Formula 1 lived up to its reputation as a fast-moving sport as a 24-hour period saw four teams announce changes to their team principal ahead of the 2023 season.
Frederic Vasseur’s long-rumoured departure from Alfa Romeo to join Ferrari as team principal, following the announcement of Mattia Binotto’s departure, was finally confirmed on Tuesday, triggering a spate of activity.
McLaren would shortly after announce that Seidl was departing his role as team principal to replace Vasseur as chief executive of the Sauber Group, which owns Alfa Romeo and will become Audi in 2026 after agreeing a deal with the German manufacturer.
The British team also confirmed the promotion of executive director Andrea Stella to replace Seidl, while the moves came a day after Williams had announced that Jost Capito was stepping down as chief executive and team principal after two years at the helm.
With Seidl taking a chief executive rather than team principal role at Sauber, only Alfa Romeo and Williams are left without their top job filled for the 2023 campaign.
Sky Sports F1’s Ted Kravitz joined Sky Sports News to analyse the moves and explain their implications for next season.
F1 2023 driver line-ups & team principals
|Team||Driver 1||Driver 2||Team principal|
|Red Bull||Max Verstappen||Sergio Perez||Christian Horner|
|Ferrari||Charles Leclerc||Carlos Sainz||Frederic Vasseur|
|Mercedes||Lewis Hamilton||George Russell||Toto Wolff|
|Alpine||Esteban Ocon||Pierre Gasly||Otmar Szafnauer|
|McLaren||Lando Norris||Oscar Piastri||Andrea Stella|
|Alfa Romeo||Valtteri Bottas||Zhou Guanyu||TBC|
|Haas||Kevin Magnussen||Nico Hulkenberg||Guenther Steiner|
|Aston Martin||Fernando Alonso||Lance Stroll||Mike Krack|
|AlphaTauri||Yuki Tsunoda||Nyck de Vries||Franz Tost|
|Williams||Alex Albon||Logan Sargeant||TBC|
‘Vasseur relationship with Leclerc is crucial’
The most important move is Ferrari’s. They’re the ones who are going to be trying to beat Red Bull to next year’s title.
In Fred Vasseur, I think they’ve got a good replacement for Mattia Binotto. He’s a winner in the lower Formula, not yet in F1, but with his own team in F2 and F3, Vassuer has won races and championships.
He speaks Italian, he’s been with Alfa Romeo/Sauber of course, a Swiss team with Italian backing, so he speaks the language.
And crucially he knows and has a good working relationship with Ferrari’s main championship challenger and star, Charles Leclerc.
They worked together at Sauber before, so I think it’s a good solution, a good appointment for Ferrari with Vasseur coming in for Binotto.
The only thing that they have left really is to hope that Frederic Vasseur is left to get on with it.
That’s the big question, as to whether the team boss merry-go-round that we have seen at Ferrari in recent years will continue.
After all, Vasseur is the fourth Ferrari team boss since Stefano Domenicali’s departure in 2014, and that is quite a lot.
Charles Leclerc has talked today about how he has a good relationship with Vasseur, and I don’t think he’s throwing any doubt over his previous relationship with Binotto, but to have someone with whom he’s worked and raced together before can only be a good thing.
‘Seidl given time to get Sauber in shape for Audi arrival’
The Sauber team’s transition from Alfa Romeo to Audi definitely impacted Andreas Seidl’s decision to take the job.
That’s not to say he wouldn’t have been interested in joining Alfa Romeo, but Audi is something that’s going to be a proper works entry, rather than just a sponsor in F1.
It’s going to do the car, it’s going to do the engine, and in charge of all of that will be a German who knows the brand, who’s worked for the VW group before, Andreas Seidl.
There was a little bit of a tit-bit from McLaren in explaining the departure of their team boss today, as they said they always knew that Andreas Seidl was going to leave to go to Audi.
It was a surprise to the rest of us as they were acting as if they were all a very happy family, but apparently they all knew and that was going to happen in 2025.
With Fred Vasseur going to Ferrari, that has only accelerated the move, so it’s a logical step for Seidl to go early.
What it does mean is that Seidl will have a good run-up to be able to get the Sauber team in fighting shape in order to become Audi full-time in 2026, so that makes sense as well.
‘Stella is the big unknown’
This is the big unknown, Andrea Stella.
An Italian, he’s won a championship with Ferrari as Kimi Raikkonen’s engineer back in 2007, and he is now the team boss of McLaren, one of Ferrari’s oldest rivals in F1.
There are plenty of people questioning this, saying, ‘hang on, this is not a dyed in the wool McLaren person, this is not someone who if you cut them, they’d bleed McLaren and have been part of the Woking team for all of their working life. What’s going on?’
But he’s highly regarded within McLaren, he’s been doing increasingly more executive roles over the years, he’s well respected within the paddock.
They think it’s going to work, we just have to trust them, but that’s a big role – team boss of McLaren.
Eddie Jordan used to describe the team bosses in F1 as the ‘piranha club’, well, welcome to the piranha club Andrea Stella and good luck, because I think you’re going to need it.
‘Williams have three options for replacing Capito’
They have three avenues for recruitment. They have current people within Williams, and there are some good people within Williams – like Andrea Stella at McLaren, who would make the step up.
It’s always good for company morale to promote from within, so I think there are some good candidates already at Williams who we might not have heard of. They might not be household names but you could say that Andrea Stella wasn’t a household name but he’s now the boss of McLaren.
Then there’s poaching from other F1 teams, that’s something Williams have said they are looking at – to see if there are some engineers around the area, or administrators in other teams who they might want to get on board.
Then there’s poaching from other championships – there are team bosses in the World Endurance Championship, in Formula E and in Formula 2, who are all good candidates for that Williams team boss position.
I think they’ll take their time. They’re not in a rush like the other teams have been.
But Williams are in a difficult position as well because they’ve also parted ways with their technical director (Francois-Xavier Demaison), and to get rid of a team boss and technical director in one week, leaves the manager with a lot to do.
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