Flavio Briatore believes that even "Batman" would struggle to guide Ferrari to a World Championship if the car is not capable, in a warning to Lewis Hamilton.
It was announced on February 1st that Hamilton would be departing Mercedes after 12 seasons at the end of the 2024 campaign, signing a multi-year contract with Ferrari to partner Charles Leclerc from 2025.
He has described it as a "childhood dream" to race for Ferrari having turned down the Scuderia's advances multiple times during his career, but is heading to Maranello with the hopes of challenging for an eighth World Championship.
But Ferrari - like Mercedes - faces a huge challenge to catch Red Bull before 2026 with the rules reset given the huge chasm opened up by Christian Horner's squad in 2023, although Ferrari did make good progress in the understanding of its car throughout the season, added strong developments and fell just three points short of overhauling a stumbling Mercedes to second in the Constructors'.
But Briatore has still cautioned the Briton about the scale of the challenge he faces.
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Briatore on Hamilton to Ferrari
"I am very surprised by Hamilton's move to Ferrari - he must have had his reasons," Briatore told LaPresse.
"The only thing to say is to wish them all the best, and he will get used to the reality.
"Do I agree with the choice? I don't know, first of all, you have to get the car right, you could have Batman in the team, but if the car isn't competitive, it is not like the driver can make a difference. It is essential that the machine works.
"For me, Leclerc and Sainz are very similar and the choice has been made by those who [work] with the drivers on a daily basis - if Ferrari has made this choice, it means that it is right for them, however you must have a car that gives the driver a chance to win."
Hamilton will be 40 by the time he first races for the Scuderia, despite having previously said he would not race into his 40s. However, it does follow a trend of drivers pushing past their 40th birthday, with Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher all racing on, with Alonso turning 43 during the coming campaign.
Briatore even referenced his former driver as an example as to why Hamilton's age should not be of concern.
"Enough with this age thing," he said.
"In F1 what matters is the stopwatch. We saw what Alonso did last year, and Hamilton is two years younger, he is not a flower or a primrose.
"However, we are talking about drivers with great experience. The only thing that matters to him is your lap times, in the race, consistency and how he helps set up the car, not your age or how tall you are."