Team title still ‘the objective’ in 2024 – Vasseur

Thu, 28 March 2024, 09:00

Mar.28 (GMM) Beating Max Verstappen to the drivers’ championship this year is a long shot, Ferrari boss Frederic Vasseur admits.

However, after Carlos Sainz led home a Ferrari one-two following Verstappen’s fiery brake failure in Melbourne, the Frenchman admits the constructors’ crown should not be ruled out quite yet.

“This is the objective,” Vasseur told Italian broadcaster Rai. “But it’s also to fight for the drivers’ title, even if this year it is perhaps a little early for that. But we’ll see.”

Even Dr Helmut Marko, the top consultant at Red Bull, admits that Ferrari may be a threat.

“The great balance of power was confirmed in Australia,” he wrote in Speed Week. “Ferrari is the clear number 2 behind us, Mercedes is inconsistent, McLaren works better or worse depending on the track.”

Many insiders and hailing what is increasingly being called the ‘Vasseur effect’ at Ferrari – an upsurge in performance and morale since he took over from Mattia Binotto.

“The new car is easier to drive,” Vasseur said, “it’s easier to understand its behaviour, it doesn’t give surprises, it wears the tyres less and allows us to attack.”

However, he’s not getting ahead of himself.

“The weekends will not all be like Melbourne,” said the Frenchman. “What I ask from the team is to not make mistakes, to improve one step at a time, and to maintain the same determination.”

La Gazzetta dello Sport claims that, given Sainz’s Melbourne win, Ferrari might now fast-forward some planned upgrades in time for Suzuka next weekend – even if the bulk of the new package will only arrive in Imola.

When asked if there will be significant upgrades in Japan, Vasseur revealed: “No, it’s too early.

“The task now is to understand the car well and get the most out of it, because we haven’t achieved that yet.”

Indeed, former Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel admits that Red Bull is still clearly ahead, although he does see signs that “it seems to be closer” in 2024.

“But I think that Max and Red Bull are still the favourites again in Suzuka,” he told Sky Deutschland. “We don’t know how Australia really would have turned out, ifs and buts, but that doesn’t matter. It was nice for Carlos and Ferrari.

“It would be nice if a little more was happening, but with the dominance that Red Bull and especially Max continue to show, you can’t dismiss the sheer performance behind it. That can’t be emphasised enough,” said the four time world champion – who won each of those titles for Red Bull.

“So I’ll be happy if Max comes back to the top in Japan,” said Vettel.

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