Tasked with leading Ferrari out of their Formula 1 title drought dating back a decade and a half, Frederic Vasseur believes the magnitude of the sport today is such that one man cannot revolutionise a team.
Racing veteran Vasseur, Ferrari’s 23rd-team principal, discussed with Racecar Engineering how F1 teams have evolved since he began his motorsport journey last century.
The 54-year-old Frenchman said: “The weight of teamwork is much more important than the weight of individuals nowadays, much more so than it was just a few years ago. It is more a matter of team achievement because the large size of the teams requires more coordination within the departments.
“A single person’s influence is less, but that isn’t to say they are less critical because they are now more specialised than ever. Formula 1 is evolving in a way that responds better to specialists than individuals with an overview of a particular subject.
“However, with that, there has been the requirement to more effectively coordinate those specialists who previously would be able to do much more than they do now. This dramatically changes the structure of the teams and the output from that in terms of the rate of development.
“Another influence is that teams have a new generation coming into Formula 1, and this talent has an entirely new point of view. They respect different technologies and physics in various ways to the previous generation.
“It is, therefore, essential to have management with a lot of experience to do this coordination as effectively as possible without letting too many points of view interfere with each other.”
Vasseur: The contribution of drivers is mega
Important too, on Vasseur’s agenda, are the drivers, in Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz he has two highly competitive, extremely fast individuals who have both proven they can win races, but still have not found a way to the title.
Asked of the importance of drivers’ input, Vasseur said: “The contribution is mega. The first part of their contribution is at the track, keeping consistent and pushing the car to its limit, as well as the race craft regarding wheel-to-wheel battles and making progress in every stint.
“The second part is to understand the physics at play and to work with the engineers to exploit the car’s potential under development.
“The third element is personal, which is maintaining their desire to keep pushing themselves and motivating the team to keep pushing and exploiting all the hard work that goes into producing the car and running the car at the track. This is not trivial,” explained Vasseur.
The Frenchman and Leclerc go back a long way in a mentor-protege kind of way, Vasseur rates highly the driver he helped Ferrari develop not only in F1 but also the crucial rookie year when he drove for Afa Romeo.
Reunited for a second chapter, much is expected of what they can produce, while Sainz is sure to plug and pay to impress the new boss with whom he has not been so close to as his teammate.