Title fight can change quickly with McLaren and Ferrari in mix – Vasseur

Ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix, Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur believes the Formula 1 championship fight is far from over this season because multiple teams are in the mix with Red Bull at many venues.

Vasseur wants to Ferrari to bring developments more quickly to avoid slipping back on any given weekend, after estimating his team, McLaren and Red Bull were within 0.1s of each other in Imola. He believes that means the championship fight can be ignited quickly, as there is an increased chance of drivers being able to take big points off each other.

“Firstly, we did only seven races out of 24, that means we have 17 to go,” Vasseur said. “At this point of the season last year we were 100 points behind Aston Martin and we finished 100 points in front of them. It means the end of the championship is never after race seven, and it’s never more true this season.


“I think that because the gap is very close, it’s not very often that you have six or potentially eight cars that could win a race. It means that when you’re not in good shape it can move you from P1 to P8, and in P8 you are scoring almost zero. That means the championship can change in one or two weekends.

“Imagine if you have a crash, a DNF and so on, it’s a game-changer in terms of the championship. Honestly, I didn’t have a look at the classification and I don’t know the delta in terms of points, but I think that if one team is doing a one-two and the other one has a DNF it means McLaren can come back, or we can come back at Red Bull.

“There’s still 17 weekends to go, let’s be focused on Monaco and don’t think about the championship. Let’s be focused on what we have to do race after race.”

After Charles Leclerc finished third in Imola — and within eight seconds of race winner Max Verstappen — Vasseur says recent upgrades from Ferrari have helped it join McLaren in putting pressure on Red Bull.

“It’s good news for me, it’s good news for F1, it’s good news for the championship,” he said. “If you have three teams within seven seconds in [nearly] 70 laps, it’s less than one tenth per lap. It was almost the same from the beginning of the weekend and we’ll start from scratch in Monaco with a different track layout, different corners and so on.

“Overall it’s a kind of mixed feelings for me, because we did a step forward, McLaren did probably the same as us; we compensated, I think, partly the delta with Red Bull and we are not far away now. I am a bit frustrated, because I think if we do a one-two in qualifying, we do a one-two in the race. If we missed something it was in qualifying and not in the race.”

Charles Leclerc has often been in the mix at the front for his home race, but the stars haven’t fully aligned for him there…yet. Mark Sutton/Motorsport Images

Vasseur says Ferrari wants to help bring an end to Leclerc’s bad luck at his home race with a first podium at the event. Leclerc has been on pole position twice at Monaco but on the first occasion a crash at the end of Q3 led to a mechanical issue going undetected and he failed to start the race. Then a year later he repeated the qualifying result but a strategic error saw him drop to fourth, a result that remains his best at home, something that Vasseur is keen to improve on.

“A few days ago, it was our home race in Imola and this weekend, Charles will be on home turf in Monaco, a race that is unfinished business for him and we’d like to help him put it to bed,” Vasseur said. “Carlos [Sainz] also loves racing in the principality, where he took his first podium at the wheel of a Ferrari, so they are both very motivated.

“It’s generally accepted that, with the current generation of cars, overtaking is harder here than at any other track on the calendar, which means qualifying takes on even greater importance than usual. We will therefore be looking to make a step forward in this discipline, as so far this season we have lacked what it takes to be quickest of all.

“With this in mind, we have been working hard in the simulator and during engineering meetings, preparing everything down to the smallest detail and we fully intend to be front-runners.”

Story originally appeared on Racer