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New Ferrari boss Vasseur admits he approached Sainz for Sauber drive – as he declares himself ‘very pleased’ with driver line-up

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Frederic Vasseur has revealed that he tried to sign Carlos Sainz while working at the Sauber operation – with the new Ferrari boss relishing the driver line-up he has inherited at Ferrari.

Vasseur left his Team Principal role at the Sauber-operated Alfa Romeo squad over the winter to take up the same position at Ferrari, who parted ways with Mattia Binotto after missing out on 2022 title glory to rivals Red Bull.

ANALYSIS: Are the ingredients in place for Ferrari to finally bring title glory back to Maranello?

Reflecting on his first six weeks in the role, Vasseur took the time to talk up the Sainz/Charles Leclerc pairing, which will continue for a third season in 2023 – as the team and their drivers look to make the next step and bring a championship back to Maranello.

Asked for his first impressions of Sainz, after the Spaniard gave the SF-23 its test debut in Bahrain on Thursday, Vasseur said: “I was quite close to work with him when I was [team boss] at Renault, but I left before. I tried to attract him to Sauber, and he didn’t want it!

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 23: Carlos Sainz of Spain driving (55) the Ferrari SF-23 on track

Sainz gave the Ferrari SF-23 its official testing debut in Bahrain on Thursday

“We were not far away to work together couple of times in the past; I think it was already the case in the junior series before. Now the feeling is very good, that we know each other for a long time, and it’s much easier to work in this kind of atmosphere. I’m very pleased with the line-up.”

Vasseur then spoke about the determination he has seen around Ferrari’s headquarters during the build-up to the new season, as the outfit’s title drought stretches into a 15th campaign.

GALLERY: Check out the 2023 F1 cars in action as they hit the track for pre-season testing in Bahrain

“It’s very short notice, six weeks between day one and [the test] in Bahrain, and I have a lot to digest – it’s a big team! But the first feeling is very positive, the passion and the enthusiasm are there. So far everything is okay,” he commented.

Asked if Ferrari feels different to anywhere he has worked previously, Vasseur added: “At the end there is no big difference, because the DNA of a racing team is always the same – the motivation to improve and to do a better job.

Pre-season Testing: First cars hit the track

“I think the motivation is perhaps more visible sometimes, I would say, and the passion around the team. But at the end, the motivation and the plan is the same. But there is no big difference, I think – when you are a racer you are a racer, no matter if you are in Italy or somewhere else.”

Vasseur is present in Sakhir for this week’s test and, in addition to his positive reflections on his drivers and start to life at Ferrari, he gave an encouraging report on the SF-23 after Sainz finished second to world champion Max Verstappen on the first morning of action.

LIVE COVERAGE: Follow all the action from Day 1 of 2023 pre-season testing from Bahrain

“It’s very early stages, but the first feeling was good. The most important [thing] was to do mileage and we had no issue – we were able to do the run plan. Everything is going well so far,” Vasseur summed up, as Leclerc continues Ferrari’s testing programme into the Sakhir sunset.

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