Sunday, September 27, 2020

1 Racing Mind’s 2020 Formula 1 Mid-Season Team Report Card: Scuderia Ferrari


Photo Credit: Ferrari S.p.A.

Team Grade: D+

Driver’s Grade:

Charles Leclerc: B+

Sebastian Vettel: C-

Summary of First Nine Races:

After the 2019 Formula 1 season, Scuderia Ferrari had a decent sense of optimism. Asserting itself as a stable podium-contending team and securing the young, talented Charles Leclerc as a teammate to Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari also faced scrutiny as allegations were made that the Italian team found a power unit exploit.  

For Scuderia Ferrari, the ongoing 2020 Formula 1 season has been a combination of disaster and drama. A less-than competitor car, race incidents as well as an emotional team culture that has not gone unnoticed by outsiders have plagued the organization. 

One of the major targets cited for Ferrari’s difficult 2020 season is the SF1000 race car. According to a BBC Sport article by Andrew Benson, the team realized flaws with the SF1000 after February’s pre-season testing and instituted an upgrade to the vehicle following the first race of the season. Said to have been an uneasy car to drive by both Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc at the early part of the season, the Ferrari SF1000's performance lagging has brought last year’s power unit issue into the conversation for their recent competitive problems.

Charles Leclerc securing a runner-up spot at the Austrian Grand Prix but flaws in the team showed up quickly. In the Styrian Grand Prix, running at the same Red Bull Ring as the Austrian Grand Prix one week later, the Ferraris qualified in a timid 10th and 11th place due in part of it being a wet time trial session. On the opening lap of the grand prix, Leclerc and Vettel collided leading to the eventual retirement of both competitors. The second and so-far final podium scored by Ferrari was at what was a bizarre British Grand Prix where Charles Leclerc took third aided by tire degradation issues of Mercedes that caused Valtteri Bottas to give up his second place late in the Silverstone event. 

Before the 2020 Formula 1 season was launched after it extended break caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Ferrari announced that Sebastian Vettel would not be returning to the team after this year. It’s debatable to judge how much of an impact that the planned parting is having in regards to the on-track performance this year. At the Spanish Grand Prix, Ferrari’s plan for a single pit stop strategy was accompanied by a radio communication from a frustrated Vettel who was not provided with adequate clarity on their race plans.

Prediction for Rest of the 2020 Season:

During season where the historic race team was ready to commemorate their 1000th grand prix start, Ferrari has little to celebrate as of September. After nine races, many Formula 1 fans and analysts would come to the conclusion that the 2020 season might go down as the worst for the Ferrari team. Scuderia Ferrari has admitted they’re not foreseeing a return to front-running competitiveness until the 2022 season.  

Proving itself still capable of competing for top-10 finishes in 2020, the Italian motorsport icon may fall into a position to gain another podium result. With Sebastian Vettel set to leave the team for Aston Martin next year, Ferrari is likely to put most greater focus around Charles Leclerc.

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