Vasseur arriving to Ferrari ’conflict’
"Binotto was more of a fan of Carlos Sainz"
Even before he starts work at Maranello on January 9, new Ferrari team boss Frederic Vasseur looks set to deal with immediate internal "conflict".
That is the view of former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher, whose brother Michael famously dominated the sport at the wheel of a Ferrari early this century.
Now, former Alfa Romeo team boss and Frenchman Vasseur will arrive to discover a tricky situation in Ferrari’s driver camp - with the Charles Leclerc rumoured to have been in conflict with Binotto.
"Binotto was more of a fan of Carlos Sainz, who he also brought in," Schumacher told Sky Deutschland. "Charles Leclerc suffered a little from that."
However, it is believed the Leclerc camp - led by his manager Nicholas Todt, the son of former Schumacher-era Ferrari boss Jean Todt - are also no fans of Vasseur.
The two Frenchmen - Vasseur and Todt - are said to have fallen out amid their days in team partnership from their pre-F1 era.
"They were partners in Formula 3, but they fell out," Schumacher confirmed. "It will be interesting to see how they will work together."
The departing Vasseur is being replaced by German Andreas Seidl, who arrives from McLaren - and that could be good news for Schumacher’s out-of-work nephew Mick.
"Audi isn’t set up in such a way that they want absolutely everything to be German," Ralf said. "They now have time to set everything up before 2026.
"I’m curious to see what ideas Andreas has for the drivers," Schumacher added. "Guanyu Zhou is more or less firmly in the seat and he also brings a lot of money with him, which until 2026 is not unimportant for Sauber.
"Valtteri Bottas, on the other hand, may not necessarily stay too long."
RTL pundit Felix Gorner agrees that a Seidl-led Sauber-Audi could now look very attractive to Mick Schumacher - who is also being courted for a third driver role by Mercedes.
"With Andreas Seidl going to Sauber, there is another German anchor there," Gorner said. "Markus Duesmann wanted a German boss but definitely also a German driver at Audi in the medium term.
"At Audi, Mick could have the realistic possibility of becoming a race driver again in 2024, which of course is his absolute goal. He wants to be a Formula 1 driver, not a test driver.
"And he doesn’t have that prospect at Mercedes," Gorner added. "Ultimately, it would only be a simulator and Friday job.
"But either way, it’s a rocky road back for Mick because no matter which of these two paths he takes, he’s out next year."