Former Ferrari director Cesare Fiorio believes Fernando Alonso was less error-prone when with the F1 team compared to Charles Leclerc.
Alonso began racing with Ferrari back in 2010, going tantalisingly close to winning the World Championship that year. Sadly, getting stuck behind Vitaly Petrov at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix meant the wait would go on.
Another opportunity came and went in 2012 with Alonso then departing Ferrari at the end of 2014.
It was not until 2019 that Leclerc arrived, quickly displacing four-time former World Champion Sebastian Vettel from his number one status at Ferrari. He collected two race wins in that debut season with the team.
It was also a year of several costly mistakes though, and although Leclerc has reduced his number of errors if not eliminated them altogether, Fiorio still believes this is where Alonso excelled ahead of the Monegasque driver.
“The comparison with Alonso seems a little disproportionate to me because Leclerc, despite being very strong and able to set incredible times above the possibilities of the car, still makes some mistakes. Alonso at the time committed less,” said Fiorio – who served as Ferrari’s director between between 1989 and 1991 – while appearing on the Contatto podcast by Formula Passion.
With Vettel no longer at Ferrari, Leclerc found himself alongside a new team-mate for 2021 in the form of Carlos Sainz.
Son of rally legend Carlos Sainz Snr, the Spaniard burst onto the Formula 1 scene as part of the Red Bull programme, but it was once he went his own way and signed with McLaren that his career truly took off.
Two seasons in Woking, which yielded a pair of podiums and 201 points, earned him a dream move to Ferrari.
And Fiorio rates Sainz very highly indeed, calling him a “guarantee” for Ferrari.
“In my opinion, Sainz is very strong and already in the race is as strong as Leclerc. But in qualifying he still makes some mistakes, probably because he still doesn’t know the car well. But he’s definitely a driver who’s a guarantee,” Fiorio explained.
“The driver pairing is very strong. I hope Sainz will be quick in qualifying as well when he has finished adapting to Ferrari.
“Ferrari have progressed compared to last year, although they have not eliminated the gap entirely to Mercedes and Red Bull yet.”