Ferrari‘s Charles Leclerc claimed pole position in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, but his early pace proved difficult to maintain as his rivals soon overtook him. Despite this, Leclerc was able to secure a much-needed podium spot, crossing the finish line in third place. However, the team’s principal, Eric Vasseur, noted that Ferrari still has much work to do in order to improve their race pace. The team’s upgrade programme, which will bear its first fruits in the Miami Grand Prix, could see some of the improvements they need to make ahead of the European races.
Vasseur refused to say whether the team’s downside lies primarily in mechanical or aerodynamic components, but he believes the team “will start to bring updates on the car from Miami and for the next couple of events and we will see how the car will react to the updates.” Vasseur does not doubt Ferrari‘s form, stating, “Overall, they were faster than us and we don’t have to bullshit ourselves”. Nevertheless, he remained positive about the team’s more consistent behavior in the Baku Grand Prix and said, “we are going in the right direction.”
One of the factors that Maranello is concentrating on is how Red Bull has managed to gain a huge advantage with its DRS overtaking device, which allowed its drivers to sail past the Ferraris on the straights. Vasseur believes that the team is on the right track to figure out what this is and compensated part of the gap compared to last year. During sprint weekends, it is difficult to figure out the potential of upgrades, which means teams have to be strategic, bringing smaller, more incremental updates rather than huge packages.
The new format affected Alpine strongly during the Baku Grand Prix. Reliability issues derailed the weekend of Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon despite the team’s first major upgrade debut. Meanwhile, McLaren also faced difficulty maximizing the potential of their highly anticipated set of updates. Vasseur noted that the format of the weekend makes it challenging to attain a car’s full potential, but the team will have to adjust their approach over the course of the next few races, deploying smaller updates for circuits like Monaco. Vasseur said, “This format pushes the teams to bring small updates and not to bring a big package.”