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Fred Vasseur of Ferrari on Verstappen

Ferrari Team Principal eyes Verstappen’s 2024 vulnerabilities after stellar 2023

Vasseur evaluates Verstappen's vulnerabilities after flawless 2023 season and Ferrari's performance

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Fred Vasseur of Ferrari anticipates that Max Verstappen might make errors when pressured by rivals in 2024 after a stellar 2023 season.

Verstappen and Leclerc of Ferrari
Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc celebrate on the podium after the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP) (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)

Fred Vasseur of Ferrari has highlighted that the Italian team didn’t effectively challenge Max Verstappen during the 2023 season. The Dutchman secured 19 victories in 22 races, despite having pressure put on him by teammate Sergio Perez and Ferrari’s own Carlos Sainz, who took victory in Singapore.

Throughout the year, Verstappen skilfully navigated his RB19 with minimal damage, despite minor incidents. Notably, he made contact with Mercedes’ George Russell during the Las Vegas Grand Prix. This resulted in a five-second penalty for the Mercedes driver.

Verstappen’s record-breaking season

In a conversation with Autosport, Vasseur praised Verstappen’s record-breaking season whilst suggesting that if the right amount of pressure is applied, it may open up opportunities for Ferrari and others to capitalise.

When asked about how he thought Verstappen’s season had gone, Vasseur expressed. “I think it is not sure that someone has a doubt on this, he did a mega season.

“He was fighting with Checo in the first two or three events and then he was on another planet.”

Vasseur highlighted that Verstappen’s season was fairly flawless, and the majority of issues faced (if any) were never directly the Dutchman’s fault. He said:

“Clearly, he didn’t do a mistake all season, and when he struggled in quali, like in Jeddah, it was due to a mechanical issue. And then he was always there, always making good starts, no contact. The only one was Vegas.

“But I think we are getting a bit closer to him, we are…I don’t want to say putting him under pressure because it is not true, [in Abu Dhabi] he was not under pressure. But he was a bit more under pressure than he was in Zandvoort, or in some other events when he was flying.”

Mistakes will come says Vasseur

Vasseur emphasized that despite Ferrari’s improved performance in the season’s later races, the team wasn’t sufficiently competitive enough to pose a significant challenge for the world championship. The last three races did see the pressure on the Dutchman ramp up, however, it came too late.

“There is no doubt on the fact that he was dominating all the season,” he remarked.

“And the only issue for us is that, as everybody, he will do more mistakes when he will be under pressure. But nobody was able to put him under pressure this season except us at the last two or three events, or except Carlos in Singapore.

“And it’s where he started to do some mistakes, or perhaps Red Bull did some mistakes in terms of set-up. We were too far away to put this kind of pressure on them.”

Ferrari also failed to secure P2 in the championship after Mercedes scored more points in the season finale. However, with Vasseur’s comments and also Christian Horner admitting Red Bull’s dominance isn’t guaranteed for next season, 2024 could be an interesting season.

Feature image: GettyImages

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