Despite the significant improvement towards the end of the 2023 Formula One season, Scuderia Ferrari had to settle for third place in the constructors’ championship, losing the battle to Mercedes in Abu Dhabi by just a few points. Almost a year ago, however, Benedetto Vigna stated that ‘second place in the championship would be considered the first of the losers,’ and Frederic Vasseur, during the Christmas lunch with the media, addressed the comments made by the Italian businessman.
Ferrari not the first but the second among the defeated in 2023
“How did Vigna and President John Elkann comment? We didn’t wait until the end of the championship to talk about it,” stated the Prancing Horse team principal. “The advantage of Ferrari is that we have daily discussions. No one can be happy with what we did at the beginning of the season.” – the French manager pointed out.
“Firstly, we had too many issues in terms of reliability, so I was the first to be upset about that and the overall performance. Today, I think more than anything about the team’s reaction, the fact that we managed to make the progress we had set out to achieve.” – he explained.
After the bold statements before the season and a grand presentation of the SF23 at Fiorano, expectations for the red car were extremely high this year, especially considering the strong finish in 2022. However, the SF-23 car soon revealed significant shortcomings and reliability issues, attracting a strong wave of criticism around the Maranello team.
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After the Spa Francorchamps race, the last Grand Prix before the summer break, Ferrari found itself in fourth place in the constructors’ championship, even behind Aston Martin. The turning point came from September onwards, with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz gradually gaining points on their rivals, eventually entering Abu Dhabi still in the fight for second place.
“I’m not a big fan of statistics, but if I’m not mistaken, we’ve secured five pole positions in the last nine weekends, managing to fight with Max on some occasions, so it’s been a significant step forward,” added Fred Vasseur – “Of course, we’re not happy. I am the first to be unhappy, and I don’t need Mr. Vigna or Mr. Elkann to tell me that I shouldn’t be happy about the third position. That’s clear. But at the same time, I am more than satisfied with the team.” – the Ferrari boss concluded.
Next season, the Maranello team is called upon to significantly raise the level, with Fred Vasseur stating that the next car will be 95% different from the SF23 but not revolutionary.