‘Hard-nosed Frederic Vasseur is the right man for Ferrari…and Charles Leclerc’

Michelle Foster
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, with Fred Vasseur. Spain May 2022.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc with Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur. Spain May 2022.

Newly-appointed Ferrari team boss Frederic Vasseur has a “broad” enough back to withstand the pressure that comes with his new job, and that’s great news for Charles Leclerc.

That’s the opinion of former F1 driver turned pundit Ralf Schumacher.

As Mattia Binotto handed in his resignation after a dismal end to the 2022 season, Ferrari failing to win a single grand prix in the back half of the championship, Vasseur was immediately tipped by pundits as the next man for the job.

Ferrari confirmed that on Tuesday morning, CEO Benedetto Vigna praising the Frenchman’s “consistent ability to bring out the best in his drivers and teams.”

He added: “This approach and his leadership are what we need to push Ferrari forward with renewed energy.”

Schumacher believes Vasseur has the right temperament for the Ferrari job.

Although he says it will be “difficult for him to get used to the new culture and to withstand the pressure that will be at Ferrari,” the German trusts Fred. “He has a broad back, is financially absolutely independent and hard-nosed with his decisions.”

Schumacher also reckons Vasseur won’t be the only person from Alfa Romeo moving from Switzerland to Italy before the new season begins.

“Fred will have credit for now and the question will be who he can bring with him,” the former F1 driver told Sky Deutschland.

“He will definitely take some confidants from Sauber to Ferrari because there will also be some restructuring there.”

Fred Vasseur’s signing is good news for Charles Leclerc

The eight-time grand prix winner is not the first to suggest that Vasseur joining Ferrari is great news for Leclerc.

Not only do they have a relationship from yesteryear, Vasseur having been the Monégasque driver’s team boss in his first season on the grid, but the 54-year-old is a firm believer in number one and two drivers.

That’s the opposite of what Binotto believed, the Italian said to have proven his point to Leclerc when Ferrari handed Carlos Sainz the preferential strategy at this year’s British Grand Prix.

That Sunday Leclerc fell from first to fourth while Sainz claimed his maiden grand prix win.

“Binotto was more of a fan of Carlos Sainz, whom he also brought in,” said Schumacher.

“Charles Leclerc also suffered a bit from this.”

He also touched on the rumoured tiff between Vasseur and Leclerc’s manager Nicholas Todt.

“Both were once partners in Formula 3, but then fell out. It will be interesting to see how they will work together,” Schumacher added.

Declaring that Ferrari have to take the “next step”, he added: “What happened to them after the strong start to the season was almost a bit embarrassing.”

The huge task facing Fred Vasseur at Ferrari

Already warned that the job of Ferrari team boss is all too often a “short” one, Fred Vasseur faces a massive – some would say uphill – challenge to keep his job and that’s quite simply linked to Ferrari winning titles.

The Scuderia last won the Drivers’ crown back in 2007, since then there have been near-misses with Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel. One cannot call Charles Leclerc’s runner-up in past season a near-miss as there was nothing near about it.

From installing confidence in the strategy team to reliability fixes with the power unit, Vasseur needs to oversee what feels like an almost complete overhaul given that there wasn’t a single aspect that Ferrari got right in 2022.

Ferrari, the Tifosi and the league of naysayers in turn need to give the Frenchman a bit of breathing room to do all that. But given that it’s been 15 years since the Scuderia last celebrated a World title, breathing room is in short supply.

Read more: How Ferrari’s move for Fred Vasseur pushed McLaren into action