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Nine things you need to know about Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz won the Australian Grand Prix after Max Verstappen suffered an issue with his brakes overheating.

This stunning victory is the second for Ferrari’s team principal Frederic Vasseur, having been in this role for the Italian team since 2023.

The 55-year-old Frenchman has had a long career in motorsport, managing many racing teams such as Alfa Romeo and ART Grand Prix.

When Lewis Hamilton announced his shock move to Ferrari for the 2025 F1 season, Vasseur made the biggest driver transfer in recent years.

Here, Planet Sport’s Ayla Vaughan picks out nine things you need to know about the French team principal for Scuderia Ferrari.

Vasseur is currently the team principal of Ferrari

Vasseur took over as team principal and general manager for Scuderia Ferrari in 2023, replacing the Italian Mattia Binotto. 

The scarlet team started out as the main contender for the drivers and constructors championships in 2022, but strategy errors and mechanical issues were their downfall, meaning Binotto was fired.

Vasseur has seemed to settle down into the highest pressure leadership position in F1, with a new direction for the team. 

Arguably, being from France instead of Italy was an advantage as under the first French team principal's (Jean Todt) leadership, “Michael Schumacher won five consecutive World Drivers' Championships, from 2000 to 2004, and 72 of his 91 victories” according to Wikipedia.

Italy has seemed to welcome Vasseur with Ferrari CEO Benedetto Vigna saying “throughout his career he has successfully combined his technical strengths as a trained engineer with a consistent ability to bring out the best in his drivers and teams”.

He added: “This approach and his leadership are what we need to push Ferrari forward with renewed energy,” according to Formula 1.

The Frenchman has had to manage a great driver pairing of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, making tough decisions when needed. 

In his time at the team so far, they have achieved two wins and 13 podiums. 

The Italian team is currently second in the constructors championship, just four points behind Red Bull after a 1-2 finish in Australia.

The formation of the ASM team

In 1996, Vasseur formed the ASM team which competed in Formula 3. He ran the team up until 2015 in partnership with Renault, as well as later on with Mercedes. 

He won “various titles including the French one in 1998 with David Saelens at the wheel, going on to win the European title four times between 2004 and 2007, with Jamie Green, Lewis Hamilton, Paul Di Resta and Romain Grosjean,” according to his biography from Ferrari.

Over the years, Vasseur has learned all about how to be the best team principal, from managing drivers to running a competitive racing team. These skills have developed and improved since the start of his racing career.

The invention of ART Grand Prix

In 2004, Vasseur joined Nicolas Todt to create the ART Grand Prix team, his second team. Todt is the son of former Ferrari F1 team principal Jean Todt. In his own right, he currently manages Ferrari F1 driver Charles Leclerc, as well as formerly managing Felipe Massa.

They won the GP2 Series championship with Nico Rosberg in 2005 and Lewis Hamilton in 2006, future team-mates and world champions for Mercedes in F1. 

According to his biography from Ferrari, ART Grand Prix won “eight teams’ championships across GP2 and GP3 [former iteration of F2 and F3] and eleven drivers’ titles including clinching the 2016 GP3 crown with Charles Leclerc”. 

Vasseur created a championship-winning team in the junior racing categories, and his success is carried on today by team principal Sebastien Philippe. 

The French team nurtured talented drivers who now race in F1, Formula E, Indycar and more. 

His legacy is still felt to this day as the team races in F2 and F3 this year.

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The creation of Spark Racing Technology

In 2012, “Along came Spark Racing Technology, dealing in the design and manufacture of hybrid and electrical systems. The company secured the contract to supply Formula E chassis … in 2014,” according to his biography from Ferrari

Vasseur was now a part of a new business venture, seeming to be eager to be a part of electric racing.

This shows the experience Vasseur has, dipping his toes into different types of motorsports. 

The company builds all 22 Formula E cars as Formula E is a spec racing series which means every driver races with the exact same car and the only modifications they can do is in the set-up and which engine they choose to supply.

“In 2019, Spark was confirmed as the official car provider for the new Extreme E series,” according to Wikipedia. Their website says they “will also provide race assistance and spare parts for Extreme E”. 

This company has set up Vasseur for the future if he chooses to participate further in electric racing.

Vasseur’s introduction to F1 for Renault

Vasseur “first appeared in the Formula 1 paddock in 2016 as Renault Team Principal,” according to his biography from Ferrari. Despite his short stint at the team, he learned the inner workings of the F1 paddock. This step up from leading a team in the junior categories was likely noticeable for Vasseur with more people (both in the team and fans) and media attention.

Vasseur “resigned at the end of the 2016 season after disagreements with the managing director, Cyril Abiteboul, on how the team should be run,” according to Wikipedia

Renault was particularly struggling at this time on and off track, so Vasseur was arguably a victim of the ever-changing atmosphere.

His beginnings at Sauber

Vasseur became the Managing Director of the Sauber Group, as well as team principal in July 2017. He took control of the team midway through the F1 season, succeeding the first ever female F1 team principal Monisha Kaltenborn.

The drivers for Sauber that year were the Swede Marcus Ericsson, German Pascal Wehrlein and Italian Antonio Giovinazzi (who filled in for Wehrlein at the first two races after an injury). 

Despite none of these drivers currently driving in F1, they have found great success in other racing series. Ericsson is the 2022 Indy 500 winner, Wehrlein was a title contender in Formula E in 2023 and Giovinazzi is the 2023 Le Mans winner for Ferrari.

Having such a talented group of drivers, however, did not help save the team’s performance in 2017 as they finished last in the constructors championship with just five points. 

Vasseur had a big challenge ahead of him, but luckily he could only go up.

READ MORE: Four takeaways from the 2024 Australian GP: Sizzling Sainz, misery for Mercedes

Alfa Romeo role

Alfa Romeo joined with Sauber in 2018 as a title sponsor, which lasted up to the 2023 F1 season. 

Vasseur was in his highest leadership position at the time, managing the Swiss team full time, and he spent six years there. 

He now was responsible for a massive organisation at the highest level of motorsport with hundreds of employees depending on him.

The drivers that raced for the team at his time there are Charles Leclerc, Marcus Ericsson, Kimi Raikkonen, Antonio Giovinazzi, Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu. Many of these drivers drove for Ferrari and were a part of their academy. This pattern makes sense as they use a Ferrari engine, as well as other parts.

Vasseur “led Alfa Romeo to sixth in the constructors’ championship this year [2022], in what was the team’s best finish for a decade” according to Formula 1

Lawrence Barretto, a journalist for F1, wrote “it was important to him to leave Sauber on good terms, having not only built a strong relationship with chairman Finn Rausing but also become a boss his staff enjoyed working for” in the same article for Formula 1.

The Frenchman’s good reputation was a reason why “they [Sauber] chose not to stand in his way, given how big the Ferrari job is, and thus terms were quickly agreed,” according to Formula 1. There had been rumours since 2021 that Vasseur was the man for the job, but the Tifosi would have to wait until 2023. 

Ferrari’s 2025 line-up of Leclerc and Hamilton

Vasseur has previously worked with Leclerc and Hamilton in junior racing series, with Leclerc in GP3 and Hamilton in F3 and GP2. Both drivers have grown and improved massively since Vasseur first met them, so it will be interesting to see how he manages two top tier drivers.

However, some Tifosi are confused as to why Hamilton is replacing Carlos Sainz, considering he has won two races for the team under Vasseur’s leadership. 

Vasseur will have to manage the seven-time world champion alongside Ferrari’s ‘il Predestinato’, a nickname given to Leclerc meaning ‘The Predestined’, which will likely prove to be challenging.  

Only the future will tell as to whether Vasseur’s choice to have Hamilton drive for the historic Italian team works well or not. 

Vasseur’s life outside of racing

Not much is known about his personal life except that he has been married since 1999 and has four children. When he became the team principal for Ferrari, he moved to Italy and is learning Italian to connect with the team. 

Fans can see more of his personality in interviews and social media content released on race weekends. 

He is seen as a funny and cheerful man, not taking himself too seriously in front of the media. 

Some notable moments are a water gun fight he had with Bottas and Zhou and an interview in Australia where a bird wanted to be in his interview.

Check out Planet Sport Bet’s markets for the 2024 Formula 1 season here.

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