Haha, it’s cool, we deserve the punches this year. As long as it doesn’t get into downright toxic shit like… yeah, those.
Anyway, last weekend’s race was pretty boring, the second safety car murdered any chance of strategy excitement too. But then the last 3 laps were pure madness. Pirelli is once again inappropriate for this sport however, crazy how they’ve done this same thing in 2013 and they’re still here to tell the tale and to repeat the literal same mistakes that only luck prevented us from getting an injury (or worse) from. Kvyat could have got hurt badly.
If you are really interested, we could delve deeper into what went wrong at the prancing horse.
While you know which side of the bedsheet I’m coming from, you can also be assured that as a long long time fan of the sport I DO appreciate what FER brought to the table for decades, and that I really appreciate with how much heart their fans follow them.
It might sound dismissive but the main thing is that the engine went wrong this year. The team’s organization really isn’t anything too bad. The strategies were mostly good this year, and in fact Leclerc is already at 2 podiums despite his car not quite being worth so. There have not been notable pitstop blunders, grave strategy errors or intra-team tensions aside from Vettel leaving.
Vettel of course deserves his own chapter, but I don’t believe we know enough behind the scenes stuff thanks to Vettel being a very reserved driver, not interested in gossiping and showing his lifestyle to the world. It’s a sad situation all around, but at the same time everyone and their grandma were calling for Ferrari to sack the dude. I’m surprised it happened early in the season, but I’m sure COVID-19 fast-tracked certain operations that are normally done around Autumn (think of the many seasons in which Raikkonen or Massa were confirmed or eventually sacked only at Monza or even later).
Ferrari’s stuck in a loop of not being able to win. Not being able to win puts the leaders, the engineers and even the mechanics in doubt. The pressure gets to their heads, they make errors, they take questionable design choices on the car that don’t work out in a crazy attempt to do something to catch up. And catch up they kinda did, at this point (barring secrecy) probably with an illegal or barely legal trick that they can no longer use. Arrivabene was probably the best team principal these years: despite the Mercedes’ engines obscene superiority, he motivated the team to extract 110% and went close to the results Ferrari is expected to despite everything. Binotto doesn’t seem to have the same levels of motivating leadership, but while I’m probably biased I’m not seeing something awfully wrong in the team this year beyond the fact they allegedly lost a whopping 50-60 horsepower (while Mercedes gained a further 20-30). But Ferrari is expected to win, and if Binotto’s team won’t deliver that, chances are he’ll fall too.
The thing is, when we want to discuss what went wrong with FER, we really have to go back to their organizational overhaul from 2015. For some reason I do not understand to this day, they decided to turn into a “Make Italy Great Again” team, letting people of other nationalities go or downright firing them. Allison was only the peak of the iceberg there. The brain drain they had there was enormous - I mean just look at Allison, now building the winning cars for MER. But it also happened on the lower levels, they lost lots of engineering talents.
Up to then, not just the drivers but every single person working in F1 always dreamed about one day working for the prancing horse. Today? Not so much. Even were they to radically shift course on that, they’d have problems getting talent back, and would have to open the wallet really wide.
As for VET, I’m on record to not liking the guy very much. But what they did to him this last weekend is a shame for crying out loud. Can’t say I’d blame him for this performance, I wouldn’t have any trust in the car either.
I’m a fairly new fan of F1. Not the biggest Verstappen dan, but the hype around him has led me to follow the sport more closely. I enjoy the younger drivers zich as Norris and Russell. And I hope Albon steps it up
For someone new to the sport, I only have one friendly advice:
Do not follow drivers, follow a team.
To be successful as a driver, you have to be an egotistical a-hole. Following the sport since the 80s, there isn’t even a handful I’d like to have a beer with in private.
That’s not to say that the people working there aren’t driven and sometimes ruthless. But the teams have long histories and working cultures, and have achieved amazing things relevant to this day. It is prototype racing, where so many ingenious things have been invented that we enjoy in our road cars to this day.
I see this mentioned often, but I don’t think there’s something sensationally wrong with staying Italian given the excellence the country has in the sector. I mean, let’s be real here: with the exception of a short stint between 2018 and 2019 (in hindsight, possibly illegally) they managed to be up there with Mercedes’ engine, any other time they were ahead they were so either because of better aero, better tyre wear, better strategy, less errors, etc… Considering how far the car was in terms of performance between 2014 and 2016, in some races of 2017, for 2/3rds of 2019 and for what we had of 2020 so far, the results they matured were nothing to scoff at. Last year in Spa and Monza alike Mercedes had better laptimes, yet it was Leclerc who brought it home ultimately. And the team’s all Italian.
Is it a limit? Probably, but aside from the engine I keep not seeing something shockingly wrong with this season’s team.
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t use “shockingly wrong” either.
What I’m trying to convey is that it is a self-inflicted wound, this brain drain hurt them, and it was absolutely unnecessary. There is only so much top talent to be had.
Absolutely, I agree with that. Just saying that with this level of engine superiority, I’m not sure what else exactly could have been done. Renault also lost horsepower since last year, while they’ll definitely not go on the record and claim “yeah man we were doing the Ferrari trickery lol”, it’s interesting they lost out too when the FIA clamped down on a specific trick. Which leaves us with a terrible revelation: the only reason Ferrari and Red Bull could start stealing wins from Mercedes fairly regularly for a few years was because of an illegal engine. Honda last year won on races where Mercedes fumbled essentially.
Mercedes started with such an obscene headstart thanks to having a part in the rulemaking that nobody else could come close legally. A scary thought, and quite a black mark on FIA’s work when other teams simply can’t do anything about it between testing limits, development limits, budget limits and even penalties applied if you change engines when you’re not supposed to. Not quite the circumstances required for a team to realistically catch up on a dominant car, and this 2020-2021 double season is ironically even worse because not only the clampdown on engines murdered everyone but Mercedes engines, but they can’t even do upgrades by regulations. Even if the entire Mercedes team moved to Ferrari or Red Bull (hypothetically) they would not be able to get closer to Merc. Absurd, really.
I support my local football (not handegg!) team, but it feels weird for me to support a racing team. Like, all of The Netherlands has Verstappen-mania right now, they really don’t care about Red Bull. Even though half the country is walking around in Red Bull shirts, hats, etc.
I wouldn’t know who to support if I were to support a team instead of a driver(or drivers). While some of the teams have a fantastic history in motorsport, they still come across less genuine than football teams for me.
I think a good starting point would be to look into the teams histories (no-one beats FER there), then follow up with some due diligence on the current teams principal leadership (thats where you step faaar away from RBR). Ill always have a soft spot in my heart for the likes of MCL or WIL - even when they are nowadays forced to accept the ever increasing flood of pay drivers to keep their teams afloat.