Moving towards the “maturity” of Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, former Ferrari sporting director Cesare Fiorio says the rumours of Charles Leclerc’s new contract are “good news” for the Scuderia.
According to reports in Italy, Leclerc has agreed a new bumper five-year deal with Ferrari, one that comes with a €25m starting salary that will double over the course of the contract.
But while that’s lucrative for the driver, Ferrari’s Tifosi will be hoping it also pays dividends for the team.
Maturing Charles Leclerc a good bet for Ferrari’s future
Fiorio, who led Ferrari between 1989 and 1991, believes it will.
“I think it’s a good move, because he’s adding to his speed and skill the ability to limit the number of errors,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“Until recently he made too many of them. However, that was normal. Verstappen is his age, but he too made mistakes in the early years a lot.
“Now Leclerc is moving towards that maturity that Max already has and that Lewis Hamilton also has.”
In fact, Fiorio believes mistakes have been one of the biggest problems Ferrari have faced of late with both Leclerc and his team-mate Carlos Sainz blotting their copybooks.
They do, however, have speed.
“They made a few too many mistakes. But they are both very fast,” Fiorio added.
“One, Leclerc, better in qualifying, faster than his team-mate, even if we’re talking about tenths, not half a second. The other, Sainz, overall more skilled as race management.”
Whether Sainz stays on at Ferrari remains to be seen with the Spaniard linked to a return to Red Bull with Lando Norris taking his Ferrari seat.
‘Ferrari need more creativity, more intuition’
With the 2023 season dominated by Red Bull, Ferrari had to settle for third place in the Constructors’ Championship as they also lost out to Mercedes by three points.
It means the Scuderia has not won a teams’ title since 2008 while their last Drivers’ Champion was Kimi Raikkonen in 2007.
Fiorio, however, believes there is cause for optimism.
“Compared to Mercedes, a good job was done, given that they were almost caught up,” he said. “And in general I see that behind Red Bull several teams are at the same level.
“The problem is obviously Red Bull. In F1 it has always been like this, with periods of more or less absolute dominion. But they never lasted forever.”
Pressed as to what Ferrari need to do to close the gap, he replied: “It seems to me that on the engine front they don’t need anything. As for aerodynamics, we will need to work to resolve the disorientation we had in the fast corners.
“Furthermore, a step will be needed in terms of strategies. We have seen some mistakes. We will need expertise and timeliness at the wall, on the track, not in Maranello.
“We need more creativity, more intuition, so as not to follow the decisions of the other teams.”