Once the dominant force in Formula 1, Scuderia Ferrari have been without a championship victory since 2008. The team made strides forward in performance in 2018 and 2019, but were well off the pace in 2020. Can Ferrari return to form in 2021?
|First F1 Appearance||1950 Monaco Grand Prix|
Ferrari have racked up the most Grand Prix starts of any team over the history of Formula 1. Ever-present in every season of the sport, Ferrari’s motorsport history goes back further than 1950. The brand was founded by Enzo Ferrari in 1929. After he drove in races for Alfa Romeo in the 1930s, he set up his own racing team in 1946 to beat them. As Formula One began, Ferrari joined the circus from the second race, and scored their first victory at the 1951 British Grand Prix. They then dominated the early years of the sport when Alberto Ascari became the first man to win back-to-back titles in 1952 and 1953. The team went on to win four drivers’ titles in the first decade of Formula One, with Juan Manuel Fangio in 1956 and Mike Hawthorn in 1958 adding to Ascari’s double victory.
Despite a few years being unable to challenge the British teams, Ferrari fought back in 1961, making Phil Hill the first American champion before another title followed in 1964 with John Surtees. Ferrari’s focus wandered over the next decade to sportscars, and the team failed to win another title for eleven years. Luca di Montezemolo and Niki Lauda brought the team a new lease of life in the mid-seventies, as Lauda rocketed to the 1975 title. He was in contention again in 1976 and probably would have won, if not for a near fatal crash at the Nurburgring. The Austrian fought back the following year though, giving Ferrari more trophies to add to their ever-growing cabinet. Jody Scheckter took the title in 1979, before Gilles Villeneuve became the team’s star driver. He never won the title with the team, but he took two victories in 1981, before his untimely death at the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix. The team took the Constructors’ titles in 1982 and 1983.
Ferrari were flummoxed by the design efforts of Williams, McLaren and Benetton for the next years and failed to win any titles throughout the 1980s and the majority of the 1990s. Enzo Ferrari died in 1988, before the team endured difficult seasons in 1991, 1992 and 1993. Gerhard Berger scored the team’s first victory since 1990 at the 1994 German Grand Prix, and a solitary win for Jean Alesi was the highlight of the following season.
It wasn’t until Jean Todt, Ross Brawn, Rory Byrne and Michael Schumacher came together at Ferrari in 1996 that the Scuderia really began to change its fortunes around. The efforts secured the team’s first Constructors’ Championship in sixteen years in 1999, before Schumacher and Ferrari went on to dominate the sport for the first five seasons of the new millennium. There was plenty of controversy along the way, however, with team orders at the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix being a watershed moment.
A raft of regulation changes saw the team struggle in 2005, when Schumacher stood on the top step of the podium just once. 2006 was more punchy, but the team lost out to Fernando Alonso and Renault for a second year in succession following a season-long battle. Schumacher retired at the end of 2007, but Kimi Raikkonen took his place, bringing the team another Drivers’ and Constrcutors’ trophy. Felipe Massa came close to repeating Raikkonen’s feat in 2008, but fell short by just one point. The team did however find some solace winning the Constructors’ Championship – their last to date.
In 2009, Ferrari fell down the order, winning just one Grand Prix with Kimi Raikkonen in a season where Felipe Massa was put out of action due to a freak accident during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix. Massa was back for 2010, and was joined by Fernando Alonso – after years of speculation of him joining the Italian team. Alonso won his first Grand Prix for the team at the season-opening Bahrain event and challenged for the championship until the final race, where he was beaten by Sebastian Vettel. Ferrari came under fire for using team orders once again at the 2010 German Grand Prix, when Massa was ordered to let Alonso by. The Alonso age of Ferrari lasted until the end of 2014, a season in which the team failed to win a race for the first time since 1993.
Four-time champion Sebastian Vettel joined for 2015, and won on his second appearance for the team. Further wins followed in Hungary and Singapore, but the team wasn’t in contention for the title due to the dominance of the Mercedes car. In 2016, the team once again failed to win a Grand Prix as internal politics were brought to the forefront.
The step up for Ferrari over the winter from 2016 to 2017 was impressive, and even Mercedes were left mystified by the Scuderia’s pre-season testing pace. The season started with a somewhat unexpected victory, and their lead driver went on to lead the championship throughout the first twelve rounds. It turned out to be a year of what ifs for Ferrari, though. In the second half of 2017, especially in the Asian races, Ferrari seemed to implode, with problem after problem on both cars. The Singapore Grand Prix was undoubtedly the turning point, with both cars colliding with Max Verstappen on their way to the first turn. This was followed by a spate of technical issues, again on both cars, costing more valuable points. Nevertheless, going from winning zero races in 2016 to winning five in 2017 was impressive. The highlight for the team will have been winning the Monaco Grand Prix for the first time since 2001. The car was, bar technical problems, highly dependable at all tracks, but Mercedes still had the power advantage at tracks such as Italy and Belgium.
Heading into 2018 having threatened to quit F1 due to a dislike of the direction Liberty Media are taking the sport, Ferrari continued their improvements with a car that seemed to be a match for Mercedes. Sebastian Vettel got the most out of the SF71H in the early races to establish the title lead, but a spate of errors – most notably crashing out at thee German Grand Prix – ultimately saw Mercedes remain ahead by the end of the season. Meawhile, Kimi Raikkonen returned to better form, with a pole position (and the fastest ever lap in Formula 1) at the Italian Grand Prix and a win at the U.S. Grand Prix, but announced his departure from the team.
FERRARI IN 2019
Sebastian Vettel was joined by Charles Leclerc at Ferrari in 2019, in one of the most hotly anticipated driver moves of the year. Leclerc, the 2017 Formula 2 Champion, has been a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy since 2016 and impressed in his rookie season with the Ferrari-powered Sauber team in 2018. Meanwhile, former Chief Technical Officer Mattia Binotto replaced Maurizio Arrivabene as team principal, while Pascal Wehrlein and Brendon Hartley joined the team as simulator drivers.
2019 was a season which promised much but ultimately delivered little for Scuderia Ferrari. They emerged from testing as the pre-season favourites, but Vettel and Leclerc’s 4th and 5th place result at the season opening race suggested they weren’t the favourites after all.
Then came the second round of the season, and Leclerc took pole and led almost the entirety of the race before a dying engine let him down. Further opportunities for victory in the first half of the season seemed few and far between. Vettel crossed the line first at the Canadian Grand Prix, but a five second time penalty saw him finish behind Lewis Hamilton.
It wouldn’t be until Belgium, by which point their title chances were minimal, that Ferrari would clinch their first victory of the year. That was courtesy of Leclerc, who took his first two wins on the bounce, with a satisfying home victory for the team at Monza. While some of Vettel’s misdemeanors attracted an unwanted spotlight, the German delivered their third win in succession in Singapore.
But even that Singapore victory was somewhat tainted, as Leclerc was left unimpressed by the strategy call which allowed his team-mate to win. More team radio drama followed in Russia, but the issue was resolved as Vettel retired with an MGU-K failure. For all of Ferrari’s woes in 2019, it cannot be denied that they produced a super quick car: Leclerc led the team to four consecutive poles at the start of the second half of the season, and they amassed their highest number of pole positions in a year since 2007.
While accusations of underhand tactics with fuel-flow meters giving straight-line speed advantages brewed in the latter stages of the year, on-track, the team-mate tussle finally came to a head in Brazil, when Vettel and Leclerc made contact. It may have only been slight, but it was slight enough to end each of their afternoons. Ferrari ended the season as runners-up to Mercedes, and much further away from the champions than it seemed they would be at the start of the year. Read more: Ferrari’s 2019 F1 Season in Stats.
FERRARI IN 2020
2020 was nothing short of a disaster for Ferrari. Having had arguably the fastest car in 2019, they slipped to sixth in the Constructors’ Championship in 2020 – their worst result since 1980. Questions will be asked about Ferrari’s downturn in performance, not least given the FIA’s investigation of the team’s 2019 power unit, and their undisclosed resolution to findings over the engine’s legality.
The team recorded no wins in 2020, and three somewhat unexpected podium finishes – two for Charles Leclerc, and one for Sebastian Vettel. Neither driver qualified in the top three, and the pair recorded only six top five qualifications and fourteen Q3 appearances. Ferrari head into 2021 with a new driver line-up, as Sebastian Vettel departs and is replaced by Carlos Sainz. There’s change at the top too, as CEO Louis Camilleri recently announced his immediate retirement. 2021 is likely to be another difficult year for the team. Read more: Ferrari’s 2020 F1 Season In Stats.
FERRARI’S RECENT F1 HISTORY
|2010||3rd (396 points)||5||2||Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa|
|2011||3rd (375 points)||1||0||Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa|
|2012||2nd (400 points)||3||2||Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa|
|2013||3rd (354 points)||2||0||Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa|
|2014||4th (216 points)||0||0||Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen|
|2015||2nd (428 points)||3||1||Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen|
|2016||3rd (398 points)||0||0||Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen|
|2017||2nd (522 points)||5||5||Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen|
|2018||2nd (571 points)||6||6||Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen|
|2019||2nd (504 points)||3||9||Sebastian Vettel, Charles Leclerc|
|2020||6th (131 points)||0||0||Sebastian Vettel, Charles Leclerc|