Formula 1 Racing

Telling Sainz and Wolff about Hamilton deal was not easy

Ferrari SF-24, 2024

Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur admitted he faced two difficult phone calls after luring Lewis Hamilton away from Mercedes to join his team.

Vasseur is a long-standing friend of Hamilton, his former driver, as well as Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff. The team confirmed earlier this month Hamilton will replace Carlos Sainz Jnr in their line-up next year.

Telling Sainz the team had decided to replace him “was not the easiest call of my life,” Vasseur told media including RaceFans.

“One of them [that] was the most difficult, with the one with Toto,” he continued. “But I’m fully convinced that he’s a very professional driver, that he understands that was have a long season in front of us, that it’s a huge opportunity.

“We had a long discussion as you can imagine but I will be fully supportive with Carlos, he is fully committed and we know that we have to do the job together. We are together, we are professional.”

Speaking at the launch of the team’s car for the new season today, Vasseur said he won’t allow the impending arrival of Hamilton to become a distraction for the team.

“It’s a huge opportunity for the team, for sure,” he said. “We are sure that it will bring us a decent step for the future. It will be a good challenge for everybody.

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“But we want to be focused on 2024, we don’t want to have any kind of distraction. It’s also why we made the announcement so early, because it was important for us to be focused on 2024.”

Pictures: First pictures: Ferrari reveals “completely new” SF-24 F1 car for 2024

Hamilton will be paired with Charles Leclerc, leaving Sainz’s future uncertain. However Vasseur is certain his outgoing driver will continue to perform at his best.

“I’m fully convinced that Carlos will be fully dedicated and fully committed to the season until the last lap and the last corner of the season,” he said. “I’m sure that all the team will be fully motivated and fully behind Carlos, he did a great job for us so far.”

Vasseur will be reunited with Hamilton, who raced for him at the ASM and ART teams in the mid-noughties, winning the GP2 (now Formula 2) and Formula 3 Euroseries championships. The pair have remained friends since, which led Vasseur to pursue a deal with the seven-times F1 champion.

“We have a good relationship for, now, a bit more than 20 years,” said Vasseur. “We were always in contact, we speak about different things…

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