Ferrari’s missed shots.
As a follow on to our previous entry on the topic, we are now going to look at the missed Constructors titles of Ferrari. As we all know, Scuderia Ferrari is the most successful team in Formula 1 history by a wide margin, having the most wins and titles of any team. However, for all they’ve won, they have still missed some major opportunities for a constructors title. Today, we are gonna take a look at a few of those missed opportunities. For our first one, we’re going to jump back a couple of decades.
The 641 was Ferrari’s contender for the 1990 season, most well known for being the 3rd consecutive year of the famed Senna vs Prost rivalry. The 641 was a development of the previous years 640, and was competing with McLarens MP4/5B, itself a further modification of the MP4/5, for that year’s title. The MP4/5B remained the fastest in qualifying throughout the entire year, being on Pole for an astounding 12 out of 16 Races. However, the 641 always seemed just as competitive, if not often superior on race pace(Which was a theme throughout Alain Prost’s career to begin with).
The thing that perhaps most held the 641 back, however, was reliability. While it would mostly improve over the season, it would still cost Ferrari significant amounts of points. Both cars retired for mechanical reasons on debut in the U.S. The 641 would go on to have a further 9 retirements, 7 of which were for Mansell. Given the generally good results for both drivers in this season when they finished, one could assume they very well may have been able to pull more out of the season, which they finished 18 points behind in.
Oh… and did we mention this happened in this car?
Ferrari 248 F1
The 248 F1 was Ferrari’s 2006 title challenger. While the season was known for the Michael vs Fernando rivalry, and while it was a quite entertaining season, the results could very much have gone a different way.
While the 248 F1 did broadly lose out in race pace during the early part of the season, there was still more it could’ve achieved. Notably, the drivers both made critical errors that resulted in their failure to finish in Australia. In Monaco, Schumacher’s controversial qualifying cost them a potential podium or win, with Massa also not being notably impressive. Both Drivers had fairly poor races in the now famous 2006 Hungarian GP, and they lost even more points as a result.
In spite of all this, Ferrari managed to lead the Constructors Championship by the end of the 2006 Chinese GP, in part due to Renault having lost Alonso’s points during the previous Italian GP due to an engine failure. However, it all unravelled in Japan when Schumacher’s engine failed in the lead of the race, handing easy points to Renault and giving them a slight lead. In Brazil, in spite of Ferrari out scoring Renault with a 1-4 finish, it was still not enough. Renault won by 5 points, and if Ferrari had quite the same level of consistency(Which says a lot for Renault as Ferrari did extremely well overall), they would almost certainly have taken the 2006 Constructors title
By the way, that last Ferrari race in Brazil is one of Michael’s best, go give it a watch…
The year to break the Mercedes… Or so we thought. The SF70H is of particular note to me as I adore this car, in fact, it is by far and away my favorite of the hybrid era. Visually, it was a wonderful mix of looking fast and aggressive, while also being among the most elegantly colored cars of the decade. So how did all this potential go south?
To start off, I believe Ferrari simply could not keep up with Mercedes in the development race. The SF70H’s particular advantage over the Mercedes W08 was at high temperature, high downforce races, with the former being the most relevant of these. Examples of these advantages in play can be seen in Monaco, Hungary, Malaysia, and Singapore. The W08, however, would hold a power/drag advantage throughout the year and was consistently the better car in colder temperatures as seen in China and Britain that year. It seemed that if Mercedes could fix the W08’s issues in higher temperatures, they would begin to perform better. To this end, they seemed to complete their goal and, excluding the most extreme cases such as Malaysia, Mercedes managed to tame their car. While it was not decisively superior, it did seem as if Mercedes no longer had issues in the last rounds of the 2017 Season
Second, I would say reliability and overall luck hampered Ferrari. On several occasions in 2017, they lost out for reasons one would never have thought. Kimi retired in Spain following contact with Verstappen. Vettel lost a likely podium in Canada following Max crushing his wing. Both drivers suffered punctures at the British GP. There was the disastrous Asian leg of the championship as well. We all know what happened in Singapore. Both drivers failed to achieve a podium for reliability reasons at the final Malaysian GP, which would likely have been a podium judging by Seb’s pace. Then came Vettel’s retirement and a mediocre race from Kimi in Japan. Simply put, Ferrari’s drivers were subject to so many small issues that Mercedes never had.
Lastly, I believe Kimi’s pace was lacklustre. While Sebastian Vettel has rightly been criticized since 2018 over his frequent mistakes, He really didn’t make any in 2017. He did have his horrible Baku incident, and he did cause the start incident in Singapore, but even that latter one was a culmination of the actions of 3 Drivers. Based on the average grid position, results, and percentage of available points scored, Vettel’s 2017 campaign was statistically one of the most formidable of the last 20 years. Kimi meanwhile never really matched him. 5 wins vs 0, 12 Podiums vs 9, 4 Poles vs 1. Kimi simply did not compete that year, and I can’t help but feel like he could’ve done far more.
This one is covered more in-depth in our previous instalment, but in essence, I believe this title to have been lost due to the rather high amount of errors by Vettel, and ever so common errors on Ferrari’s side. Vettel’s errors in Baku, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the U.S cost him an exceptionally large amount of points that would almost certainly have gone to him otherwise. While Ferrari made several poor calls in races such as Spain, Singapore, and Japan. This car was closer in the Constructor’s standings than any Ferrari in the Hybrid era, and you can’t help but think it had more in hand.
So there you have it, 4 Ferrari’ F1 cars that I believe had a chance at a Constructors title. Unfortunately, given the current state of the team, I don’t believe they will be fighting for anything big for a couple more seasons to come. However, in spite of all this, there are even more teams that haven’t been able to deliver as much as they should’ve. Join us next time around, as we look through the missed chances of another team…