Ralf Schumacher has hinted Ferrari could soon switch their focus to 2024 after a disappointing start to the 2023 Formula 1 season.
After Charles Leclerc looked capable of pole position at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, it’s been downhill from there for Ferrari and they’ve only managed one podium so far – Leclerc‘s hard-fought third-place in Azerbaijan.
At the Spanish GP Leclerc slumped out in Q1 and couldn’t make it back into the points positions on raceday, while Carlos Sainz but his SF-23 on the front row but slid back to finish fifth.
“The biggest problem child is Ferrari,” Schumacher wrote after the race in his Sky Sport Deutschland column. “Team boss Fred Vasseur seemed at a loss. When I asked him how long it would take Ferrari to catch up with the leaders, his answer was: ‘First we have to identify the problem, then we can say how long it will take’.
“They don’t really know what the problem is, they’ve had the problem of the tyre degrading too quickly for a year now, and in Barcelona, apart from qualifying, they were also simply too slow.
“It may take some time before they all start working and this work bears fruit. So it’s quite possible that Ferrari can forget about this season and the beginning of next year.”
This comes after Ferrari axed former team boss Mattia Binotto, who’d led their recovery from a dire 2020 season to winning races and fighting for both championships in 2022, in favour of ex-Alfa Romeo team principal Vasseur.
The younger brother of F1 great Michael Schumacher, who won five titles with the Scuderia, Ralf has seen the best Ferrari can offer but knows they’re a long way off that right now.
“Ferrari still has a rocky road ahead of it,” Schumacher added. “Vasseur has only been in office for a few months, which simply takes time and he has to be given it. He’s currently in the process of bringing some new people into the team.”
Big Mercedes opportunity for Mick Schumacher
Ralf was more positive on his nephew Mick Schumacher, who’s been Mercedes‘ reserve driver since he was dropped by Haas at the end of 2022.
After his work in the simulator was praised by Lewis Hamilton, Mick Schumacher gets his chance on-track at the Barcelona tyre test following the grand prix.
“For him personally, this is very important for two reasons,” Ralf Schumacher said. “Firstly, he gets confirmation between the simulator work and reality. For a driver, it’s very important to get a feeling in the car.
“And then, of course, he can show that he can be fast in the car. People will be watching and you can definitely draw comparisons with the other drivers and teams.
“Mick can put an exclamation mark on the team as well. He can show that what he puts into the simulator he can also put into practice on the track.”
Where is the next F1 2023 race?
Now the F1 circus is finished in Spain, the next race is the 2023 Canadian Grand Prix which will be held at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal over the weekend of June 16-18.