With all of the headlines surrounding Ferrari and in particular Sebastian Vettel following the Mexican Grand Prix, it can be easy to forget that the Scuderia managed to display the importance of strong qualifying.
For all the swearing and yelling at both Max Verstappen and Race Director Charlie Whiting, had Vettel had a quicker car in qualifying, he’d have been battling over which step on the podium instead of just to get onto the podium.
Karun Chandhok made the pertinent point that Vettel could possibly have been challenging for a victory had he been able to qualify higher than seventh, which for long periods was a net eighth as he lost out to Felipe Massa’s Williams at the start.
Ferrari haven’t always made the right strategy calls this season but they got this one-stop strategy absolutely spot on to catapult Vettel to fifth and within stalking distance of the Red Bulls once he left the pitlane.
In the end, he did get to spray some champagne but received a 10 second time-penalty that dropped him to fifth for reasons that have been well documented.
His hard defensive move on Daniel Ricciardo on the penultimate lap made him the first victim of the new “Verstappen rule”, whereby any movement in the breaking zone is banned.
Kimi Raikkonen was another man who would have been aiming for the skies had he not started behind a slower team.
He spent the first third of the race behind Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India, which had started sixth and Ferrari eventually put the Iceman on a two-stopper.
Like Vettel, he also had shown long run pace that would have challenged Mercedes in Mexico City early in the weekend.
The result leaves Ferrari 62 points behind Red Bull with 86 left on the table, while Ricciardo needs to score six points to guarantee third place this season.
2016 had promised much more than this.
(Image Courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media)