The simple answer to a simple comparative – is yes.
But then 2014 was a year the Gestione Sportiva historians would prefer remain blank in their compendiums. Ferrari were fourth in the constructor’s standings and a it could have been worse. Briefly there was hope for fans of the Woking team that McLaren would catch and pass Ferrari – though Fernando Alonso’s results ensured this challenge failed to materialise.
However, where have Ferrari been in recent times? In the past 10 completed seasons, Ferrari have won two constructor titles (2007-08) and one driver championship for Kimi (2007).
3 out of 20 titles (15%) is hardly befitting of the iconic Italian racing marque, yet for a number of reasons that is the way it has been. This is particularly evident when we look at the Scuderia’s CV section listed, ‘F1 achievements’.
- Most Constructors’ Championships: 16
- Most Drivers’ Championships: 15
- Most Grands Prix participated (all-time): 895
- Most Grands Prix started (all-time): 893
- Most wins (all-time): 222
- Most podiums (all-time): 684
- Most one-two finishes (all-time): 81
- Most one-two finishes with the same drivers (Michael Schumacher – Rubens Barrichello): 24
- Most pole positions (all-time): 207
- Most WCC points (all-time): 5,966.5
- Most WDC points (all-time): 6,868.27
- Most fastest laps (all-time): 231
- Most consecutive seasons with at least one victory during a season: 20 (1994–2013)
- Most engine wins 223
To understand just how bad Ferrari’s year was in 2014, the statistic above, ‘Most consecutive seasons with at least one victory during a season: 20 (1994–2013)’ – says it all.
Prior to the start of the European leg of this year’s F1 season, there was significant hope amongst neutral F1 fans, that Ferrari had found a silver bullet. The team in red were about to step up and challenge the might of the German Mercedes dominance.
A win for Vettel in Malaysia set the cat amongst the pigeons and the keyboards chattering because in 2014, it was round seven in Canada before Mercedes slipped up handing Red Bull Daniel Ricciardo the victory.
Yes, Vettel’s win was also a ‘proper’ win because there were smoking or shattered Mercedes brakes responsible. Of course the safety car had an impact in Sepang, but it was Ferrari’s quick thinking and the fact that in those conditions their car was quicker than the Mercedes given the Pirelli rubber on offer.
So this is why the F1 fraternity was buzzing, Mercedes had been beaten by Ferrari and on merit.
Fernando Alonso was Maranello’s lead driver for 5 fallow seasons of out of the last 10, and following the Spanish GP and another podium for Ferrari, he was predictably asked whether his move from Ferrari had been the right one.
“I was in the Ferrari last year half a minute, a minute behind Mercedes and on Sunday they were 43 seconds behind in Barcelona”, Alonso told SKY. “Nothing has changed – and that is one of the reasons why l moved. I saw nothing change for five years and l didn’t want a sixth or seventh.”
Alonso understands the significance of the result in Barcelona. The fact is, the fundamental capability of the SF15-T are way behind those of the W06.
Ferrari have the second best of the 2015 F1 cars, but they are Mercedes main rival for one reason alone. Those ahead of Ferrari in 2014 have fallen further behind the Brackley outfit this year.
Luca de Montezemolo made this point, the week before the race in Barcelona.
“I honestly think they [Ferrari] have been a bit lucky: This year, apart from Mercedes, they have no other rivals,” the ex-Ferrari chairman said.
“Williams has not improved and Red Bull has imploded and McLaren are in crisis. In short, Ferrari starts every race with a podium in its pocket. But luck is useless if you don’t take advantage of it.”
Alonso has frequently been cast in the role as a divisive figure, and his comments about Ferrari’s progress could be taken as sour grapes.
Yet the cold hard reality is – at this stage of the season – the red team are hardly better placed in F1’s pecking order than when the Spaniard was driving for them.
Despite the fundamentals of the SF15T having been exposed as lacking at a circuit where the cars pure performance is revealed, Ferrari still have a hope for 2015. And it is cast in the form of the black stuff provided by Pirelli.
Monaco and Canada will see the debut of this year’s super soft tyres. The early signs in Malaysia and China was that the SF15T was kinder to its tyres than the Mercedes car and that the W06 design had a penchant for eating rubber.
But Monaco and Canada have big traction requirements, and it may be that Alonso was so dismissive of his old team’s chances this year was because the Ferrari cars were half a second slower in S3 at the Circuit de Catalunya. This sector’s configuration places a premium on traction. So it’s not much good being gentle on the tyres if the car is slow.
So in the grand scheme of things, given Ferrari’s history, Alonso is also correct and “nothing has changed.”
Ferrari’s results may be better in 2015, but this will be yet another year Maranello has failed to build a championship winning car.