Fred Vasseur didn’t share his Ferrari plans with Audi until after he’d signed
Fred Vasseur did not speak with Audi before signing with Ferrari, but once he did, he was told “you couldn’t refuse an offer from Ferrari”.
Within moments of Mattia Binotto handing in his resignation in November there were rumours claiming it was only a matter of time before Ferrari confirmed Vasseur as his replacement.
But as the days dragged on it was suggested the hold-up related to the Frenchman needing to exit to his contract with the Sauber Group where he was team boss at Alfa Romeo.
Once that was finalised, Ferrari confirmed the 54-year-old with Andreas Seidl taking up the reins at Sauber. Reins that will be rebranded to Audi come 2026.
Vasseur played a role in the German carmaker’s decision to buy a stake in Sauber, the first of those transactions having gone ahead in January.
And yet, he revealed, he didn’t speak with Audi before signing with Ferrari.
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“I thought for myself and only had the conversations with [Ferrari president] John Elkann,” he said as per the Dutch edition of Motorsport.com.
“I didn’t discuss anything with Audi before the announcement either.”
But when he finally did speak with an undisclosed person from the German carmaker, they accepted “you couldn’t refuse an offer from Ferrari.”
Vasseur’s departure hastened Seidl’s switch to Sauber with McLaren losing the German three years earlier than expected.
McLaren CEO Zak Brown revealed his former team boss had “informed me during the season that he was going to go elsewhere, when his contract was up at the end of 2025.
“Probably pretty clear where that destination would be, which was quite understandable, given his background.
“At that time we intended to continue for the foreseeable future, because the relationship is very, very healthy and his work discipline is very strong.”
But as McLaren had executive director of racing Andrea Stella waiting in the wings, Brown allowed Seidl to leave early with the German’s main job being preparing the team for Audi’s arrival in 2026.
Vasseur has wished Seidl and the Sauber Group all the best for the future.
“They always remain in my thoughts,” he said. “I’ve had a very good and healthy relationship with everyone in the team.
“I wish everyone, including Andreas, the best of luck in the future. It’s a challenge, but it always is. Don’t imagine F1 being easy.”