until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

Ferrari's F1 'superteam' era is close - but is it ready?

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
4 min read

It is widely expected that Adrian Newey will join Ferrari when he leaves Red Bull next year - and even with his contract not yet signed the prospect of a new Formula 1 superteam is hard to ignore.

Red Bull has dominated this era of ground-effect rules since 2022, with occasional challenges from Ferrari, McLaren and – less frequently – Mercedes over the last two and a bit years.

But all empires fall eventually and with a brand new set of car and engine regulations on the horizon in 2026, plus design legend Newey on his way out next year, the circumstances of Red Bull’s downfall are easy to imagine.

Ferrari is the team Red Bull fears most, assuming team boss Vasseur stays on top of the Italian team’s infamous politics. And Newey would be a massive addition to a team that has gained serious momentum over the past 12 months.

Adrian Newey, Red Bull, F1

Vasseur has been backed extensively by Ferrari chairman John Elkann since being appointed Ferrari team boss ahead of the 2023 season, as Mattia Binotto’s successor.

And Ferrari’s off-track momentum combined with clear performance improvements have dispelled any concerns that Vasseur’s leadership would be undermined by the behind-the-scenes nonsense that’s never far away at Maranello.

Vasseur’s been credited with making good day-to-day improvements while also feeding into the bigger-picture strategic decisions that Elkann provides the firepower to execute.

Together they tempted Lewis Hamilton from Mercedes in a blockbuster driver swoop, and got Charles Leclerc to commit to a new long-term deal.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, F1

Hiring Newey would be a massive technical coup on top of other moves such as signing Mercedes’ performance director Loic Serra, who joins in October.

The upshot is that the prospect of Hamilton and Leclerc teaming up long-term and driving a Newey-influenced 2026 Ferrari, which would have seemed utterly outlandish not that long ago, now looks like a serious proposition.

It was telling back in Miami that Hamilton and Leclerc didn’t even try to hide their delight at the prospect of Newey moving to Ferrari. In such scenarios, the common response is to not say anything that might fuel the speculation. But Hamilton put Newey “at the top” of the list of people he’d like to work with, and said it would be a “privilege”, while Leclerc said adding Newey would be “amazing”.

Adding such firepower is important for Ferrari. This is a team in transition, and while it has not yet transformed into the Red Bull-beating behemoth it intends to be, Ferrari looks like it might be on that path – certainly, the prospect is more convincing than it has been in recent memory.

Ferrari, F1

Right now it might be behind both Red Bull and McLaren, especially over one lap, and that relative weakness in qualifying could be the difference between Ferrari sniping for some wins this season and struggling to even be second-best.

One thing to prove this year is that Ferrari can outdevelop those teams, not just hang with them.

The progress Ferrari has made under Vasseur’s leadership as a technical organisation has been reasonable. It has shown itself more effective with developments over the last 12 months or so than it did in the first year of these rules in 2022, when it started brightly and then faded.

Vasseur’s been keen to stress the contribution and quality of the existing technical ranks, and has done well so far to motivate the wider workforce and get more out of the existing staff.

But shaping the top part of the team as he wants it to be is an important step, and clearly the ranks need adding to - otherwise Ferrari wouldn’t be on a relentless recruitment drive.

Fred Vasseur, Ferrari, F1

Vasseur says that it’s not a matter of names, but small details that matter. That's true enough, but when you’ve already bagged Hamilton and have a rumoured warchest to try to sign Newey, big names are clearly part of the equation as well.

A 'superteam' is a wonderful notion on paper but can fall apart very easily.

Vasseur's priority is to provide the foundations to support the arrival of even more heavy-hitters - otherwise Ferrari will be in familiar territory, adding up to less than the sum of even more extravagant individual parts.

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