Ferrari chairman John Elkann says he “couldn’t be happier” about the prospect of the team returning to the top in Formula 1 under Frederic Vasseur.
Elkann, who picked Vasseur to replace Mattia Binotto as team principal last year, says Ferrari are “100%” moving in the right direction, and he has “definitely” seen the positive change he was hoping for.
The team are “much tighter, much closer” under Vasseur, Elkann says, and “so many incredibly talented people want to come to Ferrari, and that’s a very strong sign”.
Appointed chairman of Ferrari in July 2018, Elkann rarely gives interviews of any kind, and when he does they tend to be about the corporate side of the Ferrari business. BBC Sport has been chosen exclusively for his first for more than a year about Ferrari in F1.
The interview – conducted at the Las Vegas Grand Prix last weekend – comes at the end of a difficult season for F1’s most celebrated team.
Ferrari finished second in 2022, after a strong start was punctured by a series of operational errors and reliability failures, before the car fell from competitiveness.
Those failings were the final straw for Elkann when it came to Binotto, who had presided over a controversy about the legality of Ferrari’s engine in 2019, and a 2020 which was the team’s worst season in 40 years.
The trauma of 2020 clearly still haunts Elkann as he brings it up numerous times during the interview.
There was progress through 2021 and 2022, but Elkann still did not like what he was seeing.
“What’s really important, and this is the thinking we had, is that accountability is really one of the biggest determinants in what our competitors have achieved well,” he says. “And also nimbleness, despite their larger organisations.
“They tend to be nimbler, faster. And Fred had those attributes, having been working in motorsport all his professional life and having been very successful in different categories, but also in F1 having managed a smaller team [both Renault and Sauber/Alfa Romeo].
“So on one side he brings a culture of responsibility and accountability, but he also knows and has operated in organisations that are smaller, more effective and nimbler, and that is definitely something we were lacking compared to our stronger competitors.”