After last year’s woes, new Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur says there will be “small adjustments” this season when it comes to strategy.
From sending Charles Leclerc out on wet tyres in a dry qualifying session to putting hard tyres on during a race when the rest of the field was clearly struggling to get any pace out of them, Ferrari cost themselves a lot of points last season.
Those were points that all too often went the way of Red Bull and Max Verstappen, the Dutchman having one hand on the trophy as Formula 1 entered its summer break.
He wrapped it up with four races to spare, Leclerc having to settle for a distant second place.
That cost team boss Mattia Binotto his job, the Italian handing in his resignation with many fans and pundits wondering if Ferrari’s strategists would be following him out of the door.
They didn’t, with Binotto’s replacement, Vasseur, declaring in his first media briefing that it would be “arrogant from my side to take action on the technical organisation after two weeks.”
But, he warned, “it will be time, after a couple of weeks or months, to take action if it’s not working.”
The Frenchman is still standing by his belief in Ferrari’s strategists, telling the media at the launch of the SF-23 that their decisions are more than just one person pushing a button.
But while he continues to keep faith, he says there will be a few “small adjustments” made before F1 goes racing in Bahrain next month.
“Yes, we’ll make some small adjustments,” Vasseur said as per Motorsport.com
“But what I said last time is that you see just the visible part of the iceberg. And when you spoke about strategy, you were speaking about strategist, and strategy.
“It’s not just one person pushing on a button. It’s software, it’s the team at the factory, and it’s also process on the pit wall. And so it’s a complete picture rather than about one person.”
One word removed from the rules could make Ferrari SF-23’s slot gap separators legal
The Ferrari SF-23, ‘a single-seater that will be unprecedented in terms of speed’
Carlos Sainz shares unusual Charles Leclerc nickname in hilarious radio exchange
Ferrari racing director Laurent Mekies added that Ferrari had conducted a “very, very extensive review of 2022” to look at “where we have been lacking, because there is no need to hide.
“We have learned some of the things last year in the hard way, so of course we had this 360-degree review,” he added.
“What it means for us is that we are concentrating on giving our people the best platform to express themselves.
“We have been reviewing our processes, we have been reviewing the way we are working, in order to ensure each individual can express themselves at best individually and of course collectively.”
Fred Vasseur cannot follow Mattia Binotto’s example
The one thing Fred Vasseur cannot do this season is follow former team boss Mattia Binotto’s example.
Last season Binotto shouldered the blame when his strategists got it wrong, and ultimately he was the one who paid the price as he tendered his resignation at the end of the year with Ferrari having become the brunt of many a joke.
As former F1 driver Karun Chandhok explained: “From what I understand he tried very, very hard to create a no-blame culture. The old school Ferrari thing ‘right you got this wrong, you’re off’ on a Monday, he wanted to get away from that culture and get people to work without the fear of losing their jobs.
“Which is fine but you’ve still got to hold them accountable when they don’t do their chore properly.”
Binotto didn’t, and he was the one who found himself without a job while Vasseur inherited his Ferrari strategists. And all the problems that come with them.
While nobody wants to operate under a blame culture where one mistake costs them their job, when the errors start wracking up, there have to be consequences.
Vasseur needs to be stern enough to follow through on that or he’ll soon be joining Binotto in the unemployment line.