Ex-Formula 1 race winner Ralf Schumacher asserts that the biggest problem currently at Ferrari resides with the drivers rather than the team’s management.
Ferrari remains F1’s most successful side but has failed to win a championship of any description since it secured the Constructors’ title in 2008.
While the Italian outfit began the sport’s latest technical rules cycle on top at the start of last year, lacklustre car development, dubious strategy calls and a wretched reliability record offset its early competitiveness, leading to ex-team boss Mattia Binotto to stand down.
The Ferrari stalwart was replaced by Frederic Vasseur over the winter and Schumacher has been impressed by the former Alfa Romeo F1 team principal’s impact despite a tough start to his debut season at the helm.
“Ferrari has given me a very decent impression since Fred Vasseur took office,” Schumacher said in his latest column for Sky Germany. “A lot has happened there.
Ferrari’s evolutionary SF-23 car has failed to scale the same early heights as its predecessor, with the Scuderia sitting fourth in the Constructors’ standings and winless in the first five races.
Aside from being blown away by a dominant Red Bull side, the Maranello-based entity has also been usurped by Mercedes and Aston Martin – the surprise emergence of 2023.
Although Charles Leclerc beat both Red Bulls to deliver pole position in Azerbaijan and followed that up with the team’s sole podium finish of the year, the Monegasque driver was criticised heavily in Miami after crashing at the same corner in successive days.
Schumacher is convinced that Leclerc’s incident-strewn weekend proves he lacks the maturity to win a title for Ferrari, while also believing Carlos Sainz falls short when it comes to consistency.
“I see the biggest problem with the drivers,” the German continued. “For me, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz are not consistent enough.
“[Leclerc] shows with his mistakes that he either doesn’t have the maturity yet or maybe at the end of the day he’s not consistently good at driving a World Championship for Ferrari.
“To be honest, the Ferrari team is currently doing a better job than both drivers.”
After the cancellation of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix last weekend – Ferrari’s first of two home races on the current calendar, along with Monza – the two upcoming rounds mark home events for its two drivers.
Leclerc has started on pole position twice around the iconic Monte Carlo streets that surrounded him growing up. But a driveshaft issue in 2021 curtailed his chances before the race had even begun and then a wrongful strategy call in interchangeable conditions cost him during last year’s running.
Like Leclerc in Monaco, Sainz has also never stood on the podium rostrum at his home race, though the Spaniard has lined up as high as third in Barcelona previously.
The Spanish Grand Prix will represent a crucial race in Ferrari’s 2023 campaign, with the team set to debut several new parts – including the smaller modifications that were supposed to be introduced at Imola.