Frederic Vasseur slams ‘devastating effect’ as he plays up Ferrari upgrades

Charles Leclerc has already retired from two races this season, with his sole finish being P7 in Saudi Arabia.

Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur believes the Italians disappointing Australian Grand Prix didn’t “reflect the progress” made by the side since Saudi Arabia, after a point-less race at the Albert Park Circuit.

Ferrari did look slightly better in Melbourne and appeared to have the pace to challenge Aston Martin and Mercedes, only for their race to go horribly wrong.

Charles Leclerc retired at Turn Three on the opening lap following a racing incident with Lance Stroll, which saw the Monegasque spin into the gravel after being unfortunately tagged.

Stroll had absolutely nowhere to go due to the nature of the corner, with Vasseur having accepted that it was a racing incident.

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It means Leclerc has only finished one race this season, with that being his seventh-place finish in Jeddah.

On the other side of the garage, Carlos Sainz was having a strong race in fourth right up until the penultimate lap, where he hit Fernando Alonso following a race restart.

A late red flag saw a standing start completed with just two laps remaining, resulting in carnage at the opening corner.

After making Alonso spin, Sainz was awarded a five-second time penalty, demoting him from third to P12.

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Ferrari have since appealed the decision, with a review yet to take place.

As a result of everything that went on, Ferrari remain fourth in the Constructors’ Championship but now 97 points behind Red Bull.

Despite the disappointment, some positives can certainly be taken from Melbourne, with the hope now being that their imminent upgrades will further improve their performance.

“Today’s result, not scoring points, does not reflect the progress we have made as a team,” Vasseur said after the race.

“We have taken a step forward in terms of pure performance and even more importantly, we had a decent and consistent race pace on the various tyre compounds, including the Hard. Only yesterday’s qualifying did not match our potential.

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“Our initial reaction is one of frustration, with Charles clearly unlucky to be involved in a racing incident at the start.

“It was a good call to bring Carlos in under the first Safety Car, but following the red flag, he had to start again from P11, from which he recovered very well.

“The penalty had a devastating effect on the final result for him but despite this, we go back to Maranello knowing that we are moving in the right direction and we now have three weeks to keep working on optimising and updating the SF-23 for the coming races.”