New Ferrari F1 Team Principal: 'We Have Everything to Win'
Frederic Vasseur was appointed team principal at Ferrari for 2023, joining from the Sauber-owned Alfa Romeo squad, to replace Mattia Binotto.
Ferrari was the early leader in the championship last season before falling on hard times and going winless over the final 11 races of the season.
Ferrari’s 2023 Formula 1 car will be unveiled on February 14.
Ferrari has to set high ambitions and aim for its first Formula 1 title in 15 years, according to its new team principal Frederic Vasseur.
Ferrari last won the Constructors’ Championship in 2008, with its most recent Drivers’ crown coming in 2007, and last year it finished a distant second to Red Bull Racing.
Vasseur was appointed for 2023, joining from the Sauber-owned Alfa Romeo squad, to replace Mattia Binotto, who tendered his resignation after four years in charge.
Vasseur, speaking during his first press conference as Ferrari’s team principal, outlined that “when you are in a top team, you can’t have another target other than to win. You can’t start the season saying you’re happy with P2, it would be a lack of ambition.
“I’m really convinced that at Ferrari—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.”
Vasseur has taken up the reins at a team that had a puzzling 2022 season. On one side it produced a rapid car, particularly in qualifying, and finished second in both championships, re-establishing itself as a front-runner after a couple of years in the wilderness.
On the other hand, it frequently faltered on race day—through strategic misses, reliability problems and driver blunders—and mis-stepped in the development battle against its rivals.
Vasseur asserted that it would be “arrogant” of him to enact immediate changes without a full understanding of the team but that his approach is that “we always have to do a better job tomorrow than today. If you say ‘okay today the team is in a good shape, you are dead’; you always need to have the mindset of ‘okay where we can improve here, (what about) this area’, and it is a no-end process.”
The strategic team has come under pressure externally and Vasseur outlined that the structure will be evaluated rather than targeting specific individuals—a tacit admission that there are weaknesses that require a remedy.
“When you are talking about strategy (teams), or aerodynamic (teams), or another topic, you have to avoid being focused on the top of the pyramid,” he said. “Very often, when you are speaking about strategy, it is a matter of organization rather than just the guy on the pit wall.
“I’m trying to understand exactly what’s happened on every single mistake of last year: if it is a matter of a decision, if it is a matter of organization, a matter of communication. Very often on the pit wall the bigger issue is the communication than the individuals, maybe too many people are discussing the same thing and the car will be on the next lap! You need a clear flow of discussion between the good people—it’s work in progress.”
Vasseur added that reliability gains on Ferrari’s 2023-spec power unit, a main target for improvement, “looks okay” but that the gains will not be fully known until the car hits the track in Bahrain.
Ferrari will enter 2023 with an unchanged driver lineup of last year’s runner-up Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz. Vasseur has history with both drivers; Leclerc won the GP3 Series title for Vasseur’s junior ART team in 2016, and raced for Sauber when he was team boss in 2018, while Vasseur twice tried to recruit Sainz—when he was briefly Renault’s chief in 2016, and again while at Sauber. Ferrari, Vasseur emphasized, will operate a policy of equality for as long as it makes sense.
“I think it is the same everywhere in that we have two very good drivers that they are able to do the job,” Vasseur explained. “We will have the capacity to provide them exactly the same car, the same structure, the same support.
“What is clear the target is to win with Ferrari, and for Ferrari, there will be no number one and number two, but if at one stage we have to take action I will take action—it doesn’t matter if it is for one or the other, but if at one stage of the season I have to do something I will do it.”
More F1 News
• Ferrari’s 2023 Formula 1 car will be unveiled on February 14 during a busy week of launches that is also set to include McLaren, Aston Martin, Mercedes and Alpine.
• Haas is set to kick-start launch season when it presents its 2023 livery on Tuesday (January 31).
• Preseason testing will take place in Bahrain across February 23-25 before the 23-event season commences in the country on March 5.
• Betting organization Stake has joined Alfa Romeo as its new title partner, with PKN Orlen switching to AlphaTauri as principal partner.