Vasseur vows to understand ‘every single mistake’ Ferrari made as he targets title

2023 F1 season

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Ferrari’s new team principal Frederic Vasseur says the team has everything it needs to win the world championship in his first year in charge.

The new man leading Formula 1’s most famous team has begun a review of its operations considering the problems which undermined its 2022 campaign.

Ferrari won two of the first three races last season under Vasseur’s predecessor, Mattia Binotto, raising hopes it would deliver world championship success for the first time since 2008. But a combination of poor reliability, a slowing development rate plus strategic and operational errors by the team allowed rivals Red Bull and Max Verstappen to take dominant wins in the two championships.

Within a week of the season finale in Abu Dhabi, Ferrari approached the then-Alfa Romeo team principal to take over from Binotto. Vasseur duly joined the Scuderia on January 9th.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Hungaroring, 2022
Tactical errors dogged Ferrari’s 2022 campaign
Speaking to selected media including RaceFans yesterday, for the first time since taking charge at Ferrari, Vasseur said progress towards addressing the problems which undermined its 2022 campaign was already being made.

“I joined a bit more than two weeks ago and as you can imagine on some topics, it’s a very long process,” he explained. “I’m speaking mainly about the engine. I think and I hope that it’s under control today, that they did a good job over the last couple of months and this is one part of the equation.”

Ferrari brought no new parts to last year’s car after the Japanese Grand Prix as they reached the spending limit imposed by the budget cap. As a result the team slipped behind Red Bull and came under greater pressure from Mercedes over the second half of the season.

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Vasseur said he would not criticise the strategic decisions made before he arrived. “Development very often is a strategic choice now with the cost cap, to decide if you want to be more focussed on the new car – the car of the year after – or the current one,” he acknowledged. “But I was not there and I don’t want to make any judgement of what’s happened in the past. We’ll see during the season.”

Ferrari hasn’t triumphed since Leclerc’s July win in Austria
Tactical errors were blamed for a series of defeats Ferrari suffered during 2022. Vasseur believes improvements may be made by changing how the existing team functions rather than replacing individuals.

“When you are speaking about strategy or aerodynamics or another topic, you have to avoid to be just focused on the top of the pyramid. Very often when you are speaking about strategy it’s much more a matter of organisation than just the guy who is on the pit wall.

“I’m trying to understand exactly what happened on every single mistake of what’s happened last year and to try to know if it’s a matter of decision, if it’s a matter of organisation, of communication.

“Very often on the pit wall the biggest issue is more the communication and the number of people involved than the individuals. If you’ve got too many people discussing about the same things, when you will have the outcome of the discussions the car will be [starting] the next lap. You just need to have a be a clear of discussion and clear flow of communication between the good people at the right position for sure. But it’s work in progress.”

Ferrari “are in the process to review everything,” Vasseur confirmed. “It’s a bit short notice for me,” he added, “but we’ll have to do some improvement.”

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Red Bull beat Ferrari to last year’s championship by a wide margin: 759 points to 554. Over the course of the year Ferrari scored four wins, a total dwarfed by their rivals’ 17 victories, and none came their way over the second half of the season.

Vasseur observed team’s test at Fiorano this week
Nonetheless Vasseur remains confident the team will be able to fight for the championship during his first year in charge.

“First, I’m really convinced that at Ferrari today – and for sure my experience is limited to the last two weeks – but we have everything to win. We have to put everything together to do a good job but we have everything to be able to win.”

“Nothing is set into the stone,” he added. “If you have a look at some teams that were in a very dominant situation a couple of years ago, they are nowhere today. It means that you don’t have to take this kind of directions to say ‘okay it was like this the last decades or the last 20 years and it will stay like this the next 40 years’. The F1 is a changing world and we just have to be focussed on the job, on the performance and everything is possible.”

Having climbed from sixth in the 2020 championship to third the following season and second last year, winning the title is now “an obvious target” for Ferrari, says Vasseur.

“I think that when you are a top team you can’t have another target than the win, at the end of the day. You can’t start the season to say okay I would be happy with P2. That would be a lack of ambition. I think that we have everything to do a good job.”

“The target is to win the championship,” he affirmed. “And if you want to win, you have to beat Red Bull first.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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10 comments on “Vasseur vows to understand ‘every single mistake’ Ferrari made as he targets title”

  1. So more of the same. He will fit right in, but survive longer after while not winning.

  2. This ain’t the guy who will take Ferrari to the top.

    First thing they need to do is restructure the strategy team.

    1. @johnplato
      Vasseur is experienced enough to realise that the clowns in charge of the strategy need to be replaced before even investigating the strategy decision making process. Though for a number of reasons, he can’t say that publicly because :

      – There aren’t available and reliable replacements at this time. I don’t think he would have hesitated a second to sign for example someone like Vowles if he was out of his contract and willing to join Ferrari.

      – Starting your stint at Ferrari by firing people in your first month of the job can backfire and compromise Vasseur’s leadership. He can surely do that but such bold decisions normally fit with another type of leadership and flamboyant characters like Briatore, Ecclestone…

      – Vasseur was announced as Team Principle and General Manager of Scuderia Ferrari. Binotto used to be Team Principle and Managing Director which suggests that Ferrari have revoked from Vasseur some of the functions Binotto used to do and he probably have to validate his decisions before the CEO Vigna.

      Vasseur will take maybe a month or two to assess the situation and will come up with changes before the start of the season because Ferrari can’t start the season with the same strategy department structure and set up. The rumours suggest that Rueda has been replaced by Jain and he will take another role within the team.

    2. I couldn’t imagine making such a judgement before even the first race is run, let alone a season.

    3. Vasseur isn’t going to show up to the job and start telling people off and singling people out for criticism.

      His comment that ‘You just need to have a be a clear of discussion and clear flow of communication between the good people at the right position for sure. But it’s work in progress.’ is a good sign. Especially the second part of the first sentence. Ferrari needs good people in the right position.

      But let’s also keep some perspective. Eight teams did worse than Ferrari in 2022. Most of them far worse.

  3. Friendly reminder that under Vasseur’s leadership at Sauber they couldn’t fix drinking system in Raikkonen’s car for what 2, 3 years? That’s how competent he is.

  4. Well, that is going to be a multiple days session analyzing those errors. But good for him. Interested to see what an experienced team boss can make of this team with lots of potential. I mean, jokes aside the do reside in the top 3 all the time which is an achievement in itself. If you do so while being utterly error prone, all that is really needed is to remove those errors. It could be way worse if it was the car…

  5. The problem is Mr Vasseur, whatever you do it has to be better than what Red Bull are doing. Truth be told there isn’t anything that Red Bull are doing wrong, you can fix all of your faults at Ferrari but unless it’s better than what Red Bull can do then you won’t win the WCC.

    1. I mostly agree but there’s a couple of caveats I’d add. Obviously the cost cap exaggerated performance differences this year which in a couple of years will converge. Red Bull’s last era fell at the power unit side and that issue is not completely put to bed in the medium term. Mercedes have the succession planning issue of life post Lewis, that will weaken them but I think they’ll try to replace him with Max. Primarily as he’ll be the outstanding candidate but also as he’ll perhaps need a fresh environment after a decade at the same team. That weakens RB but obviously strengthens Mercedes. To my mind Ferrari need to work on sorting their faults firstly as Red Bull can only fall from here, whether that’s enough to lose the title is anyone’s guess.

  6. The problem is Mr Vasseur, whatever you do it has to be better than what Red Bull are doing. Truth be told there isn’t anything that Red Bull are doing wrong, ⁣

    Apart from spending beyond the limit, unlike Ferrari and Mercedes and McLaren and Alpine and…

    Nope, no two ways about it, if RBR hadn’t overspent then the performance advantage wouldn’t have been there, and then you’re into the realms of curing the regular Ferrari “if there’s a way to muck-up we will find it and use it” ethos.
    The article covers both aspects without pointing fingers.

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