“We have decided for now to act without making too much noise, but soon you will know everything. We have already hired a figure that I consider a ‘top guy’ who will work on the 2025 car,” said Frederic Vasseur in recent weeks to some media outlets, regarding the recruitment campaign implemented by Scuderia Ferrari. Far from cameras and newspaper headlines, the former Sauber team principal is working – with the support of management – to strengthen the technical structure of the Maranello team.
Farewell to Laurent Mekies
The official statement, which Fred Vasseur himself defined as ‘aggressive,’ had put a limit on Laurent Mekies’ adventure at Scuderia Ferrari. His move to AlphaTauri is set for the 2024 Formula 1 championship, but an agreement still had to be reached regarding his departure from the Italian side.
The Ferrari Team Principal engaged in intense negotiations with his counterpart, Christian Horner, in an effort to obtain favorable conditions for the Maranello team. The intention has always been to bring engineers from Milton Keynes and reduce their gardening leave period and that of Laurent Mekies, in order to satisfy all parties involved.
The negotiations seem to have produced an agreement. According to the current plans, the race in Silverstone should be Laurent Mekies‘ last race alongside Frederic Vasseur on the pit wall. The Frenchman will be released in mid-July and will take on the role of Team Principal upon his return to Faenza after serving his six-month gardening leave. For several weeks now, the Frenchman has not been involved in future technical decisions and does not have access to the ‘sensitive’ areas of Maranello, as confirmed by F1 experts Giuliano Duchessa, Rosario Giuliana and Paolo D’Alessandro for formu1a.uno
In Austria, we also saw Diego Ioverno take his place at the pit wall, which has been expanded to accommodate 8 positions, also due to the Sprint format. Frederic Vasseur is still making internal changes and reorganizing to improve the operational efficiency of the team on the track, seeking to improve every possible aspect. Diego Ioverno was more involved during the last weekend, as he was the team representative in the two meetings with the FIA.
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At the beginning of the year, the technical group was “shaken” by the departure of David Sanchez, who joined McLaren. However, his departure was not unexpected, following that of Mattia Binotto, and it provided Frederic Vasseur with an opportunity to reorganize the Ferrari Racing Division while waiting to strengthen the group through external hires. New figures are arriving, some of whom were also part of the previous management (Mattia Binotto), but they are mostly young engineers from other teams who can contribute with their ideas, proposals, and different ways of thinking.
However, the key figures in the technical group are still the familiar ones who contributed to the development of Maranello’s recent cars. The Team Principal has given full powers to Enrico Cardile, who, despite not having an official appointment, is effectively the Technical Director of Ferrari. He and his most trusted team members are responsible for the crucial decisions regarding the 2023 and 2024 cars.
The updates in Barcelona and Austria are therefore very positive feedback for them, and they will need to confirm that the right path is still on track in the remaining races of 2023. Ferrari has already played its “cards” with these significant aerodynamic packages, but small additional updates are still expected throughout the 2023 Formula One season.
For the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, we will see the elements that complete what was originally planned as an update for Budapest, with adaptations to the Silverstone track—where fast corners will be the predominant feature. The engineers also have a new beam wing at their disposal, redesigned in shape, in case they want to install it.
The top-level working group in Maranello’s technical office consists of a total of seven people at the table, internally referred to as the “Magnificent Seven.” This is the group that convenes whenever there is an important technical decision to be made. Enrico Cardile is the main figure, accompanied by Enrico Gualtieri, who is the reference point for the Power Unit department, along with Thierry Baritaud, a French engineer who is also a key figure in the engine department (primarily the “electrical” and turbo parts). Fabio Montecchi, considered Enrico Cardile’s “right-hand man,” is the point of reference for the car on the track. He oversees the work at the factory and is present at Formula 1 events, while Cardile primarily operates from Maranello. Diego Tondi is responsible for aerodynamics, and Marco Adurno plays an important role in performance choices.
This group of engineers holds the technical matters of Ferrari in Formula 1, and Frederic Vasseur has given them full freedom, relying on them and not intending to overhaul the group indiscriminately. Each of them will have the opportunity and the responsibility to play their cards and demonstrate their value, being taken into consideration by the Team Principal in his efforts to rebuild and improve the technical group. The new figure referred to as the “top guy” by the Frenchman will integrate with important knowledge in a specific area that complements the current setup.