Fred Vasseur on Toto Wolff and Christian Horner feuding: ‘I’ll never play that game’
Fred Vasseur has distanced himself from Christian Horner and Toto Wolff’s bitter feud, the Ferrari chief insisting he won’t indulge their “game”.
The Frenchman has enough on his plate already, having sunk into F1’s hottest hot-seat in early January. Vasseur has been appointed to bring more race wins and fix a variety of issues at Ferrari. The pressure is on.
As part of Formula 1’s current so-called Big Three, Ferrari will inevitably go head-to-head with Mercedes and Red Bull this season and if the 2021 title battle is anything to go by, there is potential for things to turn nasty.
That Championship showdown between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton is certainly still fresh in the minds at Red Bull and Mercedes, whose team principals have butted-heads relentlessly in print and behind the scenes.
Netflix’s newly released Drive To Survive season brought another clash between Wolff and Horner to light, arguing over porpoising last season. Vasseur, then Alfa Romeo’s principal, and his Ferrari predecessor Mattia Binotto were present at that meeting – the latter attempting to challenge Wolff before being shouted down.
The Italian tried to stay out of Wolff and Horner’s line of fire where possible. Now Vasseur is in charge at Ferrari, he plans to do the same.
Asked if he will engage in Horner and Wolff’s feud by the Italian edition of Motorsport.com, Vasseur was emphatic: “No, I never will.
“I have full respect for Horner as well as for Toto, but I will never participate in that kind of game.”
Deeper down the grid, relations are a little better. Vasseur had been team principal at the Sauber-owned Alfa Romeo team since 2017 before his well-earned Ferrari promotion, harbouring a lot of respect in the paddock.
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Alfa Romeo are a Ferrari customer like Haas, the American-backed team spearheaded by Guenther Steiner. Now that Vasseur has moved up to the works team, he’ll be supplying the engines in Steiner’s cars.
“Guenther started to say ‘OK, now I’m your customer!’, and I told him it would be a pleasure to send him the invoices,” the French Ferrari figurehead said.
“I have a friendly relationship with some team principals, and we have joked a bit, but overall there is a great mutual respect, and if on the track the competition makes us even tough opponents, sometimes we have to work together for the benefit of Formula 1 as a whole.
“I think in recent months, apart from the ‘game’ between Toto and Horner, the collaboration between the teams has been positive.”
Will 2023 stage Horner vs Wolff, round 2?
Tension between Christian Horner and Toto Wolff bubbled, boiled and overspilled during the 2021 title fight – becoming almost as unmissable as the racing.
In just the same way that Verstappen and Hamilton were rarely fighting for the same track position last season, Mercedes’ fall from grace and Red Bull’s ruthless dominance kept Horner and Wolff apart.
There were still flare-ups, as Netflix have demonstrated, but mostly the British team principal was able to thoroughly enjoy his Austrian counterpart’s misery as Verstappen cleaned-up.
Red Bull’s superiority showed no signs of dwindling during the pre-season test in Bahrain. Mercedes seemed more comfortable than last year but couldn’t offer anything to suggest a challenge to the all-conquering Austrian team, at least for now.
However, Red Bull’s development will be hampered in 2023 by their wind tunnel restrictions, imposed as a penalty for breaking the 2021 cost cap.
With a backloaded calendar, the Championship will be decided in the second half of the year. If Mercedes get their act together, there’s a chance we could see Hamilton battling Verstappen one-on-one again.
If that happens, get ready for fireworks. Horner and Wolff won’t back down from a fight.
The article Fred Vasseur on Toto Wolff and Christian Horner feuding: ‘I’ll never play that game’ appeared first on Planetf1.com.