Former Alfa Romeo team boss Frederic Vasseur insists he didn’t consult with Audi officials before taking up the offer to become Ferrari’s new chief.
Frenchman Vasseur has swept into Maranello to replace the axed Mattia Binotto, leaving former McLaren chief Andreas Seidl to lead Sauber’s transition from Sauber to Audi for the future.
“Of course I will miss him,” Valtteri Bottas, the continuing Alfa Romeo-Sauber racer, is quoted by Ilta Sanomat newspaper.
“He was one of the reasons for my transition to Alfa Romeo,” said the Finn. “But when I imagine myself in Fred’s place, I understand that if such opportunities open up before you, they must be taken.”
Bottas says the upside for Sauber is that the Swiss team now has “at least one good friend” at engine supplier Ferrari ahead of the transition to Audi.
Former Ferrari driver Felipe Massa, whose manager Nicholas Todt was historically very close to Vasseur, thinks the Frenchman will be under “enormous pressure” at Maranello this year.
“Everyone speaks highly of him,” the Brazilian told La Gazzetta dello Sport when asked about Vasseur.
“He has won a lot in motorsport and has a lot of experience in leading a team, but leading Ferrari is something completely different,” Massa added. “So in that sense it’s a big change for him as well.
“Time also doesn’t cooperate because it’s been years since Ferrari won a title. So there is enormous pressure on his shoulders.
“But he is very rational in his decisions and that is positive for Ferrari because sometimes there was too much indecision,” Massa continued.
“If you look back at who did the best job at Ferrari in difficult times, it was Jean Todt – also a Frenchman. But even he got seven years to make it happen.”
According to Vasseur, however, he leapt at the chance to wear red in Formula 1 – even though a similarly-exciting prospect of leading Audi into F1 may also have beckoned.
“When they (Ferrari) contacted me, I didn’t tell anyone,” Vasseur revealed. “It was a personal reflection of mine in conversations with John Elkann.
“I didn’t even tell Audi. I spoke to some of them at the point of the official announcement and they told me that Ferrari’s call cannot be rejected.
“It’s a challenge, but it’s always a challenge in Formula 1,” the 54-year-old insisted.