Fred Vasseur explains why ‘iron fist’ approach of Ferrari glory days will not return

Michelle Foster
Fred Vasseur on the Ferrari pit wall. Bahrain February 2023

New team boss Fred Vasseur on the Ferrari pit wall. Bahrain February 2023

The first Frenchman to lead Ferrari since Jean Todt’s era of dominance, Fred Vasseur says he won’t be adopting his compatriot’s “iron fist” approach.

Todt was Ferrari’s team principal from 1994 to 2007 and played an integral role in creating the ‘dream team’ of Michael Schumacher, Ross Brawn, and Rory Byrne.

Under his leadership, Schumacher not only became the first Ferrari driver to win the World title since Jody Scheckter’s 1979 success when he beat Mika Hakkinen in the 2000 championship, but he went on to string together five championships.

Fred Vasseur: Iron fist is not my way, and times have changed

His prolific run is today a distant memory for Ferrari who last won the Drivers’ title in 2007 with Kimi Raikkonen while a year later they were crowned the Constructors’ champions.

This year they’ve yet to even win a grand prix, never mind fight Red Bull and Max Verstappen for the World title.

Now under Vasseur’s leadership, the Frenchman having replaced Mattia Binotto in January, Ferrari are sitting P4 in the Constructors’ Championship with only a handful of podiums to show for their efforts.

It begs the question, will Vasseur invoke Todt’s ‘iron fist’ approach to leadership.

“Iron fist is not my way, and times have changed,” he told Auto Sprint.

“People’s psychological approach is different, we need a more inclusive approach that makes everyone participate in a winning project. This is true in all contexts, not just in Formula 1.

“From 1993 to 2000 Ferrari didn’t win [titles], there are no winning recipes by definition. You just have to improve the system and Jean was great at surviving and developing it right.

“I think it was more difficult for Jean to survive seven years than to win titles over and over again!” recommends

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Today it has been suggested Formula 1 is on course for another Schumacher-esque period of dominance with Verstappen with not even Lewis Hamilton managing five in a row.

Verstappen is romping toward a third successive World title with pundits, and rivals, fearing his reign could last for several more seasons.

Asked if that was hurting Formula 1, Vasseur replied: “I think others collectively have to do a better job. Verstappen isn’t hurting anything, he’s just doing a fantastic job, better than the others, with his team.

“We just need to be inspired to do a better job. We can’t complain about the dominance of the Dutch.”

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