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Ferrari - has the right call been made hiring Fred Vasseur?

Ferrari - has the right call been made hiring Fred Vasseur?

F1 News

Ferrari - has the right call been made hiring Fred Vasseur?

Ferrari - has the right call been made hiring Fred Vasseur?
Ewan Gale

Ferrari has seemingly taken a gamble in looking beyond Maranello and hiring Fred Vasseur as its new team principal.

Vasseur takes over early in the new year after Mattia Binotto resigned - his final day is on Friday [December 30] - after coming under fire for a number of operational failings, despite the team being at its most competitive since 2019.

We know Vasseur has operated as Sauber CEO and Alfa Romeo team principal for the past few years, but who is he and why has the Maranello-based team opted for the 54-year-old as the answer?

Junior formula pedigree

Vasseur led the ASM team in Formula 3 through the late 1990s and into the early 2000s before joining forces with Nicolas Todt, son of former Ferrari team principal and FIA president Jean, to evolve the outfit into ART Grand Prix in 2005.

The highly successful junior team has bred a number of talented drivers that have gone on to greater things in the world of motorsport, not least F1.

In the F3 European Series, for example, the team won five consecutive drivers’ championships between 2005 and 2009 courtesy of Lewis Hamilton, Paul di Resta, Romain Grosjean, Nico Hulkenberg and Jules Bianchi.

GP2 was no different, with titles for Nico Rosberg, Hamilton and Hulkenberg, whilst in more recent times - and through the rebranding to F2 - Stoffel Vandoorne, George Russell and Nyck de Vries have all graduated as champions with ART.

Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Ocon and Charles Leclerc were guided to glory as part of Vasseur’s operation in GP3, proving the Frenchman has what it takes to control a winning team.

Management skills proven on wider scale

As a Ferrari team principal, responsibility ranges far wider than just ensuring the smooth-running of the core staff trackside.

Every area of the team needs to be placed under a watchful eye with the knowledge that any small mishap on a race weekend, whether it is an engine failure or a €1 bolt coming loose, will face intense scrutiny from the Italian media and passionate Tifosi.

Whilst some may point to F3 and F2 being ‘spec series’ and lacking development, Vasseur’s technical knowledge led to the creation of Spark Racing Technology.

Vasseur was able to obtain the contract from the FIA to create the 40 chassis needed for the inaugural Formula E season, with that partnership continuing through the initial specification of machinery.

Junior management blossoms into F1 expertise

Vasseur made his step into F1 as a team principal for the returning Renault outfit in 2016, although he resigned at the end of the season.

Six months later, Sauber came calling for his services in a role he has held until now.

Technically, the team has emerged from its mid-2010s doldrums into an operation capable of finishing sixth in the constructors’ standings, ahead of the sleeping juggernaut that is Aston Martin.

In that time, Vasseur struck deals with Alfa Romeo to head the Sauber operation and cement the team’s position on the grid when previously, the outlook had been bleak.

Such is the success under Vasseur’s leadership, former Mercedes driver Bottas joined to help steer the team into a new era, and earlier this year it was announced that Audi would join forces with Sauber to create its works outfit from 2026.

The future is looking bright for a once troubled team, with a large portion of the plaudits to be directed towards Vasseur’s leadership.

The CV looks good as he heads to Ferrari but can he regain control of the team operationally where Binotto could not?

If he can, there is a championship-winning team laying in wait.

From the Scuderia’s perspective, a breath of fresh air blowing through Maranello may be what it needs to chase down Red Bull.

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