Lewis Hamilton is not a “guarantee of success” at Ferrari because their car is still lacking, claims Giancarlo Minardi.
Ferrari were the only team to win an F1 grand prix apart from Red Bull last season, through Carlos Sainz in Singapore, but they narrowly missed out on second-place in the constructors’ championship to Mercedes.
Next year they will welcome Hamilton in a blockbuster swoop but one veteran of the F1 paddock has delivered a reminder that their car might still not be up to scratch.
“If we talk about marketing, it's a brilliant operation, so hats off to John Elkann,” ex-F1 team founder Minardi told Quotidiano.
“But if we talk about Formula 1 then the situation changes.
“There are different dimensions. I am not naive, I understand the reasons that I will define as commercial of the great agreement between a seven-time champion of the world and the Lady in Red.
“It is a meeting between myth and legend. However…
"I, speaking instead of motorsport and that's it, wouldn't have taken someone like Hamilton.”
Minardi’s reasoning is nothing to do with age. Hamilton will be 40 when he drives a Ferrari for the first time.
“No, I swear that in my reasoning the registry office doesn't matter,” Minardi said.
“Fernando Alonso is even older than Lewis but is still very strong. And Hamilton is still competitive too.
“So we have to ask ourselves: in all these years has Ferrari lost because of the fault of those who drove it?
“No, they have not been without titles for a generation due to the responsibility of those behind the wheel.
“It follows that Hamilton is no guarantee of success. Just as Sebastian Vettel wasn't.
“In F1 it is essential to have a winning car.
“You don't build a house from the roof, but from the foundations.”
Fred Vasseur is entering his second year as Ferrari team principal knowing that the famous team have not crowned an F1 champion since 2007.
Vasseur pinned down Charles Leclerc to a new multi-year agreement before confirming Hamilton’s arrival next year.
Minardi asked: “But how will Leclerc take it?
“They extended his contract saying they were betting everything on him.
“A week goes by and they put a legend like Hamilton next to him…
“Let's say there is more than one oddity in this story.
“And in any case I would have kept Carlos Sainz.
"But it may be that he already has a long-term agreement with Audi, which will enter from 2026.
“In any case, I would have replaced him with a young talent, not with a forty-year-old champion.
“If Lewis wins the world championship with Ferrari, I will be the first to celebrate.
“I limit myself to expressing a scepticism which I hope is unfounded."
It is clear that Ferrari - and everybody else on the F1 grid - lagged massively behind Red Bull last year.
Red Bull are therefore expected to hit the ground running this year.
Hamilton will join Ferrari in 2025, a year before the new regulations come into F1, which the Scuderia may hope is the dawn of a new era which suits them.