Romain Grosjean backs Ferrari for title challenge with Fred Vasseur in charge

Sam Cooper
Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur is interviewed. Sao Paulo November 2021.

Frederic Vasseur wears headphones as he is interviewed by the media ahead of the race. Interlagos November 2021.

Romain Grosjean has backed his former boss Fred Vasseur to succeed after the Frenchman was unveiled as the new boss of Ferrari.

Vasseur is set to succeed Mattia Binotto after the latter announced his decision to resign at the end of the year following a tumultuous 2022 season that saw the Italian constructor lose out on both Championships to Red Bull.

Given the pressure that is put on a Ferrari team boss, the position is arguably the hardest for anyone to fill in Formula 1 but in Vasseur, Ferrari at least have an experienced team leader with the Frenchman having been in charge at Sauber since 2017 and before that, he spent a single season as boss of Renault.

Back before his time in Formula 1, Vasseur founded the ASM team which competed in the Formula 3 Euro Series and it was there he met the fresh-faced Grosjean.

Grosjean won the Championship in 2007 and 15 years on from his victory, he has backed his former boss to succeed at Ferrari.

“Ferrari is a huge challenge for anyone,” Grosjean told Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“But I am convinced that Fred is up to the task. He is close friends with Charles Leclerc, which should help the atmosphere, and he also knows Carlos Sainz very well.

“Ferrari had a very good car in 2022. Unfortunately, the team leadership was not so good.

“I believe that Ferrari can have a say in the title next season.”

Grosjean also described Vasseur as a “born competitor” and said he had never met a team boss who had such a good feel of what a driver needs.

“I won Formula 3 for Fred’s team in 2007,” Grosjean said. “He’s a born competitor who understands motorsport through and through.

“I’ve actually never met a team boss who has so much technical understanding and a very good feel for what a driver needs. Sometimes it was almost as if he were a driver himself.”

Reinvigorating Charles Leclerc must be at the top of Fred Vasseur’s Ferrari agenda

There were times during the 2022 season when it looked as if all life had been sucked out of Charles Leclerc. Disappointment after disappointment meant for a crushing campaign even if it was his most successful to date.

A season like that is bound to play on the psyche of any driver, regardless of how mentally tough they are, and one of Vasseur’s first duties in his new role must be to reinvigorate his former driver.

To start, he needs to remove some of the unnecessary pressure that is placed on Leclerc’s shoulders. What makes Max Verstappen and Red Bull’s partnership so strong is they leave the Dutchman to the driving and the team takes care of the race. Meanwhile, Leclerc is being asked to be chief strategist all while travelling at 200mph.

Also hailing from a place like Monaco and driving for Ferrari brings its own added pressures so Leclerc hardly needs any more weight on his back.

The easiest way to encourage Leclerc will be to deliver him a car he believes in so from now until pre-season testing, Vasseur must ensure that everything is being done to make the F1-75’s successor the best it can be.

Vasseur and Leclerc’s relationship is reported to be very strong owing to their time at Sauber and if Ferrari are hopeful for success in the coming seasons, this relationship may just prove to be the most important of all.

Read more: Helmut Marko – Ferrari now weaker after Binotto replaced by Vasseur