Rome wasn’t built in a day. Let alone with the Ferrari F1 team, which, in some ways, operates with internal dynamics that seem more complex than those of the imperial age. Yes, these are nice words, you might say. “Ferrari hasn’t won a Drivers’ Championship since 2007 and a Constructors’ Championship since the following year, patience has run out!” That’s what the Tifosi, who have every right to complain, would shout – let’s remove the conditional.
But, speaking in proverbs again, this time modified, one could say that the wise man looks at the moon while the fan looks at the finger. It is legitimate and even necessary to question and observe other objectives. If over three decades the Maranello team has been unable to “sweep clean,” there must be a problem that goes beyond the responsibilities of the individual heads of the Ferrari Racing Division who have succeeded each other in this specific timeframe.
Five are the leaders who have followed one another since 2008: Stefano Domenicali, Marco Mattiacci (lasting as long as a butterfly’s flight), Maurizio Arrivabene, Mattia Binotto, and Frédéric Vasseur. All of them, to varying degrees, have encountered difficulties that often resulted in failure. A constant disappointment that perhaps explains how the context influences the work more than the operator affects the whole.
Ferrari: the heavy burden inherited by Fred Vasseur
The good Fred left Switzerland and enthusiastically embarked on a new professional path. It is a fascinating challenge that conceals pitfalls that perhaps were not well calculated during negotiations and subsequent signings. The manager from France has inherited an enormous pressure that is associated with the frenzy of an environment that yearns for victory more than anything else.
Ferrari, potentially, has everything to win: money, competence, passion. Patience is the only thing lacking. Can you believe it? The desire to do things quickly (remember the Italian Proverb: the hasty cat gave birth to blind kittens) is the condemnation that nails down the sporting executives who have taken the reins of the Prancing Horse.
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The first months for the former Sauber team have not been a walk in the park. The restructuring of the Scuderia is currently underway, and the performance of the SF-23 is below even the darkest expectations, as it was supposed to be the car for the comeback after a 2022 Formula One season in which, at one point, the development of the F1-75 was halted to fully focus on the 2023 project, aiming to beat Red Bull. However, it is struggling even against the Aston Martin AMR23 and the Mercedes W14, which doesn’t seem to be a lightning-fast machine.
Hence, the general dissatisfaction with poor Frederic Vasseur, who has already been put on trial despite taking over his office in January, practically yesterday, and finding a very chaotic situation. The already difficult situation he has to face is further exacerbated by what happened last Sunday, in a world as distant as it is close to that of Formula 1.
Ferrari: Is the victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans a problem for the F1 Division?
The reference is to the victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. A historic result that, as often happens, has been followed by too many accusations that have cast a shadow on a resounding success in terms of timing and scope. The great work done by Antonello Coletta, GT Sporting Activities Manager of the Maranello team, and all the members of his staff has been the fuse to ignite an explosive device within the Formula 1 Division. An explosion that did not actually happen but is described as possible by a cannibalistic Italian press that would like to devour Fred Vasseur to see him replaced by Antonello Coletta himself.
The Roman manager is riding high, but he has been working for Ferrari for over 20 years, holding various positions. According to certain commentators, the victory in the classic endurance race has brought Antonello Coletta’s candidacy to the forefront of the Ferrari Racing Division. The 56-year-old Italian engineer, who holds a degree in Economics and Commerce, could potentially be redirected from the WEC program to Formula 1 by the Ferrari management, from Benedetto Vigna to John Elkann. However, not initially to replace Frederic Vasseur, but to assist him in a dual leadership role that would pave the way for a single empire if Maranello fails to bring home a world championship title by 2025.
This scenario is entirely plausible but currently difficult to achieve. Fred Vasseur needs time, even more so than trust. The top figures at the Italian team were aware that the task facing the Frenchman was of colossal proportions. Putting this type of pressure on him would not make sense, as it could risk interrupting a path that has just begun and, even more seriously, it could undermine the WEC program that is starting to achieve success.
What sense would it make to deprive the Piacenza branch of AF Corse of its manager just as it is taking off? What sporting benefit would there be in reducing Fred Vasseur’s powers within Ferrari F1 through power sharing? What needs to change is a management mindset, and that takes time. The risk is to rush things, to place Antonello Coletta in charge of operations only to see him fail like his predecessors, as reported by F1 expert Diego Catalano for FUnoanalisitecnica.
One can already imagine the media chaos: “An economist managing motorsport! He’s not ready!” And the accusations, insults, toxic controversies, and absurd solutions to deep-rooted problems that perhaps do not concern the men at the helm, but rather the boat that has a few leaks here and there.