Ferrari chairman John Elkann believes the iconic Italian team will return to Formula One’s summit within the next four years after becoming Red Bull’s closest challengers this season.
An F1 fixture, Ferrari have been in the doldrums in recent seasons but are currently second in the drivers’ and constructors’ championships as they prepare to contend the Italian Grand Prix this weekend.
Elkann said in an interview published in Italian daily the Gazzetta Dello Sport published on Saturday that he believed Charles Leclerc is in “pole position” to claim a world title — last won for Ferrari by Kimi Raikkonen in 2007 — in the coming years.
The Monegasque trails reigning champion Max Verstappen by 109 points but his Red Bull rival has never won at Monza and was hit by a five-place grid penalty ahead of qualifying on Saturday.
“I have faith that between now and 2026 Ferrari will win a constructors’ and a drivers’ championship again,” said Elkann.
“We’ll do it before we reach 20 years of starvation… we’re lucky to have two great drivers at the wheel, probably the strongest pair in Formula One.”
Elkann, a scion of Italy’s powerful Agnelli family and CEO of their holding company Exor, has faith in under-fire team principle Mattia Binotto to deliver even though he said he wasn’t satisfied with results up to now.
“Satisfied no, because I think you can always do better. But I believe having shown faith in Binotto and his team was the right decision and has paid off,” said Elkann.
“Thanks to him we’ve returned to being competitive.”
Binotto has frequently been in the firing line for an error-strewn campaign from Ferrari which reached farcical levels at last weekend’s Dutch GP.
That race was punctured by a series of blunders including bungled pit-stops, unsafe releases in the pit lane and erratic strategy calls.
A poor first pit stop left driver Carlos Sainz exclaiming “Oh my God!” after being left standing for 12 seconds due to his crew searching for a left rear tyre.
“Ferrari has done I think an enormous development in terms of performance from the last season to this one and if you look back for Ferrari you need to look back years to see such a development,” Binotto told reporters on Saturday.
“But there are still situations, first reliability because unreliability cost us at least a couple of victories and in order to win the championship you need to be reliable.
“Certainly we are aware that still there are certain steps of improvement which are required to win the championship… We are all working hard so that it happens as soon as possible.”