As the wraps came off Ferrari’s 2023 car, new boss Frederic Vasseur hit back at the theory that the Maranello team has added 30 horsepower to its engine.
“A joke,” the Frenchman told the Swiss newspaper Blick as Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz put the first few laps on the visibly tweaked car at Fiorano.
“We’ll be happy if we get the reliability under control.”
Indeed, because the power units are ‘frozen’ in terms of performance development, the only changes Ferrari can make are on the basis of improved reliability.
“We have new things and everything seems under control,” Sky Italia also quotes Vasseur as saying.
“In the past we had to de-power the engine, while now we’re back to normal. But there’s no talk of progress in terms of power.”
Leclerc and Sainz – to initially have equal status this season – both said they were aiming to beat their Red Bull and Mercedes rivals to the 2023 drivers’ title.
“I haven’t looked carefully at the other cars because the launches are often ‘fake’ and the real cars only come later,” Vasseur insisted.
“So I didn’t want to waste time. I focus only on us.”
World champion Max Verstappen recently said he was more focused on Mercedes than Ferrari as a genuine threat to his and Red Bull’s dominance.
“He didn’t mention us?” Vasseur said. “It’s none of my business.
“We need to focus on our work, and it’s a lot of work.”
Spaniard Sainz agreed, joking: “Max said he will fight with Mercedes? That’s good, so we give him a nice surprise.
“It’s definitely just his way of putting pressure on us which is normal. In the end, only the track and the stopwatch count,” he added.
For now, Ferrari simply impressed the Formula 1 world by bucking the ‘fake’ car reveal trend by actually launching and even testing the SF-23 on debut.
“I think it’s honestly amazing that Ferrari put together such a day,” Sainz said. “F1 needs this type of event now, with the media, the fans, the partners, the mechanics, the engineers of the project.
“We were brave in doing so because normally in these types of laps you can have problems.”
Ferrari kept the photographers lenses away from the rear of the car in particular, but some new features attracted attention – like small winglets on the front wing that were outlawed on the Mercedes car in 2022.
New air intakes under the sidepods also caught observers’ eyes, but Vasseur said the 2023 car is more evolutionary than revolutionary.
“The concept has remained the same and has been adapted,” said the new Ferrari team boss, who has taken over from the ousted Mattia Binotto.
“The rules don’t give you the leeway to turn everything upside down,” Vasseur added. “Because of the budget cap, we had to be careful to take over as many parts as possible from the predecessor.”
Leclerc said his 10 kilometres on ‘demo’ Pirelli tyres didn’t tell him much, but based on simulator testing he reported that the 2023 Ferrari “feels different and better”.
“There is no reason why we should not achieve our goals with it,” said the Monaco-born driver.