In the midst of swirling speculation regarding the future of Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, Ferrari’s Team Principal, Frederic Vasseur, has come forward to emphasise the enduring closeness of their relationship.
Reports have surfaced, indicating that Ferrari president John Elkann personally engaged with Hamilton regarding a potential move to the renowned Scuderia team.
The saga unfolds as Hamilton’s contract with Mercedes is set to expire at the conclusion of the 2023 F1 season, keeping the racing world on the edge of their seats.
Esteemed Italian journalist Leo Turrini has shed light on the intricate behind-the-scenes negotiations. Ferrari’s pursuit of Hamilton was accompanied by a rumoured £40 million offer, as reported by the Daily Mail earlier this year.
However, these efforts appear to be in vain, with Hamilton reportedly on the verge of sealing a fresh deal with Mercedes, leaving fans and pundits curious about the unfolding narrative.
In an exclusive interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport, Vasseur lent his perspective on the Hamilton-Ferrari intrigue.
Reflecting on their shared history, Vasseur remarked, “I talk to him at every Grand Prix, he raced for me twenty years ago and we’re still close.
“I helped him when he went to McLaren at the start of his F1 career and we talk occasionally.”
He acknowledged the buzz generated when they’re spotted together in the paddock but refrained from drawing direct comparisons with Ferrari’s current drivers.
“But the contribution of a top driver isn’t just driving, it’s also technical, strategy, help in hiring an engineer,” Vasseur stated.
“And in this case, if you have Hamilton, [Max] Verstappen but also [Charles] Leclerc, it’s easier.
“Anyone who works in F1 is passionate about racing, they like working with champions.”
As the 2023 F1 season progresses, Ferrari has faced challenges on the track, securing only three podium finishes across the initial 12 races.
Vasseur disclosed that wind tunnel development for the current year’s car has been halted, while plans are underway to introduce crucial upgrades at a couple of upcoming races.
Delving into the team’s strategic approach for the future, Vasseur offered insights, stating, “For the car for 2024, we are still at the philosophical concepts.
“The numbers say that you have to be aggressive in the project but with simulations and equations we are already at the maximum.”
Vasseur emphasised the necessity to innovate and think beyond conventional limits. “We have to think differently, find margins thanks to which the drivers can drive without always being at the limit,” he explained.
Addressing the impending deadlines, Vasseur concluded, “And in any case, the deadline for the new car is not the end of the year.
“We have to be ready for Bahrain in March.
“We still have many months ahead of us.”