Flavio Briatore has led Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso to four World Championship titles at Benetton and Renault, but after the Australian GP, the Italian is sceptical about Ferrari’s chances at clinching the drivers title in 2019.
It’s certainly true that Mercedes appeared on the back foot in Barcelona winter testing, but have certainly pulled it out of the bag for Australia suggesting a degree of not too unexpected sandbagging.
“Ferrari are test world champions,” Red Bull Racing team boss Christian Horner had mockingly declared during the winter tests in Spain.
The long-time Formula 1 team boss and top manager Flavio Briatore is skeptical. The Italian became world champion with Michael Schumacher at Benetton (1994 and 1995), then with his protégé Fernando Alonso at Renault (2005 and 2006). At Radio Capital the 68-year-old says:
“A world championship title for Ferrari will be very difficult against such a strong Mercedes. The only problem I can sense at the moment with the silver arrows is the competition within my own company, i.e. between Hamilton and Bottas.
“Compared to last year, nothing has changed at all. Ferrari hasn’t lost any ground on Mercedes, but it hasn’t made any ground either.”
“The Australian Grand Prix is atypical due to the layout of the track. We’ve seen this over and over again in recent years. But at the same time, if you drive as hard as Mercedes in Australia, then you are strong everywhere. Now the book of apologies will probably be opened again for the others.”
“In the form of Melbourne, Ferrari has to make up eight or nine tenths. I say: Mercedes will continue to dominate. They are used to winning and the rest to follow behind.”
“I will tell you what didn’t work at Ferrari in Australia. Everything has to be right – driver, car, use of tyres. This is no longer a driver World Championship, this is a tyre management World Championship.
“I hear from the commentators talk only tyres, tyres, tyres. I only want to see gladiators fighting a wonderful fight!”
“In 2018 Ferrari had the chance to win the title. They just had to put more pressure on Hamilton, maybe you could have driven him into a mistake but the truth is: Ferrari couldn’t build up this pressure.”
“The recipe for success is to win the races you have to win and stay on the podium at the other Grands Prix when the car isn’t quite capable of winning, thanks to the right strategy. With Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari, Fernando Alonso would have become World Champion. We won the world championship twice with Renault, when the car was less good than the 2018 Ferrari.”