Two drivers on the F1 grid stand out above and beyond the rest, according to Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali.
The Italian was asked by the German Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag if reigning world champion and runaway 2011 title leader Sebastian Vettel can lay claim to the mantle of a true team “leader”.
“Really, there are only two and they are Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher,” said Domenicali. “I see no others.
“Vettel is still not a leader. He is on the way there, but it’s not like Michael and Fernando. He is simply too young and lacking in experience,” he added.
Domenicali said he sees “many parallels” between Schumacher, the winner of 5 of Ferrari’s last 6 drivers’ titles, and the famous Maranello squad’s current undisputed team leader Alonso.
“Both are fighting like lions to bring their teams to the front,” he explained. “They take care of the details that others don’t even notice.
“Sebastian is getting close, but right now there are only two (leaders).”
24-year-old Vettel, who currently drives for the dominant Red Bull team, has expressed a desire in the future to switch to Ferrari.
Domenicali is non-commital: “It’s too early to tell,” he said when asked if the young German is a future Ferrari driver.
“It depends on many developments to occur in the next few years. Currently we do not need a leader. At some point we may and so then Sebastian is a candidate. As I said, there are not many.”
Domenicali rejected the criticism often directed at seven time world champion Schumacher, who is currently struggling to keep up with his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg.
“You will not hear anything bad from me,” he insisted. “He is driving on a very high level; it is the Mercedes that is not good enough. If Michael was in a Red Bull or a Ferrari, then he probably would have won races in the last two years.”
And finally, Domenicali commented on Red Bull’s current domination of formula one, and the lessons that Ferrari might learn from the maker of an energy drink.
“Well, with all due respect, they have a title and we have 16, so if Red Bull do half of what we have done then maybe we will have a rethink. The question is who has the better foundation.
“I don’t know if what has happened at Red Bull is because of one or two good people. For us, we are currently building a new Ferrari. And then we will start a great period,” he said.