Damon Hill believes that the level of importance that Ferrari holds to Italy is a type of pressure that the Scuderia are the only team on the grid to face.
The scarlet squad raced in front of the Tifosi at the Italian Grand Prix, a weekend in which Charles Leclerc clinched a podium by finishing P2, while Carlos Sainz worked his way through the field following an engine penalty to achieve P4.
It has been a challenging second half of the season for Ferrari following a strong start to the campaign, and Hill admits that the Italian outfit’s huge following in their home country is an additional pressure that they face.
“They’ve got the weight of the entire nation,” Hill told the F1 Nation podcast.
“I saw some banner or something [at Monza] that basically [said], ‘Ferrari and Italy are the same thing’. When you go to Monza and you see these Ferrari fans turn up… Italy and Ferrari, it means the same thing.
“It’s almost as big as Italy, Ferrari. It’s not looking at [it] the other way around, so that’s the kind of level of importance Ferrari is to Italy.
“It’s a defining characteristic of the country, so that’s the pressure that doesn’t apply to any other team.”
Hill: Binotto trying to protect Ferrari from pressure
Ferrari have faced much scrutiny over mistakes made at several race weekends in 2022, such as the strategic errors that affected the squad in Hungary.
Team boss Mattia Binotto has admitted that the Scuderia may need to “change some things” going forwards, but does not feel that this should necessarily take the form of staff changes.
Hill thinks that Binotto is doing his best to protect Ferrari from the pressures they are facing as their championship hopes continue to slip away.
“I think one of the problems is, when you’ve got an organisation [where somebody is] trying to protect the organisation, it’s no good if the outside world is saying all these things, because they can patently see that those things are going on,” the 1996 World Champion explained.
“And the guy who’s the head of the organisation is going, ‘No, there’s nothing going on.’
“Mattia Binotto is obviously trying to protect the team from pressure, but it takes the guy at the top to say, ‘Listen, we can all see what’s really going on. This is not good enough. It’s got to be better.’
Have Ferrari put their “best guys forward”?
In terms of their drivers, Hill believes that Leclerc continues to have the edge over Sainz, and has suggested that the team need to consider this.
“The fact of the matter is [that] Charles Leclerc, in sheer pace, is the lead guy,” Hill continued.
“Carlos has done a great job, but he still hasn’t dominated Charles. It’s a bit like Sergio [Perez, at Red Bull] – they’re [a] very good team, the pair of them. Carlos was actually pretty quick at Monza, but he’s going to have to go up another level to put Charles in the shade.
“So that’s a fair point. If you’re going up into battle against Max Verstappen and Red Bull, you’ve got to put your best guys forward. You’re not going to not hurt people’s feelings, because there isn’t time for that in Formula 1.
“It’s tough but fair.”