The new Ferrari team boss Frédéric Vasseur has a big task ahead of him. Nothing else than the world title has to be the claim for the runner-up world champion of 2022. Vasseur is in the process of taking stock of his new territory.
It's one of the most difficult jobs in the world. One that can make you a hero, but also eject you. As a Ferrari race director, you represent the hopes and expectations of an entire nation and the largest fan base in motorsport. Frédéric Vasseur is the fifth team boss since Jean Todt left office voluntarily at the end of 2007.
And although his former racing team Sauber is growing together with Audi, the new task in Maranello is even more enticing. "Even the Audi people told me: You don't turn down an offer from Ferrari."
The Tifosi prefer to remember the Todt era. During this time, Ferrari won six drivers' titles and was a total of seven constructors' world champions. Todt's successors are chasing success. Every now and then a Ferrari driver was with the music, but just off the mark is over. Fernando Alonso (2010, 2012) and Sebastian Vettel (2017, 2018) had to leave the crown to someone else in the end.
The first step is an inventory
In the past season, the traditional racing team got off to the best start. Charles Leclerc and Ferrari could still dream of the title until the middle of the season. Then Max Verstappen and Red Bull drove everything into the ground. Ferrari was again only Vice World Champion. Not enough for FCA boss John Elkann and Ferrari president Benedetto Vigna. Mattia Binotto had to go. Frédéric Vasseur should now fix it.
The former Sauber team boss has no illusions. He knows what is required of him. Nothing more and nothing less than the title. "That must be our goal. If I only wanted to finish second, I would have to be accused of not being ambitious enough," said the 54-year-old Frenchman at his first official press conference.
Vasseur can't yet say in detail how he intends to master the big task: "I've only been here for two weeks and I'm in the middle of taking stock. The first step is to analyze where we stand." But he has already seen so much: "I am convinced that this team has everything it takes to become world champions. We just have to put the pieces of the puzzle together correctly."
No rapid personnel changes
Vasseur's predecessor, Mattia Binotto, was well connected in the team with 27 years of service at Ferrari. The new capo is just getting to know his staff. That's why you shouldn't expect any spectacular personnel changes from him in the near future.
"It would be arrogant to make changes now. We're currently examining where we have weaknesses and where we need to adapt. I trust the people who are there.It is therefore important to offer them the best working conditions so that they can perform at their best. Changes are only necessary if it doesn't work."
After all, Ferrari is not a complete stranger to Vasseur. As an engine customer at Sauber, he regularly dealt with Maranello. Of course everything there is bigger, more modern, more sophisticated and also much more emotional.
Nevertheless, the new man does not have to completely rethink: "The culture is different, but the spirit is the same in every team. We all want to win." He is happy to accept tips from outside. "Mattia was fair enough to prepare me for what to expect. And I will also be meeting with Jean Todt over the next few weeks to learn from his experiences."
Strategy flops are never one person's fault
Vasseur has 32 years of motorsport experience to draw on. That's why he knows that there is no point in going into blind activism. Yes, Ferrari had problems with the reliability of its engines last season, but that doesn't mean you have to question the engine immediately. "In terms of performance, the engine was good. As I was told, the stability problems have been solved. Now the track has to show if that's true."
A sore point was the strategy. Wrong choice of tires, badly timed pit stops, mechanics looking for tires have sometimes made Ferrari a laughingstock. Vasseur doesn't pin it on one person "You can't always just look at the top of the pyramid. It's never just the man on the pit wall, it's the structure. The fault is either in the communication, the processes, or the number of people involved in making decisions. It's our job now to find the errors and fix them."
Vasseur can work independently in his area. He reports to his boss two to three times a week. "I had to do that at Sauber too." He has his side businesses hired: "Ferrari is not a part-time job. 100 percent commitment is not enough. I still have shares in my companies, but no longer any operational tasks."
The biggest cultural change will be instilling in his new squad the courage to be allowed to make mistakes instead of passing on responsibility. Vasseur believes that he can set a good example : "If there are mistakes, I'm the first to admit them. And if action is necessary, I'll be the first to push it."