Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz qualified on the second row in the Bahrain season opener, behind the leading Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez. But if Ferrari’s one-lap pace was encouraging, its race pace was less impressive as it struggled to match Red Bull and even came under threat from Aston Martin.
Leclerc retired from the race with a control electronics issue on the engine, while Sainz was beaten to third by Aston’s Fernando Alonso after he “cooked” the tyres trying to keep the fellow Spaniard behind.
Speaking to the press ahead of this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Vasseur is bullish that Ferrari has “mega room” for improvement with its current package because it didn’t get the car balance right in Bahrain.
“We struggled a bit with the balance over the weekend, it means that we have mega room for improvements on this path with our package,” he explained.
“With what we had in Bahrain, I think we had a lot of room for improvement in terms of driveability.
“The most important is to stay focus on the current situation to try to get the best from what we have today. And even if we are bringing updates and we will improve the situation and the competitiveness of the package.
“Keep in mind that Bahrain is not always very representative. And second, we are still at the early stage of the car.
“It means that we did three days of testing and the race in Bahrain, only on one track, and we need to have a better understanding of the car itself to try to get the best from the package we have.”
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23
Photo by: Erik Junius
After the race Sainz said Ferrari’s excessive tyre wear ‘was as bad as last year’, when the Scuderia worked hard to mitigate the issues.
But when asked by Motorsport.com about Sainz’ comments, Vasseur said its high degradation was the result of Bahrain’s notoriously rough tarmac combined with his drivers trying to make up for an inherent lack of performance, with Sainz cooking the tyres trying to keep Alonso behind.
“Part of the explanation is coming from Bahrain, because it’s very aggressive and probably this is increasing all the parameters,” Vasseur replied.
“And it’s true also that if you have lack of pace, you have to push more to stay into the maximum of your pace and you are damaging more everything.
“It means that I would be much more focused on the pure performance and pure potential than something else.”
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