Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel is currently “struggling” in his role as Ferrari’s lead driver.
That is the view of Ferrari legend and current Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda, as the fabled Maranello team writes off its chances of winning the 2016 title.
“We wanted to win and have a say in the title,” team boss Maurizio Arrivabene said after the Italian grand prix. “We did not make it.
“A few weeks ago we initiated countermeasures and we see the first effects now, but the full effect will be in 2017.
“The atmosphere in the team is good. We know where we want to go. We just need more time,” he added.
Lauda, meanwhile, compares Ferrari’s current situation to when he arrived in the 70s, or before the Michael Schumacher era delivered its meteoric success more recently.
“It seems to me that the old, well-known and fundamental Ferrari problems still exist,” he told Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
“The people at Ferrari are very emotional: if it goes well, they are relaxed and casual, which is bad for continuous success. And if it’s not going well, there is a merciless pressure from the outside and the inside, creating a rush and quick fixes.”
Lauda agrees that German Vettel was initially hailed as a Schumacher-like figure for Ferrari in the wake of the end of the failed Fernando Alonso era.
“Sebastian came as a beacon of hope to Ferrari; a kind of saviour as Michael Schumacher was. At the beginning it worked quite well,” said Lauda, “but at the moment Sebastian is struggling in this role.
“I cannot say exactly why, but we see that Kimi Raikkonen is often faster, which for me means that Sebastian is weaker. He is certainly not in the role that he expects from himself and Ferrari expect of him.
“That needs to change,” Lauda added. “Ferrari needs Vettel as the hope and the anchor for success.”