Ferrari along with Mercedes failed to live up to their ambitions during the 2022 Formula One season. Unlike Mercedes, Ferrari had an inherently fast car and probably the most powerful of the engines.
Despite claiming 12 of the 22 pole positions, a combination of poor reliability, driver errors and bizarre race strategies cost Maranello.
Ferrari hopes high for 2023
Yet with the replacement of the team principal, Mattio Binotto widely believed to be unliked, with Frenchman Frederic Vasseur, the Tifosi were optimistic for the coming season.
It has been widely reported that Ferrari deliberately built a fast but less reliable power unit for 2022 prior to the FIA freezing the various PU architectures for four years until the new F1 engine regulations kick in.
The theory is the team could fix a powerful but less reliable engine under the FIA’s provisions, but not make a slower but more reliable power unit faster.
LeClerc demands meeting with top Ferrari boss
It may of course prove to be a blip, but Charles Leclerc ironically suffered a power unit failure in the season opener in Bahrain. At the time the Monegasque was in a comfortable P3 though someway behind the two Red Bull cars.
However, it was the alarming deficit to Red Bull which La Gazzetta reports prompted an “evidently concerned” LeClerc to request a meeting with Ferrari president John Elkann. The Italian newspaper adds LeClerc sought “reassurance” that Ferrari will move forward from last year and in effect deliver to him a car capable of winning titles.
La Gazzetta claims “Bringing the team back to victories is a mission he will not easily give up on. However, following four seasons at Ferrari, even the boy wonder feels that time is running out.”
Vasseur “not pulling the strings”
Whilst not a direct threat the thought Ferrari are not ready to push on and produce a title winning car is “unacceptable” to LeClerc.
It sounds rather like an ultimatum however La Gazzetta couch LeClerc’s message to Elkann.
If the Italian media are to be believed, an unhappy Charles Leclerc is not even the most pressing matter facing Ferrari at present. New team boss Fred Vasseur is allegedly ‘fed up’ already as the organisational structure means he does not have complete control over the F1 team’s operation.
Vasseur criticised by Ferrari CEO
Instead, CEO Benedetto Vigna appears to be the one calling the shots and Vasseur has “little freedom” in his role and is effectively reporting to Vigna.
Other reports in Italy claim that the pair’s relationship has soured since Vigna questioned why Vasseur flew to the Bahrain test with his friend and Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.
Vasseur was also apparently blocked from bringing an unnamed new sponsor onboard at Ferrari and this power struggle at the top in Maranello is having the expected result of unrest within the team.
McLaren line up a number of Ferrari engineers
The recent news that long standing Ferrari engineer David Sanchez is leaving the team is apparently the tip of the iceberg. A number of other key personnel are believed to be soon following Sanchez linked with a move to McLaren.
Sanchez’ former Ferrari colleague Andrea Stella now heads up the Woking team who are in desperate need of beefing up their technical personnel division. It could be the unrest at Ferrari will ultimately provide McLaren and Stella with easy pickings.
Other longstanding Ferrari personnel leaving Maranello are said to include Gino Rosato and Jonathan Giacobazzi along with the recently demoted head of strategy, Inaki Rueda.
F1 try to poach Ferrari race director
However the big news on Ferrari personnel comes from Corriere della Sera which claims the team’s race director Laurent Mekies could also be set to bid the team farewell.
It claims Vasseur vetoed a deal for Mekies to move to work alongside ex-Ferrari boss and F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali.
Another senior Ferrari team member’s future is also in question. Enrico Cardile, Ferrari’s aerodynamics chief, who is taking on the role of technical director, has refused an extension to his current contract which runs until next year.
One nugget of positive news for Ferrari is the expected return of Simone Resta, currently Haas’ technical director. Resta did not see eye to eye with Binotto which was apparently why he left Ferrari back in 2021.
‘Proud’ Ferrari culture unchanged
All in all the Italian media are painting a bleak picture of intra Ferrari politics and one which surely is making Charles Leclerc question whether after four long years with the Red team they will ever be capable of delivering him with a championship winning car.
Yet the age old culture of ‘proud’ Ferrari’ appears to have changed little given the rather petty criticism of Vasseur taking a lift with Toto to the Bahrain test.