Fred Vasseur’s admission on ‘stupid’ Ferrari as team ‘miles away’ from ideal

Thomas Maher
Ferrari's Fred Vasseur at the Belgian Grand Prix. Spa-Francorchamps.

Ferrari's Fred Vasseur at the Belgian Grand Prix. Spa-Francorchamps.

Fred Vasseur says Ferrari are still “miles away” from what he sees as the ideal structure, seven months into his tenure as team boss.

Vasseur took over as team boss at the Scuderia over the winter break, following the resignation of Mattia Binotto after a squandered championship challenge. But, unlike last year, Ferrari are not the closest competitor to Red Bull’s dominance, and the team are yet to stumble upon the recipe for success as an organisation.

With Vasseur assuming control in January to begin shaping the team in a different direction, he has admitted the team is still nowhere near the organisational structure he’s hoping to achieve.

Fred Vasseur: Ferrari looked stupid, and “at the end of the world”

Having returned to the podium at the Belgian Grand Prix as Charles Leclerc finished third on race day, to follow up on his ‘pole position’ after Max Verstappen’s penalty, it was a swift turnaround from the poor race weekends at Silverstone and the Hungaroring.

Leclerc and Carlos Sainz only snuck into the points in both races, struggling for pace and form at either venue, only to completely turn things around in Belgium.

As a result, Vasseur wasn’t getting carried away as he spoke to the media, including PlanetF1.com, after the podium finish, where he commented on the swings and roundabouts teams like his and recently resurgent McLaren are going through.

“I will stay very calm because we had the same meeting one week ago, and we were at the end of the world – that McLaren was flying and we were stupid, and so that from one week to the other, McLaren is at the back today and we are at the front,” he said.

“That means that we have to stay calm, to take it easy race after race, that we know that the pack is so tight that, for one or two-tenths, you can move from P2 to P11.

“It’s not the end of the season, we have a lot of to do. But, for sure, it’s good to finish the first part of the season on a positive tone. We will have the two weeks off with a positive race in mind?”

PlanetF1.com recommends

Zak Brown car collection: The legendary machines owned by the McLaren boss

F1 driver contracts: What is the current contract status of every driver on the 2023 grid?

Having been consistently up near the front of the pack in Belgium, ahead of Mercedes and a comparatively struggling McLaren as the MCL60 didn’t enjoy the dry race conditions, Vasseur said it’s something of a mystery as to why there are such swings – but that small measures have big impacts due to the tight nature of the pack behind Red Bull.

“For sure I’m happy that we did a strong weekend in every single condition – wets, inters, slicks, long and short stints, we were always there – it’s good for us,” he said.

“Now we have to understand why we are more comfortable on some tracks than some others. But I think everybody’s in the same situation, that we are all a bit inconsistent.

“Because you have one or two-tenths between the P1 and the P11, it means that for characteristics or for tyre management or the level of downforce that you choose at the beginning of the weekend, you can do a very strong one or poor one.

“We don’t have to draw the definitive conclusion but I think it will be like this until the end of the season – that we have to be more consistent to understand where we are weak, why we are weak, and to try to minimise this kind of weekend.”

Fred Vasseur: Ferrari still miles away from perfect structure

At the halfway point of his first season in charge of the Scuderia, Vasseur was asked about how close the team is to being in the structure he’s wanted to achieve since taking over, and what further changes might be expected – Vasseur having a new sporting director in charge in the form of Diego Ioverno following the departure of Laurent Mekies, as well as having a new strategic layout as Ravin Jain replaced Inaki Rueda at head of trackside strategy.

“We are miles away, because when you are doing my job, you don’t have to imagine that there is a perfect structure,” he said.

“You always need to improve, and always need to change things. If you stay with the same structure two years in a row then you are dead, because all the others will improve.

“It means that I don’t have a clear picture to say ‘I have to do this’, and full stop, it will work. It would be stupid.

“We will make some changes in the coming weeks, in the coming months, in the coming years, because some topics are a bit longer than some others. But it’s a permanent evolution and permanent improvement.”

Read next: Report reveals new name for AlphaTauri as Red Bull prepare to rebrand junior team