Frederic Vasseur on ‘critical’ importance of race strategy following Ferrari move

Frederic Vasseur on the grid in Saudi Arabia. December 2021 Credit: Alamy
Frederic Vasseur on the grid in Saudi Arabia. December 2021 Credit: Alamy

Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur has discussed how “critical” race strategy is to a team’s weekend, with that particular area having been a weakness at the Scuderia last season.

Ferrari received criticism at multiple races in 2022 after being out-manoeuvred on strategy by Red Bull in particular, with the Scuderia only converting four of their 12 pole positions into victory with the F1-75.

Reliability and driver error also played their part in why the team did not make the most of their opportunities, but the apparent indecision at times on the pit wall led to Carlos Sainz taking matters into his own hands in Monaco and Silverstone in particular.

He overruled his strategy team on when to pit in Monaco, and decided to do so again in Britain when he was told to drop further behind team-mate Charles Leclerc at the Safety Car restart to give him room while he was on used hard tyres, with Sainz on softs.

The Spaniard told the team to “stop inventing” as they went along over team radio at the time, and Vasseur’s arrival as team principal to replace Mattia Binotto is a change at the top of the Scuderia, as they look to bring home a first title for 15 years this season.

“Strategy is a critical part of Formula 1,” Vasseur explained in an interview with Racecar Engineering.

“However, it is made complex by specific allocations such as tyres, the timing of sessions throughout the race weekend, and developing and bringing new parts to the circuits where they’re going to be most performant.

“The closer you are to peak performance, the more dramatic the effect of any single mistake in the operations or strategy.

“You must be sure you’re doing the right thing at the right time to exploit the opportunities you have to collect data and make progress.

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“Strategy during the race is entirely different. It hinges on what’s about to happen next and how to make the most of that.

“Teams are constantly looking at the next lap and simultaneously checking what their rivals are doing to see if they must manipulate what they’re going to do next because of what the rivals are doing.

“It also knows whether there are points in some races where your competitors might make mistakes. Typically, this will be around when tyre degradation is high, or some drivers are fighting for position.

“In moments like this, it can change your entire race. If there is a Safety Car, for example, you can make giant jumps in the field or make good progress on a new set of tyres when others are not putting in the best lap times.”

Vasseur began his new role by taking the reins at Maranello in early January after leaving Alfa Romeo, with Ferrari set to launch their new car, codenamed ‘Project 675’ on 14 February.

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