How Ferrari have gone so long without a win
When Formula 1 returns from its summer break on the 1st September, it will be nearly 11 months since Ferrari took their last victory.
For a team supposedly fighting for the World Championship, that stat will be hard to read.
Ferrari have spent the majority of the season second best to Mercedes but to make matters worse Red Bull have found improvements in the last few races and are now challenging them for that spot.
This wasn’t how it was meant to be for Ferrari. After a promising 2018 season, this was supposed to be the year that they took Mercedes right down to the wire.
Unfortunately, a combination of both driver and team errors means their title ambitions are in tatters and now they remain in a fight to hold on to second with Red Bull closing the gap to 44 points in the constructor’s championship.
It would be easy to say that Ferrari should have had at least two wins by now but their failure to win these races were by and large their own doing.
In Bahrain Leclerc’s Ferrari suffered an engine issue whilst he was leading and in Canada Vettel made a mistake defending against Hamilton which meant he received a penalty.
Reliability issues have been something of a theme at Ferrari of late. In addition to the loss of power at Bahrain, the team also suffered engine related problems in qualifying at Austria, as well as a number of problems in qualifying at the German Grand Prix.
What’s more, the problems have all been different, showing the team have a durability weakness in multiple areas.
Speaking after qualifying in Germany, Team Principal, Mattia Binotto said: “At the moment the entire team is bitterly disappointed.
“We are now carrying out an in-depth analysis of what happened. What we do know is that they were two completely different problems, neither of which had ever occurred before.
“The first indications from Sebastian’s car lead us to believe it could be related to a component on the intercooler. The component is to the same specification as those used previously and it was fitted new. Charles had a problem with the fuel pump control unit.”
These things should not be happening on a regular basis, especially at a team like Ferrari, who should be at the very front and regularly fighting for poles and wins.
It is a far cry from the glory days of the 2000’s where Michael Schumacher went 58 Grand Prix (between 2001 and 2005) without a technical retirement. At a time when car failures and engine blow ups were commonplace, this was an incredible feat and became a trademark of the Maranello based team.
Downforce – another issue
Although reliability has been a hinderance – especially in qualifying – it is not Ferrari’s only problem. Whilst they appear to have the most powerful car with the best top speed, they are suffering from a lack of downforce, something which was plain to see at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
The Hungaroring is a notoriously tight and twisty circuit and in order to have a strong weekend there you need a car with high downforce levels.
With Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen away at the front battling hard for the lead, Ferrari were left to have their own battle for third and ended up finishing over a minute behind the leading pair.
It is not where Ferrari want to be or should be, but at the moment it is where they find themselves and they admit their aero efficiency is not up to scratch.
After race in Hungary, Binotto said “a lack of aero downforce, which at the moment penalises us even more in the race than in qualifying” was to blame for their poor performance and that it is an area they need to focus on going into the summer break.
Upgrades aren’t working
They also need to get on top of their development programme. Last season their title challenge fell away at the end of the year as they were bringing upgrades to races that were not working. They realised at the Japanese Grand Prix that they had gone in the wrong direction but at that point it was too late for them.
Again, despite having a strong car in testing, when their first big update arrived in Spain, they did not completely work as expected.
“The developments we have introduced since the Spanish GP have allowed us to close the gap” commented Binotto at the French Grand Prix.
“Some of these updates have proved to be very useful, others unfortunately less so”.
After a difficult French Grand Prix, Ferrari arrived in Austria hoping to resolve their issues and get a better understanding of their new parts and were pleased that there was only a week between the races.
“It’s the best way to put ourselves to the test again to try and understand the elements that did not go according to plan in France.” Bonita added.
Although they narrowly missed out on the win at Austria – after Leclerc was overtaken by Verstappen in the closing stages – they did show that they had strong pace, so the car clearly has potential.
But in Britain they suffered again and this time Binotto confirmed that tyre wear compromised their pace.
It is clear to see that there are far too many problems at Maranello and at the moment they have a number of areas that require improvement.
They need to tackle one issue at a time, making sure a permanent fix is in place. That may be painful in the short term but it will definitely pay dividends in the long run.
But if Ferrari keep applying the plasters here and there without making sure they are on top of their problems then it could be a while longer before we see the great Scuderia taking victory again.