Fred Vasseur responds to reports of Charles Leclerc requesting Ferrari chairman meeting
Ferrari principal Fred Vasseur claims that nothing out of the ordinary has happened when it comes to meetings with the big bosses.
Ferrari came into F1 2023 fully intent on mounting a fresh title challenge after their 2022 bid fell apart through a combination of reliability wobbles, plus strategic and driver errors, while in the second half of that campaign the Red Bull RB18 became the dominant car in race trim.
But, the latest title push did not get off to a very promising start for Ferrari as Red Bull dominated the season opener in Bahrain. Leclerc was at least set to finish P3 and join the Red Bull pair of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez on the podium, but that prospect went out of the window when his power unit went bang.
And ahead of the upcoming Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, reports in Italy stated that Leclerc had requested and been granted a meeting with Ferrari chairman John Elkann, the Monégasque driver said to be concerned by Ferrari’s lacklustre start to the campaign, and wanting reassurance that he could build on last season’s P2 finish in the Drivers’ Championship.
However, speaking to Auto Hebdo, Vasseur shed some light on the meetings going on at Ferrari, and said that one with the drivers, Elkann and Ferrari CEO Benedetto Vigna took place after winter testing, with another one scheduled after Imola on 21 May, Round 6 of the F1 2023 season.
So, Vasseur assured that nothing has happened outside of the original plans.
“We spoke with the drivers, Elkann and Vigna after winter testing, and we will all speak again together after Imola. These meetings are planned,” Vasseur confirmed.
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There were also reports that Vasseur and Vigna had encountered a few sticking points in their relationship since the Frenchman’s arrival, one suggestion being that Vasseur had been blocked from bringing a new sponsor to Ferrari.
It had also been said that Vigna was unhappy with Vasseur for flying to Bahrain testing with his friend, but also team boss of Mercedes, Toto Wolff.
Again though, Vasseur poured cold water on suggestions that he has been somewhat shackled at Maranello.
“I have resources and decision-making power that I have never had anywhere else,” he affirmed.
Ferrari have been tipped by some as a stronger contender against Red Bull in Jeddah, including by Verstappen himself, with the high-speed track that is less demanding on tyres expected to be a better fit for the SF-23.