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Frederic Vasseur

Why 2024 is really Vasseur's first season at the Ferrari helm

Frederic Vasseur took charge of Ferrari at the start of 2023, but his true impact will only begin to be felt in the coming season.

Vasseur Ferrari Spain
Analysis
To news overview © XPBimages

After the abrupt resignation of Stefano Domenicali after the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix in response to Ferrari's bad start to the turbo hybrid era, the team then went through a period of three Team Principals six seasons.

Marco Mattiacci was drafted in as a stop gap from the US road car division, whilst Maurizio Arrivabene was the company man who flew close to title success with Sebastian Vettel in 2017 and 2018, but could not quite get it over the line.

Come 2019, and long-time Ferrari engineer Mattia Binotto was promoted to the top job, but he too was relieved of his duties at the end of a 2022 season that had promised much but had underwhelmed for the Scuderia.

Binotto's replacement was Frederic Vasseur, drafted in from what was then Alfa Romeo for the start of 2023, but even a canny operator like Vasseur could not have had much impact immediately.

Decisions taken for the conception of the SF-23 machine were locked in long before Vasseur accepted the call from Maranello, and as such, his impact on the birth of the car was minimal.

Furthermore, Vasseur's management style is not the 'bull in a China shop' of turning up to Ferrari, laying down the law and immediately changing this or that. That would perhaps be the easy option. To do something and be seen to be doing something as the new guvnor.

Instead, Vasseur took his time to evaluate the culture at Ferrari, to look at just where the team was behind the razor-sharp Red Bull in terms of trackside operations and gradually introduced changes.

Whereas Arrivabene was a marketing man and Binotto an engineer by trade, Vasseur can be summed up as a racer.

Despite the high-tech world of F1, sometimes the most valuable piece of equipment is a gut instinct of someone who has spent years on the pit-wall in a variety of situations. The computer can only get you so far, but knowing when to ignore what a motherboard says will be the fastest way and commit to a 180-degree turn takes nouse and instinct, something Vasseur has in spades.

Changing the culture and working ways of a top F1 team like Ferrari is like turning an oil tanker on a dime. It is going to be slow and will take time.

But there were signs as 2023 wore on that Vasseur was beginning to whip Ferrari into shape - and position it as the best-placed team to fight Red Bull in the coming season.

Ringing the changes

The team used practice at the Dutch Grand Prix to work through set-ups and hone in on something that worked, with a steady stream of upgrades adding performance to the car.

A minor floor upgrade in Japan unlocked the feeling in the car for Charles Leclerc, who claimed pole for three of the final five races and who led the charge for second in the Constructors'.

In the end, Ferrari fell just three points short of overhauling Mercedes, having taken great chunks out of the Brackley team who stumbled towards the finish line.

Anything Vasseur achieved in 2023 was always going to be a bonus as he assumed control, took his time to evaluate and ultimately implement his way of doing things. It was always unrealistic to believe he would turn up and immediately guide Ferrari back to winning ways.

His technical leadership team is now stable, has the backing of the Ferrari chairman John Elkann and to cap it all off, he's gone and nicked long-time friend Toto Wolff's star driver for 2025...

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

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