Ferrari ‘completely convinced’ it can match Red Bull
Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur has complete faith the Scuderia can match Red Bull during grands prix this season despite a crushing opening defeat in Bahrain.
The pre-race suggestions Red Bull was in a league of its own around the Sakhir circuit were ultimately proved correct as reigning champion Max Verstappen enjoyed a dominant victory.
Vasseur feels Charles Leclerc would arguably have finished third but for an engine failure that has sparked a full investigation inside Maranello.
It was left to Carlos Sainz to score Ferrari’s only points from the race, albeit with the Spanish driver fourth, 48 seconds adrift of Red Bull’s Verstappen.
Vasseur, though, is convinced that despite such a gulf, it can be bridged by its current SF-23 given the form shown in qualifying as Leclerc and Sainz.
Confident in the direction of the car, unlike rival Mercedes, and the development potential available to it, Vasseur said: “I am completely convinced about this.
“I have never seen a car that was able to match the pace of another in quali and not be able to do it in a race.
“It’s a matter of set-up and some choices on the car. It’s not a matter of the concept at all.
“We don’t have to go in this direction.”
Ferrari reliability “not at the level we need” – Vasseur
Reliability, however, is a cause for concern, particularly as it was one of the key areas Vasseur knew he would need to address in taking up his new position in early January following the resignation of Mattia Binotto.
It was unreliability that played a major role in the downfall of both Ferrari and Leclerc in their bid for the constructors’ and drivers’ titles last season.
“Of course, it’s a shame not to finish the first race,” added Vasseur. “Before we draw any conclusions, we need to understand exactly what has happened.
“Overall, I would say that the picture is not the one expected before the race.
“If I were to summarise the situation, I would say that on the quali pace we are there. We are matching Red Bull – at least in Bahrain – and that is a positive point.
“But we have to be fully realistic. If we want to improve, we need to have a clear picture of the situation and the reliability is not at the level that we need.
“If we want to win races we need to have a clean sheet over a weekend, and not these small details here and there.”