Former Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo believes that if Lewis Hamilton had driven for the Scuderia this year he would have led him to the world championship title, a feat their current driver Sebastian Vettel was unable to achieve.
Hamilton won his fifth F1 world title with eleven victories on his scorecard in an almost flawless season, while Vettel was inconsistent and error-prone despite at times having the superior package to his rival.
Di Montezemolo did not mince his words when he told Sky Italia, “With Lewis Hamilton at the wheel I think Ferrari would have won the world championship.”
“I believe that this year Hamilton made the difference, he has had the best season of his career,” continued the man who while at the helm of Ferrari oversaw the winning of eight constructors’ championships and six drivers’ titles.
“He is a driver who has his moments of weakness but I certainly believe that this year’s Hamilton in a Ferrari would have won. I don’t say this to belittle Vettel but Hamilton this year has been really extraordinary.”
Di Montezemolo also orchestrated the team’s golden era led by Jean Todt and their star driver Michael Schumacher. A time when the Reds were invincible and delivered the most successful period in their illustrious history.
Since Di Montezemolo departed four years ago, much has changed at Maranello. Sergio Marchionne, who orchestrated the latter’s demise, and went on the make wholesale changes to the team.
But with the job unfinished he died after surgical complications during a medical operation in July. His passing forced in new President John Elkann and CEO Louis Camilleri to take control.
Neither have indicated what the future holds for the team, while decision time beckons for the team amid a reported power struggle at Maranello.
Di Montezemolo explained, “Ferrari that contested this world championship is very different from the one I left in October 2014. Different in people and maybe even a little in mentality, but this is part of the game.”
“Ferrari chased the world championship during the last four years, and at certain moments [in 2018] it felt like finally, we are in a position to win, but unfortunately this did not happen and two or three races before the end of the season it was mathematically impossible.”
“I was talking [recently] with Todt and we remembered that even in the first years Michael made mistakes. Vettel has made some mistakes, perhaps decisive in the context of the championship, but we must do everything to keep him primed because he is a driver of the highest order. It is normal that he is frustrated having not won the world championship in these years.”
In recent seasons Ferrari hedged their bets on Vettel with Kimi Raikkonen reduced to the number two driver when and where required, the Finn was deemed surplus to requirements and moved on to Sauber.
Next year impressive Sauber rookie Charles Leclerc steps up to the plate for the Scuderia with great expectations but also the facing the burden of the fierce spotlight that inevitably focuses on every driver that dons the red suit at the highest level.
Di Montezemolo was not short of an opinion regarding the team’s 2019 driver line-up, “Now a young and good driver like [Charles] Leclerc has arrived. A driver who impressed me, a driver who can have a great future, but driving Ferrari, with the pressure that comes with having to win, is different from finishing sixth place with the Sauber.”
Clearly, the passion for Ferrari and F1 remains in the 71-year-old Italian’s blood, but when asked if he would return to lead the team he replied, “The chances are less than zero!”
Big Question: Would Lewis have been F1 world champ in 2018 driving a Ferrari?