The appointment of Frédéric Vasseur as the head of the Scuderia’s Sporting Management was officially ratified this time last year. The Frenchman took over his offices at the beginning of January, finding a desk full of tasks to handle and a Ferrari that emerged battered from a season closed with a sharp brake, given that the previous management, entrusted to Mattia Binotto, had decided to freeze the development of the F1-75 and postpone the final solution to the reliability puzzle to the following year.
With these burdens, along with the pressure from a management that had raised expectations beyond permissible limits, the former Sauber had to initiate an ongoing restructuring that could not have immediate effects. The technical-sporting season of the Reds in 2023 is the perfect synthesis of a team still traversing the painful and necessary path of restructuring.
One of the first areas that the French manager addressed was the strategic one. A loyalist of Mattia Binotto, Inaki Rueda was demoted and moved to the remote garage in Maranello, effectively losing powers and that final say in tactical choices, now belonging to Ravin Jain, the man of providence who, unfortunately, did not bring about the desired change of pace.
An almost immaterial figure, seen in action at the pit wall but whose voice was rarely heard, even when certain choices required explanations, the burden of which Fred Vasseur took on, just as it was with the old team principal, operating as a lightning rod, covering others’ responsibilities: an evident line of continuity.
Ferrari: Ravin Jain speaks
The long period of silence from Jain – imposed from above, let it be clear – were interrupted by a social video message in which the British engineer of Indian origin gave an overview of the season that ended three weeks ago. Below is the transcript of his impressions.
Show your support for Scuderia Ferrari with official merchandise collection! Click here to enter the F1 online Store and shop securely! And also get your F1 tickets for every race with VIP hospitality and unparalleled insider access. Click here for the best offers to support Charles and Carlos from the track!
“We are in Maranello – Jain began, in close-up in the standard red uniform – and we are already looking at the 2024 Formula 1 season. The factory is already working hard to prepare for the next year. Looking at the past season, we can say that it was a year of missed opportunities, of ups and downs. We started in Bahrain with a DNF for Charles, but soon we recovered with Leclerc’s pole position in Baku, also with the final podium.”
“This led us to a sequence of positive results, especially in the Sprint events with podiums not only in Baku but also in Austria, Spa, and Austin. After the summer break, we got a pole position and a podium in our home race at Monza, with Carlos Sainz. We were able to win the only race outside of Red Bull, always with Carlos, in Singapore. A tough race where we managed against Mercedes until the last lap. That was the high point of our season.”
“In the final part of the championship, eight races were held in eleven weeks, going from the Far East to America and ending in the desert of Abu Dhabi, where we fought until the last lap for second place in the constructors’ standings.”
A social message without flair, leaving a sense of content emptiness, a bitter trend typical of the era of rapid, one-way communication without contradiction. A video for which, honestly, there was no need, considering that good Ravin had practically not uttered a word for an entire season, only to then put his face on it, delivering a chilly and superficial chronicle in which dynamics that needed more in-depth analysis were scattered in a confusing manner.
Because not everything worked in the team’s tactical management, and not mentioning it does not hide the problems that Frédéric Vasseur is still working on with his staff. The reshaping of operational roles has not produced tangible effects. The predictive models from Maranello need to be improved beyond the man leading the strategic department.
The Ferrari pit wall continues to be the weak link in the partnership (remember the disastrous tactics used with Charles Leclerc in Austin), and the interventions made in winter on key personnel have not reversed the course. Ravin Jain has not brought about the desired change: what happened with Inaki Rueda is still happening. The only difference – and this fuels hopes – is that today there are no justifications from those managing the team.
Ferrari: poor communication
Returning to a video of questionable utility, the prevailing feeling is that an opportunity has been missed. Wouldn’t it have been better to focus on the topics, analyze them, and, in a great transparency operation, explain where the decision-making short circuit occurred?
Furthermore, wouldn’t it have been more useful, for the sake of correct information, to account, even without going into details, for the strategies implemented to limit defects that in 2023 have limited a momentum already widely mortified by a car, the SF-23, that certainly won’t go down in history?
This missed act does not imply any macro concept or news. It simply emphasizes that an opportunity has been missed to shed light on some perfectible dynamics in the sporting management of the Maranello team.
That the communication department of Ferrari is not experiencing happy days can also be deduced from the lack of a farewell message for the death of Alberto Antonini, who managed the team’s media department for several years. Perhaps Frederic Vasseur should also take care of this department, which today assumes great relevance.