Love him or not, Fernando Alonso has been around the F1 block as much as anyone else who jumps into a turbo hybrid car each Formula One race weekend – and therefore he has a pretty good experience base from which to make judgement calls. Since his acrimonious split from Ferrari the Spaniard has repeatedly claimed little has changed in Maranello.
In fact the week following his home 2015 GP, Alonso said “I was in the Ferrari last year half a minute, a minute behind Mercedes and on Sunday they [Ferrari] were 43 seconds behind in Barcelona. 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.”
Given the turn 4 love in between the Mercedes drivers this year during the race at the circuit de Catalunya, we have no like for like comparison to measure the progress of the Scuderia, though we do have other options open to us to perform similar analysis.
Following the race in Monaco, here was the F1 constructor’s championship table in 2015:
- 242 Mercedes
- 158 Ferrari
- 81 Williams/Mercedes
- 52 Red Bull/Renault
This year we have a table after 6 races which looks like this…
- 188 Mercedes
- 121 Ferrari
- 112 Red Bull/TAG Heuer
- 66 Williams/Mercedes
A quick glance at the tables would give the casual onlooker the hope that Mercedes AMG are falling back from their own high standards of 2015. However, add back the 43 points lost in Barcelona and the team from Brackley is broadly scoring similarly to 2015.
What has changed is that Ferrari have no wins at this stage of the season – unlike in 2015 – and more importantly are just 9 points ahead of a resurgent Red Bull Racing. The gap at this stage of the 2015 season was a whopping 77 points and worryingly for Maurizio Arrivabene and the lads from Emilia-Romagna, Red Bull Racing have a Tag Heuer engine upgrade coming this weekend in Canada.
Given the shuffling of the F1 calendar in 2016, Russia being race 4, the racing incident in Barcelona (race 5) and usual vagaries of Monaco (race 6), this weekend’s race on the Isle de Notre Dame will give us maybe the first solid perspective this year on where Ferrari really is in comparison to the rest of the field. With almost a third of the season completed prior to Baku, will the reds have been ‘bullied’ down in the table to P3 by a revived Ricciardo and the merry men from Milton Keynes?
Sebastian Vettel makes a vain attempt to explain Ferrari’s current woes. Speaking today to Autosport he claims, “You need to respect the fact we are fighting teams that have not had such a big shift in the recent past, team structure, management, whatsoever. We started with a project that together we want to bring [Ferrari] back to the top and now our targets are more ambitious than anybody else’s.
“They are bold targets but we are on the right track.”
Given Sergio Marchionnes publicly expressed expectations before the season, Sebastian would appear to be talking out of his hat. Speaking to ANSA last December, Ferrari’s big boss stated clearly: “The year of our return to the top has begun. The team is there… and we’re not far from reaching the level of our competitors.
“The investments won’t be lacking. We have invested a lot of financial resources – the work done in 2015 has laid an exceptional basis for a season of success in 2016”.
For Ferrari fans, unfortunately the table above describes a different scenario from the one predicted at Christmas by the Ferrari Chairman.
Looking longer term, the hard hitting Marchionne also told Gazzetta dello Sport in Ferbruary that Ferrari must win a title by 2018. “If we were to somehow fail to win a title over a 10-year span it would be a tragedy.”
Of course, there is yet time for this target to be met, though progress toward it at present appears minimal – or as Fernando has repeatedly said: ‘nothing has [substantively] changed at Ferrari’.
The clock is indeed ticking.
Oh, and check out William Hill’s odds on Red Bull beating Ferrari this year. Now that’s not something we expected just 12 weeks ago.