Stefano Domenicali has taken a swipe at runaway F1 2011 World Championship pace-setter Sebastian Vettel, claiming that the Red Bull Racing star is 'still not a leader' – albeit acknowledging that he could yet feature on Ferrari's driver shopping list for future campaigns.
Domenicali was asked by German Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag
whether – as he speeds towards what looks almost certain to be a second consecutive title triumph this year – Vettel can now be considered a true team leader in F1, but the Italian revealed that he holds just two of the current grand prix grid in such high-esteem...and the young German is not one of them.
“Really, there are only two and they are Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher,” he opined, pointing moreover to 'many parallels' between the Spaniard and the most successful driver in the sport's history. “I see no others. Vettel is still not a leader. He is on the way there and he is getting close, but right now there are only two. He's not like Michael and Fernando. He is simply too young, and lacking in experience.
“Both (Schumacher and Alonso) are fighting like lions to bring their teams to the front; they take care of the details that others don't even notice. You will not hear anything bad from me [about Schumacher]. He is driving at a very high level – it is the Mercedes that is not good enough. If Michael was in a Red Bull or a Ferrari, then he probably would have won races in the last two years.”
If Schumacher is Ferrari's past, then Vettel has on occasion expressed an interest in being a part of the Scuderia's
future, but team principal Domenicali is quick to stress that 'it's too early to tell' whether such a situation could ever materialise, reasoning: “It depends on many developments to occur in the next few years. Currently, we do not need a leader. At some point, we may, and so then Sebastian is a candidate. As I said, there are not many.”
The 46-year-old went on to assert that he will only be truly impressed by Red Bull Racing's recent successes in the top flight should such form be maintained, and that as of yet, Ferrari has no lessons to learn from its Milton Keynes-based rival. McLaren-Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton previously scathingly dismissed the team as merely 'a drinks company'.
“With all due respect, they have [one] title and we have 16, so if Red Bull do half of what we have done then maybe we will have a re-think,” Domenicali mused. “The question is, who has the better foundation? I don't know if what has happened at Red Bull is because of one or two good people. For us, we are currently building a new Ferrari – and then we will start a great period.”