Frédéric Vasseur admits Scuderia Ferrari went into the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season with expectation levels too high, and they were brought down with a bump very early on.
Having been in contention for the Drivers’ Championship with Charles Leclerc in 2022, hopes had been high that the team could take the fight to Oracle Red Bull Racing in 2023, but the team won only once all year long with Carlos Sainz Jr. in Singapore as their rivals dominated.
Vasseur, who was brought in as Team Principal at Ferrari in place of Mattia Binotto ahead of the 2023 season, said the team needed to readdress their ambitions early when it became clear that they were not in the same league as Red Bull.
“For sure, I think the level of expectation was a bit too high at the beginning of the season and we understood quickly the situation,” Vasseur is quoted as saying by Racer.com. “I think after a couple of laps in Bahrain — and even a couple of laps in the simulator before leaving to go to Bahrain.
“But what I would keep in mind this season is the reaction of the team, that we had tough moments but remember after Jeddah or Miami or Spain or Zandvoort — Zandvoort is not so long ago 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.”
Vasseur says that Max Verstappen aside, everyone had a very up and down season, with one or two tenths of a second proving the difference between a place on or near the podium and a place on the edge of the top ten.
Sainz had a strong mid-season run that included his win in Singapore, whilst Leclerc finished the year strongly with three podium finishes in the final four events. However, the drivers finished only fifth and seventh in the standings, with Leclerc overtaking Sainz in the final event of the year in Abu Dhabi.
“We had different momentum through the year,” Vasseur added. “I think it is true that Carlos was very, very strong after the summer break and Charles was flying at the last six or seven events. But overall, I think the dynamic that we added to the team was a good one.
“I don’t think we have to keep in mind the race for Carlos because overall, he won in Singapore, and in Monza he did pretty well. So, overall, the season is not one day.
“Except Max, everybody on the grid has been up and down this season and because it is very tight, sometimes with one-tenth or one-tenth-and-a-half because you like the track or you like the setup of the car on this day, you can move from P2 or P3 to P10 and it is almost a disaster.
“But we have to stay calm to the approach and it is not that we missed something.”