One of our guest writers, Sammy Slowpoke, takes a look at what’s wrong with Scuderia Ferrari.
Having come away from last year’s Formula 1 World Championship as the bridesmaid for the umpteenth time, and despite a promising showing in the Barcelona tests prior to the start of the season, Ferrari’s luck, or lack thereof, in the 2019 season seems set to continue it’s downward trajectory, with no change of fortune for the boys from Maranello.
Wasn’t it McLaren’s Ron Dennis who frequently used the phrase “If we didn’t have bad luck, we would have no luck at all…”, I forget, anyway, it seems Ferrari has taken over this mantra.
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To be fair, Ferrari’s rookie driver Charles Leclerc did show a glimmer of promise in the first race before that was thwarted by a late showing of the gremlins in the leading car, robbing him of his maiden win, in his maiden drive for the Scuderia. Qualifying performances haven’t been too shabby, despite being squeezed out of pole position in three of the four races this year – their front row lock-out in Bahrain qualifying and Leclerc’s first pole position in F1 being another glimmer of hope, that came to naught…
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It’s when it comes to the races themselves that Ferrari’s fortunes have taken a beating, and for four races in a row; unfortunately most of this has been Ferrari’s own doing.
Great things were expected this year, particularly with the arrival of new team principal Mattia Binotto, replacing Maurizio Arrivabene, boss man since 2014. Arrivabene failed to get the team to gel even when the late Sergio Marchionne stepped into the role of Ferrari big-cheese and was regularly seen lurking in the pits at many races prior to his untimely demise last year – Marchionne wasn’t known for mincing words or offering idle threats when it came to “motivating” team members.
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Quickest of the lot
The Ferrari team probably has the best car on the grid this year (and in 2018 – Ed), it’s their tactics and race strategy that is letting them down, again. They really don’t have the same wizardry that Mercedes-Benz has when it comes to eeking the best out of their cars and drivers, with the German team trumping Ferrari time and again, even when it seems the scarlet cars have the upper hand. Mercedes cannot seem to put a foot (tyre?) wrong and are masters at capitalising on other’s misfortune, Schadenfreude, I think that’s the term…
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Despite Maranello’s finest losing their way once again this season, another challenge they face concerns their two drivers. On the one hand we have one of the game’s few four-time World Champions, Seb Vettel, a driver dying to be the next Scuderia Ferrari World Champion (something they haven’t managed since in 2007) and on the other hand they have their newest appointee, Leclerc, the young Monégasque who seems to have rattled Seb somewhat.
(In a complete turn-around, Kimi Raikkonen clinched the 2007 Driver’s title thanks to the in-fighting at McLaren – Ed)
Not unlike the arrival of a certain Lewis Hamilton to McLaren in 2007, retired double World Champion and 17-year F1 veteran Fernando Alonso knows very well what it’s like to have a young upstart come in and steal some of your thunder, ok, all of your thunder.
Scuderia Ferrari has a struggle on their hands; keeping the two team-mates from running into each other is something every team fears and is the cardinal sin in motor racing, however, its ensuring their newest charge follows team-orders and toes the company line when told to do so that may be the biggest challenge yet.
Leclerc is showing heaps of promise, as he did in his first year with the Sauber Alfa Romeo (read: Scuderia Ferrari mid-week team), and is destined for stardom, I just hope he can show patience rather than petulance and bide his time. He is going to upset things at Ferrari, hopefully not enough to knock Seb off his game completely, or enough to allow Mercedes to keep picking up wins, whilst they in-fight and lose focus.
Naturally, the team will favour Seb, as they seem so intent on doing thus far this season (and did so often to Kimi’s detriment – Ed) , but they shouldn’t lose sight of the fact its a team sport, and they should let the fastest man win, or at least go after the Mercedes duo who seem to find their way to the front of the pack all too often.
Not choosing sides
And so as not to seem as though I am picking on Ferrari, for no particular reason, by the way, I do wonder how long it will be before we see some rattling of cages in the Mercedes camp?
Lewis has proven time and again that he is a worthy five-time World Champion, and he can deny it all he wants but is desperate to usurp all of Schumi’s records. In my opinion, he should have done that already given his stellar career, but right now his teammate is once again getting in his way. Sure, the Mercedes team will tell you that they don’t have team orders and they’ll let their drivers race each other, I just wonder how long it will be before Valtteri’s car starts suffering mysterious maladies and Lewis romps off into the sunset, again?
It is early in the season and, as is the nature of the F1 see-saw, things can, and will change a number of times before we finally get to see who takes the coveted prize this year, but it’s Ferrari’s championship to lose… again.