Ferrari is one of the richest and most successful teams in all of F1, so much so that they are almost seen as the epitome of how to run an F1 team.
Despite this it is now an entire decade since a drivers world championship went back to Maranello and only one year less for the Constructors crown.
It’s unclear how one of the giants of not just F1 but the automotive world in general have had such a monumental fall from grace. Is it just one thing wrong or are many factors to play in why is Ferrari its own worst enemy?
Firstly it’s important to establish the ability of Ferrari. Are they truly this magnificent team or does the hype exceed the results? Ferrari has won more drivers titles than any other team in the sport (15) and out of all the current teams won a title the earliest (in 1952, the third season of the sport existing as we know it).
In addition to its drivers finding success the team as a whole has a rich and steep heritage with 16 constructors championships, double that of third placed McLaren (8) and almost double that of second-placed Williams (9).
While this would ultimately point to Ferrari being the sport's most successful team, it’s also worth considering that Ferrari has competed in F1 since its opening round in 1950, the only team in the sport to do so. So is it fair we judge them numerically or do we judge based on titles:seasons competed ratio?
If we choose the latter then its success ratio is far reduced and does see them fall behind a number of other teams in the sport. This method however is far from perfect, with Brawn GP come out convincing winners by winning the double in their only season in the sport. However they only competed for one season so to call them the most successful team is insulting to the big names.
I guess we adopt a stance between the two, someone who has a good ratio of races wins to years competed yet also has a wealth of experience in the sport and at the right end of it too.
This may seem irrelevant but it’s impossible to decipher if Ferrari is its own worst enemy for underachieving if we can’t see where they rank in achievement anyway. McLaren seem the obvious contenders, 12 drivers and 8 constructors titles make them second only to Ferrari (albeit 11 behind them).
Despite this McLaren is 16 years younger than Ferrari debuting in 1966. Since McLaren entered the fray, Ferrari has won 10 more races than McLaren, overtaking McLaren in Spain back in 2013. Coincidentally until McLaren’s downfall after Lewis Hamilton’s departure, the two were neck and neck in terms of race wins. So while there is still debate over who truly is F1’s most successful team (which will be explored in our off season feature) it’s clear Ferrari are not conclusively the most successful team in the sport necessarily as lots claim.
Let’s look deeper at Ferrari’s titles, while they have 15 drivers titles, a third of them were in the ultra dominant Schumacher era, a stat that doesn’t exactly flatter the longevity of Ferrari. Despite this its very difficult to think of an era Ferrari weren’t up the sharp end of the grid. By contrast McLaren have been in a shocking run of form since 2013 and Williams have slumped since the mid 2000s.
But this doesn’t mean Ferrari hasn’t had its own slumps; poor form across the 80s and 90s led to a 21-year spell without a title to their name. So considering this, are Ferrari truly this world class elite outfit, miles away from anyone else, or is it just another top level team who endure both good and bad times?
Overall I feel Ferrari is a victim of legacy, while sure it is the sport's most successful team, this is largely accounted to duration as opposed to to an extreme talent over the rest of the bunch. While it has been known recent years to drastically underperform it is perhaps more overhyped to be a force stronger than the force it is. But why is this, join us in part 2 next week on why Ferrari is a breeding ground for mediocrity.
by Matthew Gannon