After being overhauled by Red Bull Racing last time out in Germany, a big dip in performance, strategy blunders, and the loss of James Allison – have the Maranello based squad shown all the hallmarks of giving up on this Formula One season, and focussing ahead? Kahran Vohra investigates.
A remarkable 2015 Formula 1 season was the transition Ferrari needed after failing to win a race in 2014, which saw Fernando Alonso depart, and unstable team bosses – which was consistently being changed, resulting in a lot of instability at Maranello.
Ferrari’s strong 2015 season saw the team set a very bold aim of winning the world championship in 2016, however, the first half of the season has gone terribly wrong, from poor car performances, to strategy blunders, and even an unstable technical department, with James Allison departing.
The first evidence of Ferrari potentially letting go of their 2016 campaign was seen in July, when the team announced they have put aside resources to work on their 2017, and 2018 projects – and that evidence has followed through in the races which have taken place throughout July; as evidences of Ferrari’s lack of form was becoming more and more eminent.
“I have always said the team that is working here is focused on this year because the gap is quite big.” Arrivabene said in July, talking to Autosport.
“I think we can fight, I’m sure we can fight. In the meantime, we have a different methodology to work so we have a team that is focused on this year’s car.
“We also have a little team that is focused on next year’s car and another that is looking after 2018, especially on the engine.”
After the European Grand Prix in June, Ferrari said it would be “crazy” to shift its focus to its 2017 Formula 1 campaign, however now, it is more and more eminent that Ferrari have put most of its focus on 2017, if not all of it. It also must be noted Ferrari are making less and less media appearances, and especially those which are related to its campaign focus between 2016, 2017, and 2018.
In a bid to better focus on the new 2017 Formula One regulations, Ferrari was one of the three teams who took part in Pirelli’s 2017-spec tyre test in the days after the German Grand Prix, and many believe the teams who take part in the test will be awarded an advantage for the 2017 Formula 1 season, given the wider tyres which are set to be introduced, which give the cars an advantage of up to 5 seconds a lap.
While the Pirelli test is designed to minimize the advantage given to teams who have opted to test, several believe top-teams who are testing will be given a “huge” advantage, and Force India’s Andy Green is among those.
“The three teams that have built test cars for Pirelli are getting a huge advantage,” Andy Green told Auto Motor und Sport.
“All the others will only get their first experience early next year of what Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull are getting now.”
Why Mercedes still fear Ferrari for 2017
Despite the Silver Arrows massive advantage, and Red Bull the obvious threat going into 2017, Mercedes have admitted they are still fearing Ferrari as a title threat for next year.
The rules may be changing for next year, but Ferrari’s strong part of their 2016 campaign will still be carried over to next year, and many more years to come: their strong power unit. Arguably, Ferrari spent too much time and resources over the winter break refining their engine in anticipating of overhauling Mercedes for the Formula One world championship, but they underestimated the importance of a crucial aerodynamic package, which Mercedes has. However, the aerodynamic package used in 2016 will soon be irrelevant next year, with completely new aerodynamic regulations, and the engine regulations, however, will be carried onto next year, which still could place Ferrari in prime position for a world championship, and therefore would make much sense if Ferrari have let go of their 2016 campaign, knowing winning the championship will be near impossible this year.