Aiming to Recover From Lewis Hamilton Rejection, Fred Vasseur Switches Focus on Poaching Red Bull’s Mastermind

Published 08/18/2023, 1:02 PM EDT

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Lewis Hamilton has been the talk of the town this season. While you may think it’s because of his on-track performances, it’s not. Rather it’s because of his contract negotiations with Mercedes. The seven-time champion’s contract with the Brackley outfit—a team he’s called home for a decade—is expiring at the end of this season. Since the beginning of 2023, Hamilton and Wolff have been negotiating a possible deal. Considering his relationship with Mercedes is so amicable, the decision would’ve been made in a heartbeat. That wasn’t the case. In fact, Mercedes wasn’t even the only team in the running to sign Hamilton.  

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Who else was in the running? Fred Vasseur and Ferrari. As per reports, the Scuderia offered him a $49 million deal, but Mercedes was rumored to have upped the ante and put forth a $63 million offer. Hamilton seems to have chosen Mercedes after rejecting Ferrari, which must’ve hurt Vasseur & Co. But the Frenchman is now looking to use Hamilton’s ally to get someone from Red Bull on board.

Fred Vasseur is using Hamilton’s connection to get to Red Bull

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While Vasseur might not have secured Hamilton’s services for his team, he successfully poached the seven-time champion’s ally. Last month, Ferrari convinced Mercedes’ performance director, Loic Serra, to jump ship from Brackley to Maranello. Although the French engineer can’t join the Scuderia before 2025 due to his Mercedes contract, Ferrari is looking to use him as leverage to bring a Red Bull key figure it has had its eyes on. Who is this personnel Ferrari just can’t do without? Red Bull technical director Pierre Wache.

The Maranello outfit has approached Wache in the past for a role at Ferrari, but the Frenchman declined. As per F1 journalist Michael Schmidt, though, Wache could change his mind. As quoted by mirror.co.uk, Schmidt said, “I believe Loic Serra was chosen carefully. He is one of the best friends of Pierre Wache, the Technical Director of Red Bull. The two often spend hours together in the paddock, even though they are from rival teams. I think Vasseur is also trying to get Pierre Wache through this connection. From what I hear from Red Bull, [Vasseur] has been going at it and was really close [to signing Wache], and maybe he’s still trying.”

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Red Bull has been far superior to any other team this season, and Ferrari has been underwhelming. Despite Mercedes improving in the past few races, Serra chose to leave Brackley. Considering his friend decided to jump ship, Vasseur could very well compel Wache to do so too.

The Red Bull mastermind wouldn’t be the only one to have made the move from Milton-Keynes to Maranello because Vasseur has successfully converted two other Red Bull engineers into Ferrari personnel in the past few months, and they seem to be already making headway.

Fred Vasseur is revamping Ferrari

When Vasseur took charge of the Scuderia this season, he’s been on a mission to do away with Ferrari’s traditional mindset of hiring only Italian personnel. While that was an attempt to stick to its roots, Vasseur believes that mindset is holding Ferrari back. To bring Ferrari back to the front, he’s shaking up the entire team, bringing in new people with different ideas. As part of this revamp, he hired (poached) two Red Bull aerodynamicists in May, one of whom was David George.

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Although catching Red Bull might not be possible this season, Vasseur and Ferrari, along with the new Red Bull hires, have already shifted focus to the 2024 car. Considering how Ferrari has been the only team to challenge Red Bull in the past couple of years, it has a solid footing to build on, with the added benefit of having two masterminds from its target. There’s no doubt Ferrari is on the climb and wants to return to the front as soon as possible. With the influx of new ideas and a new sense of direction, Vasseur’s dream might not be completely unreachable.

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Do you think Fred Vasseur hiring Loic Serra was to help urge Pierre Wache to give Ferrari a second glance? And could the presence of Red Bull personnel already at Maranello act as a further catalyst?

WATCH THIS STORY | Charles Leclerc’s Resurgence Postponed as Frederic Vasseur Still Stands Engulfed in the Trial and Error Ways of Bouncing Back

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Written by:

Aditi Krishnan

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Aditi is an F1 writer at EssentiallySports and is essentially a sportsperson. She fell in love with F1 in 2020. It happened when her brother tuned into that first race weekend in Austria, and she knew right then and there that she had to learn everything she could about the sport.
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Edited by:

Aishwary Gaonkar

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