(Motorsports news) Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc should be pleased of themselves for being able to go head-to-head with F1’s current benchmark team despite the fact that they ultimately had insufficient power to halt Red Bull from blazing to another 1-2 finish in 2023. Although Ferrari has returned to its base in Maranello this week feeling inspired by an emotional weekend in front of the cheering tifosi, there is still much mystery about what its performance at the Italian GP implies moving forward.
The real question is whether Ferrari’s home performance was merely the product of throwing everything at winning at home, or whether it represented a more important step forward in the company’s efforts to advance the SF-23. It cannot be disputed that Ferrari went all out for Monza.
Red Bull chose to run a bespoke Monza wing with a significantly flatter mainplane than teams would typically choose with the current generation of cars, while Ferrari avoided using a brand-new wing package and settled for merely a trimmed-out upper flap.
It also made the decision to debut all-new powertrains for the weekend, fully aware that new engines always have a little extra pep. Even in the paddock, there were rumors that Ferrari had turned them up to 11 in an effort to extract every last bit of horsepower from them, but Vasseur refuted these claims.
“We didn’t take more risks than Zandvoort,” he claimed. Ferrari’s last performance was its most competitive of the year, as the team made the most of the chance presented to it by the SF-23’s apparent superior competitiveness in sites with less downforce.
The Ferrari performs far better in comparison to the competition at circuits where the wing levels are lower, such as Austria, Montreal, Canada, and Spa-Francorchamps, than it does at tracks with strong downforce. It becomes less peaky, which also gives the drivers a little more assurance.
Ferrari’s inconsistent performance over the course of back-to-back weekends at Zandvoort and Monza is evidence of this. From having a jittery car cause a crash one weekend to being able to engage in wheel-to-wheel combat at the limit the following.
Given that Mercedes and Aston Martin will once again be Red Bull’s primary rivals for Singapore and Japan, the low-downforce boost supports the idea that Ferrari’s victory in the Italian Grand Prix may well have been an anomaly. Vasseur, though, is quietly optimistic that the trend of 2023 may soon be broken, despite his joke on Sunday night that perhaps the best course of action was to simply maintain the low-downforce setup everywhere.
He claims that significant work done over the Dutch Grand Prix weekend has helped open up some new set-up directions that may very well enable Sainz and Leclerc continue to flourish at the higher downforce venues. In response to a question from Motorsport.com concerning the high-downforce issues, he remarked, “We had a decent test in Zandvoort to attempt to grasp the situation. “However, comprehending something is one thing, and fixing it is another. But at least we’re making an effort to comprehend the problem better.
Vasseur asserts that the vehicle’s performance in FP1 of the Dutch GP was actually different from usual in that it was entirely devoted to testing and understanding the car as opposed to normally being focused on specific race weekend preparations. You might recall that we performed a few tests in FP1 and sacrificed FP1 for testing, Vasseur continued.
“It was for us to gather information so we could see the issue more clearly. The process now is to remedy it. It is also obvious that we don’t have a lot of time to complete processes, but at least understanding the issue is a step in the right direction.
“However, we’re traveling to Singapore with maximum downforce. But it’s not like we’ll just give up on Singapore—there are many things we can do to improve Singapore as we learn from Zandvoort about how to deal with the car there. However, unless we make significant changes, it won’t be a race we go to and look at this level of performance right immediately.