According to a report in Italy, Alfa Romeo are preparing to make the first move as Frederic Vasseur heads for Ferrari.
Talk that Mattia Binotto was in danger of losing his place as Ferrari team principal had been rife for much of the 2022 season, the team having fallen away from the title fight after a combination of team and driver errors, while later in the season the F1-75 dropped behind Red Bull’s RB18 for performance.
And confirmation duly arrived that Binotto had handed in his resignation and will depart Maranello at the end of the year.
The search is on then for his successor, but following speculation that it could be Alfa Romeo boss Frederic Vasseur, the Italian branch of Motorsport.com are reporting that it is the Frenchman who Ferrari have chosen.
Their report adds that “early next week”, Alfa Romeo will officially bid farewell to Vasseur, freeing him up to then seal the deal on a Ferrari move to take over as team principal.
It is stated that Vasseur would begin work at Ferrari as of the new year, with claims that he has already found accommodation near Ferrari’s base and has been seen.
Can Frederic Vasseur follow in Jean Todt’s footsteps?
It has been quite some time since Ferrari had a non-Italian leading the team, and if they do indeed confirm Vasseur as Binotto’s successor, then it will be the first time since 2007 that they have had a foreign team boss, Jean Todt having called the shots between 1993-2007.
Todt, Vasseur’s fellow Frenchman, oversaw the greatest period in Ferrari’s Formula 1 history as the team won six Constructors’ titles in succession between 1999-2004, Michael Schumacher winning five Drivers’ titles in that time, while Ferrari also claimed the 2007 Constructors’ crown.
Now, it would be very difficult for anyone to live up to such lofty heights, but the foundations which Vasseur would have to build from are very strong.
Although Red Bull bossed proceedings in 2022, Ferrari did start out as the fastest team, and an initial reluctance from Binotto to admit Ferrari’s shortcomings on strategy perhaps did not help their chances of keeping up that form. With driver error and reliability also playing a major role, Binotto, in reflection, also felt that the development of the F1-75 was maybe not sufficient.
Ferrari know though that they can build a very strong car for the start of a season, and Vassuer’s Alfa Romeo team started 2022 as one of the surprise performers at the head of the midfield, showing that he too can oversee a team which can make good use of these regulations.
The Alfa Romeo C42 was lighter than most of its rivals, offering an early advantage, and while the team slipped back as the other cars became lighter, a two-part upgrade in Japan and Austin gave Alfa Romeo a vital boost as they just about hung on to P6 in the final standings, surviving the late charge from a much-improved Aston Martin team.
With a stronger starting point at Ferrari, a bigger budget and past experience of working with Ferrari’s 2022 Championship runner-up Charles Leclerc, seen as the team’s star for the future, it seems like all the ingredients are there for Vasseur to succeed.