Ferrari's Formula One Downfall?
By Asmi Mathew, Edited by Ishani Aziz
It is no secret that the Scuderia has been struggling to win a world championship since 2008 when Kimi Raikkonen and Felippe Massa succeeded in getting Ferrari their last Constructors’ Championship till now. Raikkonen also won the team’s most recent Drivers’ Championship in 2007.
14 years since their last championship win, Ferrari has been eager to establish its reputation and regain its status in the Formula One world. Despite being able to contend for both championships over several seasons, the Italian constructor always found a way to screw things up for themselves. The past few years have been tremendously difficult for them, sometimes through no fault of their own and other times as a result of errors made by their drivers.
Ferrari and Fernando Alonso, their then-driver, fought for the Drivers' Championship from 2010 to 2013. Alonso finished second in the championship for three of those four years as a result of the fact that Red Bull Racing always looked to have an advantage over them and their terrible luck just made it worse. From 2014 on, Mercedes completely dominated the Formula
One world, leaving no margin for competition. In some ways, 2017 and 2018 were the years when a team other than the German constructor was able to compete for the world title(s). But then again, shortcomings in the team's operation or the competitive driver's errors ultimately cost them the Drivers' Championship.
2019 was another year filled with hope and excitement for Ferrari, with them signing Charles Leclerc to work alongside Four-Time World Champion, Sebastian Vettel. When rumours about their engine for that year being illegal broke out, the team faced a lot of hate for it which undoubtedly affected the morale of the team personnel and the drivers. Despite what their rivals said, the Scuderia wasn’t able to gain anything with its “illegal engine” and once more, both the championships were won by Mercedes. The team’s drop from P2 in the 2019 standings to P6 in 2020 was a major wake-up call for them. The last two years have been a massive improvement as compared to what the Italian team had been through in 2020, from fighting for and finishing P3 in the Constructors' Championship in 2021 to starting the 2022 season in Bahrain with a solid 1-2.
The current season led many fans to assume that the team in red's 14-year drought without a title victory was about to end following the disappointment they had previously experienced. With their main rival (Red Bull Racing) facing a lot of reliability issues in the opening few races, both the Constructors’ and the Drivers’ Championships were led by Ferrari for a while, and that too by a reasonably good margin. Eventually, we saw the Ferrari drivers face the consequences of their team’s reliability issues in Australia, Spain, Imola, Monaco, Baku, Austria, Hungary, and Spa.
Team Principal Mattia Binotto constantly seems to deny any claims that the team underperforms at times or previously made a string of strategic errors, which when paired with their awful luck, played a huge role in them losing both the championship leads to their respective rivals. There is always room for constructive criticism but if a person refuses to acknowledge their mistakes- which are quite evident- then there is no other way to help them out. Self-acceptance is a crucial skill and if someone lacks it, then in most situations people end up making a joke out of them, which is similar to what’s happening with Ferrari.
Reliability issues, strategic errors, and denial might cause Ferrari’s downfall in the Formula One world since consistency is key in this sport and to remain consistent, there cannot be any margin for error. Due to their never-ending mistakes, the team from Maranello is quite infamous for their slow stops and unsafe gambles about tyre strategies. What earlier was a high-performing team, has now been reduced to a team whose fans pray every weekend that they don't get a disappointing race result and that says a lot about how the functioning of the team has changed over the years.
The Japanese Grand Prix, was unfortunately where most Ferrari fans lost faith in the once-dominant team. Except this time the Scuderia’s demise wasn’t in its own hands. Leclerc simply faced the consequences of the errors made by his team since the start of the season. With Verstappen’s dominance officially asserted, and his 2022 championship solidified in Suzuka, the Scuderia management should learn from this season from this point onwards.
Fans were hoping to see a more contentious title fight between the two childhood rivals (Leclerc and Verstappen), but now have to witness rather stale remaining races with the championship already won. Ferrari practically served the Drivers’ Championship to Verstappen on a silver platter due to all the errors they committed. If the team moves forward in the same direction, then we are going to turn into the spectators of its downfall. We’d be watching a team that was considered mythical turn into a bottom-five constructor that struggles to hold onto the last bit of success it has left, a downfall we’ve seen already in the Williams legacy.
With that being said, Scuderia Ferrari is too iconic to become a midfielder that occasionally scores points. Being one of the oldest and the most successful teams in the history of Formula One, letting its legacy fade would certainly be a tragedy in Formula 1. To ensure that this does not occur, measures must be taken by management, and soon. Seeing Ferrari fail to live up to its potential is heartbreaking for all F1 fans, but notably the Tifosi, with their undying passion to see the Scuderia on the podium at all times.