May 15 (GMM) Niki Lauda has hit out at the pressure Ferrari’s president Sergio Marchionne is putting on the faltering Maranello team.
Heading into the Barcelona round, Ferrari and Fiat chief Marchionne had said he expected the team to immediately end its winning drought in 2016.
But the red cars were actually outpaced in qualifying not just by the normally-dominant Mercedes, but also the charging Red Bulls.
“The fact that Ferrari is so far behind is very surprising,” Lauda, Mercedes’ team chairman but also a former Ferrari champion, told German television RTL.
“The problem with Ferrari is that they are under pressure — the more Marchionne calls for wins, the more the Italians make mistakes,” he added.
Sebastian Vettel, normally Ferrari’s lead driver, even trailed teammate Kimi Raikkonen on Saturday, but insisted the pressure is not getting to the team.
“He (Marchionne) talks to us internally, it is not just what is written in the newspapers,” the German told the Spanish daily Marca. “So this does not affect us in the way you may think.
“Tomorrow (Sunday) he will come and wish us luck. Yes, he is our president, but also a big fan who wants Ferrari to succeed. We all have ambitious goals and do not need any warnings,” Vettel added.
Asked if he can deal with the pressure at Ferrari, the German told Spain’s El Pais: “I am always asked about the pressure, but in Red Bull I had Dr Marko who can be quite demanding!
“The pressure I have, I put on myself and it is much greater than anything else coming from outside. Nobody has to tell me to win,” Vettel added.
Boss Maurizio Arrivabene, meanwhile, has been the subject of rumours in Barcelona but he also backed Marchionne’s right to demand that Ferrari wins.
“I would be worried if a president came to us and said we should go to Russia or Barcelona and finish second. I don’t think Enzo Ferrari would have said such things either,” he told Italy’s Autosprint.
Like Lauda, Alain Prost is another famous former Ferrari driver who knows the pressures of driving for the Scuderia.
“It’s never very stable,” the Frenchman, working as a pundit for British television in Barcelona, told the Telegraph.
“You can see that today, with the rumours about what is happening.”