Red Bull emerged from F1 pre-season testing at Sakhir widely regarded as the team to beat, with the RB19 looking very reliable and quick on both short and long runs.
But while the Red Bull’s pace appears to be bad news for Ferrari, who are focusing on fighting for world championship glory this year, Vasseur seems far from fazed by what he has seen running so far.
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He is convinced that Ferrari’s focus in testing was not on the pursuit of headlines, as it focused much of its time on set-up evaluation.
In addition, Vasseur believes that time trials can be very exciting in Bahrain as the order of the race is likely to be very different when the competition is held later in the weekend. compared to testing.
“Overall, I think we can be satisfied with the test we did,” Vasseur told selected media, including Autosport, of his summary of the test.
“I think the car looks good overall in terms of performance, but we don’t know about the fuel level of the other cars.
“The most important thing was to scan all kinds of positions on the car, because you know that today’s aspect (at the test) is completely different to next week’s picture.
“I can’t remember who did the fastest lap time last year in Bahrain, but he wasn’t on pole for the race. And that was the same two years ago.”
Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23
Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images
Asked if Red Bull’s pace was a concern for Ferrari, Vasseur said: “The truth is you can’t judge one lap pace because you don’t know if they’re running 20 /30/50 kilos, and they do not know if we are at 20/30/50kg. It means that it is very difficult to make any kind of comparison.
“The only thing you can judge is when you’re running a race simulation. Because you know, if you don’t stop the car and do 55 laps, it means you started with 110kg. It is the only one (where you know).
“On our part we made different efforts, with different levels of fuel. Some solutions were working, others a little less so. We have to make the most of this and do a proper analysis.
“But again, next week’s race, even between the start of the race and the end of the race, will be a different story.
“Bahrain, at the end of the race, the track (temperature) is very low, very low in terms of track and the picture will be completely different to this one (at the test).”
Although some of Ferrari’s race attempts did not look competitive, Vasseur has said that there were times when the squad tried different setups that were clearly not right.
He is adamant that Ferrari did what he wanted from the test, and that any obsession with what Red Bull was doing would only harm his own chances.
“It was not the spirit of the test,” he said. “If you start the test just to look at the team’s performance level, you are dead, because then you will be reacting and performing based on the time sheet.
“The most important thing is to tick the boxes that you have to tick, and honestly, we did a good job of this.
“You only have three days to scan all the options for car settings and development items. And when we’re putting everything together, it looks like the best thing.”
Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari
Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images
In addition to Ferrari’s lap times that seem to be a little adrift of Red Bull, its drivers did not offer much praise about the new SF-23.
Charles Leclerc considered efforts to improve aerodynamic efficiency to improve straight line speed paid off, but he felt there were consequences if the car was not as strong in the corners.
While that outwardly seemed to suggest that progress was not as good as hoped, Vasseur said it was important to understand the mindset of drivers who want more always.
“If they were happy, it could have been a professional mistake,” he explained. “The DNA of my business has always been to try to get more and do more.
“If they are completely satisfied with the balance, except in quali when you have a ranking, it means that they are not pushing enough when testing.
“They’re definitely demanding more, they’re demanding more bite overall. But this is the mindset of the business.
“At the end and what we covered, we went through a very large spectrum of items. And when, at the end of the three days, when you put everything together, I see that the performance is there.
“But again, you don’t know about the others; about engine mode, fuel level and so on. It is quite difficult to have a clear picture.”