Jul.31 (GMM) Sergio Marchionne has admitted Sauber could become “a kind of junior team” for Ferrari.
Last week, former F1 team founder Gian Carlo Minardi said the so-called Ferrari ‘B team’ Haas announcing an unchanged driver lineup for 2018 was “a missed opportunity for Ferrari”.
That’s because Ferrari junior drivers Antonio Giovinazzi and Charles Leclerc would be left out in the cold for 2018.
At the time Minardi spoke, Sauber was still linked with a move from Ferrari to Honda power, having also committed to giving Honda-linked driver Nobuharu Matsushita a test this week.
But then, everything changed in Hungary.
New Sauber boss Frederic Vasseur axed the Honda deal and signed up for current-specification Ferrari engines for 2018.
Speaking on a visit to the paddock, Ferrari president Marchionne said in Hungary: “The engines for Sauber are also a way to create a kind of junior team for our young drivers.
“We have two great young talents, but to secure the future of Ferrari, we need the chance to train them somewhere.
“We need space for them, so it’s a great idea and we’re working on it,” Marchionne added.
“Maurizio Arrivabene has worked hard on this project, and I want to say also that in agreement with Liberty Media we will also increase the number of customers for our engines.”
While Monaco-born Leclerc is dominating Formula 2 so far this year, first in line for a Sauber vacancy would actually be Italian Giovinazzi.
“They tell me Giovinazzi did a great job for us, driving here (for Haas) on Friday and then on Friday night returning to be in the simulator,” said Marchionne.
“He worked late to make sure there was no mistake in balancing the car. He’s back here (in Hungary) with us now and I see that quite rightly he is tired,” he smiled.
Marchionne admits he had a meeting with his Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff in Hungary, with one of the topics being the German marque’s entry into Formula E.
He also responded to Wolff’s claim that Ferrari was strong in Hungary mainly because the slow circuit and high temperatures suited the red car.
“We do not minimise the work of our guys,” Marchionne said, “but there are two fast circuits in Spa and Monza coming up, so we’ll see there,” said Marchionne.