Scuderia Ferrari Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc has commended the work done by Frederic Vasseur in the first half of the season at the Maranello team, while also making subtle jabs at the previous Mattia Binotto-led management, which left lingering effects after their separation at the end of the 2022 Formula 1 championship. The famous gesture of Mattia Binotto, the former team principal, towards Leclerc after the Silverstone race is still fresh in everyone’s memory, while Fred Vasseur has managed to keep the team together despite a disappointing 2023.
Charles Leclerc praises Fred Vasseur and indirectly criticizes Mattia Binotto: The old Ferrari management still lingers
“Fred has known me for a very long time,” Charles Leclerc stated to The Race. “So, in a way, there were no surprises because I knew exactly what to expect when Fred arrived. And I knew how good he is.”
“Everyone is different. With Fred, there has always been a special connection, both in the past and now. He’s very good at motivating you when needed and calming you when necessary. And he has always been very direct with me.”
If Charles Leclerc has fulfilled his dream of racing for Ferrari, he largely owes it to Frederic Vasseur, who believed in him from the beginning, launching him into Formula 1 in 2018 with Alfa Romeo.
The young Monegasque driver had just won the Formula 2 championship after clinching the Formula 3 title the previous year. This remarkable achievement propelled him quickly into the top category, leading him to Maranello in 2019 after a year of “apprenticeship” in Hinwil.
After praising the French manager, Charles Leclerc made an implicit but perhaps not-so-subtle dig at the former Mattia Binotto-led management: “That’s exactly what I need. Someone who scolds me when I’m not performing well and someone who tells me when I’m doing well. It seems like a straightforward thing, but when you arrive in Formula 1 and you’re a Ferrari driver, there aren’t many people as honest, and it’s hard to find people like that. This has been of great help to me.”
The substantial difference between Mattia Binotto and Fred Vasseur is that the former had more of an “engineer’s” approach to racing, as he also served as technical director for four years. In contrast, the Frenchman is a true motorsport figure with a decade of successful experience as a team principal, even in the lower categories.
Charles Leclerc assesses Fred Vasseur’s contributions in the early months at Ferrari
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“Commenting on the first few months was very challenging because it’s such a large team that it takes a bit of time to get used to all the people, to understand how Ferrari works because it’s very different from any other team. But as soon as he got comfortable with the team, it went very well. As I’ve said many times, I believe Fred’s greatest strength is bringing out the best in everyone at the factory. And when I say everyone, I mean everyone.” – the Monegasque pointed out.
“This truly makes a difference. In a Formula 1 team, there are many, many of us. When you are as skilled as Fred in bringing out the best in every single person, this makes a big difference. Of course, at the beginning of the year, he had a car that was a bit tricky to handle. It takes time to get back to the top. But I have no doubt that we will get there with Fred,” concluded the Scuderia Ferrari driver.
Despite a disappointing 2023 Formula 1 season that fell short of expectations, it would be unfair to blame the French manager, who arrived at Ferrari with the SF23 project already in motion under Mattia Binotto’s leadership. The next season will be the first major project led by Fred Vasseur, and it certainly won’t be without criticism, should there be a reason for it.