Depsite Mercedes’ domination of Formula One and DJR Team Penske’s stronghold on the Supercars Championship, the attitude towards the two teams differs wildly.
Ferrari suffered one of its worst results on home soil at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, as both Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc failed to reach the chequered flag in a season where the Scuderia’s struggle continues to get worse.
A brake failure sent outgoing four-time world champion Vettel ploughing through the styrofoam sponsor boards at the Rettifilo chicane, while 22-year old Leclerc survived a monstrous crash into the wall on the outside of Parabolica.
Whilst this result or lack thereof made for an embarrassing home grand prix, it wasn’t the first double retirement for Ferrari in 2020. That was at the Styrian Grand Prix following both cars crashing into each other at Turn 3.
This was added on top of ongoing car performance and balance woes, which was caused largely by the decrease of power from the power unit.
The most winningest constructor in Formula One will be the first outfit to reach the milestone of 1000 grand prix contested in the sport’s 70-year history, at this weekend’s event at Mugello which has been named in honour of Ferrari. A one-off burgundy will also adorn the SF1000 in tribute of the Scuderia famous heritage.
Whether there’ll be any celebration or not remains to be seen, as the once-dominant outfit continues to find new lows to stoop to and questions continue to be asked of what is going within the walls of Maranello.
What is evident is that the controversial and confidential settlement with the FIA in 2019 over the legality of their power unit which was accused of illegally burning extra fuel for a power boost has hurt the Ferrari motor and hurt it hard. The lack of power has made the car draggier and as a result, it struggles where it doesn’t need it.
This was highlighted in their poor performance at the Belgian Grand Prix, where all that extra aerodynamic drag had stressed out the Pirelli tyres and by consequence of that meant neither Vettel nor Leclerc could get their rubber to operate within the required window at which they perform.
Such poor form on-track would typically call for a rolling of heads at Ferrari, however, the chairman of the Scuderia in John Elkann has ‘total trust’ in under-fire team principal Mattia Binotto, who in turn has stated that he has the support of his senior managers.
This is something which has irked those eager to see Ferrari snap their second-longest title drought in their 70-plus year history.
It could be though this change in philosophy from Ferrari management to for once support their leaders within the team and empower growth, which could lead to their eventual salvation from this torrid slump of form. Where one could be excused in struggling to comprehend allowing Ferrari the necessary time to rebuild itself out of the shadow of past successes, is the fact that the expectation on them to succeed will never vanish.
The fact that even under the new Concorde Agreement set to commence in 2021 Ferrari will still be entitled to its historical payments from Formula One is enough to warrant one of the richest teams in the sport to start delivering the results expected of them.
However, chairman Elkann has conceded that it may take Ferrari until the new technical regulations in 2022 before they can be a winning force again – which was backed up by Binotto, who’s been clear that ‘patience and stability is required.’
“When [Jean] Todt started that historic cycle (of five consecutive titles) in 2000, we came from a fast that lasted for more than 20 years, from 1979,” said Elkann.
“It took time, from when he arrived in 1993 to when he brought Ferrari back to victory. The important thing, then, is to work on and off the track, bringing cohesion and stability, building the Ferrari we want step by step.”
It is important to note too that the reigning six-time constructor’s champions in Mercedes also went through a building period, from when they first arrived on the scene as a works team in 2010 – to ready themselves to be a title-winning force by the time the technical regulations changed in 2014.
All with their own expectations around that marque.
As much as this will be a bitter pill to swallow for the Tifosi and the external noise continues to amplify in this age of social media, Ferrari must not now stray from the path they intend to be on for recovery. If it were any other team in Formula One, then there would be guaranteed less pressure to succeed.
Ferrari placing the faith in Binotto, who has, in turn, placed the faith in a very young driver combination for 2021 and beyond in Leclerc and Carlos Sainz – as well as delegating more roles within the team, should see some faith from outside placed in him too. For the task of taking the Prancing Horse back to the top is not an easy one – but now in admitting they’re in rebuilding, that opportunity must be afforded if we’re to see them succeed again.