Ferrari boss Frederic Vasseur says the team must not "bulls**t itself" over their performance in the 2023 Formula 1 season after a quiet Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
There were hopes from Maranello that the SF-23 machine would be able to challenge Red Bull for the title, building on the fast, but inconsistent 2022 challenge mounted.
However, in both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia - two tracks with vastly different characteristics - Red Bull crushed the field, with Ferrari only picking up sixth and seventh in Saudi.
To make matters worse, there is a problem with the engine costing performance, with Charles Leclerc already having taken a grid penalty for exceeding his allocation of engine parts - in this case the Control Electronics.
And new boss Vasseur feels the Scuderia must not kid themselves over their position.
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Vasseur's blunt statement
The Frenchman, who took over from Mattia Binotto in the off-season admitted that the team needed to be realistic over where they find themselves - currently fourth in the Constructors' on 26 points. Red Bull have 87 from a possible 88.
"To not bulls**t ourselves," he told media, including RacingNews365, when asked what the first thing was he would say to the engineers in the debrief.
"The most important thing in this kind of situation is to understand where we are going well and what we are doing wrong, but we cannot bulls**t ourselves.
"We have to change. We have to understand where we are wrong - because there are some areas where we are wrong - and we have to push.
"It's not good enough to speak, we will not be faster like this.
"For me the picture is quite clear. The potential of the car is good, but it’s not enough compared to Red Bull, because we are not able to extract the performance from the car."
Vasseur not thinking about himself
Following the repeated strategic and operational errors that blighted Ferrari's 2022 challenge, Vasseur was brought in to try and claim the team's title since 2008.
While the strategy was good in Jeddah, both Leclerc and Carlos Sainz overcutting Lance Stroll, there were still mistakes such as Leclerc not being told Lewis Hamilton was in the pits during the Safety Car until it was too late and the Mercedes driver emerged ahead. The reliability concerns also remain.
When asked if he was beginning to realise the scale of the challenge facing him, Vasseur deflected the question back onto focusing on the team.
"Yeah, but I'm not thinking about myself, in this situation we have to think about the team and how do we improve the situation," he explained.
"But I also think we have to stay calm. It's not that I think it is going wrong, we made some good improvements to the car in qualifying pace and [have] least closed the gap to our competitors."
Join RacingNews365.com journalists Michael Butterworth and Dieter Rencken as they discuss all the key talking points ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.