Marchionne hopes Sauber deal will create junior team for Ferrari


Charles Leclerc - Scuderia Ferrari - Hungary Test. Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Scuderia Ferrari plan to use the Sauber F1 Team as a junior squad to nurture their young talent, allowing them a doorway through to F1, where they can develop and gain experience before taking up a seat with the Italian squad.

Sauber recently confirmed they had extended their contract with Ferrari to supply them with up-to-date engines in 2018, and Ferrari President Sergio Marchionne sees it as the perfect opportunity for the Maranello based squad to work in collaboration with the Swiss team by providing them with upcoming driver talent.

“The engines for Sauber are a way to create a kind of junior team for our young drivers.

“We have two great young talents, but to secure the future of Ferrari, we need the chance to train them somewhere.

“We need space for them, so it’s a great idea and we’re working on it.

“Maurizio Arrivabene has worked hard on this project, and I want to say also that in agreement with Liberty Media we will also increase the number of customers for our engines.”

FIA Formula 2 Championship drivers Charles Leclerc and Antonio Giovinazzi are two such talents currently backed by the Ferrari junior programme, and both are looking to progress their careers and make the move up to F1 in 2018.

Leclerc is currently dominating the F2 series, and would have broken the record for most pole positions in succession at the round in Hungary, had it not been for a technicality that saw him penalised and subsequently demoted down the order.

The Monegasque driver is a highly rated talent, having also taken the title in the GP3 Series in 2016, and he certainly proved his potential by topping the times at the in-season test in Hungary, when he drove the SF70-H on Tuesday.

Giovinazzi is Ferrari’s main reserve driver, and the more experienced of the two youngsters, having already had a brief taste of F1 when he replaced the injured Pascal Wehrlein at the Sauber F1 Team for the rounds in Australia and China.

Those outings did not go quite as planned perhaps, but nevertheless the Italian is highly rated by Marchionne, who not only applauds his driving skill but also his work ethic.

The 23-year-old showed his hard-working attitude in Hungary, where he took part in practice for the Haas F1 Team, before heading straight back to Fiorano later that day to complete simulator work for Ferrari. That impressed Marchionne who was present in Budapest to see his team take victory.

“They tell me Giovinazzi did a great job for us, driving here (for Haas) on Friday and then on Friday night returning to be in the simulator.

“He worked late to make sure there was no mistake in balancing the car. He’s back here (in Hungary) with us now and I see that quite rightly he is tired.”