Giedo van der Garde backs Fred Vasseur to take Ferrari to new heights

Jamie Woodhouse
Frédéric Vasseur as new Ferrari team boss. December 2022 Fred Vasseur

Frédéric Vasseur as new Ferrari team boss. December 2022

Ex-Formula 1 driver Giedo van der Garde believes Fred Vasseur is the perfect choice from Ferrari to take the team to a new level.

Mattia Binotto handed in his resignation to depart the Ferrari team boss role at the end of 2022, following a season where the Scuderia saw their title challenge fall apart, largely as a result of their own shortcomings.

Word soon emerged that Vasseur was the favourite to fill the vacancy, which he ultimately did, swapping Alfa Romeo for Ferrari.

Van der Garde is not sure how much of a say Binotto actually had in his resignation, but believes it was the best outcome for the team.

“I think they gave him a choice: either we say we’ve thrown you out, or we do it in a nice way and you say you’ve resigned yourself,” Van der Garde told “And so it ended up being the second one.

“But it was clear that he had to leave. He is a very nice guy and has built a very good car, but Ferrari did throw away some wins this year. And whichever way you look at it, he was responsible for that as team boss.”

Van der Garde has experience of working under Vasseur from his junior racing days, Vasseur having co-founded the ART Grand Prix outfit.

The Dutchman knows then how stern and to the point Vasseur can be, which he sees as being only positive for Ferrari.

He believes Alfa Romeo’s 2022 campaign also speaks volumes for Vasseur, the team securing P6 in the Constructors’ Championship having led the midfield pack in the earlier rounds.

“Vasseur put the right people in the right place there,” said Van der Garde. “He is a true leader and will be able to take Ferrari to new heights.

“He’s someone who can bang his fist on the table and doesn’t like bullsh*t. He can be tough. That is why I really think he is the right man for Ferrari.

“He always tells it like it is. He does not play political games, but is straightforward.

“If someone is not functioning well, he can be very rigorous and say: either you will do better, or you will be replaced by someone else. He always goes for the best possible performance. And as a Ferrari team boss you have to project that.

“Binotto is very professional and has done some really good things at Ferrari in recent years, but it’s also about winning mentality, and that is much more present with Vasseur.

“A culture change must take place at Ferrari in that respect. The team needs to believe in itself again, they have two good drivers, a good car and now also a good team boss. They should now be able to score many more victories.

“Whether they can beat Max Verstappen is another thing, but they should have won more last year and fought for the championship much longer. With Vasseur at the helm, things would have gone much better.

“He has to look at the whole team. They weren’t strong strategically last year, of course. Although they have a good guy for that [Iñaki Rueda], they really fell short in that area, that’s something Vasseur needs to look at.

“But also how the communication goes between the engineers and the drivers, how the team is structured and what the culture is like within the team.

“Vasseur will therefore have to look at the complete picture, address the points that did not go well last season and, just like with Alfa, put the right people in the right place. That will take some time, but give him that time.”

Fred Vasseur must find a way to dial down the Ferrari pressure

Binotto tried to do this by installing a no-blame culture at the team, but all that served to do was seemingly make his situation more precarious as the Ferrari team made a string of baffling errors, all while Binotto refused to accept there was a problem.

Ferrari is much more than a team as they are a national treasure for Italy, so it is highly possible that this pressure and the fears over the fallout plays on the minds of team personnel.

Vasseur, then, must find a way to make sure that mistakes are addressed, but that the team around him are not crumbling under this pressure. Perhaps him coming in as a non-Italian team boss will be highly beneficial in that regard, as it was for Jean Todt back in Ferrari’s glory days.

Read next: ‘Smooth Operator’ Carlos Sainz receives his first customised Ferrari