Could 2019 season at Ferrari be similar to the tussle we saw at McLaren back in 2007 when the youngster Lewis Hamilton challenged two time champion Fernando Alonso?
The history books remember this as an exciting time for F1 fans, but ultimately it was the failing of McLaren’s boss Ron Dennis who didn’t manage the situation well, losing the drivers title to Ferrari and Raikkonen.
It could well be argued that Dennis put too much bias toward the young British driver, and not enough to his ‘no.1’ double Champion Alonso.
Obviously, we saw Alonso narrowly failing to achieve a third title and Hamilton’s inexperience throw away his near chance of a title in the first year of Formula One.
Some have speculated that this could end up being a similar situation at Ferrari for this season, especially if Ferrari are quick out of the box.
Ferrari’s ‘insider’ is none other than Massimo Rivola who worked for twenty years as a sports director of Minardi, Toro Rosso and Ferrari. Later he led the Ferrari junior promotion program “Ferrari Academy” of which Charles Leclerc was a graduate of.
The Italian’s career has now ended up at Aprilia to become CEO of the motorcycle racing team, but certainly it’s interesting to hear his take on what we may see for 2019 when Rivola was quoted in the Italian paper Autosprint yesterday.
“There will be a feud between Ferrari and Mercedes again, the pendulum can swing back and forth like 2018, depending on the track characteristics. I think Ferrari had all the cards in hand last season to become world champions.
“But Mercedes has two advantages: First, this team has absolutely nothing to prove, they can go completely relaxed into the title race. Second, they have a clear reference point, and that’s Lewis Hamilton. He is the man of the extraordinary, they must continue to rely on him. “
“As for Ferrari, I firmly believe that you are building a victorious car. They also have a good driver Sebastian Vettel, who missed an opportunity in 2018 because of his own mistakes.
“Hockenheim may have been the defining moment of the season, Monza too. Now the difference: Vettel has with Charles Leclerc a team mate, who can theoretically destabilize the team.
“Everything will depend on Ferrari’s rules and how the season’s first Grands Prix unfolds. “
“The way I know Charles, he did not go to Ferrari to play 2nd fiddle there. Sebastian Vettel has fought hard for each of his four titles. But he allowed some mistakes in 2018, which were crucial in the World Cup duel.
“That puts him in a delicate position, especially as he costs Ferrari a nice chunk of money. “
“Leclerc, on the other hand, has no experience of what it’s like to drive a Ferrari in the race. There are many unknown aspects for him, let’s see how that affects him.
“The pressure is huge, but I guess he can handle it. If Ferrari takes over a certain protective function, I see no problem.
“Charles is a precocious guy who is mentally very strong. Nobody can always win the first time. He is used to it from the junior series, to do just that with good cars. It will be interesting to see how he deals with it, if he does not succeed with Ferrari immediately.”
When asked if the coming teammate war could end up being similar to Alonso and Hamilton, the Ferrari ‘insider’ has this to say:
“I predict that Ferrari will handle this situation wiser. Ron Dennis was clearly on the side of Hamilton, Alonso could not fully perform, the result was clear – Kimi Raikkonen became champion.
“Precisely because Ferrari has seen this up close, I assume that they will lead their drivers wiser. ”