The Ferrari vice-chairman has gone for the odd tactic of saying Charles Leclerc is lacking compared to Max Verstappen.
Piero Ferrari is the only living son of Enzo Ferrari and has served as vice-chairman since 1989, a year after his father’s death.
Piero also has the distinction of being the only Ferrari family member to have ever stood on an F1 podium as he joined Fernando Alonso on the steps following the Spaniard’s win at the 2013 Chinese Grand Prix.
But those days seem a long way away currently with Ferrari winless in 2023 and having gone 17 races without crossing the line first.
Leclerc appears the most likely candidate to break that streak this season but Piero Ferrari singled out a lack of experience in comparison to championship leader Verstappen.
“Charles has the speed to be equal to Verstappen,” Ferrari told Autosprint.
“But he has less experience, in terms of number of GPs. Leclerc can still grow, he will grow.”
Leclerc has raced in 107 grands prix to Verstappen’s 168. As for Leclerc’s team-mate Carlos Sainz, Ferrari believes “we have not yet seen his true full potential, we are waiting for it.”
Ferrari was gushing in his praise of Verstappen, who looks on course for a third straight title, recalling his win in Barcelona in 2016 and describing him as being “at the peak of his career.”
“He is incredibly fast,” Ferrari said of the Dutchman. “He was already driving in F1 when he didn’t even have a driver’s licence in his possession.
“I was there when he got his first victory in Barcelona. He made his mistakes after that, his accidents. Now he is young and already has a lot of experience. He is a great driver who is now at the peak of his career.”
Ferrari comments more evidence of not joined-up thinking within the team
Piero Ferrari may not have a direct involvement with the F1 team but his last name carries weight and Leclerc will not have been thrilled to read the comments, even if they were a statement of fact.
It seems a comment that would only ever happen at Ferrari for it is hard to picture someone like the late Dietrich Mateschitz criticising Verstappen or the Mercedes chairman Ola Källenius doing similar with Lewis Hamilton.
Leclerc, just by wearing the red of Ferrari, has enough pressure on his shoulders already that he could do without negative comments coming from within his own team. Ferrari as a team should be giving him every opportunity to win the championship, not make his life harder.