David Coulthard details why Fred Vasseur differs to his Ferrari predecessors

Henry Valantine
Fred Vasseur on the Ferrari pit wall. Bahrain February 2023

David Coulthard believes Fred Vasseur arriving at Ferrari as a “foreigner” will be able to help him with making tough decisions as team principal.

The Frenchman took on the reins at the Italian team at the beginning of 2023, making the move across from Alfa Romeo after Mattia Binotto resigned following the disappointment of the 2022 season, when the Scuderia could – and perhaps should – have made a stronger challenge for both titles.

With Ferrari having lagged behind Red Bull in the Bahrain Grand Prix, there will be difficult decisions ahead for Vasseur as he looks to bring the Scuderia back to race-winning form as quickly as possible, and former McLaren and Red Bull driver Coulthard believes he comes to the team in a good position to do just that.

“As a foreigner, Fred doesn’t have to be culturally aware,” Coulthard explained to FORMULE 1 Magazine in the Netherlands.

“He can say, ‘Guys, this is a racing team, I am the boss and this is how we are going to do it’. And it will be less about personal interests, reputations or relationships.

“Vasseur is a racer, that’s another important aspect. Binotto was an engineer, Arrivabene a marketing man. Vasseur is not distracted by peripheral issues, he is just focused on the performance of the car.”

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Still a long road ahead for Ferrari, regardless of who is in charge

Vasseur has got a tough challenge ahead of him to bring Ferrari back to the top of the field, and reports of an internal restructure behind the scenes at Maranello under him is a first step towards looking to the future.

But the reliability problems suffered by Charles Leclerc at the season opener in Bahrain made for an inauspicious start to the season for the Scuderia, with Carlos Sainz taking fourth place in the race.

Leclerc had been set for a likely podium finish before his retirement, but the gap Ferrari faced in terms of race pace to Red Bull will be the cause for most concern back at the team’s base, with the reigning World Champions in the box seat for more success at this early stage of the season.

For a team, and fanbase, starved of title success since 2008, Vasseur will have plenty of pressure upon him to succeed early, but his previous track record and experience stand him in good stead for this unique position in the world of Formula 1.