Alesi: Ferrari's younger line-up will be 'easier to control'

Jean Alesi (FRA). 01.09.2019.
© XPB 

Former Ferrari driver Jean Alesi has suggested that the team might find it easier to manage a younger line-up of drivers in 2021.

Last year's pairing of Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc appeared to become increasingly fractious as the pair tussled for supremacy in the line-up. In the end, Leclerc came out on top and Vettel has since decided to leave the team at the end of 2020.

He'll be replaced by Carlos Sainz who will move over from McLaren, with many pundits suggesting that the Leclerc/Sainz combination could prove to be an even more volatile one than the existing pairing.

But Alesi thinks otherwise, and believes that having two younger men as team mates - Sainz is 25 and Leclerc just 22 compared to Vettel's 32 years of age - might give team principal Mattia Binotto greater control in the event of any future disputes.

"It's maybe the opposite, they will have something easy to control," he told the Sky Sports F1 vodcast this week. "They have two young kids, they have two professional drivers.

"Carlos I understand, is a very hard worker, and he has the experience with McLaren and Renault. He is coming from very experienced teams," he explained. "So for the management it's going to be easier to control these two drivers."

Alesi said it was a very different situation to having a former world champion in the line-up, and having to tell him what to do using team orders.

Ferrari last won the drivers championship in 2007 with Kimi Raikkonen, and the constructors title with Raikkonen and Felipe Massa in 2008.

Since then, the Scuderia has had a policy of signing one or more former world champions to drive for them - Fernando Alonso from 2010 to 2014, Raikkonen returning from 2014 until 2018, and Vettel joining in 2015.

However that approach has failed to deliver that much sought after title success, and Alesi feels that Ferrari is right to switch to a new 'youth policy'.

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari; Mattia Binotto (ITA) Ferrari Team Principal and Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari.

"When you have a world champion, when you have a charismatic driver, it's very tough to make him soft," he suggested. "When you welcome a world champion like Sebastian, you want to give everything you can."

He said that it was sad to see Vettel depart Maranello without having achieved his ambition of winning a fifth title.

"I have massive respect for Sebastian," Alesi stated. "[He is a] four-time world champion. He put his talent and everything into this challenge to be world champion with Ferrari. And he failed.

"He failed, but not because it's his fault or not because it's the fault of the team," he continued. "Something didn't go well."

Alesi admitted that he hadn't been expecting the news of Vettel's exit from Ferrari to be announced as early as it was, coming even before the delayed 2020 season got underway.

"I was actually very surprised of this move before the championship had started," he said. "But that means a lot I think for someone like him to be brave enough to say: 'It's enough. I will finish the season with Ferrari, but next year I don't know what I will do'.

"But for sure something didn't go like it was supposed to," Alesi admitted, suggesting that Vettel had never been able to mould the team around him in the way that Michael Schumacher had done a decade earlier.


"If I take the Michael Schumacher example, he took my place [at Ferrari] but he arrived with a full technical team," he explained.

"He worked with the same people he used to work [with at Benetton] to be world champion. It took him four years to be world champion, but it happened.

"Sebastian's situation was different. He arrived in a team and he tried to teach and to bring the technical team to work as he wants. But he didn't bring with him Adrian Newey [from Red Bull] so that changed a lot."

In the same interview, Alesi - a veteran of 201 Grand Prix races with four different teams across 13 seasons - spoke out against the idea of using reverse grid sprint races to set the grid at doubleheader events.

"The reverse grid is very good for the categories like Formula 3, Formula 2 and Formula 4, but not Formula 1," he said, after the proposal was dropped for 2020 following opposition from Mercedes.

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