Formula 1

Ferrari: What does the future hold?

Fernando Alonso is treading water at the under-performing Ferrari team  (©GettyImages)
Fernando Alonso is treading water at the under-performing Ferrari team (©GettyImages).

Ferrari and their prodigal son Michael Schumacher won five straight titles between 2000 and 2005; they were the undisputed kings of Formula One after two decades of relative mediocrity.

However, bar Kimi Raikkonen’s 2007 World Championship triumph, the Tifosi have again slipped off the top step, relying on the near-superhuman talents of Fernando Alonso to snatch victory, often in the face of adversity.

Indeed, since Alonso joined the team in 2010, he has managed to win 11 races. Those victories have helped him to achieve 2nd place in the driver’s championship in 2010, 2012 and 2013.

On the face of it, these figures don’t seem to point to an inability to be successful.

Yet a closer analysis certainly doesn't provide the average Ferrari fan with a boost of confidence.

In 2010, Alonso went into the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with an eight point lead in the championship. 

He only lost out because of a strategy error that was entirely his team’s fault; and it cost him championship victory, with the honours instead going to Sebastian Vettel for the first time.

In 2012, despite the fact that he was driving a car that brought him two pole positions all season, Alonso again lost out to Vettel at the final race, with the German scraping victory by three points.

The 2013 season saw Red Bull’s Vettel in possession of a superior car for the entirety of the season; again Alonso finished second in the championship.

The 2014 season has brought with it a raft of new rules and regulations, with the cars almost unrecognisable from previous seasons.

Gone are the 2.4 litre V8 engines and in are 1.6 litre V6 turbo engines.

Ferrari, like Red Bull and a number of others, have struggled with the new formula.

The current championship is a two-horse race between Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, with Alonso trailing a distant fourth.

In April, Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali resigned from his position due to the continued poor performance of his team.

Marco Mattiacci is now in the hot seat, and the Italian has promised that “Ferrari will be a different team next season,” as he continues to restructure the team’s workforce and internal workings.

However, with Alonso signalling on a number of occasions his displeasure at the team’s lack of competitiveness, there are rumours that the Spaniard will soon find pastures new in order to add to his two world championships.

Additionally, Kimi Raikkonen is having a dreadful season and has already hinted that he will retire when his contract expires in 2015.

The question is, if Ferrari end up losing arguably the most talented driver line-up on the grid, who will they turn to as replacements?

There are very few ‘safe’ candidates who have delivered world championships in the past, with Sebastian Vettel the only remote possibility.

Ferrari may instead have to turn to the likes of Jules Bianchi, who has acquitted himself well during his two seasons at Marussia.

Indeed, the Frenchman is set to deputise for Raikkonen in the upcoming mid-season test, after the Finn was injured in a crash at the British Grand Prix last weekend.

His performance may indeed lead to a future opportunity to race for the team.

Certainly, whilst Mattiacci will surely do his best to turn around the fortunes of the Maranello based team, he may struggle to keep hold of two very talented drivers if results don’t improve soon.

The future may therefore not be as bright as Mattiacci predicts, and Ferrari may even consider their future role in motorsport’s premier spectacle.

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