Ferrari Malaysian GP Preview

GP MALESIA F1/2016 – KUALA LUMPUR 30/09/2016
© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE)

Like Singapore two weeks ago, the Malaysian Grand Prix sees a return to a scene of celebration last year for Ferrari in arguably their greatest race since 2013.

Last year Sebastian Vettel emulated his childhood hero Michael Schumacher and took his first Grand Prix victory for Ferrari, and comfortably ahead of Mercedes.

A lot can change in 18 months, however.

Since the 2015 race (held in March, not September) Ferrari have gone from optimism to pessimism, from challengers to a “failure” and from a team full of hope to a team full of despair.

Like last year, they have the pace to win races in 2016 and Vettel in particular has seen a potential tilt at a fifth World Drivers’ Championship dashed by technical problems, clashes with other drivers and strategic calamities putting paid to any chances of that.

Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen are both winless this season, and the former has to win all of the remaining races to match his 2015 points tally. And that simply will not happen.

Ferrari’s main strength even through the distrust at board level and the errors on the pitwall has been the ability to look after tyres, although they are still behind Red Bull in the Constructors’ Championship.

Had yet another mistake been avoided in Singapore, it might have landed 2007 World Champion Raikkonen with a podium around the Marina Bay circuit while Vettel’s Driver of the Day performance saw him climb from 22nd to fifth.

That will be key in the most physically demanding setting Formula One visits, despite the visit to Sepang now six months further into the season than had previously been the case.

Since the inaugural Malaysian Grand Prix back in 1999, Ferrari have won it seven times through Vettel, Raikkonen, Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine.

Vettel himself has won the race four times – three with Red Bull Racing, while Raikkonen took his first ever Formula One victory for McLaren back in 2003.

The omens are certainly looking good for the Scuderia, who have won the race four more times than any other team on the grid.

They will certainly need those omens to ring true if they are to have a strong weekend and get back in the running for second in the Constructors’ Championship.

Jack Prentice

Ferrari,German Grand Prix Preview

 

GP UNGHERIA F1/2016 – BUDAPEST (UNGHERIA) 24/07/2016
© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE)

Ferrari go into the returning German Grand Prix just one point clear of Red Bull in the race for second place in the Constructors’ Championship.

After losing less ground than expected in Hungary after strong race pace saw Sebastian Vettel split the Red Bulls in fourth and Kimi Raikkonen climb up to sixth from 14th on the grid at the Hungaroring, Ferrari were able to cling on to second – just.

It has been a turbulent build-up to the German Grand Prix for the Prancing Horse, with technical director James Allison departing after three years in what Ferrari called a “joint decision”, with Ferrari’s President Sergio Marchionne also reported to be sitting in on technical meetings.

Allison’s wife died in March, meaning a departure was almost inevitable with family based in England.

He has been replaced by former head of engines Mattia Binotto, although there are increasing rumours that ex-technical director Ross Brawn may rejoin Ferrari having left ten years ago following the retirement of Michael Schumacher.

Ferrari are easily the most successful team at the German Grand Prix having won it a staggering 22 times, 13 clear of Mercedes.

They last won it in 2012 when Fernando Alonso’s unlikely title challenge in an inferior car was taking hold, while Alonso won in more controversial circumstances in 2010 when teammate Felipe Massa was ordered to move over and let him into the lead.

After an absence in 2015, the German Grand Prix returns to the Hockenheimring with the future of the German round heavily in doubt beyond 2018, with neither Hockenheim nor the Nurburgring having the finance to secure the race long-term.

Ferrari will hope to gain ground on Red Bull at one of their traditionally stronger circuits, with Raikkonen in fourth just one point behind Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel a further four behind, ten ahead of Max Verstappen.

The Scuderia therefore need to put behind them a turbulent week in order to fend off Red Bull.

Hungarian Grand Prix Review

For Ferrari, the Hungarian Grand Prix was a solid if unspectacular affair which in all likelihood quietly exceeded expectations.

Sebastian Vettel showed strong race pace against the Red Bulls to finish fourth after applying heavy pressure on Daniel Ricciardo for third, while Kimi Raikkonen produced a stunning drive to climb from fourteenth to sixth place.

In a performance from the Iceman seen more often during his previous Ferrari spell, Raikkonen was unfortunate not to take fifth place after breaking his front wing against an ever-aggressive Max Verstappen, as Ferrari avoided being soundly beaten by a resurgent Red Bull.

The Iceman was uncharacteristically vocal in his criticism of Dutchman Verstappen, who appeared to move twice when defending fifth position at Turn 2 on lap 58.

“There are so many rules discussed and in some rules you can move, but when the guy behind makes the decision to commit to something, and when the other guy moves afterwards it’s difficult to avoid the car in front.”

Raikkonen also questioned the stewards handling of qualifying, with changes to the grid concerning Session 1 and the 107% rule almost coming into effect before a last-minute U-turn. He also criticised what he felt was a lack of consistency from the stewards in applying the rules, calling them a “joke”.

“A good example is the qualifying. You have the 107 per cent rule and the people who didn’t go through from first qualifying they are applying it to those cars, but not applying it on the rest. How can you apply it two different ways?

“If somebody can explain to me how that works? But it seems to be F1 these days. Something must change because it looks bad to people outside. There is a rule and it should apply in exactly the same way to every person.”

Raikkonen slipped from third to fourth in the standings, one point behind Ricciardo. Vettel is fifth, four behind his teammate and ten clear of Verstapen, while Ferrari only have a one-point advantage of Red Bull in the Constructors’ standings.