Following the three-day testing session at the Bahrain International Circuit, it was pretty clear that Red Bull remains the big favourite, at least for the start of the upcoming Formula 1 season, which takes place next weekend in Sakhir. The RB19 car proved to be very reliable and fast both in terms of qualifying simulations and long runs. Despite the fact that Red Bull’s impressive pace is not an encouraging sign for the Maranello team, with Ferrari setting the goal of winning the titles this season, new team principal Frederic Vasseur is far from being alarmed regarding the data collected from the testing session in Bahrain in the last few days.
The French manager pointed out that Scuderia Ferrari’s main target for the Sakhir was not focused on setting fast lap times and therefore chasing headline times. Instead, the Maranello team wanted to work on set-up evaluation and better understanding the SF-23 challenger.
In addition to this, Frederic Vasseur feels testing times can many teams be rather deceptive at the Bahrain International Circuit given the fact that next week’s Bahrain Grand Prix could be marked by a different competitive order when the true competition gets underway in the qualifying session next Saturday.
“Overall, I think that we can be happy with the test that we did,” Frederic Vasseur explained at the end of the pre-season testing session yesterday when asked about Ferrari’s focus in Bahrain – ” I think overall the car looks okay performance wise, but we don’t know about the level of fuel of the others. The most important was to scan every kind of setting on the car, because you know that the feature of today [at the test] is completely different to the picture of next week. I don’t remember who did the fastest lap time last year in Bahrain, but he was not on pole position for the race. And that was the same two years ago.” – the Frenchman explained.
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When asked whether the impressive pace shown by rivals Red Bull had worried the Maranello team, Fred Vasseur added: “What is true is that on one lap pace, you are not able to judge because you don’t know if they are running with 20/30/50 kilos, and they don’t know if we are at 20/30/50kg. It means that it’s very difficult to do any kind of comparison. The only thing that you can judge is when you are doing a race simulation. Because you know that, if you don’t stop the car and you do 55 laps, it means that you started with 110kg. It’s the only one [where you know]. On our side we did different attempts, with different levels of fuel. Some solutions were working, some other a bit less. We have to get the best from this and to do a proper analysis. But again, the race next week, even between the start of the race and the end of the race, it will be a different story. Bahrain, at the end of the race, the track [temperature] is very, very low in terms of track and the picture will be completely different to this one [at the test].” – he pointed out.
Despite the fact that some race simulations performed by Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz looked very poor when compared to Red Bull and at times even to Aston Martin, Frederic Vasseur has explained that the Maranello team attempted to run with various setups which clearly were not the ideal ones. The French manager remains confident that Ferrari got what it wanted from the three-day testing session in Bahrain and pointed out that any obsession regarding Red Bull’s form would only serve to damage its own prospects ahead of the first round of the new Formula 1 championship:
“It was not the mindset of the test. If you start the test just to have a look on the level of performance of the team, you are dead, because then you will react and function based on the timesheet. The most important is to tick the boxes that you have to tick, and honestly, on this, we did a good job. You have only three days to scan all the options for the settings of the car and items of development. And when we are putting everything together, the best looks okay.” – Fred Vasseur concluded.