It’s no secret that Ferrari are nowhere near where they want to be at the moment, they’re currently sitting 4th in the Constructors’ standings with their drivers in P5 and P10 respectively. Following their car launch on February 14th I think it’s fair to say that many of us dared to believe that this might be the year that we see the iconic team make a comeback and take a step up from last year, but in true Ferrari fashion they’ve already proved in the first 3 races why we were foolish to raise our expectations and hold onto any hopes that they might take the fight to Redbull this year over the course of an entire season. As I’ve previously mentioned Ferrari cannot simply be fixed overnight, they require a drastic reconstruction but given the promise that they displayed last year I don’t think anyone expected it to go downhill so quickly in 2023.
Ferrari’s last championship came in 2007 and given that they are arguably the biggest team in F1 with access to an abundance of resources, it’s hard to pin down exactly why success has evaded them for so long. Over the years Ferrari’s championship hopes have continuously slipped through their fingertips and they have squandered the talent that they’ve managed to attract off of their start power alone. When thinking of drivers such as Alonso, Vettel and now Leclerc it’s hard to imagine how they could fail at a team such as Ferrari. There are a number of factors that have accumulated over time to create the poor form that we are currently seeing from Ferrari, but the question is how long will it take to eradicate these errors and more importantly, do Ferrari even know what the core issue is?
Two things that can certainly be ruled out when looking at what is dragging Ferrari down are Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, the pull of the Ferrari name have managed to attract one of the best driver pairings on the grid in what should’ve been an unstoppable team that would be right up there with Verstappen and Redbull but has instead turned into a sinking ship that is struggling to stay afloat. Leclerc’s marquee signing in 2019 marked a historic moment for the team as they provided him with a 5 year contract, an offer that they had never previously made to an F1 driver, but these dreams of recreating the type of success that was seen during the Schumacher era quickly began to fade as Ferrari have never really managed to make a return to their former glory. This past season presented them with the biggest title opportunity they’d seen in years and whilst they got off to an encouraging start, their season quickly unravelled with the team making too many mistakes to keep count of. This would’ve no doubt tested the drivers’ loyalty to the team and with both of their contacts set to expire in 2024 will they maintain enough confidence in Ferrari to remain within the team?
There have been rumours as of late that Leclerc has been in talks with Mercedes following his recent comments that this year has been “the worst start to a season” that he’s ever had, although this is just speculation at the moment, it still sends a strong message to Ferrari. Their number 1 driver, who they’ve placed their title hopes in, could be looking for a way out if they are unable to pull themselves together. It’s difficult to say now where Leclerc would even move to if he was looking to depart from Ferrari but it’d be difficult to imagine any team on the grid turning him down given that he he’s one of the best drivers we’ve seen in the sport over the past decade.
Another factor that is hindering Ferrari’s return to the top, and is in my opinion the biggest red flag, is the constant changing of the leadership and key personnel. Ferrari are on their fifth team principal within the space of 9 years, this frequent replacement of key figures is surely disrupting their chance of making any consistent progress and it signals to us, looking in from the outside, that there is no stability at the core of the team and you can’t expect a team to make any tangible long-term progress if they haven’t even figured out how to property set up their own internal structure. This is a huge cause for concern as no team principal since 2014 has had a fair chance to completely implement their full vision for the team as they are kicked out before they can reap the full benefits of their work. Ferrari’s problems have only gone from bad to worse as of late with their sporting director, Laurent Mekies, jumping ship to Alpha Tauri to replace the outgoing Franz Tost. This is a significant decision that can’t be overlooked as if Ferrari’s key personnel start to lose faith in the direction that the team are heading in, it could be the final nail in the coffin that sinks Ferrari or could it set the stage for Vasseur to rebuild this team from the ground up?