Having made so much progress last season, Ferrari have taken a substantial step backwards so far in 2023, with the Italians currently finding themselves 187 points behind Red Bull.
Ferrari’s deficit to Red Bull after just seven races is unbelievable, given that it means the Austrians have scored on average 26.7 points more than Ferrari at every Grand Prix this season.
Whilst reliability hasn’t been too big of a problem for the Maranello-based team, inconsistency has been their downfall.
This was highlighted perfectly at the Spanish Grand Prix, where Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc quite literally qualified at either end of the grid.
Sainz started second whilst Leclerc started from the pits, following a shock Q1 elimination.
As worrying as Leclerc’s Q1 exit was, the most concerning thing about it all was that Ferrari had no idea what was making the Monegasque’s car so bad.
They changed the entire rear of his car to try and solve the problem, with Leclerc having only salvaged 11th.
Despite this, Sainz proved during qualifying in Spain that the SF-23 is a quick car, seemingly when it wants to be.
Supposedly, Ferrari CEO Benedetto Vigna had a big influence over the creation of the team’s 2023 car, in an attempt to have the car fit Ferrari’s “image”.
It’s been speculated that Vigna wasn’t happy with Red Bull being faster than Ferrari in a straight-line in 2022, despite the fact that the Italians were better through the majority of corners last year.
This season, Ferrari are very fast down the straights but woeful through the corners, with Vigna having potentially made a very costly error.
Respected F1 journalist Mark Hughes hopes the Vigna rumour “is not true”.
“Fast corners are not the car’s forte,” Hughes wrote for Motorsport Magazine.
“Last year they were but there was a deliberate trade-off of that for straight-line speed with this car. That seemed a questionable shift when they announced it at the launch and even more so now.
“There’s a story it was because the boss Benedetto Vigna didn’t like the idea that the Ferrari was always slower on the straight than the Red Bull last year, that it was ‘inappropriate’ for Ferrari’s image… For the team’s sake, one must hope that is not true, and that a crucial part of the technical concept has not been influenced by ‘image’.
“Regardless, because of where the Ferrari’s aero efficiencies are, around Barcelona its lap time does not respond as well to more wing than other cars.”