As mentioned just yesterday: to beat Red Bull, it won’t be enough to tread comfortable paths; one must dare. The advantage built by the world champions over the competition, starting with Ferrari, is so solid and extensive that challengers cannot simply construct a car on par with the RB20. It will be mandatory to push beyond in every technical, sporting, and managerial aspect. In simple terms, it’s about adapting to the exceptionally high standards set by Christian Horner’s team in recent seasons.
There’s no magic recipe; logic dictates raising the bar and reaching the same level of perfection through work and addressing those seemingly small but vital flaws in the course of a season. Take, for example, pit stop management.
Red Bull, for the sixth consecutive year, has been the most adept team in this fundamental aspect. In the long run, these details, combined with others, allow for a smooth performance even if the car – as was not the case with RB19 – doesn’t dominate forcefully.
Ferrari Aims for Perfection in Every Area
The managerial paradigm set by the Austrian alliance has become a benchmark that everyone aspires to but, for now, no one has been able to replicate in all its facets. Leaving aside the technical question, which is undoubtedly of primary importance in such a hyper-competitive sport as Formula One, where performance parity is the foundation for competing with the top teams, everything around it needs optimization.
At Ferrari, this lesson has been learned, and efforts are underway to fortify the defense for a 2024 that cannot continue on the same path taken in the last two years – a decline that is steering the Prancing Horse away from the summit of the category. Frédéric Vasseur was brought to Maranello to restore the operational dynamics of the Scuderia, and after a year of hard work, certain issues remain on the table. For example, the administration of certain race phases has remained deficient despite the removal of Inaki Rueda and the promotion of Ravin Jain.
This confirms that individuals cannot make a difference if operational programs are flawed. Fred Vasseur is working to bring about a decisive change in pace. After the necessary – and sometimes radical – changes to the organizational structure in the early months of his tenure, Fred Vasseur has placed continuity at the center of his action: no revolution, the guillotine well stowed away, and a focus on details to extract the best.
The first element of stability is represented by the double renewal of the driver lineup. An act not yet formalized but effectively anticipated by John Elkann, who expressed at the Exor Investor Day: “Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc? They will certainly stay. The season was disappointing because we finished third in the championship. But in the last quarter of the year, we could compete even with Red Bull and secured many pole positions. We must keep all this to push even more.”
Ferrari, by renewing its trust in its drivers, believes that a two-pronged approach, much like in Mercedes, is the most valid scheme to try to beat the record-breaking Red Bull. The persistence of the driver duo should be the glue holding together the wall that Ferrari, brick by brick, is trying to build. Difficult challenges await the protagonists of the Modena-based team, but the leadership believes that with cohesion, everything can be faced with less anxiety.
Receiving the message from Elkann and Benedetto Vigna, Vasseur intends to continue with renewed vigor on the path laid out since January. Even in a disappointing season that didn’t meet the set goals at the beginning of the year, there is something Ferrari can take as a positive value to work on. After the summer break, the gap from the second position exceeded seventy points; in the middle of the championship, the Prancing Horse managed to recover almost all the deficit against Mercedes.
Ferrari: 2023 is Not All Wasted
If the catch-up wasn’t achieved, it’s because of those details that didn’t function well and that they aim to stabilize next year. Vasseur, after the conclusion of Abu Dhabi, has defined the programmatic manifesto for the immediate future: “We don’t have to overhaul everything in 2024 when we are three to four tenths behind. Not even Red Bull has a magic wand; they are doing a better job. We lost many points due to reliability, on-track operations, and impeding. We shouldn’t focus only on one area.”
Only with the awareness that these issues exist can they overcome them. Vasseur, always honest with himself and those who listen to his statements, emphasized that it’s not the intention of the red team operators to focus only on one intervention area but to extend attention to all aspects, big and small, to push them to the limit. “Already during this season, we managed to improve a lot in certain areas – observed the French manager – we must maintain the same approach in 2024 and see where we will be in Bahrain. We must stay positive.”
The analysis of the 2023 F1 season, the emerging issues, certainly didn’t start with engines off. It’s a work in progress that went hand in hand with the unfolding of the World Championship. Vasseur explained that specialists have found there is a lot of room for improvement in various technical areas as well as in the Ferrari Racing Department.
At Ferrari, they didn’t focus on final results; those are not exhilarating. Instead, they focused on the path taken to emerge from a phase where the SF-23 seemed to be the fourth force in the championship, becoming, in certain circumstances, the second and seizing the only Red Bull’s failure at Singapore. It’s not the goal, but the journey instilling confidence in the Italian environment.
“We don’t want to talk about results; I will ask the team to continue with the same dynamics. The most important thing is to have this kind of attitude even in difficult times. That’s how it went this year even when we were in trouble, and that’s what allowed us to improve things over the season,” concluded the team principal of Draveil, who, at least theoretically, has the recipe to create that magical fluid needed to beat the expert alchemists of Milton Keynes.
Dec 3, 2023
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