Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur: We are matching Red Bull

Charles Leclerc retired from the 2023 Bahrain GP, while Carlos Sainz brought his Ferrari home in fourth

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Frederic Vasseur believes his Ferrari team are matching Red Bull in terms of pace despite missing out on the podium at the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Charles Leclerc was running in a comfortable third place for the prancing horse until the engine in his scarlet red Formula 1 car gave way and he was forced to retire. The Monagasque driver had been in a race-long battle for second with Sergio Perez but the Mexican had just got the upper hand as he slowed to a halt.

Despite that, Leclerc was no match for Max Verstappen out front who stretched to a big lead before going into cruise control all the way to the flag. The disappointing end, which saw Carlos Sainz lose his inherited third to Fernando Alonso in the closing stages, has done little to dampen Vasseur’s spirits.

“In terms of pace, we are there,” Vasseur told the press after the 2023 Bahrain GP. “We are matching Red Bull but now we have to be realistic, if we want to improve, we have to get control of the situation.”

Vasseur was a little taken a back by the Ferrari issues on Leclerc’s car, given the reliability shown over testing and the practice sessions. 

“We never expected to have something like this because the first time that we didn’t face the same issue at all during the 6 or 7,000 kilometres that we did with the with the engineering team last week,” Vasseur said.  

“We never had the same issue on the dyno on the other meter. Again, but we need to do a full investigation. It’s never good to start with a DNF. 

“The most important now is to be able to have a clearer picture of the situation, [and see] where we are failing.”

Ferrari reliability concerns

Reliability was the main cause for concern for Ferrari during the 2022 season after they threw away an early lead to allow Red Bull back into the title fight before imploding on several occasions.

The 2022 troubles saw Mattia Binotto step back from the F1 team and Vasseur brought in to lead the team after being successful with Alfa Romeo for a number of years.

His first weekend with the Italian team was tough, but it’s nothing he hasn’t seen before and his tenure at the helm won’t be judged by this one failure.

Joe Ellis
Joe Ellis
Joe Ellis is a motorsport journalist with experience working in BTCC. He is the resident IndyCar correspondent for Total-Motorsport.com and a top class F1 writer.
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