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Ferrari's Driver Strategy

Ferrari’s Dilemma: Return to a Clear #1 and #2 Driver?

26/02/2024

Exploring Ferrari’s historic driver hierarchies, from the Schumacher era to the present day, and their impact on team dynamics and performance.

The Michael Schumacher era is recognized as the most prolific period in Ferrari’s entire history.

However, during this time, Scuderia had a clearly designated number 1 and a well-known number 2 (Barrichello then Irvine).

Similarly, at Red Bull, it’s evident that a hierarchy has been established between Max Verstappen and his teammates since Daniel Ricciardo’s departure (Pierre Gasly, Alexander Albon, Sergio Pérez).

Consequently, should Ferrari not revert to a clearer hierarchy among its drivers? Currently, Carlos Sainz is not explicitly identified as the number 2. Likewise, next year, it’s unlikely that Charles Leclerc will be relegated to a ‘Irvine’ to Lewis Hamilton.

For Frédéric Vasseur, the team principal, this debate is unnecessary. To him, having two drivers pushing each other is just as, if not more, productive.

“What do you mean by that? I’m confident that if you look at last year, we had a very positive rivalry throughout the season…”

“At times during the season, Charles performed better, as did Carlos, and in the team’s resurgence over the year, I believe the drivers played a decent role. We need this type of rivalry in the race team, and we’re on the right track.”

“Of course, we want to do more, push further, it’s in the DNA of a race team.”

“But I’m truly convinced we will have this type of positive rivalry again in 2024, and it will greatly help us continue to improve.”

However, the rivalry between Ferrari drivers does not extend to friendship, continues Frédéric Vasseur.

“Honestly, throughout the season, we’ve always had a good relationship between them…”

“I don’t ask them to be best friends in the world and go on vacation together, I ask them to work in the interest of Ferrari first, in the right way, with the right approach, and mentality.”

“Throughout the season, they’ve done a good job. I think it’s also because of this type of relationship that we were able to come back and catch up, and I thank them for their professionalism.”

A number 1 will surely be designated in case of a title fight

Shouldn’t this policy, however, have its limits? If one driver gains an advantage over the other during the year, and if this leading driver competes for the world title, shouldn’t Ferrari, in this case, clearly appoint a number 1?

“We’ve always had a clear strategy that allows us to give exactly the same tool to both drivers.”

“We also need this to develop the team so it can improve and recover, and I trust them.”

“It’s certain that at some point in the season, I’ve always had the same approach, but if we are fighting someone for the championship, we will probably change our approach. But so far, we are able to provide them exactly the same support and we will fully support both.”

Hamilton, a pillar for attracting top engineers to Ferrari?

Vasseur also claims that the team does not rely on drivers to attract top engineers, while the highly anticipated arrival of Lewis Hamilton in 2025 continues to be discussed.

Adrian Newey and Pierre Waché are rumored to have a certain attraction to Scuderia in recent weeks, perhaps due to the turmoil surrounding the internal investigation into Christian Horner.

Vasseur intends to strengthen the Italian brand’s technical division since his appointment at the end of 2022, and Hamilton’s presence could inspire even more people.

However, Vasseur believes that the allure of representing the most famous F1 team is already a sufficient incentive to be part of Ferrari’s renaissance project.

“The composition of our driver duo is certainly part of the attractiveness equation. But the team, Scuderia, and the iconic brand are also part of it.”

“We’re building something. And the question of drivers is a matter of recruitment for the project, you can’t deny it, but it’s sure that it’s a long-term, medium-term project for which we have structures based on drivers.”

“I think Ferrari is also very pleased with itself.”

Ferrari’s Driver Strategy: From Schumacher to Today. Ferrari’s Driver Strategy: From Schumacher to Today. F1 2024 Ferrari’s Driver Strategy: From Schumacher to Today

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