2011 Season Review – Ferrari

Team Name : Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro

Location : Maranello, Italy

Team Principal : Stefano Domenicali

Technical Director : Aldo Costa

Drivers : Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa

Chassis : 150° Italia

Engine : Ferrari Type 056

First Season : 1950

Races Entered : 813

Pole Positions : 205

Race wins : 215

Points scored in 2010 : 396

World Championships : 16

Ferrari. The single most prestigious and revered name in motor racing history. A racing team that has enjoyed 6 decades of unrivalled racing success and is the oldest team on the grid, having participated in every season of Formula 1. A team that is associated with passion, flair and the colour red – the Italian marque has a massive fan following bordering on the fanatic. It has often been said that Ferrari is the magic ingredient of Formula 1, and that the sport’s fortunes depended a lot on the Scuderia’s continued participation. Ferrari is a racing team first and a car manufacturer next – in fact the road car division was set up just to fund the racing team. They are one of the very few teams that exist to race – and not as an elaborate marketing strategy.

Although Ferrari were successful in the first decade of the sport, they endured an enormous lean patch between 1965 and 1974, and between 1984 and 1998, where the brand Ferrari took a heavy beating. At the end of the 1995 season, Ferrari made the most important decision in their long and illustrious history. The team signed the reigning world champion Michael Schumacher, who brought with him two equally capable professionals – Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne from Benetton. These men, along with Team Principal Jean Todt (the “dream team” as Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo called it) took an under-performing, disorganised and inconsistent group of people, and in four years, transformed it into a top-flight racing outfit that didn’t lose a single constructor’s championship for 6 years. Never before has a team dominated Formula 1 to the extent that rules were constantly changed to help the opposition close the gap. Scuderia Ferrari went from a struggling midfield team to one that was near-invincible. Such has been the impact of these men that even though they have left the team, the organisational and technical quality remains intact – that the Scuderia will be a title contender can almost be taken for granted every year.

Last year, the team replaced Kimi Raikkonen with Fernando Alonso, a sign that they wanted a driver to lead the team in the same way that Schumacher did a decade ago. Alonso duly delivered, and despite being new to the team, he made it his own within a few months, relegating Massa to the role of a rear-gunner. Although the Ferrari F10 was summarily outclassed by the ferociously quick RB6, Fernando consistently displayed the mental acuity and sustained, skilful racing ability that brought him two world championships.  As a result, he was able to lead the world championship going into the final round, but ultimately, the pure pace of Vettel and some wretched luck beat him to title.

Surprisingly, there has been no chop-and-change, emotional reactions to the strategic gaffe that cost the Scuderia a driver’s title in 2010. Instead, there has been a minor shuffle in the organisation and a remarkable regroup over the winter. This year’s car ran into legal problems with Ford after they named it the F150. Apart from that wholly unnecessary distraction, Ferrari has enjoyed a perfect prelude to the season. Their renamed 150 Italia has been consistently quick throughout winter testing, but the talking point is the reliability and mileage Ferrari were able to extract this year. Although their chief rivals Red Bull seem to have the edge in ultimate pace, the Italian team will be banking on their Spanish superstar to negate that advantage.

Fernando Alonso’s ability to extract the maximum from his tyres, think on his feet and play for the big moments will ensure that Red Bull are stretched to their limit. Massa needs to re-establish himself as a championship contender this year, or he is quite likely to be replaced. Ferrari need two quick drivers in order to compete for the constructor’s championship – something that Red Bull, Mercedes and McLaren already have. Massa’s form this year will be crucial for the Scuderia. They need to win a world title this year – and the driver’s crown looks a strong possibility.  For the team to regain the constructor’s title however, it needs Massa to deliver, and the strategists to outwit Red Bull.

Ferrari have bolstered their technical department this year, and will be keen to make sure they don’t commit strategic suicide in critical situations. There has been plenty of talk about how the most experienced, most successful, pure-bred racing team in the world has been beaten by a soft drinks company. The Italian pride would’ve taken a pounding last year. Like a wounded tiger, expect them to come out fighting hard this year. Red Bull had better be awake.


One Response to “2011 Season Review – Ferrari”

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