Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur has blamed the team’s yoyoing performance this season on “inconsistency”, with the team currently unable to match their qualifying performances in the races.
The Italians currently find themselves fourth in the Constructors’ Championship and in a spot of bother, as a result of being unaware of why they are encountering so many issues.
Charles Leclerc qualified P19 at the Spanish Grand Prix last weekend due to an issue with his car; however, the biggest problem was that Ferrari weren’t sure what the fault even was.
Carlos Sainz on the other hand, qualified second but then tumbled backwards to fourth during the race, as a result of having been comfortably slower than Mercedes.
Ferrari’s biggest strength is still their one lap pace; however, it’s almost like they have a different car in the races.
Vasseur admits that “inconsistency” is their biggest issue but that they have made a more significant “step forward” than Aston Martin.
“I think we made a step forward in terms of potential,” Vasseur said, as per the official Formula 1 website.
“Our reference is Miami and on quali pace we were equal at least with Carlos on the first row, a step forward probably, and in the race we made a step forward compared to Aston.
“But it is still not enough. We still have a huge delta in terms of performance to Mercedes’ quali to race. And it’s where we have to put all the focus of the company and, if we want to come back, to have good results on Sunday as that’s when we are scoring points.”
Leclerc’s race pace was arguably even more confusing than his woeful qualifying, with his SF-23 having appeared to behave differently every time his tyres were changed.
Whilst this can be expected on different compounds due to the varying softness and grip levels, Leclerc complained of his car performing strangely on two different sets of Hard tyres, with Vasseur admitting that they don’t know what’s causing the bizarre performance issues.
“The main issue is the inconsistency,” said Vasseur.
“On Charles [Leclerc’s] car for example – from the first to the third stint on the same compound – one, the balance was all over the place, and one was okay-ish. And Carlos [Sainz], he did a good first stint, a good last stint and, in the middle, he lost 15 or 20 seconds to his competitors.
“If I knew [the answer], it would be fixed because we have 1000 people focused on this now. But it is not always the same, not always the same problem.”
Ferrari’s biggest task right now is to solve their grip and overheating issues when it comes to race trim, with Vasseur believing that as soon as they can get the SF-23 in a consistent window, the results will improve.
Once this is solved, the Frenchman believes themselves and Mercedes will rotate as second in the pecking order, based on each circuit’s characteristics.
“To close the gap with Mercedes, we are probably faster than them in quali and slower than them in the race,” he added.
“As soon as we are not in this situation with consistency, to fight with them in the race will probably depend week to week on the track and the tarmac.”