Ferrari: Red Bull still ahead but no longer in ‘comfort zone’


Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur says Red Bull still holds an edge over the Scuderia and rival McLaren but the reigning world champions are no longer in the comfort zone they enjoyed last year.

After a dominant 2023 season where Red Bull secured all but one race win, the first six rounds of 2024 are painting a different picture.

The Milton Keynes-based outfit has already suffered two defeats this season at the hands of Ferrari and McLaren, in Melbourne and last weekend in Miami.

The shift in power dynamics is particularly exciting for fans, and Vasseur believes that both teams are poised to “trouble” Red Bull more frequently.

“I want to congratulate Lando and McLaren,” Vasseur said after Norris’ Miami triumph. “I think that Lando deserves it.

“He did the last two or three very good seasons and even with them fighting with Ferrari… I’m not at McLaren, but I’m quite happy for them because they deserve the success.

“I was not surprised [about McLaren’s pace]; on Friday they were there, they brought an upgrade this weekend. If you look at the last couple of races they were always there [and] in China the pace was good. It will be like this until the end of the season.

“But I think that we – McLaren and us, probably – can trouble a little bit Red Bull. Then it’s more a matter of track position or something, because it’s so difficult to overtake when you are only one or two-tenths [apart] – that’s dictated by track position.”

When pressed about the possibility of consistently challenging Red Bull, Vasseur acknowledged the bulls’ continued pace advantage.

However, the Frenchman sees a "game-changing" difference compared to last season's relentless dominance.

This shift, he believes, opens the door for Ferrari and McLaren to capitalize on Red Bull's vulnerabilities and potentially challenge for more race wins throughout the season.

“I think honestly that Red Bull is still ahead, probably Max could have won without the story of the Safety Car,” he added.

“I don’t want to draw conclusions on this, but [he had] a pole position and they still have a small advantage.

“What is true is that, compared to one year ago, when we are able to do a good job and to put everything together, we are there. It means we are putting them a little bit under pressure [and] they have to be a bit more aggressive with the strategy.

“They are not anymore in the comfort zone of last year where it doesn’t matter what happened – after Lap 2 they were in front. I think that’s a game changer in the management of the race.

“I think this is an opportunity for us, because if we are doing another small step, I think we will be in a really good position to fight with them every single weekend.”

In Formula 1’s Constructors’ standings, Red Bull remains 52 points ahead of Ferrari, with McLaren an additional 11 points behind in third position.

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter