The 2023 Formula One season had two parts for Ferrari. The first part was almost desolate because, from the Bahrain tests, it was clear that the SF-23 was far from the performance of the Red Bulls, as well as other rivals like Aston Martin and Mercedes. The second part, on the other hand, offered a more lively, competitive Red car, capable of winning a race – the only one not won by an RB19 – and coming close to second place in the Constructors’ Championship after a comeback of almost 70 points against Mercedes.
Frédéric Vasseur was in his first year at the helm of the Maranello team, and, in this case as well, the arrival of a new leader involves some changes in the organization chart. According to the French manager, however, it was not so much these changes as a more aggressive attitude in reaction, in on-track operations, and in the factory that lifted Ferrari’s 2023 Formula One season.
“We have already changed some people, but I don’t like to name names, I’ve never done it, and I never will. In the end, it’s not about one person, including my role; the most important thing is the working group we have. I am proud of the team’s reaction during the season; everyone, including the drivers, was able to react after six difficult months, and from Monza onwards, we saw the results.” – the French manager pointed out.
“Then we know that in an organization, there are always some individual changes to make, and we are doing it; we are hiring a lot, but we know the Formula 1 system. At the beginning, there is a kind of huge inertia due to existing contracts. When you realize that you have a problem that requires hiring, we know that a new person joining the team will have to respect twelve months of gardening, a six-month notice, and after this period, they can only be active on the project for the following year. So, from the moment you need a person to when it will be operational, you risk it taking from two to three years.” – the Ferrari boss continued.
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“For this reason, I believe that the most important point for us was the improvement in approach and mentality. I think, in the end, we took more risks and were able to be a bit more aggressive.” – he pointed out.
Fred Vasseur then went into more detail about the difficult period suffered by Ferrari in the first 8-10 races. He talked about the gap between the SF-23 and the RB19 lap after lap, but also about what changed from August onwards on the Reds and in the team, turning a black season into a possible springboard to fight for victories and titles in 2024.
“When we said that we were in a difficult situation at the beginning, we were probably behind by two or three tenths,” he explained.
“We took a step forward of one or two tenths. Now the grid is so compact and tight that for one or two tenths, you can completely change the complexion of the weekend. In Japan, we made an improvement, but it wasn’t significant. I am still convinced that it’s more about how the track worked that we made the step in the last third of the season, much more than the car’s development. In the last part of the season, we were much more aggressive. And it’s a matter of tenths. You recover 0.020s here and 0.020s there, and in the end, it’s a tenth.” – the Ferrari boss concluded.