What triggers F1’s team boss carousel?

Take a look at how Sebastian Vettel’s decision to retire before the F1 summer break kicked off a chain of events, with Fernando Alonso at Aston Martin, Pierre Gasly at Alpine and Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri (and this is Oscar Ignoring Piastri’s McLaren antics).

What’s far rarer is that crazy carousels of this kind involve Formula 1 team managers as much as they did this week.

While the move by top executives is not unusual in F1, as Otmar Szafnauer’s move from Aston Martin to Alpine showed last winter, the fact that all four teams will have new team bosses next season is pretty extreme.

In fact, it’s hard to remember a day this crazy when Ferrari approved their new team principal at Fred Vasseur, overshadowed by the shock of McLaren losing Andreas Seidl and promoting Andrea Stella instead.

While the changes made this week at Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, McLaren and Williams are all the result of slightly different circumstances, there is a common theme that unites them: In F1’s cost cap era, the money is on the team boss more than ever before.

Even a few years ago, there was a time when one of the key roles of team managers was to go to the company board of directors or the main car manufacturer and try to raise the funds needed to do the right job. .

And if the desire was to move up the rankings, reverse a potential drop, or address a misunderstanding of a car concept, then the best way to make things right was to have another check written so a team could spend their time. the path to better performance.

Press Conference Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal, Alfa Romeo Racing

Photo: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Those days are long gone now. With the budget cap in place, F1 is no longer a spending competition where mistakes can be made up for with extra money.

Instead, the important thing now is to be efficient, disciplined, have a proper plan, and above all, be smart.

Limited budgets, equal up and down the grid, mean that there is no longer any way to hide behind the excuse that competitors are performing better because they have bigger budgets.

Now everyone got the same thing. So screw everything up and it’s just your fault.

In contemporary F1, team managers have more responsibility than ever before for whether the goals on the track are met.

In Jost Capito’s case, Williams had not made the progress that owner Dorilton Capital had expected during F1’s new rules era, so it was decided not to continue with him and tech signature FX Demaison.

Mattia Binotto’s resignation comes after Ferrari chairman John Elkann and CEO Benedetto Vigna lost faith in him as they believed Maranello had not done everything it was supposed to do during the 2022 campaign.

Ferrari’s tendency to choose Vasseur and Sauber to lure Seidl as its new CEO favors senior management figures who understand well what is required with this cost-limit mentality.

Performance these days doesn’t come from bringing in a front wing upgrade every race because the money isn’t there under the tight budget ceiling to allow that to happen.

Instead, progress is about doing better in areas where the gains should effectively come for free.

To get the most bang for your buck from every member of the organization, you need to know where staffing levels and assignments should best focus.

Andrea Stella, F1 Team Principal McLaren, Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing

Andrea Stella, F1 Team Principal McLaren, Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing

Photo: McLaren

You must fully understand the rule and exemptions to ensure that any spend is 100% for vehicle performance and not wasted.

From the designer who comes up with car concepts on the computer screen to the pit crew who changed wheels on GP Sunday, you have to make sure you have the best of everything at every level.

Each step of the way, each individual has to pull their weight because there is no longer any excess in the system to cover up the weaknesses.

That’s why team bosses need to be motivating and help push their union forward. They need to ensure that the workforce has full faith in the work they are doing and the path they are taking.

Now the key is the timing of the upgrades to find the Goldilocks spot as well. You don’t want to go too hot with your upgrades early in the season and then leave you with nothing when the money runs out.

Likewise, go too cold and leave the developments for the last phase of the season and you risk being left behind.

Instead, you have to do everything right.

All these elements are things that only a cunning and experienced team boss, who knows the system, has lived and breathed it, can be expected to get it right away.

Andreas Seidl, Team Principal, McLaren, team principals at the Press Conference

Andreas Seidl, Team Principal, McLaren, team principals at the Press Conference

Photo: FIA Pool

It’s probably no coincidence that late last year, McLaren under Seidl’s management launched a recruitment campaign now that it knows how things work best under the cost cap, and now that it knows there are spending areas it can improve on.

As Seidl said at the Abu Dhabi GP: “So we’ve worked hard with the finance department to find synergies and efficiency in the current market, knowing that we’re also operating in a cost-ceiling environment. That’s the way we do F1.

“This allowed us to launch a rather important campaign almost two months ago about hiring more engineers to ensure that more people are available to do things in more parallel in the future.

More than ever before, it is this cost-cap-forced change of approach, the need for experienced, stable, and smart hands to deliver, that has brought team managers more attention than ever before.

Such an added effect comes with extra responsibility, which means extra victory when things go well, but now you’re in the line of fire when things go wrong.

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