After being the only team to put Red Bull under pressure in 2022, there was optimism in the Ferrari camp that would be able to draw level and fight for the title.

But the Scuderia received a blow at the start of 2023 when it turned up with a car in Bahrain testing that fell short of those expectations and struggled on race pace – especially on hot, high-downforce circuits.

And while team principal Vasseur thinks the team can take courage from how it stabilised its performance across different circuit types in the latter part of the year, in which it was the only team to keep Red Bull from a clean sweep of 22 race wins, he warns against a repeat of its 2023 optimism.

“For sure, I think the level of expectation was a bit too high at the beginning of the season,” Vasseur said. “We understood quickly the situation after a couple of laps in Bahrain and even a couple of laps into the simulator before Bahrain.

“But what I would keep in mind this season is the reaction of the team. We had a tough moment but remember after Jeddah, Miami, Spain or Zandvoort, Zandvoort is not so far away and we were almost lapped.

“I think that we, compared to Zandvoort, collectively made a huge step forward and this is good for the future. It’s on this progression that we can build for next year.”

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal and General Manager, Scuderia Ferrari

Photo by: Ferrari

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal and General Manager, Scuderia Ferrari

Rather than making evolutionary changes, Ferrari has banked on an all-new car design for next season to address its weaknesses from the ground up.

But while drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz are hopeful of a closer fight in 2024, the spectre of Red Bull moving its focus to next year before the other top teams is one that cannot be ignored.

“I don’t know if it will be better next year, nobody knows,” Vasseur added. “But you know what you are doing in your business and it is always a matter of comparison.

“If you can make up one second and the others are doing 1.5s then you look stupid. But if they do five-tenths then you look like a hero.

“I don’t want to be too optimistic because it was probably one of the issues we had last season.

“We just have to be focused on what we are doing and not think about the outcome of the championship before it is won or to look at the prize-giving ceremony before Bahrain.”

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