Nico Rosberg is “not so hopeful” about Ferrari’s chances next season as they don’t have the “competence” of a Toto Wolff with their new team boss and still have to deal with how they “screwed it up” in 2022.
This past season Ferrari went from championship contenders to pundits dubbing them Red Bull’s “B team or C team” as their title aspirations blew up in a shower of DNFs and strategy blunders.
Team boss Mattia Binotto paid the price for their runner-up finish, the Italian handing in his resignation less than two weeks after the season concluded in Abu Dhabi, a race in which Charles Leclerc secured P2 in the Drivers’ standings.
He has since been replaced by Fred Vasseur from Alfa Romeo, the Frenchman set to take the reins in early January.
But, according to Rosberg, he’s no “Toto Wolff”.
“I see a lot of stomach pains there,” he explained on the ‘AvD Motor & Sport Magazin’ for Sport1.de. “It’s incredibly difficult to fill this position.
“When I see what Toto Wolff is doing at Mercedes – the best team leader for me and definitely one of the best of all time. There is no such thing as finding such competence for Ferrari.”
‘Simply screwed it up as the season progressed’
With Leclerc having taken two wins in the first three races, Ferrari sat on top of both championship logs after the Australian Grand Prix.
However, three races later they were displaced by Red Bull and Max Verstappen.
The Dutchman didn’t look back after grabbing P1 with his fourth win of the season in Spain while Leclerc was left to fight for second place, and even that looked unlikely at times.
Both the Monégasque driver and his team-mate Carlos Sainz paid a heavy price for Ferrari’s dismal engine reliability, that not only costing them race wins but penalising them in the races that followed.
That coupled with far too many bad strategy calls meant, after a start to the season in which Ferrari were flying high, they added just two wins to their tally with Leclerc only holding onto P2 by three points, while Sainz was fifth overall.
“Ferrari got off to a really great start after being the first team to stop development last year and focusing on this year,” Rosberg said. “So they had the longest lead time and did a great job.
“The car was the fastest vehicle in the field, Leclerc showed outstanding form at that point.
“But they simply screwed it up as the season progressed.”
Nico Rosberg is ‘not so hopeful’ for Ferrari come 2023
Ferrari also dropped the ball when it came to developing their 2022 F1-75.
Binotto put that down to reaching the ceiling with the budget cap while a missed step with their floor upgrades mid-season also hampered their efforts.
It was in sharp contrast to Mercedes’ late-season development, the team bringing a host of upgrades to the United States Grand Prix as well as a new front wing to Mexico, claiming their first win of the season a race later in Sao Paulo.
Rosberg believes Mercedes, not Ferrari, will be Red Bull’s biggest threat next season.
“Ferrari didn’t develop as well as Red Bull Racing and the Italians made a lot of operational mistakes,” he continued. “So they kept falling behind.
“At the end of the season, the car’s speed was no longer on par with Red Bull Racing.
“That’s why I’m not so hopeful for next year, I would rather bet on Mercedes as far as RBR’s challenger is concerned.”