Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur has admitted that his efforts to ease the pressure on the team for the Italian Grand Prix soon turned to “bulls**t” when he arrived at Monza.
The Scuderia head into their home race still awaiting their first victory of 2023, with the team without a win since Charles Leclerc triumphed in Austria last July.
However, Ferrari showed encouraging pace throughout practice at Monza, raising hopes that the red cars could end Red Bull and Max Verstappen’s unbeaten runs at their home race.
Ferrari hoping to use pressure as a positive at Monza
This is Vasseur’s first Italian GP as Ferrari team principal, having arrived from Alfa Romeo as Mattia Binotto’s replacement last winter.
Appearing on F1’s Beyond The Grid podcast this week, Vasseur stressed the importance of Ferrari treating Monza as just a normal race – but has admitted his best-laid plans went out the window when he arrived at the circuit on Thursday.
He told Sky F1: “It’s quite emotional. I tried all week to calm everybody down, to say: ‘Guys, you can’t score more points in Monza than somewhere else, take it relatively easy and so on.’
“But this is bulls**t.
“When you arrive on Thursday morning in Monza with all the guys in red, you can feel it. You can feel the passion, the emotion and, for us, we have to take it as a positive and get an extra boost.”
Despite his winless start in the role, 2016 World Champion Nico Rosberg – whose title-winning GP2 campaign in 2005 was overseen by Vasseur with the ART Grand Prix team – feels the Frenchman has made an encouraging start to life at Ferrari in 2023.
He said: “[The] pressure [was] off for the first week [in the job].
“Week two? It’s 1,000 per cent pressure, it’s straight back on and it’s such a difficult task because we know that the whole organisation was not really in a good place with leadership changing all the time and weaknesses here and there.
“It’s such a tough ask for him to rebuild this team, to mould it around what he thinks will be best, but it seems to be going in the right direction.”
During his appearance on Beyond The Grid, Vasseur revealed he was first approached by Ferrari after the 2022 season finale in Abu Dhabi and took 24 hours to consider before accepting the role.
He said: “I didn’t want to be too emotional, because when you are doing this job – and I’m doing this job for 32 or 33 years – for sure to have the possibility to join Ferrari as the team principal, it’s somehow not the pinnacle but somehow the biggest challenge, let’s say.
“The pinnacle is if you win with Ferrari, then it’s a bit different.
“And to have in front of me the biggest challenge of my job, it’s a challenge. I took 24 hours to think about it also because, for me, for sure, it’s a kind of megaproject. When you play tennis you want to do Wimbledon, when you’re doing my job to be the team principal of Ferrari, for sure it’s what you want to do.
“But I took 24 hours because it was more for my family and I know that I put a lot of pressure on my family so far and I knew that it will be another step. And I wanted to discuss with them if they were keen to do it.”