Through five races this season, Ferrari has shown itself to be the most baffling Formula 1 team on the grid. As an organization, they have been downright fast, with Sebastian Vettel earning victories in the first two races while his teammate Kimi Raikkonen has grabbed three podium finishes to obscure his three DNFs.
Something, however, has changed for the Maranello team since, with the team struggling to match the pace of Mercedes while also beginning to exhibit the questionable in-race decision making that has plagued them in recent years. The most recent race in Spain showcased much of their troubles. The team took the second row on the grid but failed to match it in their results.
It was evident from the beginning at Barcelona that the Mercedes cars were going to be super-fast, and the team wasted no time demonstrating it. Lewis Hamilton took everything except the first practice session and now leads Vettel by 17 points as the series heads to the lottery-like Monaco Grand Prix. In addition, Mercedes now leads Ferrari in the constructors’ competition by 27. Wasn’t Ferrari leading at one point, and what has happened?
The Prancing Horse has lost their stride ever since hybrid engines came into existence, and it seems that with all the money Ferrari puts into their race program it would be expected that they would catch up with the Silver Arrows. But Mercedes seems to be always one step ahead of everyone else. Even when a team like Ferrari or Red Bull improve at the slightest bit, Mercedes pull back ahead.
Is this how F1 is going to be, or does someone have a game plan to beat Hamilton and his Mercedes team?
Maybe not now, but if anyone can address the problem, it is Vettel, who mentioned to the grandprix247 website, that there are three issues that need addressing:
“I think the three things this weekend. Firstly, we were not quick enough,” he said. “If we’re not able to see that, we’re more than blind, because we didn’t have the pace in the first stint. Second, I think we struggled a bit over the course of the weekend with the tires. They changed but they changed for everyone. Our ambition needs to be that we’re better off rather than worse off. That’s the second thing we need to focus on. Third, I think it was a poor weekend in terms of reliability. Kimi (Raikkonen) had an issue with the engine, had to change the engine and obviously retired in the race. I don’t know what happened. Overall, there are three things we must be able to see. If we don’t see those, there are no excuses.”
So, it is pace, tires, and reliability that would make anyone who is the head of a major racing team go back to the beginning. But Ferrari is strong and have the money to turn things around. But can Ferrari actually pull it off? They started the season strong and looked like they might return to the dominance that is associated with them, but now they seem mired in their more recent ways.
There are 16 more races to see if they can put things together.