Carlos Sainz has not spoken candidly about the issues facing Ferrari at the beginning of 2023, including the team’s reliability failures in Bahrain with the SF-23.
Team principal Fred Vasseur was one of many senior officials at Maranello to emphasize the resources invested over the winter to improve reliability.
Ferrari was forced to turn down its engine in the second half of 2022 because of this issue, with persistent power unit issues proving to be one of the team’s many limiting factors.
Considering the team’s objective to compete with Red Bull for the F1 Championship, seeing problems at such an early stage has already raised concerns surrounding the team.
Whilst last year showed how quickly the situation can change throughout an F1 season, the concerns at Ferrari are difficult to ignore – especially given that both of Leclerc’s control electronics failed.
The Monegasque’s incoming 10-place grid penalty has only compounded the loss from Bahrain.
Teammate Carlos Sainz has discussed Ferrari’s reliability concerns ahead of this weekend in Jeddah:
“For sure, we are relatively concerned. It’s not the way you want to start a season, with a penalty in race two.
“Breaking the battery in the first weekend, really we are not happy with that – we identify this as a weakness.
“But it’s something [the electrical issues] we have not seen in a very long time, so it caught us by surprise.”
The Spaniard continued by explaining that appropriate steps have been taken to prevent this from happening again, though it is impossible to validate the efficacy of these precautions until the cars return to track.
It must be stressed that Ferrari has plenty of time to recover from its difficult start to the 2023 campaign, with the SF-23’s full potential still unknown.
If Ferrari has produced a car capable of competing at the front, then the upcoming race weekends will provide the team with opportunities to improve its set-up and optimize its package.
However, in an F1 Championship where consistency is key, the Maranello-based team cannot afford many more mistakes.
The assumption that Ferrari’s SF-23 can compete with Red Bull could also be incorrect, so the team must work diligently to reverse the trend of previous years and have strong mid-season development.
A new front wing for Jeddah – which was not initially planned to arrive so early – is indicative of the Scuderia’s commitment to addressing this weakness.
Still, the next few rounds will provide a clearer picture of Ferrari’s competitiveness and chances of competing at the front.