Can Ferrari match McLaren’s upgrades and bring the fight to Red Bull?

On Sunday in the Miami Grand Prix a host of upgrades, as well as a fortuitously-timed Safety Car, helped propel Lando Norris to his maiden Formula 1 victory. The result came on a week that the Woking-based outfit brought a host of upgrades for the MCL38 to the track, leaving some of their rivals wondering if they can deliver their own upgrades, and a similar boost in performance, over the coming weeks.

Among those rivals? Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc.

Leclerc, who enjoyed some success of his own down in Miami with a second-place finish in the F1 Sprint Race, followed by a P3 in the main event, wondered about Ferrari bringing their own upgrades immediately following the Miami Grand Prix.

“Yeah, well, first of all, I’m really happy for Lando. He deserves it. Very often, he arrived very close to it, but for one reason or another, he didn’t make it. But today, he did an incredible job, and the whole weekend, he has been on it. And already in Q2, I think there was a lap where I was like, ‘OK, they are very, very strong’. And we were expecting them to be strong, maybe not as strong as what they’ve shown today, but he fully deserves it,” said Leclerc trackside to Jenson Button following the race.

“And now it’s up to us to hopefully bring the upgrades very quickly and catch up.”

Can Ferrari match McLaren’s pace with upgrades of their own? It was a question put to Ferrari Team Principal Frederic Vasseur as he addressed the media, including SB Nation, in Ferrari’s hospitality space following the Miami Grand Prix.

“It’s true that when in quali, you have four or five cars within one tenth [of a second], if you bring one tenth [via an upgrade package], it’s a game changer for the weekend,” said Vasseur on Sunday night. And that, but a large part of the reason it’s coming also from what we are doing with the drivers, the set up of the car during the weekend, the management of the tires and we don’t have to think only about upgrades and development.”

Vasseur was then asked by the media if the upcoming Emilia Romagna Grand Prix — and its proximity to Ferrari’s factory — adds any pressure to speed up development ahead of that weekend.

“No when you are doing the development it’s not that we want to bring something to Imola because it’s in Italy, we are pushing for the development and as soon as we are ready, we are producing parts,” described Vasseur Sunday night. “The fact that Imola is close to the factory, it’s also helping to bring something because that we can release the parts a bit later. But I don’t know, it was nothing to do with Italy.

“And then again, on this, that we don’t have to expect that it will be a game changer, but it’s so tight that we can work performance.”

Vasseur concluded his remarks to the media with a comparison to Red Bull, pointing out how much closer Ferrari is to their rivals right now than they were a season ago.

“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 that we are putting [Red Bull] a little bit under pressure. They have to take to be a bit more aggressive with the strategy,” started Vasseur.

“They are not anymore in the comfort zone of last year when last year that doesn’t matter what’s happened after lap two, they were in front and it’s, I think it’s a game changer in the management of the race,” added Vasseur.

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

And with that, Vasseur left with a wink and a smile.

Perhaps a sign that the fight is truly on at the front this season.

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