Ferrari’s new team boss, Fred Vasseur, has reassured his strategy team that there will be no drain, but that could change in a “couple of weeks or months” if it doesn’t go well.
Ferrari’s strategists, led by director of strategy Iñaki Rueda, were the butt of many jokes last season for making one mistake after another.
Following a call to send Charles Leclerc on wet tires to a dry Interlagos circuit, former F1 driver turned pundit Damon Hill said: ‘They’re probably thinking, part of them think negatively, ‘what are we going to do wrong? today?'”
Meanwhile Ralf Schumacher has dubbed Ferrari’s ‘B team or C team’ Red Bull, such was the hand Ferrari were giving Max Verstappen as he hurtled towards the world title.
Ultimately it was team boss Mattia Binotto who paid the price for Ferrari’s mistakes, the Italian resigning in the wake of the final checkered flag of the season.
A few weeks later Ferrari announced Vasseur as their new team boss, but it seems that will be the only change ahead of the new season.
The former Alfa Romeo team boss has vowed not to make radical changes, adamant he “trusts” Ferrari’s strategic team to shrug off last season’s woes and up his game.
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“Very often when you talk about strategy, you only see the visible part of the iceberg,” The Race said in its first media briefing of the year.
“Strategy is not just a question of who is at the top of the iceberg.
“I am the apex of organization, of communication, the flow of communication on the low wall.
“We are in the process of reviewing everything. It’s a bit short notice for me, but we’ll have to make some improvements.
“It would be arrogant of me to intervene on the technical organization after two weeks.
“We have discussions to try to understand how we could improve the system, what could be the weak point of the system and to try to do a better job.
“But it’s more of a continuous improvement. Big changes from my point of view would make no sense.
“I trust the guys on site. I will try to do the best for them too and put them in the best conditions to do the job.
“Then it will be time, after a couple of weeks or months, to take action if it doesn’t work.
“But I trust them.”
Asked if he had identified potential problems within Ferrari’s strategic system, he replied: “Right now we are discussing this, the organisation,
“But when you talk about strategy, aerodynamics or anything else, you have to avoid focusing only on the top of the pyramid.
“Very often on the pit wall the biggest problem is more the communication and the number of people involved than the single individuals.
“You just have to have a clear flow of communication between the good people in the right positions for sure. But this is a work in progress.”
Fred Vasseur has to wield the axe
While Vasseur is right that he can’t play the blame game for last season’s mistakes, this year he can — and must.
In the past, Ferrari rushed to throw the book at anyone who got it wrong, creating a culture of fear. But now it seems that they have made a 180 and instead there is one of zero consequences.
Vasseur has to change it, if you don’t do the job, you’re out.
Ferrari cannot afford another season of being the laughing stock of the paddock, as the consequence could be the loss of star player Charles Leclerc.
If Ferrari doesn’t give him a chance to win this year’s title, and especially if they don’t because they went from one race weekend to the next making silly mistakes, the Monegasque driver will start considering his options.
And it has already been hinted that he is first in line to replace Lewis Hamilton when the Briton retires from Mercedes.