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F1 2023 season review: Ferrari falls short once again

Ferrari endured another difficult Formula 1 campaign as it slipped to third place in the Constructors' Championship after entering the year hopeful of a title fight.

Leclerc Sainz Brazil
To news overview © XPBimages

Ferrari entered the 2023 Formula 1 campaign hopeful of contending for a World Championship.

The Italian squad took four race wins during the 2022 campaign and despite failing to live up to its early-year champion potential, it was a welcome boost following a troubling span of seasons.

Entering the campaign with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz for the third consecutive year, Ferrari immediately started on the back foot with Leclerc retiring at the opening round from Bahrain with engine woes.

A further retirement would follow in Australia for the Monegasque driver but as he has so often done during his tenure in F1, he let his speed shine through by taking five pole positions during the campaign, while Sainz took two.

For the most part, the core pace of the Ferrari car which was aggressive with its tyres and unpredictable through corners saw it drop back on race day, beaten by the dominant RB19 built by Red Bull.

A singular off weekend for the World Champions fell into the hands of Ferrari, however, as Sainz pounced on the opportunity that was presented his way in Singapore to take the victory, marking the only time that Red Bull was defeated this year.

Ferrari pursued Mercedes late on in the season for second place in the Constructors’ Championship but missed out by an agonising three points, closing the curtain on another disappointing term for the team.

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz

The year marked Leclerc’s fifth with Ferrari but he was subjected to a familiar feeling during his latest term with the squad.

The 26-year-old is rated as one of the strongest qualifiers on the grid and this year he once again triumphed in the head-to-head battle by out-pacing Sainz 15-7.

The race battle is a little closer but the statistic highlights Ferrari’s shortcomings - Leclerc prevails 10-9 but the standing takes into account Sainz and Leclerc’s non-starts in Qatar and Brazil respectively due to reliability issues, as well as Leclerc’s disqualification in the United States.

It was something of a messy season for the duo amid more botched strategy calls and performance deficits - but there were flashes of brilliance.

Sainz took back-to-back pole positions in Italy and Singapore. At Monza he was involved in a late-race battle for the podium against Leclerc and came out on top to stand on the famous podium in front of Ferrari’s home fans.

An even more applaudable performance came one round later in Singapore as he held on for victory, fantastically dealing with the pressure being thrown his way by Lando Norris and the chasing Mercedes pair of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.

Leclerc was particularly strong in the last quarter of the campaign, taking three pole positions in the last five rounds. He ran into misfortune in the USA and Brazil through technical matters but his strong drives consistently kept him at the front of the field - and who can forget his seismic last-lap overtake on Sergio Perez in Las Vegas?

The tools available to fight were limited for Leclerc and Sainz this year and with both drivers seeing their contracts expire next year, it may not be overly surprising to see one of them take on a new challenge if Ferrari endures another year of difficulty in 2024.

Ferrari to cut back expectations

The year was the fist in the Team Principal role for Frederic Vasseur who joined after severl seasons with Alfa Romeo.

Vasseur conceded that Ferrari's expectations werre too high ahead of the campaign but asserted that it will not make the same mistake next year.

"For sure, I think the level of expectation was a bit too high at the beginning of the season," Vasseur said.

"We understood quickly the situation after a couple of laps in Bahrain and even a couple of laps into the simulator before Bahrain.

"But what I would keep in mind this season is the reaction of the team. We had a tough moment but remember after Jeddah, Miami, Spain or Zandvoort, Zandvoort is not so far away and we were almost lapped.

"I think that we, compared to Zandvoort, collectively made a huge step forward and this is good for the future. It's on this progression that we can build for next year.

"I don't want to be too optimistic because it was probably one of the issues we had last season.

"We just have to be focused on what we are doing and not think about the outcome of the championship before it is won.”

F1 2023 season reviews RN365 News dossier

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