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Exclusive Interview with Scuderia Ferrari Team Principal – Frederic Vasseur

This Sunday 17 September, a new lion was born in the Garden City, Carlos Sainz, winner of the 13th Singapore Grand Prix.

A few days before this splendid victory for Scuderia Ferrari, So Chic had the privilege of interviewing the team’s Team Principal: Frederic Vasseur.

For people who don’t know you can you briefly introduce yourself?

Yes, I’m Fred (Frederic) Vasseur I’m the team principal of the Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team for now 7 or 8 months… and I enjoy the position! (and surely even more since his first f1 victory here in Singapore)

Can you explain this position and your role at Scuderia Ferrari?

So the Scuderia is not the company it’s a department of the company and I am in charge of this department so it includes the chassis side, engine side and the factory base guys as well as race team that mean that we are travelling a lot. It is probably the biggest challenge in my job.

What has been your path to become Scuderia Ferrari team principal?

I started with my own company 32 years ago in Formula Renault, the smallest category in single seater and luckily, we started to get good results, and step by step I did F3 and F2. I also worked on other company like Spark where we worked on the chassis for the formula-e project. So at one state I said it probably make sense for me to try to go in F1 but I was not a big big fan of going into this category because the junior series are also proper racing with a totally different atmosphere.

Therefore in 2014-2015 I started some discussion with Renault as they were trying to get back into Formula 1 and I finally join them at the end of 2015.

But after one year I decided that it won’t be my project and I move away. I then spent five years at Alfa Romeo F1 Team, it was a really good journey that we started almost from scratch and we finished last year P6 in the championship. I really has the feeling to build-up something, it was a really nice journey and a really nice project!

So then at the end of 2022 I was in touch with Ferrari to join the Scuderia. As I said before when you are doing my business this is the most challenging position that you can have. So I was not able to say something else than yes.

What is your typical schedule with the Scuderia Ferrari?

The advantage of my job is that you don’t have a typical schedule. We are travelling a lot because we have now 25 races a year and some tests and sponsors events meaning that I am out of the factory 160 days a year. The tricky part of my business is to keep the guys that are travelling (engineers, drivers, mechanics…) and the guys at the factory under the same roof, with the same motivation and a good team spirit. It means that when I am here at the Factory, I have to motivate everybody. But you know those guys working here at Ferrari, they don’t need to be so much pushed!

And with all that travel, how do you manage your personal life and your job?
This you have to ask my wife! I’ve known her for years, and we always were in this kind of situation, so that means that we are used to. For sure it is a bit demanding because I am away 2/3 of the year but I have managed to find a good balance in my life and when I am at home, I am trying to enjoy 100% with my family and kids… So yes, I would say, that everything is well balanced.

What does having a Frenchman like you at the head of Ferrari can bring to the team?
I would say, that the importance is more from the mix of culture. I am trying to push more and more into this direction, to also recruit non-Italian members for the company. I have nothing against the Italian but I think that in our business the most important is to have a mix of culture and a mix of people coming from different backgrounds, so that each of them can bring something different to the team.

On the top, Ferrari is so iconic here, I mean it is iconic all over the world but in Italy it is something different. So, I would say, that being French here makes me a little bit less exposed than the Italian people.

How do you do to find balance between the multicultural environment and the Italian roots of Ferrari?
In F1 we are used to this environment. We are always looking for the best in every position of the team meaning that we always have this kind of multicultural approach. But I also think that this is not only about nationality but also recruiting and working with people coming from other teams with different approach. As for Ferrari, it is Italian, it will remain Italian and the blood of the team is Italian, it will never change. The drivers can come from different country, the Team Principal too, it will never change the DNA of the team.

So it makes it easier to improve because we can add diversity to the team. And I am sure that with people all working together with their own baggage, for the team, we will reach our objectives.

How do you view the Future of Formula 1, especially regarding sustainability, as it is an important subject for the Future?
I think this is a good question. In Formula 1 we were the first one to introduce hybrid engine in the 2000’s and in 2014 we made a huge step with the full hybrid engine and this year we introduce the sustainable fuel. The goal is to go in 2025 with 50% electric energy and 50% sustainable fuel. And we have the project of a net zero in 2030. We have good milestones and I think our approach is to not be shy about what we doing. I think in the past F1 was shy about this but now we are convinced that we are doing our best efforts to contribute to the technical and scientifical development of solution to create a more sustainable and green future. And I think that F1 have to communicate on this achievement and pursue its effort to create a bright future for the sport.

Do you think that the innovation in Formula 1 can help the rest of the car industry to go to more sustainability environments?
Of course! And I think that this has always been the case in the history. For example, when we introduce the hybrid engine in the early two thousand it was a huge step forward. It helps to understand how it works and how we can improve it. This is why we have hybrid engine in our everyday car today. In formula 1 we have the capacity to develop quickly items and components that the general car industry can’t do. So we have to keep this position of quick innovation to find new solutions for everyone. I think we are doing a really good job on this. On another topic, for example the sustainable fuel we are developing. We are starting from nothing as no one ever did this before and the goal is to create a sustainable fuel for 2030. It is where our collaboration with all the partners in the industry is brilliant. We can make huge changes to the world thanks to the F1.

A Few Years ago, Sebastian Vettel (4-time World Champion and former Ferrari Driver) told us that “Everybody is a Ferrari Fan…” Do you think that this will always be true?
I think it will be always true because Ferrari is the only iconic brand in the F1. But also, an iconic brand in the car industry. If you go anywhere in the world and ask a 5 five years old what is his favourite car, he will say Ferrari. Nobody will say something else. This will never change because the kid that is now 5 years in 50 years at 55 if he can he will buy a Ferrari! So yeah, it is true, everybody is a Ferrari Fan. For example, if you watched the race in Monza, at the end you had thousands and thousands of people at the finish line cheering for Ferrari with passion and love for the team. And if you have a look on every single race of the season, except Monza as it is 100% Ferrari Fan, but in every race, you will have 50% of the fan with Ferrari Caps. You go in the UK, you have Maclaren and Mercedes, you are going to Austria you have Redbull but fans still wear Ferrari Caps.

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