Ferrari introduced an incremental upgrade to their SF23 car for the Austrian Grand Prix, focusing on improving aerodynamic load and increasing the car’s operating window. The team had struggled with tyre wear and race pace inconsistency on high-downforce circuits, so this update was crucial for their performance. Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz showcased improved race pace during the race, with Leclerc qualifying just half a tenth behind Max Verstappen. Ferrari emerged as the second-best team of the day, leaving Mercedes and Aston Martin struggling to keep up. However, Leclerc remains cautious about their progress and believes that the British Grand Prix at Silverstone will truly test whether Ferrari has made significant improvements.
Leclerc stated, “This is the target, if not doing better. So yes, it is a very different track in Silverstone. And it’s going to be very interesting to see where we are there because I feel like maybe the weakness of the car now is still a little bit, the high-speed corners. And in Silverstone, there are lots of high-speed. So, it will be good to see if this new package helps.”
Sainz, on the other hand, expressed his frustration with the team’s strategy. During the first round of virtual safety car pitstops, Ferrari double stacked both him and Leclerc instead of splitting their strategies. This decision indicated that Ferrari‘s strategy improvements are still a work in progress. Despite finishing off the podium in fourth place (later penalized to sixth due to track limit violations), Sainz acknowledged the improved race pace of their car.
“Yeah, I was very quick today, especially with the medium tyres. I felt like we had a lot of pace. It’s just a shame we couldn’t use it fully, but is what it is. I think a double podium today was possible, especially with the pace I had. I’m just frustrated. It’s been a few races that I have a lot of race pace in the car. I wish I could maximize it a bit more.”