The 2023 Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix saw Ferrari take a step back from the incredible feat in Singapore one week ago, where Carlos Sainz clinched a remarkable victory. This time, the Ferrari cars from Maranello had to settle for a double placement just off the podium. Charles Leclerc finished the race in fourth place, thanks in part to a fantastic overtaking maneuver on George Russell on the outside of turn 1.
Carlos Sainz, on the other hand, secured a sixth-place finish, nestled between the two Mercedes cars. The combined result allowed the Prancing Horse to gain another four points in the Constructors’ Championship, closing the gap to the black-and-silver arrows. The gap is now only 20 points.
“You can’t be fully satisfied when you finish fourth and sixth,” commented Frederic Vasseur honestly at the end of the Suzuka race, speaking to Sky Sport F1. “But, on the other hand, we are closing in on Mercedes, and it was challenging to do better today. We chose the right strategy, and everything went rather well. Degradation was kept under control, and there were some positive points. Overall, the focus of the French manager, with six races to go in the championship, is all on the neck-and-neck race with Toto Wolff’s rival team. “The goal now is to catch up with Mercedes in the Constructors’ Championship, and we gained four points.” – the French manager pointed out.
Fred Vasseur then made a comparison with the weekend in Marina Bay, both from the perspective of the Ferrari drivers and the comparison with rival teams. “I don’t think Charles had any issues with the car’s feel in Singapore. We’re talking about centimeters in qualifying, so you have to remain calm and not be too optimistic or pessimistic based on individual results. There is a very balanced battle between us, Mercedes, and McLaren, and we must try to give our best in every weekend by doing our job. We are so close that from one track to another, a team may have a disadvantage or an advantage. Probably, we were in better conditions in Singapore compared to McLaren, and they were better than us today. They were ahead by less than a tenth in qualifying, and with clean air in front during the race, it was a different story.”
“We scored the points we needed to, and that’s a positive aspect,” Ferrari’s team principal added. “But now we need to look ahead and think about the next race. We are always chasing performance, but we missed a few hundredths to get on the front row this weekend. In that case, it would have been a different race. There’s no magic wand that can give you half a second; you have to grow step by step. We will see in Qatar, where the goal will be to start at the front to be able to race with a clear track. Finally, we must not forget to congratulate Red Bull on their Constructors’ title.” – the Ferrari boss concluded.