Ferrari explain advantage Mercedes hold for poaching Red Bull personnel

Henry Valantine
Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur chats with Charles Leclerc on the grid at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Baku, April 2023.

Ferrari's Fred Vasseur chats with Charles Leclerc on the grid at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Baku, April 2023.

Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur has explained that geography plays its part in teams like Mercedes being in a better position to sign staff from rivals like Red Bull.

The majority of Formula 1 teams have their bases in the UK – with the relatively small catchment area of middle England where several teams are situated even dubbed ‘Motorsport Valley’, with Aston Martin, Red Bull, Mercedes, Haas, Alpine and Williams all relatively close together, and McLaren a couple of hours further south in Woking.

Only Ferrari, AlphaTauri and Alfa Romeo are based out of the UK – with Haas having their technical team adjacent to Ferrari’s at Maranello – and as a result, Vasseur believes trying to sign people for the Scuderia can present an issue when families have to emigrate to do so, even with the pull of the sport’s most historic team.

“It’s not the same situation – you can move from Red Bull to Mercedes, keep the same hours, keep children in the same school and from the Friday to the Monday you can change and everything is perfect,” Vasseur told Sky Sports F1.

“If you want to come to Italy, it’s a different approach. You have to change the family environment and so on.

“But as soon as you are in Italy I think it’s more difficult to leave – the food is much better and the quality of life in Italy is mega.

“Sometimes it can play into discussions because they have to move the family, it depends on the situation of the children, it’s not always easy but as soon as we are able to attract someone they are staying.

“I had the same situation at Sauber, it was difficult to ask them to come but as soon as they were in Switzerland they stayed in Switzerland.”

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Red Bull design guru Adrian Newey recently revealed that he had twice been tempted to join Ferrari in the 1990s, but the young age of his children at the time stopped him from doing so – perhaps pointing to the exact point Vasseur was making when trying to attract staff.

“I was very tempted to go there in the past, it is a legendary brand,” Newey told Sky Sport Italia.

“They contacted me in 1993, I think, and then in 1997, when I went to McLaren from Williams.

“And that was a very difficult choice: at the time my children were very young and I didn’t want them to change schools. Honestly, if I was 20 years younger…”

He is also believed to have agreed a new long-term deal to stay with Red Bull beyond the end of this year, but when asked if Newey was a part of Ferrari’s plans to get back to the front, Vasseur believes the “weight of the group” would outweigh Newey’s influence on his own.

“I think we have a good structure,” Vasseur said when asked specifically if he feels the team could attract Newey to Maranello.

“We have to reinforce the team for sure and we are on this way but it’s not just about big names.

“In the big teams today, we are roughly 1,000 [employees] and I’m convinced the weight of the group is much more important than the weight of the individual.”