Apr.2 (GMM) The internal strife at Red Bull could help Ferrari to truly challenge for the 2024 world championships.

That is the view of Rene Arnoux, who drove for the fabled Maranello based team in the 80s.

The Frenchman, now 75, says Ferrari have enjoyed a strong start to the new season.

“They are much closer to Red Bull,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “Not quite at Red Bull’s level, but almost.

“But also true is that Red Bull only has one car at the front, because (Sergio) Perez is a number two – sometimes even number 3! He often disappears.”

In Melbourne, Max Verstappen had his first technical breakdown in two full years – a stuck rear brake. Arnoux thinks it’s possible Red Bull has been disturbed by the off-track turmoil involving a management power struggle and the Christian Horner scandal.

“I am for Ferrari,” Arnoux admits, “but first of all I hope that the mess and intrigue at Red Bull is over, because I want to see a real duel.

“I don’t want Ferrari to beat them because of things like that. On the other hand, I hope they can at least fight for the constructors’ title, also because Perez does not operate at a very high level.

“In fact, I think that if Ferrari doesn’t have any major problems this season, they almost have a better chance now than Red Bull.”

But even the drivers’ title may not be out of reach, Arnoux insists – and a large part of that turnaround could be because fellow Frenchman Frederic Vasseur is now at the helm.

“If he continues like this,” Arnoux said, referring to Sainz, “I think he can get more wins soon, and if he gets more wins, I don’t see why he shouldn’t go for the championship.”

As for Vasseur, Arnoux was asked if a prerequisite for Ferrari success in the modern era is a Frenchman at the helm – like Vasseur’s predecessor Jean Todt.

“I don’t know if that’s right, but it’s a tradition I like,” he smiled. “I was very lucky in my career to have not driven for an English team. Of course I’m joking.

“In a short time, he (Vasseur) has made optimal use of the existing regulations. He showed that he values his staff and that he can strengthen them. Slowly but surely he gains tenths on the track.

“Above all, I see him solving many of the problems he has encountered so far,” Arnoux said.