Will Ferrari fire Frederic Vasseur?

David Kennedy, a former competitor of Fred Vasseur, believes the Frenchman's experience and determination make him the ideal candidate to turn around Ferrari's fortunes.

Fred Vasseur, the recently appointed team boss of Scuderia Ferrari, has received a vote of confidence from a former sparring partner who believes he is the right man to lead the team. 

Vasseur took over the role following Mattia Binotto’s resignation during the winter break and has faced a challenging start to his tenure with Ferrari struggling to keep up with their rivals.

David Kennedy, a former Formula 1 driver and three-time Le Mans winner who competed against Vasseur’s ART team in GP3 and GP2, spoke highly of the Frenchman’s credentials in an exclusive interview with PlanetF1.com. 

Kennedy praised Vasseur’s extensive experience and successful track record, likening him to racing figures of the past who brought depth of knowledge and a winning mentality to their teams.

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According to Kennedy, Vasseur’s ability to understand the intricacies of the sport and make a significant impact sets him apart. 

Highlighting Vasseur’s long tenure in running race teams and his consistent success, Kennedy expressed confidence that given the necessary freedom and determination, Vasseur could bring about significant change at Ferrari.

“In my book, I don’t think you could get much better than Fred Vasseur. He’s got a fantastic pedigree,” Kennedy said.

“It’s like the old days when Ron Dennis was a racer, where Frank Williams was a racer, where Eddie Jordan was a racer – to bring a depth of experience, and a consummate knowledge to make a difference, to really understand it.

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“Fred has been running race teams for eons and they have been outstandingly successful so I think, provided they give him the latitude and he wears his knuckle dusters, he can make a big difference.”

However, Vasseur joins a long list of managers who have inherited what appears to be a challenging task of leading Ferrari. Binotto’s departure after more than two decades of dedicated service follows the relatively short tenures of Maurizio Arrivabene and Marco Mattiaci. 

This revolving door of leadership raises questions about whether a single individual can make a difference and turn Ferrari’s fortunes around.

When confronted with the suggestion that Ferrari’s size and corporate structure might hinder one person’s ability to effect change, Kennedy emphasized Vasseur’s willingness to take on challenges. 

He acknowledged that external departments making decisions that impact performance can be a challenge but believes Vasseur’s experience and determination will prevail. 

Drawing a parallel to Jean Todt’s arrival at Ferrari in 1994, Kennedy pointed out that Todt built consensus and brought together key individuals like Ross Brawn, Rory Byrne, and Michael Schumacher. 

Vasseur’s understanding of both the politics and the technical aspects of the sport positions him well to navigate the complexities of Ferrari.

“It depends upon that person,” he said.

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“It’s certainly a difficulty when you’ve got extraneous departments making decisions that can impact on the performance.

“My mother always said ‘you’re old and ugly enough to be able to just sort it out’. He’s been in the trenches a long time. He really probably has to set the stall out that ‘I’m not going to take any prisoners’.

“When Jean Todt moved into Ferrari [in 1994], I had several conversations with him before he signed up Michael Schumacher, and he built it up by consensus. He had another style to be able to bring the pieces in – the Ross Brawns, the Rory Byrnes, and the Michael Schumachers. Vasseur has been around enough to know the politics as well as the nitty-gritty of getting the car to work.”