The pre-season signs have all been good for Ferrari, so is the year they finally end Mercedes’ Formula One dominance?Ahead of the opening race of the 2017 Formula One season in Australia on March 26, we take a look…
HOW DID THEY PERFORM IN 2016?
There had been high hopes for the Scuderia Ferrari team to challenge Mercedes’ dominance in 2016 and when Sebastian Vettel took the lead on lap one in Australia, only for a poor strategy under red flag conditions to derail his chances, that promise looked like it may yield results.
But it quickly became clear Ferrari were not title challengers. Further chances to win in Spain and Canada came and went and the famous red failed to win a race throughout 2016, with crisis talks were held in July. The end result was a disappointing third-place finish in the Constructors’ standings, while Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were fourth and sixth respectively in the Drivers’ championship.
THE 2017 LINE-UP
Vettel is no stranger to success in F1 having won four straight world titles between 2010 and 2013, but last year was a step back for the German, having finished third in his maiden campaign with the team.
A winless 2016 will not have impressed Vettel, whose own form was indifferent amid several team blunders. Pre-season testing has promised much for Ferrari, though, and the 29-year-old will fancy his chances of challenging for a place on the top step of the podium again.
Given Ferrari’s pedigree in F1 it seems incredible that Raikkonen was the last man to win the Drivers’ title for the Maranello in 2007 during his first stint at the team.
Pre-season testing does not always give an accurate forecast of what is to come, but Raikkonen clocked the fastest time of any driver in Barcelona, notably on the supersoft tyre rather than the ultrasoft.
CAN THEY WIN?
All the signs are in place that Ferrari’s SF70-H has the pace to deliver a first Constructors’ title since 2008 and end a 10-year wait for a world champion.
Spaniard Gene agrees: “I’ve been at Ferrari for 13 years and I think this has been the best preseason I can remember.
“The drivers are very happy and the reliability we have shown has been excellent,” the 42-year-old told Spain’s El Mundo Deportivo newspaper.
Whether Gene is right we’ll only find out over the course of the season, you have to imagine Mercedes will still be strong and Ferrari have promised much and failed to deliver in the past, so the jury remains well and truly still out.