How have Ferrari and Vettel become Formula 1’s most unlikely underdogs?
900 not out. (From @ScuderiaFerrari)
This weekend the summer break ends and Spa-Francorchamps awaits.
It marks Ferrari’s 900th GP and Sebastian Vettel’s 150th.
The former has 16 Constructor titles & 15 Driver titles,
making it the most successful team in the sports history.
With 6 straight Constructor titles between 1999 & 2004 during the dominant Schumacher/Brawn/Byrne era.
The latter broke Alonso & Ferrari fans hearts for 4 consecutive years from 2010 – 2013,
as Vettel and Red Bull took successive Driver & Constructor titles.
Yet here we are:
It went without saying. If you were a Ferrari fan you weren’t a Vettel fan. How dramatically things have changed. With one team dominating titles in one shape or another since 2010, first Red Bull and now Mercedes, Ferrari and Vettel have found themselves as the world’s most expensive and unlikely underdogs.
If there was going to be a driver take that mantle it would have seemed Kimi Raikkonen was set to take it quite comfortably. Gloriously fast and dismissive in equal measure on his return to Formula 1 with Lotus, Kimi’s raw speed and Anti Corporate speak always makes him a fan favourite, but the prodigal son’s return to Ferrari (In 2007 he became their last World Champion) has seen him found wanting.
Out qualified and out raced by Alonso 16-3 in both.
Out qualified and out raced by Vettel 8-2 in both.
The biggest surprise this weekend was possibly the announcement that Kimi had secured another season at Ferrari, when previously rumours had suggested he would lose his seat to fellow Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas. What has been clear this season is that the dynamic between drivers at Ferrari has been very different. Let’s call a spade a spade, there’s a bit of a bromance at Ferrari at the moment. Seb has been comfortably the quicker of the two drivers, but there is some feeling that Kimi has been unlucky. Certainly last time out the Prancing Horse should have taken a 1-2 but for pesky gremlins to strike Kimi’s car. It might be that the person happiest with Kimi’s contract extension is actually Seb:
“We are retaining a very good driver. That is good for the team. I have a good relationship with him and it’s good to keep stability. The best thing is that we work together, working for the team, doing our best, and FOR SURE (TM Michael Schumacher) everybody wants to race them himself, but I don’t think either him or myself have egos that stand in the way of the team.”
“It’s not my decision but FOR SURE (See above) I was asked for my opinion and I said I’d love to keep working with Kimi.”
“The half season that I’ve had so far, I think the results are not fair because Kimi had a rougher season than I had. But in terms of performance I think it has been very, very, close. Most importantly I get along with him. Nothing has changed since we became teammates, so I think that’s a positive for the team.”
You get the feeling from Maranello that the garages are a much more settled place this season than last. Seb has assumed the responsibility of team leader, and fans have seem something of change in the man himself. No, I don’t mean that he has lost any of his ruthlessness. Seeing him immediately switched on when the Mercedes of Hamilton appeared from pit lane at Monaco will show you he is still as sharp as ever. We have seen a new, almost romantic, side to him this season. A German driving for Ferrari. It’s the stuff he now admits was his dream. Maranello once the home of his mighty hero, Michael Schumacher, now sees Seb fully immersed in the same goal that Michael once had. To make Ferrari great again.
Maurizio Arrivabene, who has proven to be a breath of fresh air at both Ferrari and Formula 1 set the teams sights on two wins at the start of the season. Well half way through they’ve already raised the yellow flag twice. There is no mistaking that Mercedes are still the fastest team out there, but Ferrari’s impressive race pace, so often a characteristic of James Ellison’s cars, has meant that when the Silver Arrows have made mistakes the Prancing Horses were indeed poised to capitalise on them.
Vettel is unsure whether changes to the start procedures for the drivers will change much. No doubt he is hoping it won’t change anything and both he and Kimi can get the jump on both Mercedes drivers on the run down to La Source.
“Until now we took the opportunity two times and it worked very well, otherwise we did our best to be right behind, but for sure the advantage of Mercedes is still there and it doesn’t just disappear. We’ll have new rules concerning start procedure this week, but I don’t think they are going to change much, apart from less radio coaching from the pit wall and fewer adjustments on the clutch. I think in a couple of racing we’ll know what to do properly.”
Enzo Ferrari once said “What’s behind you doesn’t matter”
Heading into this weekend, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg might not agree.
Until the next time.