Australian GP: Race team notes - Ferrari


Scuderia Ferrari leaves Australia without any points, having clearly demonstrated that it has made progress in terms of race pace compared to the opening two rounds. Charles Leclerc had to retire after going off the track immediately after the start. Carlos Sainz dropped out of the points because of a five second time penalty imposed on the final lap, taking him from 4th to 12th, having produced an aggressive drive to charge up the order.

Carlos got away well from fifth on the grid, while from seventh, Charles tried to pass Lance Stroll at Turn 3. The Canadian had to move over on the Ferrari to avoid a car ahead of him and that sent the SF-23 into a spin that ended with it stuck in the gravel. Shortly afterwards, the Safety Car came out for a second time, after Alex Albon hit the barriers. The team therefore opted to get the compulsory pit stop out of the way and switch Carlos from the Medium tyres to the Hards, with the Spaniard rejoining in 11th place, all set to move up the order as others pitted later, a strategy also adopted by the then race leader George Russell. But the race was then red flagged to allow the debris to be cleared, thus nullifying the advantage of Carlos' well chosen strategy. The lone Ferrari took the ensuing standing start from the sixth row.

At the restart, Carlos, still on the Hard tyres, went on an overtaking spree, despatching Oscar Piastri, Lando Norris, Yuki Tsunoda, Nico Hülkenberg, Lance Stroll and Pierre Gasly in quick succession, so that by lap 25 he was up to fourth place. He then ran at a consistent pace in the SF-23, thus keeping in touch with Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, while still managing to look after his tyres, clear proof that recent work at Maranello and on track, mainly in terms of race pace is beginning to deliver.

With fewer than ten laps remaining, Kevin Magnussen brought out the second red flag of the afternoon. There was another standing start with only two laps to go. Carlos lined up on the second row and got a perfect start, coming alongside third placed Alonso going into Turn 1. The two Spaniards collided, with both of them able to continue and Carlos up to third place. But then it was chaos further back with both Alpines in the barriers. Another red flag, but the stewards deemed the race would still have to complete the planned 58 laps and those cars still able to run completed the last lap behind the Safety Car, which pitted so the queue of cars could take the chequered flag. Carlos was fourth across the line, but classified 12th because of the 5 second penalty imposed following the coming-together with Alonso. The world championship resumes in four weekends' time with the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on 30 April.

Carlos Sainz: I had a good start and felt confident on the medium tyre but we were unlucky, pitting just before they brought out the first red flag and I dropped down to P11. From there I managed to pull off a good comeback with nice overtakes and solid pace, so for that I'm happy.
It was a good race overall but the penalty ruined all the effort and I don't agree with it. The frustration I feel right now will be difficult to digest, but I will try to think only of the positives from today and focus on the next race.

Charles Leclerc: It was unfortunate to end the race this way today, but it was a racing incident and I don't think that we could have done anything differently. Disappointing, but on to the next one where I hope things will run more smoothly again.

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal: Today's result, not scoring points, does not reflect the progress we have made as a team. We have taken a step forward in terms of pure performance and even more importantly, we had a decent and consistent race pace on the various tyre compounds, including the Hard. Only yesterday's qualifying did not match our potential.

Our initial reaction is one of frustration, with Charles clearly unlucky to be involved in a racing incident at the start. It was a good call to bring Carlos in under the first Safety Car, but following the red flag, he had to start again from P11, from which he recovered very well. The penalty had a devastating effect on the final result for him but despite this, we go back to Maranello knowing that we are moving in the right direction and we now have three weeks to keep working on optimising and updating the SF-23 for the coming races.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Melbourne here.

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Published: 02/04/2023
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