Ferrari go in the US Grand Prix in Austin in the last chance saloon as far as their hopes for second place in the F1 Constructors’ Championship are concerned.
Max Verstappen’s second place was a hammer blow for Ferrari, with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen finishing fourth and fifth respectively – both having qualified faster than the Red Bulls but having to start sixth and eighth respectively due to penalties.
Vettel did manage to set his first fastest lap of 2016 in Japan but his winless run is now at 23 races – the longest of his career including his spell at Toro Rosso from 2007-08.
Raikkonen’s race will be remembered for a three-wide pass on Jolyon Palmer and Sergio Perez, and despite early traffic he was only five seconds behind Vettel at the circuit where he took a memorable win back in 2005.
And so it’s on to a track that Ferrari have never won at, although this is only the fifth time F1 has visited the Circuit of the Americas, although Vettel took victory there during his unbeaten streak at the end of 2013.
Ferrari have at least stood on the podium in Texas, with Fernando Alonso taking third in 2012.
The most famous of the Prancing Horse’s American adventures came back in 2005 in F1’s very own American Horror Story, as only six runners took to the start because of safety concerns about Michelin tyres.
The race, as with most this season, is likely to consist of Mercedes dominance followed by a scrap to be the best of the rest between Red Bull and Ferrari, with Austin likely to favour the Red Bull despite the long straights.
It has been a little frosty in the press in Italy, who have criticised Vettel since his first lap collision in Malaysia, while the Ferrari top brass have said publicly that he needs to “earn” another contract and his current deal runs out 2018 while there is speculation that he may seek pastures new.
For Ferrari, that chat can wait should it happen as they bid to try salvage second place out of a season in which they were meant to offer a challenge to Mercedes for top honours.
They’re 250 points behind with four races left.
(Image Courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media)