F1 CEO identifies key difference between Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher at Ferrari

Thomas Maher

Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali sees Lewis Hamilton’s arrival at Ferrari as being very different from Michael Schumacher’s in the mid-1990s.

The seven-time F1 World Champion moves to the Scuderia from Mercedes at the end of this season, the team with which Michael Schumacher won five of his seven titles in the early 2000s.

Stefano Domenicali pinpoints Lewis Hamilton Ferrari difference

One major difference between the moves made by the two most successful drivers in F1 history is that, in Schumacher’s case, he moved to Ferrari with just two titles to his name – sealing his legendary status with five consecutive titles between 2000 and ’04.

Hamilton switches to the Scuderia with seven titles already to his name, but with the similar challenge of helping restore Ferrari to the very top of F1 as they bid to topple Red Bull from their title-winning perch.

Former Ferrari team boss and current F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has first-hand experience of working alongside Schumacher within a team, and said he sees further differences between the Ferrari of Schumacher’s era and what Hamilton will be arriving to.

Asked by Italy’s Leo Turrini for Quotidiano Nazionale whether or not Hamilton could become Ferrari’s next Schumacher, Domenicali said: “Yes, but for sure there is a difference and I am not referring to age, although Michael on his arrival in Italy was much younger.”

As for what that difference is, Domenicali said the dynamic Hamilton will have with his team-mate is vastly at odds with what Schumacher’s arrangement was.

“Schumi was the absolute dominus, Irvine was avowedly a number two,” he said.

“Lewis will have to play with someone like [Charles] Leclerc, who will never accept wingman duties.”

Domenicali also has no doubts that Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur will have no problems keeping his two alpha drivers under control: “I think Fred is perfectly capable of handling a situation that he first helped determine.”

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Stefano Domenicali: Lewis Hamilton has lost none of his talent

With Hamilton turning 40 just before he starts his first season in red, Domenicali said age won’t be a factor in preventing Hamilton from winning races and championships if the car is capable.

“I am present at all the races,” he said.

“Hamilton has lost none of the talent and is still hungry for success.”

With Hamilton’s arrival forcing Carlos Sainz onto the job market as the Spaniard tries to find employment at another team, it was put to Domenicali that Ferrari doesn’t need Hamilton given that Sainz is a capable race winner and is proving a match for Leclerc.

“Some people think there is no need for the seven-time world champion, I know the reasoning. But it’s wrong reasoning,” he said.

“Carlos is an [excellent driver] and, not surprisingly, he is the market man of the moment.

“He will find an arrangement that matches his qualities. But, with Hamilton, Ferrari has made a great operation, not only on a marketing level. It’s a strategic choice, that’s it.”

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