F1: Ferrari celebrate historic milestone
The ninth round of the 2020 Formula One World Championship will take place in Tuscany at the Mugello circuit where the most successful and iconic motor-racing team, Ferrari will take part in their 1000th race in the sport.
8th September 2020
Formula One and Ferrari have become inseparable with the Prancing Horse being the only team to compete in the sport since the championship first began in 1950. No other team has been able to achieve this feat nor the legacy that the Scuderia has attained.
The start of a legacy
The man who started the Ferrari dream was Enzo Ferrari. Enzo grew up in Italy and always dreamed of racing cars and after he was discharged from the Italian Army during World War One, he worked in a small car plant before racing for the works team. Having moved to Alfa Romeo, he stayed until 1929 where he set-up Scuderia Ferrari and after only a few years later, he built up the team and based his new team in Maranello. His cars competed in the first race of the newly formed Formula One World Championship in 1950.
A year since they entered in their first race, they won the 1951 British GP with Argentine Jose Froilan Gonzalez behind the wheel. Driver Championships followed for Alberto Ascari in 1952 and in 1953 with Juan Manuel Fangio and Mike Hawthorn in 1956 and in 1958.
American Phil Hill took the title in 1961 with Ferrari clinching their first of sixteen championships in the same year. Another title came in 1964 with British driver John Surtees but the Prancing Horse would have to wait another 11 years before the next championship.
Niki Lauda claimed the title in 1975 and in 1977 with Jody Scheckter in 1979. Ferrari took two early Constructors titles in the early 1980’s before huge slumps in performances left them for the rest of that decade and into the 1990’s in the mid-field with the occasional victory. In this period, Ferrari’s main rivals and the other two most successful and long-standing teams, McLaren and Williams, fought with one and another for championships.
With the right driver, the perfect car and the team environment that Ferrari thrive off, it can be a beautiful but deadly combination as one their rivals know all too well.
In the hands of Michael Schumacher and with strategical masterminds of Ross Brawn and Jean Todt, Ferrari went on one of the most dominant runs the sport had ever seen with the team sealing the Drivers 2000 to 2004. They also sealed the Constructors Championship from 1999 to 2004 with the title in 1999 the Scuderia’s first in 21 long years and it signalled that the team was back at the front.
They didn’t produce mediocre cars to win these titles, they produced some of the finest and best examples of machinery to compete in a race. The F2002, used during the 2002 Season, won 15 of the 17 races and the average winning margin was nearly 20 seconds while the F2004 won 15 of the 18 races, set some new lap records which are still standing today and was the car that took Schumacher to a record-breaking seventh world title.
Throughout the rest of the 2000’s, Ferrari were ever present at the forefront of the grid with Kimi Raikkonen clinching the championship in 2007 with back-to-back Constructors titles in 2007 and in 2008. To this date, this is the last time Ferrari took a championship back to their home town in Maranello.
Long and hard-fought season campaigns from Fernando Alonso from 2010 and 2012 came within touching distance of the Driver’s title while recently, management changes have failed to come to fruition. Despite having one of the best cars on the grid in 2017 and in 2018, driver mistakes and serious team errors have left Ferrari looking at themselves, hoping to find the right combination to get them back to the top.
Ferrari’s 2020 Season
Ferrari’s wait is expected to continue with the team effectively ruling out of challenging for the championship and wins consistently for the rest of this year and into 2021. With the clamp down on the rule of engine modes at the beginning of this year, Ferrari and their customer teams have been dealt with a serious blow and it was evident to see this at the Belgian GP that took place at the end of August.
At the very power dependant Spa-Francorchamps, the six powered Ferrari cars on the grid occupied the last eight grid spots.
Ahead of this weekend’s race, the team lie in sixth on 61 points with Charles Leclerc’s two podiums in Austria and in Great Britain to show for in the eight races so far. What’s more troubling is that his two podiums combined is a total of 33 points, more than half of their points haul.
The SF1000 is neither quick nor reliable. Out of the eight races this season, they’ve failed to score any points on three occasions and on one of them, both their drivers, Sebastian Vettel and Leclerc, made race-ending contact on the opening lap of the Styrian GP.
In qualifying for the team’s home race in Italy at Monza, Vettel was knocked-out of the first stage of qualification while Leclerc was knocked-out in the second part. In their worst starting positions for their home race, in 17th and 13th, neither driver would see the chequered flag as brake failure prevented Vettel from completing the race while a mistake from Leclerc saw the young Monegasque crash-out.
This performance led to Vettel, who leaves the team after this year, to say “I think it’s probably a blessing that there’s nobody in the stands." No fans have been present at a Formula One race this year due to the restrictions and with social distancing in place.
Hopes for this weekend’s race are low. Vettel said: “You see where we are. I hope in Mugello we’re in a little bit of a better place but that doesn’t mean we’re fighting for the podium. You need to be realistic. Expectations are very low.”
Things at the Scuderia right now aren’t what they used to be but the Italian automotive giants are not second guessing their commitment. In the past few years, there had been some speculation that they might leave the sport but only recently, along with the nine other teams on the grid, they have all signed the Concorde Agreement which secure Ferrari’s future until 2025.
What is true and what is absolutely certain is that the Tifosi, Ferrari’s loyal and passionate fan base, will be cheering both the drivers and the team on for this weekend and for many years to come.