It took 159 attempts for Frederic Vasseur to oversee a win in a Formula 1 race as a team principal. Having moved to Ferrari at the start of the year, he took his first win in charge courtesy of Carlos Sainz Jnr in Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix.
“Honestly, it was a strange feeling for me on the pit wall because I was not too much stressed the last couple of laps,” said Vasseur, who was confident that “Carlos was really under control of the situation.”
Vasseur enjoyed the spoils of victory on the podium with his driver, as Ferrari reached the top step for the first time in 14 months. But his thoughts returned to the team’s difficult start to their first season under him.
“For sure on the podium it’s a bit emotional because it was the first one,” he said. “But at this stage I was more thinking about what we did from Jeddah.
“Jeddah was a tough weekend for us and we had a very good recovery after Jeddah. Good team work. I think we built up step-by-step the confidence and the pace and I’m more than proud for the job done by the factory and the team guys.”
Vasseur said gains made in the last two rounds, at very different tracks, were key to Ferrari’s strong Singapore weekend.
“I think it’s also linked to the fact that we had a good weekend in Monza from lap one of FP1. We built up the confidence also in Monza, and Singapore is also the consequence of this one.
“The fact that Carlos [was] so quick at the beginning of the weekend was also very helpful to us, and he did a very good job from the first lap to the last one, and really the last one.”
The team made a breakthrough with its set-up in the first race back after the summer break, said Vasseur. “It’s probably in Zandvoort where probably we unlocked something on the understanding of the set-up, and we build up the pace at Monza. Part of this in Zandvoort, and probably a large part of the pace on this weekend.”
But he believes the team’s Singapore win is more important for morale than what they learned about their car. “For sure this will help for the future. It’s a better understanding of the car, better understanding of the set-up of the car.
“But I would say that mainly it’s a step forward in terms of confidence in everybody, that for everybody this is the best way to prepare the future.”
Sainz qualified sixth and finished fifth at Zandvoort, followed that with pole position and third place in the race at Monza, then took another step with his Singapore result in an expertly managed race from the front. Vasseur praised the “clever move from Carlos to keep Norris into the DRS” in the last few laps as well as “a very good step forward” Sainz has recently made in his preparation for race weekends. “He was ready from lap one of FP1,” said Vasseur.
Although Ferrari ended Red Bull’s unbeaten 2023 run last weekend, Vasseur wants his team to remain focused on beating the teams behind Red Bull. “For me, the most important is to do our weekend a bit quicker than Mercedes and the others,” he said.
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2023 Singapore Grand Prix
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