Has Ferrari made the right move by hiring Vasseur to replace Binotto?

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As Scuderia Ferrari prepares to head into its 73rd full world championship campaign in 2023, it does so under new leadership.

Following the collapse of their 2022 campaign which began so promisingly with two wins from the opening three rounds, Mattia Binotto resigned as the team’s leader at the end of the year. The decision ensured that Ferrari would enter 2023 with their fifth team principal in the last nine seasons, following Stefano Domenicali, Marco Mattiacci, Maurizio Arrivabene and Binotto.

However, rather than hire from within their F1 team’s own ranks like Domenicali and Binotto or pick an executive from outside the Scuderia but still under the Ferrari umbrella, like Mattiacci, Ferrari has instead drafted in an experienced team principal from outside the team in the form of Frederic Vasseur. Ferrari’s last such appointment, Jean Todt, was their most successful team principal by far.

Vasseur has a strong background in motorsport already. As co-founder of ART Grand Prix, Vasseur helped to create one of the most formidable outfits in junior single seater motorsport. For several years, Vasseur has been leading the Sauber team during their tenure as Alfa Romeo. From helping to nurture Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc through his debut season in 2018 to achieving his team’s best result in ten years by securing sixth place in 2022, Vasseur made a strong enough impression on Ferrari to earn their trust in becoming their latest team principal.

But is Vasseur the best man to lead Ferrari into their future? Was there another possible candidate you felt that the team overlooked in picking their latest team principal?

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If Ferrari’s record of hiring team principals from outside of Formula 1 is to go by, they absolutely made the right decision in picking Vasseur. Someone with years of continuous recent experience of being a team principal, being involved in all the same meetings as Binotto had been in means it will take little time for Vasseur to get up to speed.

There’s also his good working relationship with Leclerc from his single season with the team in 2018, someone who will be able to reassure him after a frustrating year for Leclerc in 2022. Vasseur is equally fond of team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr, having pursued him during his time at Renault and Alfa Romeo.

Vasseur has shown what he can do with a team with modest resources and Ferrari could do much worse than who they’ve picked.


Frederic Vasseur is a very sensible choice. He is experienced, respected and has had a good relationship with Ferrari over many years. But that is exactly why Ferrari fans should be wary – he is the ‘safe’ option.

Ferrari have more than enough resources and finances to battle for championships. The main reason they haven’t since the Todt years is not because of their driver line-up or their facilities, but because the team has failed to capitalise on the potential of its personnel, leading to a lack of direction, errors on and off the track and general underperformance.

With Vasseur already admitting he does not intend to make changes to Ferrari’s structure until he has time to see how the team operates, fans should be worried that the team may not learn from the mistakes that cost them last season.

I say

Vasseur has earned a chance to show what he can do
Whether Binotto planned his resignation long before it became public, was ousted by the team’s leadership against his will or truly decided to he did not want to face another season at the helm of F1’s most illustrious team, Ferrari needed stability to rapidly return to the team heading into 2023.

They have found that in Vasseur. While not a figure whose arrival screams that drastic change is coming to Ferrari, it’s also true that Ferrari does not need a major reset of culture and structure. What Ferrari needs is consistency. It needs accountability. It needs someone who will ensure discipline is maintained so that the fundamentals are never a concern during a race weekend.

But how do you ensure that? Either you bring in someone to crack the whip and keep the team in line through fear of failure, or you find a leader who will earn the respect of their staff and who the team will want to deliver for. Ferrari’s decision to go with Vasseur shows they have chosen for the latter. And in that, they have made a wise move.

You say

Have Ferrari found the right person to replace Binotto? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Do you agree that Ferrari made the right decision in hiring Frederic Vasseur as team principal?

  • No opinion (1%)
  • Strongly disagree (10%)
  • Slightly disagree (5%)
  • Neither agree nor disagree (12%)
  • Slightly agree (34%)
  • Strongly agree (38%)

Total Voters: 93

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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21 comments on “Has Ferrari made the right move by hiring Vasseur to replace Binotto?”

  1. Ferrari is Ferrari – that’s both their biggest strength and their biggest weakness.
    Regularly hiring and firing seems to make no difference to them.

    Except when they hire a former rally co-driver and established Director or Racing as team principal, who then hires the top F1 driver of the day with his new blank chequebook and gives said driver a free choice of who he’d like to work with….

    1. I think the question is: Did Vasseur make the right decision? For his sake, I hope his contract includes a very hefty separation package.

  2. Doesn’t matter who they put in charge unless the organisation that is Ferrari is willing to make significant changes quickly, but it isn’t and I don’t think they’ll ever really learn. He is the right man for the job – if given the tools to do it. But, nobody shoots themselves in the foot as expertly as Ferrari.

    1. For all the criticism Ferrari gets, they still did better than eight other teams. Some of those have no hope or intention to do better (Williams, Red Bull Jr. for example), but the consistent failure at teams like Aston Martin, Alpine and McLaren – all of whom are manufacturer teams – is in an entirely different league from Ferrari’s relatively minor stumbles.

      1. Only Alpine is both a pu manufacturer and chassis constructor.

        McLaren and Austin Martin are both customer teams thus are at a disadvantage to their manufacturer team which is Mercedes

        1. Both Aston Martin and McLaren build road cars like Ferrari. You could argue they lack the drive and commitment Ferrari have to succeed in F1.

        2. McLaren and Aston Martin are both road car manufacturers, as opposed to teams like Williams, Haas and Sauber. Similar to Renault, McLaren also builds its own engines for their road cars, though they’re not originally of their own design. Aston Martin used to, but they’ve long since outsourced that to Mercedes.

          In any case, with the engines now being mostly static the disadvantage that comes with buying the engines is much smaller than right after 2014, as they’re now very much a known quantity.

  3. I think people discount Vasseur because his last couple of years at Sauber have been fairly low key. But he has a strong record in motorsport and, perhaps crucially, has business savvy that should serve him well when it comes to managing a big operation like the Scuderia.

    Whether or not Vasseur can put the right people in the right place to make Ferrari win a title remains to be seen, but one thing has become certain since 2018: the gamble on giving Binotto the full control he so vocally desired did not produce the promised results.

    1. He did deliver in many regards. Ferrari have done some silly things and built not very good cars in the last twenty years. But Binotto seemed to be ‘bucking the trend‘ a bit. The mess with reliability and weird strategy decisions, I guess falls on him. But I think he’d be a good guy to have around, I don’t see why they couldn’t get more people to share the workload on him with a better structure. The guy is clearly talented and knows how F1 cars work.

      Ron Dennis couldn’t build a Lego McLaren, he’d get someone else to make it for him. So much of Ferrari seems a waste, the board chopping off the Team Principles head every couple of years. But yet they don’t win? Stop doing it.

      I wish Fred all the best, but I suspect he isn’t thinking he is going to get calm seas.

      1. I’d disagree. Since 2019, Ferrari have won 7 races. That’s still more than anyone except Red Bull and Mercedes – but not only is the gap to those huge (they won 33 and 38 respectively), three of those came in 2019 under let’s charitably say somewhat suspicous circumstances.

        The problem with Binotto being part of a team isn’t on Ferrari. Binotto was part of a team, but he wanted to be in control – to run things his way. He got that opportunity, and that cost Ferrari both Arrivabene and Vettel, and the results never came. Even in 2022, Ferrari suffered from a lack of reliability, an almost comical set of tactical errors, driver errors, and biggest of all: a complete rout on the political front.

  4. Strongly agree, although race management still needs improving regardless of TP choice.

  5. Do Ferrari want to bar Ferrari from choosing their second driver and bring in a different paydriver?

    Cause that’s Fred’s #1 achievement so far in Formula 1.

  6. Ferrari certainly needed a change and I’m confident Vasseur is the right man. His record in Motorsport is impressive, and a well known character within the paddock and at Maranello.

    Ferrari under Binotto were very good last season and he did make some big calls like moving Vettel on. I’ll always maintain that reliability is a tactical decision made by the team in the drawing office – a compromise which your season depends. But what was unforgivable were the strategic mistakes, race after race, which left Ferrari on a really poor run midseason then the subsequent denial of a systematic failure within the culture of the company.

    I think Vasseur has an outer steeliness but from interviews appears a pragmatic man manager. I think that’s what Ferrari need on the track side. The wider sporting regulations side is more complex and given Wolff’s and Horner’s experience, I can’t see Vasseur coming in and challenging them straightaway. But I think if the results come, the Ferrari name should help him enormously that side.

  7. There’s no such thing as luck or bad luck with previous team manager. Sometimes it was strategy. Sometimes the engine. Sometimes Leclerc.

  8. Vasseur is faced with an entrenched Ferrari culture, political, swayed by the Italian media, consumed by a belief in their heritage. To become a winning team again that has to change. It is outdated and unsuited to hi-tech F1 2023. Loud cheering at failing cars doesn’t make for a winning team.

    Sadly the way Binotto was replaced suggests that the boss of bosses, Elkan, is still in that hire and fire culture. That will only reinforce the traditionalists in Ferrari, and it is they who will be the problem for Vasseur, the stumbling block which needs to be removed, the staff who cling on tenaciously through press leaks and demands to honour the heritage of the founder while, in practice. damaging it with loss after loss, error after error. If only we went back to the old ways…….

    Good luck Fred, but if you can’t bring in a support cast as Todd had then you are unlikely to succeed. You are one down already as Montezemelo was at one with ‘the project’ the current president doesn’t seem to be.

  9. No. 3 guys have won in the last 20 years. You need one of the 2 remaining.

  10. Until someone from Liberty FIA decides to make Ferrari great again there’s no 100% recipe of winning championships. They can continue to be winless until 2040, who knows? I don’t believe one man can come and change everything, well, except Newey.

    1. Newey

      And Adrian was merely the second-best designer of his generation.

  11. Neither agree not disagree. Time will tell. At least they have someone who has a history of being able to run a team, so if things continue to fall apart with him, it points to a problem with the larger Ferrari body of people rather than the person in charge of them.

    As far as Vasseur goes I had to look at his Wikipedia when he was announced, it’s easy to see why he was chosen. He has strong links with Leclerc through his manager Nicolas Todt who he also founded ART with. There’s a deep and long-running relationship here beyond the singular 2018 season.

    If somebody asked Leclerc who he wanted to run the team, I’d be surprised if Vasseur wasn’t his answer.

    If this doesn’t work for Leclerc to get his championship over the next couple of years, surely Ferrari will have to change tack entirely for 2026. They’ve got their work cut out for them against the seemingly impervious Verstappen Red Bull.

  12. I think (or hope) he does well. Being an outsider to the Ferrari culture means he is less susceptible to the Ferrari groupthink.

    I think the criticism that he hasn’t promised to make drastic changes until he has some time in the role as being “safe” is unfair. How many of us have experienced a new executive coming into an organisation, saying everything is wrong and needs to change. They mess everything up and then leave for the next opportunity/victim. Elon Musk at Twitter anyone?

    Thinking you have all the right answers, and that the organisation doesn’t have anything it does well, and that only you can fix it is dangerous. It is the sign of an enormous ego. Vasseur is showing his wisdom in acknowledging that he needs time to understand the complexity of the issues Ferrari face, which would hopefully result in more effective change.

  13. Mark in Florida
    5th February 2023, 14:25

    Binotto was a brilliant engineer but a terrible team principal. He totally lost the plot on how to win a race. Some of the strategy calls he made so bad Toto and Christian actually laughed on tv about what was going on with Ferrari. I think Vasseur will do a good job of righting a sinking ship. The reason I say this is look at Toyota they spent tons of money and still were not contenders. In my opinion that’s where Ferrari were headed. Fredric will bring sanity back to the strategy calls. You have to play the hand that’s dealt in a race and I think that was Binottos weakness. Any changes really messed with the strategy that Ferrari had conceived. So as a long time Ferrari fan I approve.

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