It was a difficult and disappointing Spanish Grand Prix for Scuderia Ferrari last weekend. The team from Maranello approached the three-day event with high expectations and the hope of performing well at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, aiming to reclaim their position as the second-strongest team behind the unbeatable Red Bull and ahead of Mercedes and Aston Martin.
These expectations were based on the introduction of the first updates (sidepods, mirror supports, floor) on the SF-23 single-seater, which, according to simulation data, were supposed to provide a leap forward in terms of performance and, more importantly, in tire management – a significant weakness of the 2023 Ferrari F1 project.
However, these expectations were not met (pending further assessments) after the race in Montmeló, as the red cars did not shine in qualifying and, as in previous races, struggled with tire management issues (with both cars and all tire compounds), which significantly affected the outcome of the Grand Prix for the two Ferrari drivers.
It was a challenging race that Carlos Sainz finished in fifth position, starting second on the grid, and Charles Leclerc finished eleventh (the Monegasque driver’s weekend was compromised by technical issues, still unknown, in qualifying). The time difference to Max Verstappen’s Red Bull was well over 45 seconds.
The difficulties faced by Ferrari in Catalunya, both in terms of performance and tire management, were analyzed by some Italian publications, such as ‘Motorsport.com’ and rightfully so they couldn’t help but highlight the struggles encountered by the Maranello team. This situation has remained unchanged since the beginning of the 2023 Formula One season, even with the introduced upgrades.
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“Carlos Sainz, who started on the front row with the second-best time – as stated in Franco Nugnes’ article – finished fifth with an SF-23 Evo that is neither fish nor fowl. The red car still showed difficulties in adapting to the tires, exposing the usual flaws, to the point that the eager Spaniard finished 45 seconds behind the RB19.”
It was a challenging race where, as mentioned, the developments did not provide the expected performance boost.
“The Spanish Grand Prix was supposed to be Ferrari’s comeback race, but the modifications resulting from over a couple of months of work did not yield significant results. […] Barcelona was meant to provide answers, and the verdict is clear: it has failed. We have to acknowledge it.”
Leaving the Spanish Grand Prix expedition, the Prancing Horse team has more questions than before, which should lead team principal Frédéric Vasseur to refrain from making declarations and boasting about the potential of the SF-23. Instead, he should focus on finding something positive this year to lay the groundwork for a better 2024 Formula 1 campaign.
“Ferrari must stop making declarations: Frédéric Vasseur assured that the red car can win races this season. Leave the predictions aside and organize the team to provide the two drivers with a competitive car for the coming year.” – Franco Nugnes urged the Ferrari boss.