It’d be naive to suggest that Ferrari has recovered from its inexplicable, though entirely quintessential, freefall in 2016 on the back of last week’s opening pre-season test, yet indications show a tangible package to fashion a concerted effort in the upcoming campaign.
The lack of bombast from the home of Ferrari, Maranello, in recent weeks has been a welcome departure from not only years but generations past, and this is arguably the most pertinent component to mounting a resurrection which has been stillborn at each attempt in the post-Jean Todt era.
Should it come to pass in the final test and opening events that the hype train has again blinded the reality, the spectre of disappointment which has accompanied the Italian marque’s ubiquitous “twice the pride, double the fall” returns circa 2010, shouldn’t be as severe.
Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne has been conspicuously silent throughout the winter in contrast to his outspoken early tenure, while Ferrari’s trademark ambivalence has given way to a quiet confidence that incumbent personnel are capable of performing their duties so long as they are afforded patience and faith.
Kimi Räikkönen, entering his seventh season at Ferrari across multiple tenures, is well placed to offer an informed opinion, the Finn succinctly attesting that they have “learned our lessons from the past years.” This being a simple yet priceless philosophy if correctly placed into practice.
Guenther Steiner, team principal of Ferrari’s primary customer outfit, Haas, lavished praise on its efforts in the engine department. “To come out here with a new engine… and be this reliable, it is amazing”, the German elucidated. Reliability which represented Ferrari’s Achilles heel in 2016.
While Mercedes refused to show its hand and Red Bull played the long game at Barcelona, the SF70-H impressed many onlookers regarding its stability, the popular notion that Ferrari will be relegated down the order once the former turns up the wick isn’t cast iron.
Not that Ferrari is bullish about the inconsequential pace. Broadly hypothesising at this early juncture, this could either be interpreted that they’ve belatedly evolved, or more ominously, they’re extremely confident that they’ve uncovered the ‘silver bullet’ which has been Mercedes’ ironically exclusive domain since 2014.
Sebastian Vettel arrived in 2015 hoping to achieve what Michael Schumacher had so abundantly before him, though has been severely frustrated to date. There’s no reason why he won’t head for the exit if he remains unconvinced by Maranello’s all round performance in coming months.
Wherever it shakes out once all outfits have fully acquitted themselves in the formative stages of the renewed aero-centric era, the most immediate challenge will be staying true to the trajectory it has set itself on, lest paranoia and ideological crises consume Ferrari once more.
Once bitten, twice shy fans are conditioned to be wary not to expect miracles, nevertheless remain amenable to the epiphany which many have awaited for years. Expecting too much, too soon would only invite further lament, though hope dies last where the Tifosi are concerned.
Formula One’s Pied Piper is stirring. By the turn of the month, we’ll be enlightened as to whether the Prancing Horse has finally heeded painful experiences past and is capable of reclaiming hearts and minds. There’s only one Ferrari, the script awaits its next chapter.