While the Formula 1 field takes a well-earned moment to rest and recharges its batteries ahead of the second half of the season, the RichardsF1.com team has taken the opportunity to review each driver and team and their performances over the first eleven rounds of the season.
Today we take a closer look at the changing of the guard at Ferrari, and discuss the performance gulf between its championship-winning drivers, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen.
Another year, another annus horribilis for the Scuderia. When you look at the scale of their resources (both financial and in personnel), to have chalked up a measly two podium finishes and be lying a distant third in the Constructors’ Championship standings must be shattering for this once-proud team.
Along with Mercedes, Ferrari is the only team in the field to design and manufacture its own car and engine. It hired a bunch of talented boffins – headlined by James Allison – and picked up Kimi Räikkönen to partner Fernando Alonso, meaning it would have two genuine number-one drivers for the first time in what felt like a thousand years. Wins were expected, and a championship sweep was destined.
That Ferrari helped shape the 2014 turbo-hybrid technical and aero regulations, it beggars belief that the team has got so both horribly wrong. The engine is overweight and down on power, while the F14T chassis is ill-handling and ugly to boot.
Cue more crisis. Team Principal Stefano Domenicali saw the writing on the wall and fell on his sword just a few weeks in to the season, and he was followed by engine head Luca Marmorini – there are rumours too that Pat Fry has also been shown the door. Ferrari’s North American retail head Marco Mattiacci was brought in to help right the sinking ship, but his impact is as yet still to be felt.
All the while, Ferrari chief Luca do Montezemolo has garnered plenty of column inches with repeated, hysterical bleating about the current shape of the sport, which far too many press outlets have unhelpfully whipped into a frenzy. The repeated episodes are a smokescreen Maranello, whose complaints are completely undone as soon as you remember that they are – by miles – the best-funded team in the field.
On the racing front, the team’s performances have been flattered by an as-ever hard charging Fernando Alonso. The team has also shown that it still has some of the best strategic brains in the business, as evidenced by the Spaniard nearly claiming an upset win at Hungary.
The team still has plenty of fight and fans would love to see nothing more than the Ferraris taking it to the front of the field, but it has a massive road ahead if it wants to return to the form of its glory days.
RichardsF1.com Rating: 5/10
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If there was a sainthood for patience, then Fernando Alonso would have to be a contender for beatification. It’s the fifth year of his partnership with Ferrari, and it’s the fifth year where the Scuderia has once again failed to produce anywhere near the car that the two-time World Champion deserves to truly showcase his skills.
That being said, Alonso has to be one of the star performers of the 2014 season to-date. He’s claimed both of the team’s two podiums so far, brilliantly holding off Daniel Ricciardo for the final spot on the rostrum at China, and then running the Australian close until his tyres finally cried ‘enough’ in Hungary.
His statistics in 2014 are impressive: he’s the only driver to have finished every race this season – and each in the points, mind you – and to have completed every race lap. Even the dominant Mercedes drivers can’t boast that kind of week in, week out consistency.
Importantly when you have such a terrible car to play with, his driving has been error-free. There’s no one in the field more capable of finding a gap and reading how a chaotic opening lap will play out, and that’s invariably allowed him to gain vital positions and then rely on his supreme talent to do the rest.
His performances against his World Championship-winning teammate are equally telling: in short, Alonso has thumped him and sits eight spots and 88 points clear of twelfth-placed Räikkönen.
The world – and doubtless, the man himself – knows what Alonso is capable of, and no one would deny that the Spaniard deserves another World Championship title to his name. At 33, time and patience must be fast running out, and while he’s locked into a contract with Ferrari for the next two years, he must surely be canvassing his options. There are a number of teams with potentially more to offer than what Ferrari is – rather scandalously – repeatedly failing to deliver for its brightest of stars.
RichardsF1.com Rating: 9/10
Having made an impressive return to Formula 1 with two race-winning seasons at Lotus, there was much fanfare when Kimi Räikkönen and Ferrari announced that they would give the marriage a second chance. Many expected war between the Italian team’s two star drivers, but it’s been nothing short of an unmitigated drubbing for the 2007 World Champion, who sits 2-9 and 0-10 in head-to-head qualifying and race finishes against Alonso.
It’s been a frustrating and decidedly underwhelming performance so far from the Finn, who has been unable – or unwilling – to get to grips with the unstable Ferrari F14T. That in turn has drastically affected his ability to get the most out of the various Pirelli tyres on offer, leading to the utter thrashing he has been handed out by his teammate in qualifying and the races.
While Alonso has only failed to make the final qualifying shootout once – courtesy of the team’s disastrous showing at Silverstone – Räikkönen has missed the Q3 cut five times, and has a trio of third-row starts as his best showings.
Qualifying further down left him open to a myriad of squabbles, and he found himself on the receiving end at Malaysia (courtesy of Kevin Magnussen) and Germany (courtesy of almost everyone), for example.
He also copped plenty of criticism for triggering the opening-lap smash at Silverstone that led to the elimination of Felipe Massa. Rejoining the circuit at full speed – only to catch a bump and then collide head-on with the barriers – was an uncharacteristically clumsy move by a driver usually renowned for his race craft, but it also speaks of the increasing desperation perhaps being felt on his side of the garage.
His sixth-placed finish last time out at Hungary is the best of his seven point-scoring drives, but it’s well short of what he is capable of and deserves. Much of that sits with Ferrari as well, but one just needs to look at Alonso’s performances to understand that Räikkönen needs to own his share of responsibility too.
Unless he can demonstrate a significant lift in results in the second half of the season, this second marriage with the Scuderia might be even more short-lived than their first fling.
RichardsF1.com Rating: 3/10
Images via Bleacher Report, Sutton Images and XPB Images