Ferrari’s calm reaction to a frustrating start to the season is paying off after Charles Leclerc’s podium in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, according to Fred Vasseur.
Leclerc took pole position for both the Sprint and the main race, finishing second on Saturday and then holding off Fernando Alonso for third to score Ferrari’s first podium of the season. Having been a long way adrift of Red Bull in the opening rounds, Vasseur admits he expected to be more competitive but has been impressed by how the team has responded to the challenge in a short space of time.
“For sure we were expecting to be in better shape at the beginning and I don’t want to bull**** you, but I’m very pleased with the reaction of the team because we are never in a panic mode,” Vasseur said. “After the first two events – Jeddah was tough for us – but the reaction between Jeddah and Melbourne was a very good one and the approach even on the development was never in a panic or to change everything on the car or to do a complete B-car.
“It was not the plan, we were always focused on bringing small update by small update to understand what we are doing first, to understand where we can reach the potential of the car first. I’m more than pleased by this kind of reaction. For sure I would love to be in better shape, but it’s nothing to do with the results but the reaction of the team was positive, calm, and the reaction is paying off today.”
Ferrari will have its first significant performance updates in Miami but will target regular small steps over big packages, and Vasseur believes Leclerc’s performance in Baku – where he was quicker than the Red Bull drivers in the closing stages – highlights the progress being made as the team is working on the right things.
“On one lap the pace was OK over the weekend and also thanks to Charles. And if you have a look on the last stint of the race I’m not really sure that the Red Bulls weren’t planning to do two stints.
“They were pushing like hell from the beginning to the end and we were convinced from the beginning that we were going to do one stint and we were managing a lot at the beginning it means that we probably had a tire advantage at the end. But overall they were faster than us and we don’t need to bullshit ourselves.
“Then to understand if it’s coming from aero or mechanical is another story. I think it’s so far that what was obvious is that we were struggling with consistency. It’s a bit true this weekend – all over the lap, all over the corners and all over the race I think the car was a lot more consistent this weekend and we are going in the right direction.”