Ferrari believes that increasing driver confidence in its SF-23 is now critical to help it close the gap to Red Bull in Formula 1.
The Italian team have had a challenging first half to the 2023 season, with their car struggling to deliver consistent race performance despite being fast on a single lap.
However, it’s made some pretty good strides with recent updates and feels like it’s starting to close in on the dominant Red Bull team.
Team Principal Fred Vasseur believes that the key now, as we take the final step to fight for victories, is to deliver a car that gives drivers Carlos Leclerc and Carlos Sainz more confidence because they think they are unable to extract the full potential of it.
Reflecting on the early phase of the season, Vasseur said Italian Motorsport.com site That lap time has been bleeding away because the car’s handling doesn’t inspire faith.
“It wasn’t just a matter of pure performance, because something happened that affected the drivers’ confidence in the car,” said Vasseur.
“When you go into a corner and you have a loss of downforce, it also causes a loss of balance. So you start to feel understeer. Add in the wind, from one lap to the next, which is never the same, and never has been. been”. the same intensity, and the difficulties add up.
“We don’t have performance stability. So, lap after lap, we lose a little bit of performance from our drivers, because they never have the same conditions and they lose confidence in the car.”
“We have to try to put drivers more at the center of our priorities. It’s not the easiest way or the fastest way.” [to progress] because it would be so much easier to add downforce everywhere.
Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal and General Manager, Scuderia Ferrari, at the team principals press conference
Photo by: Mark Sutton / motoring images
“But it happens that from one weekend to another we have very different performances. We have good feelings in a grand prix while, in the next one, it can happen that we do it badly”.
no copy tactics
Now that ranking driver confidence is the priority in ferrariVasseur says it’s more important that his engineers focus on the team car rather than looking for copycat designs as rivals have.
“We’re working on trying to improve where we’re weak because it’s the right approach compared to trying to copy someone else,” he said.
“The hardest part of the job is understanding exactly where the weaknesses are and then correcting them.
“From this point of view, we made a good step forward after Australia and then another after Barcelona, although there are still some weaknesses, especially in extreme conditions.
“Sometimes when you introduce a new package and have little time to test it, you have a hard time understanding if you’ve used the wrong setup. Maybe you were hoping to win a tenth and a half and then you lost a tenth because you didn’t have the right setup.
“So once you put out an update, it’s essential to understand how it’s exploited. Then there’s also an impact related to conditions, because we’re still a bit sensitive to the wind, especially when it’s quite strong like at Silverstone, which reached 50km. /h”.
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23
Photo by: Erik Junius
Both Leclerc and Sainz have been open that the SF-23 is difficult to drive to the limit in gusts because its performance can be unpredictable.
Explaining the issues at play, Vasseur said that the feature was not that simple to deal with, as it relates to very specific conditions.
“The car is too sensitive when there is a diagonal wind,” said Vasseur. “We are working to try to improve in this aspect, because when the wind is head-on we don’t have any kind of difficulty”.
Although the British GP was not a great race for the team, Vasseur is confident that the performance this weekend in Hungary will be better.
“I can say that we are better in the slow corners and the 90 degree corners than in the longer corners,” he said. “At least that’s what we’ve seen so far.
“We can hope for a pole position, but I think the key factor could be the wind. Spa could also be a track that suits the characteristics of our car. There is the Bus Stop chicane, and La Source, and there are only two corners of high speed”.