Ferrari has been diligently working to address the challenges that plagued their SF-23 car, particularly in the realm of tire management during races. However, since the Dutch Grand Prix that followed the summer break, the Scuderia has undergone a remarkable transformation, adopting a systematic approach that has provided invaluable insights for their future endeavors, with a keen eye on a stronger performance in 2024.
Charles Leclerc has emphasized the significance of Fred Vasseur’s personality in guiding the team to make rational decisions. Leclerc, in his own words, hailed Vasseur’s emotional composure, stating, “Fred is super flat emotionally, which I think is really good in the position he is.”
Leclerc, reflecting on the essence of Ferrari’s passionate Italian identity, noted, “I think as an Italian team, and as Ferrari, what I loved most is the emotions that we feel whenever we are at highs, and how passionate the people are. But to have this balance with Fred, I think it is also really good to have the clear vision when things are going wrong.”
The young driver continued to praise Vasseur’s ability to maintain composure even in challenging circumstances, remarking, “And also, when things are going very strong, [sticking to the belief] that that’s not it and we still need to work very hard. I think we kind of had already that philosophy, but I think Fred has strengthened it and that’s really good.”
Following these breakthroughs, both Charles Leclerc and his teammate Carlos Sainz experienced an upturn in form, culminating in a victory at the Singapore Grand Prix and a strong performance against Mercedes in Japan. Leclerc attributed their newfound consistency to a better understanding of the car’s capabilities, particularly after the Dutch Grand Prix and its subsequent confirmation at Monza.
Leclerc elaborated on this, saying, “Definitely the understanding that we had in Zandvoort, especially. And then that we confirmed it in Monza with very different characteristics and a very different track. That helped us to basically extract the maximum out of the car more consistently.”
While Charles Leclerc expressed optimism about Ferrari’s progress, Carlos Sainz adopted a cautiously pragmatic stance. He pointed out that despite improved tire degradation in Japan, Ferrari’s primary weakness still lies in tire life rather than tire degradation. Sainz emphasized that a two-stop race allowed for more tire management flexibility, a luxury not afforded in one-stop races where tires are pushed to their limits.
Sainz stated, “Our biggest weakness is tire life more than tire degradation, and in a two-stop race, you can kind of manipulate that more than if it’s a one-stop and you are on the limit of the tires for the two stints. Having said that, it was good progress. We have been working a lot on the tire management side with the drivers, with the tools of the car, and we’re hoping that it’s incremental gains. We know F1 is never something out of the blue; it’s always incremental gains, and we’ve been doing that this season.”