Sky F1 pundit Martin Brundle praised Fred Vasseur over his first year as Ferrari boss, admitting he exceeded his expectations.
After Mattia Binotto resigned from the Ferrari team principal role, Vasseur was brought in from Alfa Romeo to take over the Ferrari hot seat.
On the face of it, the season did not go to plan for Ferrari as Red Bull continued their dominant ways in F1 2023, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz the only one to deny them all 22 grand prix wins with his victory in Singapore, while Mercedes pipped Ferrari to the runner-up spot in the Constructors’ Championship.
Fred Vasseur praised for start to Ferrari career
Nonetheless, speaking as part of Sky’s end-of-season review, Brundle said Vasseur has done a better job in his first season than he had expected, based off his time at the helm for Alfa Romeo and Renault before that.
“I think he did well, better than I thought he was going to if I’m really honest,” said Brundle, “because at Alfa Romeo and Renault I didn’t really see him making a big impression.
“We know how incredibly successful he’s been with ART in the junior formulas, but I think Fred turned up there, let some of the pressure bounce off him and the team have moved forward through the year.
“Two great drivers obviously [Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz], huge amount of pressure, you’re carrying a country on your shoulders, not just a Formula 1 team when you’re at Ferrari and overall, I thought they were going towards the ascendancy as the year went on.”
Ferrari find themselves in another transitional period, with chief engineer David Sanchez having departed as he prepares to join McLaren, while their former race director Laurent Mekies is taking on the AlphaTauri team boss role.
Brundle’s Sky F1 colleague Naomi Schiff was therefore asked whether patience can be afforded at Ferrari for what Vasseur is putting together?
“I don’t think there’s very much patience there at the moment,” she replied. “I think that’s why they’ve made the amount of changes that they have.
“But as Martin says, it almost feels like they started too late, they ended the season where they sort of started it at the beginning of last year.
“The only team to take a victory besides Red Bull, so you’ve got to give them that.
“I heard that actually Fred Vasseur, it took him a while to remember where he had lunch. He was still going into the Alfa Romeo hospitality for lunch at the beginning of the year, because he’d been there for so long, so big adjustment.
“And what I’ve heard on the ground is that the race team absolutely love him and he’s been an integral part of bringing them all together and really lifting spirits, which I think was really hard at times.
“I mean, everyone has been questioning Ferrari in a lot of ways, strategy decisions made on the ground, and they seem to be coming back together as a unit. So I think he’s done a pretty good job for his first year.”
Leclerc and Sainz are expected to sign new contracts to keep them with Ferrari beyond F1 2024.