Ferrari’s worst performance in a decade summed up their dramatic decline… a dreadful engine and a driver they want rid of, the Prancing Horse is limping to the finish and has a long way to go to get back on its feet
- Ferrari suffered their worst defeat for a decade at Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix
- After a dismal qualifying, Ferrari could not improve on 13th and 14th in the race
- Charles Leclerc is unhappy and Sebastian Vettel is being pushed out next year
- Mattia Binotto would not use the word ‘crisis’ but Ferrari’s decline is staggering
- They settled a dispute over legality of the 2019 engine but have suffered since
In years gone by La Gazzetta dello Sport awarding Ferrari a rating of 3/10 for their performance at the Belgian Grand Prix would have stopped the presses. Now, with every passing race, the rating continues to drop.
Gazzetta called what they saw over 44 laps in Spa from the Maranello team a ‘disaster’. It was Ferrari’s worst result in a decade of racing, both cars outside the points, alarmingly void of any speed, finishing 13th and 14th.
‘Charles (Leclerc) and Sebastian (Vettel) did their very best,’ team boss Mattia Binotto reasoned after the dust had settled.
If he really believes that then Ferrari’s decline is more critical than even the most ardent fan of The Prancing Horse could have imagined.
Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto is overseeing the team’s worst performance run in a decade
This once great institution is in a sorry state and is not close to being competitive in Formula 1
What made the Spa horror show even worse was that Kimi Raikonnen, the last man to deliver a drivers’ championship for the Italian team way back in 2007, finished ahead of both drivers for his former team in an Alfa Romeo using a customer Ferrari engine. That, frankly, is inexcusable.
More and more things are becoming impossible for Binotto and his staff to justify or rationalise. Some would argue this collapse as one of the sport’s powerhouses is embarrassing but, more than that, it is pitiful and their rivals know it.
‘Ferrari’s an iconic brand and they should be racing at the very front,’ Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff conceded.
‘It’s not good for Formula 1, it’s not good for the competition at the front. I very much feel with all the Tifosi and employees of Ferrari for this lack of performance.’
Heading into their home race at Monza, and then Mugello, Tuscany, for their 1,000th race in the sport, Ferrari should count themselves lucky it goes ahead behind-closed-doors.
It would have been a not-so-welcome homecoming had fans been on hand to direct their ire at Binotto, Leclerc, Vettel and the race engineers.
For this once great sporting institution to collapse in on itself, losing time in every race and finding themselves so far off the pace they are often a lap behind, is a disaster.
Sebastian Vettel (left) is leaving and Charles Leclerc (right) has got a car void of any real speed
SEBASTIAN VETTEL’S 2020 RESULTS
Austrian GP: 10th
Styrian GP: DNF
Hungarian GP: 6th
British GP: 10th
70th Anniversary GP: 12th
Spanish GP: 7th
Belgian GP: 13th
CHARLES LECLERC’S 2020 RESULTS
Austrian GP: 2nd
Styrian GP: DNF
Hungarian GP: 11th
British GP: 3rd
70th Anniversary GP: 4th
Spanish GP: DNF
Belgian GP: 14th
From 14 attempts, Ferrari have managed to find themselves on the podium just twice this season: both achieved by Leclerc. Even then, it was good fortune, rather than good manufacturing, that engineered those finishes.
Neither finished at the Styrian GP and Leclerc was counting another DNF in Spain.
Such is the slumber that the Italians find themselves in, the surprise at their plight is becoming less and less of a headline. In reality, Ferrari has been on a downward spiral for years now.
The once superior Prancing Horse is now limping over the finishing line; it’s all become tough to watch. The team are facing millions in revenue lost due to the coronavirus pandemic and have an engine that is the laughing stock of the grid.
As Binotto magnanimously put it this week, the team are ‘caught in a storm’ that is showing no signs of letting up. All the doors have been blown off and the house is barely standing as racing returns to Italy.
‘We knew it would be (a tough season) from the winter tests, Covid and the new regulations,’ Binotto explained. ‘We have to have tight deadlines, we’re in the midst of a storm, but we have to look ahead and work hard for our futures.’
Slack pit-stops has been an issue but this car is running an engine that simply cannot compete
Lewis Hamilton is blowing away the field and is exacerbating just how poorly Ferrari are doing
The issue is that regulations for 2021 mean Ferrari can only develop that car from this miserable SF-1000 which is so far off the pace of Mercedes it seems rather insulting to declare them as ‘competition’ to Lewis Hamilton and Co.
Straight-line speed has been the biggest problem. During qualifying in Spa, six of the bottom eight cars were using a Ferrari engine. It is not a coincidence they all struggle to keep pace.
‘There’s no use hiding away,’ Binotto, whose position is under incredible threat, added.
‘We’re short on speed and aerodynamic efficiency. My message for the fans is that we understand them and we’re sorry. It’s a tough period and we’re looking into what we want to do. As for Monza, after [Spa], it’ll be tough in a week’s time because it’s such a fast track.’
Rivals are finding a hard time feeling sorry for Ferrari, however, following last year’s controversial settlement with the FIA over their power unit.
A number of teams wrote to the governing body seeking clarification as to why Ferrari had not been found guilty of breaching regulations. Ferrari never were, but they did come to a settlement and their engine capabilities have been a world away from what they were in 2019 ever since.
Kimi Raikkonen was the last driver to deliver a drivers’ championship to Ferrari, back in 2007
Things keep going from bad to worse and it is hard to see a quick fix to the team’s collapse
Losing 1.3 seconds per lap in comparison to a year ago is difficult to believe and does come down to more than just engine modifications. But it is hard to ignore the struggles Haas and Alfa Romeo have had using customer Ferrari engines.
The 2020 power unit simply cannot compete in a head-to-head race.
Every race weekend provides another slapstick-type performance, first in qualifying and then in the race, by Ferrari.
There will be no fans at Monza or at Mugello, but they both feel like some of the biggest races in years for a Prancing Horse that has lost its way.
As Wolff alluded to, this decline is bad for everyone in Formula 1. But based on the evidence in Belgium, it will be no quick fix to get the horse back on its feet again.