Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur has expressed his belief that Max Verstappen, the dominant force in the 2023 Formula 1 season, may succumb to errors when faced with substantial pressure. Despite Verstappen’s commanding performance throughout the season, Vasseur foresees vulnerabilities emerging if the Dutch driver or his team find themselves under intense scrutiny.
Verstappen’s unparalleled prowess was evident as he clinched the championship with an astounding 290-point lead, single-handedly securing a hypothetical Constructors’ Championship for Red Bull. The only non-Red Bull driver to claim victory during the season was Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, who won the Singapore Grand Prix, marking Red Bull’s weakest showing in 2023.
Vasseur conceded that Verstappen faced limited pressure throughout the season, primarily from his teammate Sergio Perez. While Perez initially posed a challenge in the early races, Verstappen soon established a substantial lead, leaving his competitors trailing. Ferrari, in particular, managed to contend with Verstappen in Singapore and Las Vegas, the latter witnessing a collision between Verstappen and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
Despite Verstappen’s flawless season, Vasseur is convinced that the Dutch driver is not impervious to defeat. Vasseur noted that Ferrari, among others, has made strides in narrowing the performance gap and applying pressure to Verstappen. However, he acknowledged that in 2023, Ferrari often found themselves too far behind to capitalize on potential errors.
Vasseur highlighted Verstappen’s exceptional season, emphasizing his consistent performances, faultless starts, and minimal contact throughout the races. The Ferrari team principal acknowledged that the only significant incident occurred in Vegas, attributing it to a collision between Verstappen and Leclerc.
While recognizing Verstappen’s dominance, Vasseur remains optimistic about Ferrari’s ability to challenge the Red Bull star. He expressed confidence in the team’s progress, asserting that they are gradually closing the gap. Vasseur clarified that he wasn’t suggesting they consistently put Verstappen under pressure, citing the Abu Dhabi race where the Dutch driver faced more challenge compared to other events.
Vasseur pointed out that Verstappen’s vulnerability to mistakes becomes more apparent when subjected to pressure, a situation that Ferrari managed to create in the last few races of the season. While acknowledging Verstappen’s overall dominance, Vasseur hinted at potential errors arising in the face of increased competition, implying that Ferrari is on the right track to mount a more substantial challenge in future seasons.
In conclusion, Vasseur’s assessment provides a nuanced perspective on Verstappen’s 2023 season, acknowledging his excellence while emphasizing the potential for errors under increased pressure, giving hope to competitors like Ferrari who aspire to dethrone the reigning champion in the upcoming seasons.