Former Ferrari CEO Luca di Montezemolo has praised the effort of Lewis Hamilton on winning his fifth Formula 1 world championship, believing that the Brit would have been champion if he piloted for Scuderia Ferrari this year.
Hamilton recorded a historical year in the sport, becoming only the third driver in history to win five or more titles in the series. The British driving racing for Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport managed to overcome Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in the race for title number five.
Montezemolo’s former team looked to have closed down the gap to Mercedes at the beginning of the season with Vettel producing strong performances. But since the German Grand Prix, where Vettel crashed out of the race whilst leading, Ferrari and the German driver couldn’t pick up the momentum and lost both titles to the Silver Arrows.
Multiple incidents with Vettel and managing to win only two races after the summer break left Ferrari losing out on their chance to win their first championship since 2008.
In an Italian radio show titled ‘The Politics nel Pallone’ on Rai Gr Parlamento, Montezemolo expressed his views on Hamilton’s title winning year, stating that the Brit would of won the title if he was in the Ferrari car.
“This year Hamilton made the difference in his best season since his debut, he has had moments of weakness and crisis, but this year with Ferrari he would have won.” said Montezemolo.
Vettel made critical errors during his championship charge that set him back multiple points in the title race, with Hamilton wrapping up the title at the Mexican Grand Prix. Vettel ended the season 88 points behind Hamilton.
Montezemolo left Ferrari in 2014, before Vettel’s arrival the following year, and whilst the Italian admit that he can recover and bring success back to Ferrari, the Italian feels the team could have done better to keep Vettel in check during his end of season misfortunes.
“I mean, not to despise Vettel, who has opportunities to rebuild with a competitive car. This Ferrari is very different to the Ferrari that I left in October 2014 in terms of equipment and mentality. He made a good car this year, in some things it was even better than Mercedes, but he had the final part.
“Vettel made decisive mistakes, but for the World Cup you have to do everything to keep him up, he is a high level driver and always very close to the team, you must support him in the face of frustration, even more with the arrival of a solid driver like Leclerc, with great future.”
Vettel will enter his fifth season with Ferrari in 2019, and will have a new team-mate in Charles Leclerc to partner alongside as the pair aim to clinch Ferrari’s first piece of silverware since 2008.
Similarly, Vettel’s idol and friend Michael Schumacher didn’t start winning titles with Ferrari until the 2000 season, his fifth season with the team. His victory at the start of the millennium would kick start the dynasty of Ferrari as he would win five straight titles between 2000 and 2004.
Montezemolo added that the legendary German driver made his errors during his tenure at Ferrari before the success arrived, claiming that he would support the team in the public eye.
“Schumacher also made mistakes at the beginning, but it’s always important to speak clearly in the dressing room and support the team in public,” Montezemolo added.
“He is a great fighter, I have a great appreciation to him and his family.”