Having signed a “leading name”, reports claiming it’s Loic Serra, Fred Vasseur has given the clearest indication yet that it is the Mercedes performance director – and he wants him to join Ferrari before 2025.
Last month rumours emerged claiming Vasseur had landed his first big signing as Ferrari team boss with the Frenchman nabbing key Mercedes figure, performance director Serra.
The only glitch was the Scuderia would have to wait until 2025 as that’s when Serra’s current Mercedes contract expires.
Ferrari team boss plans to chat with Toto Wolff to negotiate an early release
But while neither Ferrari nor Mercedes have uttered Serra’s name, at least not in front of the media, Vasseur has now given the clearest hint yet that it is his 51-year-old compatriot.
The team boss is intent on speaking to his Mercedes counterpart, and good friend, Toto Wolff about shortening Serra’s gardening leave period.
“We have hired about 25 people, but we are looking for more,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport. “None are yet working at the Scuderia.
“We have signed with a leading name, which should start on 1 January 2025 but we are trying to avoid that time.
“How can I get Toto Wolff to release him sooner? I’ll try it when we’re on the boat together.”
Ferrari and Red Bull did just that with now-former sporting director Laurent Mekies, who signed to replace Franz Tost as AlphaTauri’s team boss.
After some haggling, and tense words it must be said, they agreed on a date with Mekies leaving Ferrari after the Hungarian Grand Prix to head off on gardening leave before joining the Red Bull junior team on 1 January 2024.
“However, as happened with Mekies,” Vasseur continued, “sometimes you have people who leave Ferrari, situations cross and you can negotiate dates.
“Let’s say that this soon became the main part of my work at Ferrari. You have to build good relationships and get people to move.”
He added: “The first ones you take are the most difficult, then the others seeing them follow suit.”
Serra’s signing part of Vasseur’s long-term plan to nab Pierre Waché
Vasseur’s final statement gives credence to a report from Auto Motor und Sport’s Michael Schmidt that the Frenchman is hoping to use Serra’s arrival to persaude Red Bull’s technical director Pierre Waché to also move to Maranello.
“I believe Loïc Serra was chosen carefully,” Schmidt said earlier this month. “He is one of the best friends of Pierre Waché, the technical director of Red Bull.
“The two often spend hours together in the paddock, even though they are from rival teams. Both are heavy smokers and chat there. I’d love to listen in on what those two say to each other.
“I think Vasseur is also trying to get Pierre Waché through this connection.
“From what I hear from Red Bull, [Vasseur] has been going at it and was really close [to signing Waché], and maybe he’s still trying.”