Rumors that Ferrari has found an extra 30 horsepower in power unit developments this winter are “a joke”, according to new team principal Frederic Vasseur.
While performance development is not allowed under the engine freeze regulations, teams are permitted make reliability improvements that can unlock more potential, and reports in Italian media suggested the work done at Maranello equates to a gain of around 30hp. However, despite admitting progress has been made in reliability terms, Vasseur was quick to dismiss the headline figure.
“Regarding the engine, I don’t know where the numbers are coming from but it is just a joke!” Vasseur said. “We made some steps but it is just about reliability. I think the performance of the engine was not an issue at all. The issue was the reliability, and the first target is to fix it. So far it looks OK, but the reality on the track is a different aspect.
“I think there are a couple of issues that the team suffered and it is not just true for Ferrari, but in terms of reliability it is also coming from the track operation, bouncing and vibration. Everybody will have a much better picture in Bahrain.
“I think and I hope that it’s under control today, that they did what looks to be a good job over the last couple of months.
Ferrari appeared to struggle to match Red Bull and Mercedes in terms of car development in 2022, something that Vasseur says he is not yet prepared to describe as a weakness because he is unsure about the circumstances surrounding it.
“Development is very often a strategic choice, now with the cost cap, to decide if you want to be more focused on the car for the year after or the current one,” he said. “I was not there and I don’t want to make any judgement on what’s happened in the past, but we’ll see during the season.”
As a result, Vasseur says he’s not looking to make any imminent changes to the technical team at Ferrari, as he needs time to understand how it operates.
“No, that would be arrogant from my side to take action on the technical organization after two weeks,” he said. “We have had discussions on how we can improve the system, what would be the weakness of the system and to try to do a better job. But it is more continuous improvement rather than a big step or big changes, which, from my point of view, wouldn’t make sense.
“I trust the guys in place and will try to do the best for them also to do the job. It will be time after a couple of weeks or months to take action if it is not working, but I trust them.”
After replacing Mattia Binotto – who lost his job despite the team finishing second in the constructors’ championship last season – Vasseur admits he is expected to go one better this year, but says that’s not an unrealistic goal.
“It’s an obvious target,” he said. “When you are in a top team you can’t have another target than the win at the end of the day. You can’t start the season saying ‘OK I would be happy with P2’; that would really be a lack of ambition. I think we have everything we need to do a good job and the target has to be to win, for sure.”