Ferrari endured a point-less weekend in Australia, after Charles Leclerc’s race ended on the opening lap of the race, and Carlos Sainz’s five-second time penalty saw him finish outside the top 10. Despite all of that, Team Principal Fred Vasseur was still keen to look at the positives.
Sainz had been running as high as fourth despite dropping down to 11th after his first pit stop – Sainz stopping under the Safety Car just before a red flag effectively handed a free pit stop to his rivals.
However, the Spaniard made contact with compatriot Fernando Alonso at the second restart, with the stewards adjudging the Ferrari driver to have been at fault for the incident, giving him a five-second penalty – leaving him down in 12th after the chequered flag.
READ MORE: Sainz ‘too angry to talk’ after ‘unfair’ penalty for clash with Alonso drops him out of the points from P4
Prior to that, the Spaniard had looked set to collect some good points for Ferrari, after their other driver, Leclerc, was sent into the gravel at Turn 3 on the opening lap after tangling with the Aston Martin of Lance Stroll.
Asked by Channel 4 whether Ferrari had endured a “nightmare” race, Vassuer replied: “Yes, but my job is to take the positive, not just the negative. But just like this, jumping out of the pit wall, I think it is more a negative because we did overall a good job.
“Carlos had a very good recovery after the unlucky pit stop just before the red flag, and to get penalised like this just before the end is very harsh. For sure you are emotional in this kind of situation, because you are not far away from the podium. You are P4 coming from nowhere when all the others get the pit stop for free.
Sainz was given a five-second penalty for his part in the collision with Alonso
“He did a mega good job and now I think that you can discuss for hours the penalty, whether it was harsh or not. For sure, depending on your team, the analysis will be different.
“But I think what is a shame for me: considering it was not impacting the podium, at least the stewards, they could have listened to [Carlos] and have a look at the data. I think this is a shame; last week we changed the regulations two times in 10 minutes in the pit stop for Alonso. We could have the same today, at least to discuss.”
READ MORE: 'It's the worst start to the season ever' says Ferrari's Leclerc as he laments Lap 1 DNF in Australia
When pushed on what the positives might be for Ferrari, Vassuer said: “There are positives. If you look at the whole weekend, [Saturday] we were disappointed with the result, but the level of performance was there, we just didn’t put everything together.
“But [on Sunday] the pace was good. We had to do an extra pit stop, but I accept this, and the pace was okay. It is a step forward from two weeks ago in Jeddah, and now we have to do another step forward for Baku.”
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2023 Australian Grand Prix: Leclerc spins out of the race on Lap 1 after contact with Stroll
After three races last season, Ferrari sat at the top of the championship with 104 points – 39 points ahead of rivals Mercedes. However, this year, they are currently down in fourth with just 26 points.
So, will the Scuderia be bringing upgrades to the next race in Baku in a bid to improve their performance? Vasseur was keeping his cards close to his chest, preferring instead to look at the performance improvements they had made since Saudi Arabia.
READ MORE: 6 Winners and 5 Losers from Australia – Who finished on a high Down Under?
“I’m not too focussed on this at this stage of the weekend,” explained the Frenchman. “If you are coming back to the performance side, I think we had a good recovery compared to Jeddah, we [had] good pace all the race.
“Even if you compensate for the extra pit stop for Carlos, he was pushing on the tyres, but the [degradation] was okay and at the end we were fighting on a good lap time. It’s an important step for us, but the taste is a bit strange.”