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Ferrari “top” signing delay highlights F1 recovery timescale

Ferrari says a delay in a new “top” personnel signing being able to join the team has exposed how long its road to recovery in Formula 1 could be.

Laurent Mekies, Racing Director, Scuderia Ferrari, on the pit wall

Laurent Mekies, Racing Director, Scuderia Ferrari, on the pit wall

Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

The Italian outfit has endured a challenging season so far, with both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz battling inconsistency with the SF-23, which has made it an especially difficult car to drive in races.

Its situation has also not been helped by the departure of some key personnel, including head of vehicle concept David Sanchez who is joining McLaren. Furthermore, sporting director Laurent Mekies will step down later this year ahead of his switch to AlphaTauri.

New team boss Fred Vasseur is pushing hard to turn Ferrari’s situation around, and a recent major update introduced at the Spanish Grand Prix appears to have helped deliver a more consistent car that can fight further up the order.

But, with him well aware that bigger steps are needed if the team is to regularly challenge Red Bull, Vasseur has been open that the team needs to recruit from elsewhere to try to fast track its fightback.

Speaking to selected media including Autosport at the Canadian Grand Prix, Vasseur admitted that things were not helped by the fact that current gardening leave clauses in F1 contracts mean it can take years before a team like Ferrari can expect new signings to join up.

“The issue in F1 is inertia,” he explained. “On one hand we look very agile. We change things, and overnight sometimes you have an issue, and you can fix it from one race to another one.

“But the reality of our business is that when you want to steer the boat a little bit, then we are not agile anymore. We know that if we want to recruit, we are speaking not in days, we are speaking in years.

“I signed a top guy a couple of weeks ago to join in 2025. He will only work on the car in 2025 and 2026.

“It seems a long wait. But, on the other hand, if you don't do it, it will be even worse in six months. You have to accept it as a basic of F1. If you stop at one stage, it means you will postpone again even more the impact.”

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal and General Manager, Scuderia Ferrari

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal and General Manager, Scuderia Ferrari

Photo by: Ferrari

Vasseur declined to identify the individual, nor the team he was coming from, to help avoid a ‘mess’ for them in the interim period.

But while Vasseur has some long-term frustrations in having to wait so long for key staff, he still sees potential to progress the current car.

“I will never give up this one because for us to fix it is the best way to understand and to avoid a mistake.

“For sure when you are developing, you are trying to develop different areas, and you are trying to do a better job on the car. But I think the issue we have is not a matter of details.”

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Vasseur has faith however that the team is making progress with its car, thanks to the changes introduced in Spain producing a more stable platform.

“We are developing the car in this direction to try to get consistency, and to have something a bit easier to drive,” he said. “Step by step we are going on the right direction.”

And while cautious about reading too much into performance on a unique track like Montreal, Vasseur said there were some encouraging signs about how Ferrari stacked up against Aston Martin on stints of the race where they were on the same tyre.

“In the last stint, we had with the same tyres as [Fernando] Alonso, with almost the same number of laps. It was plus or minus one second over 30 laps.

“For sure that you can always say that [Max] Verstappen was not flat out, but I don’t think it was like this. Compared to two or three weeks ago, we finished 10 seconds behind [Alonso]. It was almost the gap that we had at the end of lap one.”

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