With its drivers finishing 13th and 14th at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday, Ferrari, the most successful F1 team in history, officially closed its worst season since 1980. What happened to the Italian giant?
Ferrari is no longer a dominant force in F1 racing anymore. But in previous years, their achievements were still not so great. For three consecutive years, from 2017 to 2019, Ferrari always finished second in terms of collective performance on the final rankings. But this year, they dropped to sixth place. Personal achievement also plummeted. In 2019, their riders have made a total of 19 appearances on the podium; this year, this number is just three.
So what happened to the team that had won the collective championship 16 times (the second runner-up was Williams only 9) and in the yellow table legends such as Michael Schumacher, Niki Lauda or John Surtees?
In 2015, when four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel joined Ferrari, many believed that the Italian team would put an end to the title thirst that had lasted since 2007, when they won a “double” with Kimi Raikkonen. Vettel had a bad start to second place in the 2017 and 2018 seasons, but that’s all he can do. In the last two seasons, he has let young driver Charles Leclerc pass to become the team’s main racer.
There are many opinions that the appearance of Leclerc made Vettel lose confidence. However, an F1 expert confirmed that the German driver’s downward process took place before. In 2017, Vettel was constantly in trouble and unlucky, starting with the accidental crash of Hamilton’s side car in Azerbaijan. 2018 was worse, with more mistakes and accidents. Vettel has been outpaced by Leclerc this year. His average starting position is just 12.2, while that of Leclerc is 8.3, and his average finishing position is 9.2, compared to Leclerc’s 5.4.
Victim of regulation
But besides the performance of the number one driver, Ferrari also has engine problems. By the end of the 2019 season, the team’s performance is fine as they go through six consecutive races with at least one starting position. However, from the American Grand Prix, that all changed with the FIA asking Ferrari to make adjustments in the engine. What these modifications are is still a secret, but Ferrari’s performance went down immediately. And before the 2020 season, when the FIA asked to make more changes, Ferrari completely lost itself.
According to statistics, Ferrari is the team most affected by the FIA changes. Compared to 2019, the speed of their cars has decreased by an average of 10km per hour. Of course, the performance of the racers also dropped sharply. If in 2019, the average starting positions of Vettel and Leclerc are 4.3 and 4.4, respectively, and the average finishing position (excluding mid-skips) is 4.6 and 3. , 8, this year, as noted above, the numbers are 12.2 and 9.2 (for Vettel) and 8.3 and 5.4 (for Leclerc), respectively.
Lack of stability
Before 2014, Ferrari had only two leaders in 21 years. From 2014 up to now, they have gone through three generations of leadership. The pressure on the team leaders is terrible, especially during the period under Sergio Marchionne, Ferrari’s former chairman and chief executive officer. “You always have to hang up your phone with you, because if he texts on WhatsApp, you will have to reply within 30 minutes at the latest,” current team leader Mattia Binotto said of his former boss.
Things have cooled down significantly since Louis Camilleri took over, after Marchionne’s sudden death in 2018. Binotto said that Mr. Camilleri “understood the importance of stability, of investment.” However, the future turned to gray when Camilleri unexpectedly resigned before the final race of the season.