Ferrari race cars are as much part of Formula 1 as the Eau Rouge corner at the Spa circuit in Francorchamps, Belgium. The blood red cars have been part of Grand Prix motor racing since its inception so it certainly would be a “tragedy” if the Scuderia went ten years without a world championship victory.
Unfortunately, that nightmare scenario became a little more realistic as Ferrari have suffered reliability problems in the first two races of the new season. Their last world championship was in 2007 with current driver Kimi Raikkonen, and they started this season hoping to take the fight to Mercedes.
The Scuderia had poached several Mercedes engineers and have closed the performance gap but it is not enough as the Silver Arrows continue to maintain their dominance.
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At the season opener in Melbourne, Sebastian Vettel surged to the front with a good start, but Ferrari made a strategy error when the race was stopped for Fernando Alonso's crash, and gifted the race to their German rivals.
Vettel’s engine failure in Bahrain added to Raikkonen's turbo-related retirement in Australia as the reliability that had become a strength in recent years, suddenly turned into a weakness.
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On the plus side, there were hopes that Raikkonen could have won the race had he not made a bad start and dropped to fifth on the first lap, but the suspicion is Rosberg was only managing his pace after his own brake-related reliability issues in Australia.
Perhaps Ferrari need to inject a little bit of politics in order to engineer a ‘rule change in your favour - chance card’ to break the Mercedes monopoly. Either way, the SF16-H with the new push suspension is not performing as was hoped and time is running out.
On the driver side, four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel is not getting any younger, so Ferrari need to develop something this year that becomes the rule next year and gives the Italian manufacturer the advantage.
A new upgrade package is planned for China that the other teams using the Ferrari engines will try to exploit, but the Scuderia themselves will be looking to make the most gains from it.
So Ferrari are close, but no cigar. However, all it takes to end the nine-year world championship drought is to improve the reliability and speed of the SF16-H.
Or just get Bernie Ecclestone to change the rules.
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