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Formula 1

Ferrari reveals two major F1 signings poached from Mercedes

by Matt Beer
3 min read

Ferrari has hired Jerome d’Ambrosio - previously Toto Wolff’s effective deputy at Mercedes - to be its deputy team principal and head its Formula 1 driver academy, as well as confirming the signing of former Mercedes performance director Loic Serra to be its new head of chassis performance engineering.

Former F1 racer d’Ambrosio fills the gap left by Laurent Mekies departing to become RB team boss ahead of this season. As sporting director, Mekies had effectively been Fred Vasseur’s deputy at Ferrari.

Both d’Ambrosio and Serra will start work at Ferrari on October 1 this year.

Having been first deputy team principal then overall boss at the Venturi Formula E team after the end of his driving career, d’Ambrosio’s formal role at Mercedes was overseeing its young driver programme.

But his arrival at the start of 2023 was also intended to give Wolff a dedicated ‘right-hand man’ following James Vowles’s exit to lead Williams, and there had even been talk of d’Ambrosio as Wolff’s long-term successor.

Instead he leaves the team after just one season and, having initially been rumoured to be joining Ferrari as its new driver academy chief, he actually takes both that role and the deputy slot alongside Vasseur.

D’Ambrosio contested 20 grands prix, racing for the Virgin team in 2011 then making a one-off Lotus appearance as the banned Romain Grosjean’s 2012 Italian Grand Prix stand-in during two years as the team’s reserve.

He then switched to Formula E for its inaugural season, winning three races during a six-year driving stint in the series and finishing in the top five in the championship with the Dragon team in FE’s first two seasons.

The Race says

Scott Mitchell-Malm

Both of these appointments are just confirmation of something that has been known in the paddock for several months now, but that does not make the moves any less significant.

In Serra, Ferrari gets hold of a highly respected figure from Mercedes who is well thought of by Lewis Hamilton - Ferrari's star signing for 2025.

But don't confuse that to mean Hamilton's arrival somehow influenced Serra. Ferrari was first linked with the ex-Mercedes performance director almost a year ago, so this has been a long time coming. So, if anything was a factor, it would be Serra's impending exit that nudged Hamilton further towards leaving Mercedes.

As for d'Ambrosio, he will depart Mercedes after a short and slightly confusing role. Drafted in seemingly as a 'right-hand man' replacement for Vowles, d'Ambrosio had no public-facing position. So he was only seen by the watching world as someone who stood next to Wolff in the garage.

Doubtless he had more to do than that, but his position always seemed a bit nebulous. At Ferrari it looks like there will be a clearer purpose.

There has been a vacuum in support of Vasseur for the last few months, since Mekies left to be RB team principal, and the Ferrari Driver Academy needs more focus than can perhaps be afforded by Jock Clear, senior Ferrari engineer and Charles Leclerc's driver coach.

Those are significant positions for d'Ambrosio to adopt. If he can make a real contribution on the sporting side, and Serra has the kind of technical influence that he has been credited with at Mercedes, these will be two powerful additions to Vasseur's Ferrari.

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