportedly positive pre-season, Charles Leclerc suffered a power unit-based reliability issue during the race, resulting in him retiring from third place.

The power unit issue caught Ferrari by surprise, with the Italians having worked tirelessly over the winter break to solve their issues from last season.

An even bigger issue for Ferrari at the Bahrain International Circuit, though, was that both Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were off the pace of Red Bull during the race, despite having been on the same pace during qualifying.

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It’s because of this why Vasseur is confident that Ferrari can “match” Red Bull’s pace, with the Frenchman believing they can match their race performance due to having matched their qualifying performance.

“I am completely convinced about this,” Vasseur said.

“I have never seen a car that was able to match the pace of another in quali and not be able to do it in a race.

“It’s a matter of set-up and some choices on the car. It’s not a matter of the concept at all.

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“We don’t have to go in this direction.”

Leclerc’s engine failure was a massive shock, with the Monegasque now likely facing a grid penalty at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Given how surprising the failure was, Vasseur has highlight the important on understanding what caused the failure, with the side needing to be “fully realistic” as a result.

“Before we draw any conclusions, we need to understand exactly what has happened.

“Overall, I would say that the picture is not the one expected before the race.

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“If I were to summarise the situation, I would say that on the quali pace we are there. We are matching Red Bull – at least in Bahrain – and that is a positive point.

“But we have to be fully realistic. If we want to improve, we need to have a clear picture of the situation and the reliability is not at the level that we need.

“If we want to win races we need to have a clean sheet over a weekend, and not these small details here and there.”