Frederic Vasseur has the same monumental task that has faced every Manchester United manager since the departure of Sir Alex Fergusson. He is running the most famous and historic team in Formula One which is long overdue success in terms of titles.
Despite failing to win a championship for 14 years, Ferrari are still the most successful constructor in the history of Formula One with their 16 titles and the pressure from the fanatical Italian fans is a constant year after year.
Frederic Vasseur aims high
Frederic Vasseur wants to be the first Ferrari team principal since Stefano Dominicali in 2008 to the see the Red Team at the top of the tables. He claims Ferrari has “a goal” to win both F1 titles this season.
To do this he has to ring the changes, because as the old adage goes, if you keep doing the same things – you get the same results.
Even the most casual F1 observer would probably suggest Ferrari’s most glaring problems in 2022 were due to poor pit lane strategy.
Ferrari 2022 strategy a comedy of errors
There was the failure to recognise the moment to switch from extreme wets in Monaco, leaving their lead driver out on old rubber during a late safety car at Silverstone to the gamble on hard tyres nobody was running in Hungary – the mistakes just kept on coming.
Carlos Sainz learned early in the season at times he needed to take control of his own strategy as in Monaco he realised the opportunity to switch from extreme wets to intermediates had passed.
The Spaniard remained on the wet tyre until the track was ready for dry tyres and this caused him to lead ahead of once race leader Charles LeClerc who had tried the intermediate too late and been overtaken by the Red Bull pair.
No changes imminent at Ferrari
However, despite the comedy of errors that was the Ferrari pit wall and strategy room, the new team boss is adopting a similar ‘wait and see’ attitude that came to define his predecessor.
Speaking at a media event this week Vasseur explained his thinking.
”When you are speaking about strategy or aerodynamics or another topic, you have to avoid being just focused on the top of the pyramid.”
“Very often, when you are speaking about strategy, it’s much more a matter of organisation than just the guy who is on the pitwall.
Vasseur looking under every stone
The Ferrari boss goes on to make a surprising claim about understanding the past seasons mistakes.
“I’m trying to understand exactly what’s happened on every single mistake and what’s happened last year. And to try to know if it’s a matter of decision, if it’s a matter of organisation, or of communication?”
F1 pundits and fans alike could clearly see and hear at times the debates over strategy were too lengthy, convoluted and also too public.
“Very often on the pit wall, the biggest issue is more the communication and the number of people involved than the individuals,” Vasseur adds.
“If you put too many people discussing about the same things, when you will have the outcome of the discussion, the car will be on the next lap.
“You just need to have a clear flow of discussion and clear flow of communication between the good people at the right position for sure. But it’s a work in progress.”
‘Wait and see’ approach similar to Binotto
Frederic Vasseur is adopting a wait and see strategy to any revision he eventually decides to make to personnel or organisational structure.
“It will be arrogant on my side to take action on the technical organisation after two weeks,” he said. “We have discussions to try to understand how we could improve the system, what could be the weakness of the system and try to do a better job.
The Ferrari boss’s conclusion could have been spoken by his predecessor, Mattia Binotto.
“It’s more a continuous improvement than a big step or big changes that, from my point of view, wouldn’t make sense.
“I trust the guys in place, and that I will try to do the best for them also, to put them in the best condition to do the job. It will be time after a couple of weeks or months to take action if it’s not working. But I trust them.”
Ferrari driver engineers need more say
Vasseur is clearly buying himself time before making changes which are plainly long overdue in terms of the Ferrari strategy team.
It maybe the input from the engineers is now being given sufficient weight and the team of three strategists are ruling the roost.
So in terms of entertainment value, Ferrari may have more to deliver in terms of not so ‘coded’ pit wall messages between the driver and his engineer over pit stop strategy.
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