F1i Team Report Card for 2023: Ferrari

We've reached the top three of our annual review of how all ten F1 teams fared in 2023, with a look at Ferrari and drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.


A strong season - but still not as good as hoped for

(L to R): Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari and Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari at a team photograph. 23.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 23, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Preparation Day. - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images

The team picture

  • Constructors standing: P3, 406 points

Ferrari finished 2022 as runners-up in the constructors championship with 554 points to their credit. Even though this hadn't been enough to save team principal Mattia Binotto's job, it looked like the perfect launch pad for this year's campaign under his successor Frederic Vasseur. If they might not actually be able to catch Red Bull for the title this time around, they could surely close the gap.

Unfortunately pre-season testing and the first race in Bahrain provided a serious reality check for all at Maranello. Carlos Sainz finished the race 48s behind Max Verstappen, and Charles Leclerc retired with a power unit issue. Their title hopes died in an instant and now it was just about getting their heads down, putting the work in and aiming for better things next year. They did indeed get stronger as the season progressed and Sainz became the sole non-Red Bull race winner of the season in Singapore, but Ferrari narrowly missed out when it came to the runners-up spot by just three points to Mercedes. It wasn't the outcome that the powers-that-be were hoping for.

(L to R): Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari and team mate Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari. 19.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, United States Grand Prix, Austin, Texas, USA, Preparation Day. - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Moy / XPB Images

The driver line-up

  • Charles Leclerc: P5, 206 points
  • Carlos Sainz: P7, 200 points

One look at the final points and it's easy to see that Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz have been very closely matched this season. However Sainz' form seemed to come and go more than Leclerc's: at his best he pulled off the only race victory by a driver not in a Red Bull in Singapore; but when it came to qualifying, Leclerc came off best with a scoreline of 15-7 over Sainz. He won five pole positions over the course of the year, compared to just two for Sainz.

Things were much closer in race trim where Leclerc finished ahead 11 times to nine (Sainz hasn't able to start in Qatar, and Leclerc was excluded from the US GP because of a problem with his underfloor plank). Leclerc was on the podium six times during the year compared to three for Sainz, plus a similar two podiums to one ratio when it came to sprint races. Overall it's hard to argue that one driver was significantly better than the other, and both were performing at the highest level the car allowed all year.

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari SF-23 makes a pit stop. 08.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 18, Qatar Grand Prix, Doha, Qatar, Race Day. - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Moy / XPB Images

How 2024 is looking for Ferrari

If it wasn't for those pesky Red Bulls, Ferrari would have got away with a very strong season and been challenging for race wins and titles. They cut out the embarrassing miscues that had hurt them last year and were much stronger on strategy, with Vasseur doing a good job at the helm and Leclerc and Sainz largely faultless behind the wheel. Much to celebrate, therefore.

And yet the gap between themselves and Red Bull just keeps getting bigger and more daunting: last year it was 205 points between them, this year it's 454. That's a punch in the gut for any team, not just one as proud as Ferrari. It's far too much to overcome in a single season so it looks like the main focus next year will once again be on beating Mercedes for P2 in the final standings, and picking up more than one win on the way. It all feels very possible for a team that looks to be back on the right track - but it did this time 12 months ago too. How long is the light at the end of the tunnel going to stay so tantalisingly out of reach?

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