Mattia Binotto has hailed Ferrari’s customer teams for giving their young drivers a Formula 1 learning ground that “seriously helps them out”.
Ferrari supply engines to Alfa Romeo and Haas and in return, get the chance for members of their Driver Academy to learn the F1 ropes with a view to potentially racing for the Scuderia in the future.
Antonio Giovinazzi came up through the Ferrari programme and is heading into his third year as an Alfa Romeo driver, while the latest prospect to be blooded is Mick Schumacher who will race for Haas in 2021.
For Schumacher, son of Michael, the seven-time former World Champion, driving for Haas is a natural step after winning last year’s Formula 2 Championship.
Unsurprisingly, given the pressure that goes with representing the Italian giants, Ferrari team principal Binotto wants to see how the 21-year-old German fares in a less intense environment before pitching him in at the deep end.
“I think we cannot afford to take a Formula 2 driver and put him directly in the cockpit of one of the red cars,” said Binotto, quoted by Motorsport.com’s Russian language site.
“The responsibility would be too great and in the absence of the necessary experience, it is difficult to expect strong results from a young driver.
“In this case, the presence of client teams seriously helps us out. With their help, we can provide our drivers with the opportunity to master F1 and gain experience.
“Mick’s place at Haas next year is a great opportunity to showcase the full benefits of our partnership.
“It is important to understand that our junior programme should educate Formula 1 drivers, and drivers who could one day compete for Ferrari.
“This means the guys must be 100% ready to perform at the highest level.”
Binotto has also said he expects Schumacher to need a full year of Formula 1 under his belt before showing his true potential.
Schumacher has shown throughout his career so far that despite being a relatively slow starter when he joins a new team or category, once he is fully up to speed he becomes a really formidable force.
“I think it will be very difficult for him at the start,” said Binotto. “If I look at his past experience in both F2 and F3, normally he is delivering his best in the second season and not the first.
“I think Mick, the way he has developed himself, is learning a lot in the first season and becomes very strong in the second half of the second season. That’s why I think two seasons will be important for him.
“But already in the second, I’m expecting to see progress compared to the first one.”