It is not extra-ordinary for one to witness a shake-up in the driver’s line-up before a new Formula 1 season. But the 2023 Formula 1 season has now additionally experienced a shake-up in team principals and team structure. Here’s your guide to the recent team principal changes ahead of the 2023 Formula 1 season.
Chaotic Change At The Realm For The Scuderia
Well, it would be safe to argue that everything is not under control at Ferrari. Initially, rumours about team principal Mattia Binotto leaving began to circulate. In response, the team instantly released a statement denying any aspect of truth to such reports. Only for Binotto to announce his resignation a few weeks later in November.
Binotto was promoted from Chief Technical Officer to the position of Team Principal on 7th January, 2019, replacing Maurizio Arrivabene. This draws the curtain on a familiar face at the paddock. Binotto first joined Ferrari in 1995 and was a key engineer in the infamous Schumacher era (1997-2003). His resignation brings a change in Ferrari tradition ever-since 2007 to look inward for the position of Team Principal.
Renewed Energy For The Prancing Horses
Ferrari announced that Frederic Vasseur would be taking up the role of Scuderia Ferrari Team Principal on 9th January, 2022. The 54-year-old French man is currently the leader of Alfa Romeo Sauber Team and boasts over 25 years of experience in motorsport. Vasseur was left “delighted and honoured” at this new opportunity. He stated, “As someone who has held a lifelong passion for motorsport, Ferrari has always represented the very pinnacle of the racing world to me.”
In Ferrari’s eyes, Vasseur’s talent, renewed energy and expertise is their best shot to get the Prancing Horses back to tasting championship gold. Ferrari CEO Benedetto Vigna stated, “Throughout his career, Fred has successfully combined his technical strengths as a trained engineer with a consistent ability to bring out the best in his drivers and teams.”
Another aspect which might work out well for Ferrari is the working dynamic between their lead-driver and Monegasque star-boy Charles Leclerc and Vasseur. The new Ferrari Team Principal has been a key figure in Leclerc’s career. Vasseur not only over-looked Leclerc’s debut F1 season with Sauber in 2018 but also his title-winning GP3 and F2 stints. In a 2022 season laden with costly Ferrari strategy mistakes (many of which Binotto denied) Leclerc will be keen to improve the team’s performance along with Vasseur.
Andreas Siedl To Sauber
Vasseur’s move to Ferrari kickstarted a domino-effect. McLaren Team Principal Andreas Siedl has made the move to Sauber to fill up the void left behind by Vasseur. Siedl is most probably looking at long-term when Alfa Romeo Sauber merges with the German manufacturer Audi in 2026. Furthermore, he’s keen on repaying the trust that Sauber has shown to him.
Additionally, this is not unchartered territory for Siedl. He was an engineer for Sauber under BMW’s ownership in-between 2006 and 2009. “This is a team with a rich history in Formula 1 and an organisation I know really well from my time working and living in Hinwil for four years,” Siedl added. The Volkswagen group is familiar with Siedl’s work as he pioneered three successive Le Mans championships for Porsche before. He is set to play a key role in deciding who the new Team Principal for Sauber will be.
Andrea Stella Climbs Up The Ranks At McLaren
51-year-old Italian engineer Andrea Stella was promoted to position of Team Principal of McLaren after Siedl’s exit. Stella formerly worked at Ferrari for thirteen years as an engineer. He would join McLaren as a race engineer in 2015. By 2019 he was head of race operations and executive director of McLaren.
McLaren CEO Zak Brown is excited for this new journey. “His [Stella] move into this role is a great example of the strength in depth we have in our team, and I’m excited to be working more closely with him with a joint focus on moving up the grid and winning races,” Brown added.
It remains left to see how Stella manages the pairing of Lando Norris and rookie Oscar Piastri for the upcoming season. Will McLaren’s decision to proceed without Daniel Ricciardo be a masterstroke or matter of regret?
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