Former Formula 1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya believes the lack of job security at Ferrari could hinder new boss Frederic Vasseur in his attempt to steer the Maranello outfit to a first world title since the 2008 constructors’ championship.
The Frenchman was brought in from Alfa Romeo to replace Mattia Binotto at the helm after the Italian opted to resign following a season that was blighted by a litany of strategical errors in 2022.
Montoya, who race in F1 from 2001 to 2006, admitted he was surprised by the appointment of Vasseur, insisting he would have opted for a candidate with more pedigree who would demand more respect.
“One of the hard things with Ferrari is that I don’t think anybody feels like they have job security,” Montoya told Autosport.
“Everybody is waiting for you to put your foot in the wrong place, so they can fire you. That’s what I see from the outside.
“You look at Toto [Wolff] and you know Toto is not going anywhere. You look at Christian [Horner] or you look at Helmut [Marko], they are not going anywhere.
“But you always look at the head of Ferrari and you are wondering, ‘OK, how long is this one going to last?’ Because there is always somebody after him. I thought they were going to put Jean Todt in that position. To be honest, that would have been my pick.
“I don’t know if he wanted the job, but he’s the guy that did the job before. And I think everybody respects him enough that nobody is going to fuck with him.
“He is a guy that doesn’t need the job, so when you don’t need the job and you don’t care [about losing it], I think you have more balls to make the right decisions.
“But I hope they do a good job. It was kind of surprising, it was such a strong car they had in the beginning of last year, but they didn’t use it well.”
‘Mercedes the bigger threat to Red Bull’
Although Ferrari shot out of the blocks as F1 entered a new era of ground-effect aerodynamics in 2022, they were eventually well beaten by Red Bull and the devastating combination of Max Verstappen and Adrian Newey.
The Milton Keynes-based team will undoubtedly begin the 2023 campaign as the red-hot favourites, but Montoya thinks Ferrari will lose their tag as ‘nearest challengers’ unless they cut out the schoolboy mistakes.
“If I was Red Bull, I would be looking more to what Mercedes can bring than what Ferrari can bring,” added Montoya.
“If you look at the Ferrari pitstops, the strategies, you go like, ‘Who the hell is making those calls?’ It’s hard to say, because I know under pressure it’s tough to make decisions, but if you’re not the person making the right decisions, you need to get somebody else, I think.
“Or maybe if he is the right person, he needs to have better support around him to be able to do what he does. But something’s missing because the mistakes are too often with the strategies they make.
“Red Bull does such a good job with strategies, they make everybody else look stupid.”