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Vasseur hasn't given up on P9

NEWS STORY
30/08/2017

Currently tenth in the standings, courtesy of McLaren's double points finish in Hungary, Fred Vasseur hasn't entirely given up on ninth place in the 2017 standings.

"If I am very honest, it would be very difficult to jump to P9," he tells the official F1 website. "McLaren is in P9 today and McLaren is two times Sauber in terms of manpower, maybe even a bit more, so they have the capacity to improve faster than us. And they are already faster than us!

"We could score points on some occasions," he continues, "so I keep everybody under pressure to be there when the chance pops up. We will be pushing like hell... as if we were fighting for the championship.

"I don't want to say that we will finish in P10, as this is no target," he adds. "But we are already focusing on the future: the 2018 project is pretty well advanced, so this is where we are pushing on. But, of course, it is not an option to abandon 2017, because if you give up you will never recover."

That future, as opposed to Honda engines, will now see the Swiss outfit remain with Ferrari, albeit with current-spec units. This, of course, has led to speculation that the Swiss team will prove the conduit for Charles Leclerc's F1 race debut.

"It is too early to say anything right now," he admits. "At this very moment we are fully focusing on the company, as we know that it is there that we have to grow. So we are spending much more time on this than on the driver issue. To understand their skills I want to spend time with them before taking a decision. But the driver issue is also a point for discussion with Ferrari, and we very likely will take a decision about our 2018 line-up in the next couple of weeks."

After the disappointment of Renault, where Vassuer claimed there were too many bosses, when asked what drew him back to F1, he replies: "Everybody knows the story of me stopping at Renault at the end of last year. I don't have to go into details...

"I didn't try to come back into Formula 1, as I have many other projects. But then I had the first contacts with Sauber around Monaco. We had a couple of meetings and I visited the factory and got convinced of the project... the global aspect of the project. And it didn't take me too much time to come to a decision.

"A newspaper announced it a bit prematurely, but secrets don't stay secrets for too long in F1! It is a good project which corresponds to my approach and my background.

"We - I - know where we are today and know more or less where we want to be in the future. And from now in it will be part of my life to build up something."

Asked about his objectives, the Frenchman is in no doubt... "The most important one has already been achieved, the engine decision," he replies. "The second one will be that I get a full picture of the company, to have a good understanding what is happening within the company. And I need to spend time with the guys in the factory and with those at the track, to see where we can improve in every single department."

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