Marchionne: Vettel has matured a lot over the last year

Sergio Marchionne

Ferrari chief Sergio Marchionne has admitted that he is a big fan of Sebastian Vettel and believes that the German has matured in the wake of his first two seasons with the Italian team.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Marchionne said, “I told him he was free to sign up whenever he wanted. I like Seb a lot, I think he’s matured a lot even though he’s a world champion times over, I think he’s matured a lot over the last year. I think he’s a Ferrari man, and those things you don’t get out of your blood.”

There was talk that a stalemate occurred when Vettel and Ferrari could not find common ground regarding the length of the new deal with the driver seeking only a year extension, but Marchionne said, “If he did ask for a year, I’m unaware of it. The only thing we ever talked to him about was a two or three-year deal. I think he’s happy here.”

Asked if part of Vettel’s deal means he get’s special treatment from the team, the Ferrari boss said, “No. We compensate him as well for what he does. I have always complimented him on his ability to strike a good economic bargain. But it’s true for most drivers of his calibre. I’m envious!”

This weekend Ferrari race on their home track, where the tifosi are expecting the Reds on the podium – top step preferably – and also expectations are high that the Formula 1 World Championship title may come the way of the Scuderia for the first time in a decade.

Asked if not winning the title this year would be deemed as a failure, Marchionne replied, “No. We’ll take it if it comes in that shape but obviously the objective is to try to clean this up.”

“There’s been a huge development in the car since the beginning of the season. The rest of the season, this race excepted, appears to be more favourable to the characteristics of our car.

“I think it’s going to be an interesting dog fight between us and Mercedes right until the end. I think it’s going to be the stuff that Formula 1 should be made of as a sport,” added Marchionne.

Does Vettel have special privileges?

Are Ferrari steering clear of Formula E?
“We’re looking at it but I don’t think it’s the right time for us. It’s an immature process. It needs more substance than we’ve got today in Formula E. Eventually it will come, but I don’t think it’s ready.”