F1 2015 Preview: Ferrari

2014 Statistics

Constructors Championship: 4th
Wins: 0
Podiums: 2
Pole positions: 0
Points finishes: 30

It was a difficult year for Ferrari in 2014 as they struggled to get to grips with their car. Having finished third in the constructors championship in 2013 just six points behind Mercedes, they dropped to fourth last year behind a resurgent Williams, Red Bull, and the dominant Mercedes.

What was billed as an explosive line-up failed to sizzle with Kimi Raikkonen not enjoying the handling of the car. He finished an uncharacteristic average 8.6 throughout the course of the year with his best finishing position being fourth place at a track where he as always gone well – Spa-Francorchamps. Fernando Alonso managed to finish a bit better with the car suiting his driving style more but he could only manage two podiums – in China and Hungary – and finished sixth in the championship while Raikkonen finished 12th.

The Scuderia Ferrari team which will line up on the grid next weekend in Australia is vastly different to the Ferrari of last year. Gone are President Luca di Montezemolo, Team Principal Stefano Domenicali, interim Team Principal Marco Mattiacci, and driver Fernando Alonso. The team also announced at the end of last year that Pat Fry and Nikolas Tombazis would also be departing.

In their place are Sergio Marchionne as Chairman, Maurizio Arrivabene as Team Principal, and four time world champion Sebastian Vettel. It is a highly revitalised team lead by a charismatic leader. Arrivabene has vocally challenged Bernie Ecclestone in relation to making Formula One more open to fans. He even took members of his team to sit in the stands in Barcelona with the fans. As well as experienced drivers, Ferrari have added two young guns to their testing line-up – Esteban Gutierrez and Jean-Eric Vergne. Both drivers lost their seats in F1 but testing roles will keep their foot in the door. Vergne has also been racing in Formula E.

The early signs of the new Ferrari have been positive with Kimi Raikkonen saying that it is definitely an improvement on last year’s machine. They came out of the box fastest in Jerez although testing times mean very little, particularly in the first test, but the signs have been good. Engine customers Sauber completed most laps in the second Barcelona test while Ferrari recorded the second amount, showing that their engines have proved to be reliable so far.

For Raikkonen it is a chance to redeem himself from last year. The car was not to his liking and he struggled with the front end, particularly when Pirelli changed the tyre construction. The Finnish driver has been positive about pre-season testing so this year could see him back fighting for bigger points as he certainly does not lack the speed or driving flair.

It was a similarly difficult year for new team-mate Vettel who had won the previous four world championships and then found the new car was not to his liking last season. He was comfortably beaten by Red Bull’s new recruit Daniel Ricciardo and only got four podiums – vastly different to the 16 podiums – 13 of which were wins – the year before. In pre-season testing Vettel wasted no time in going fastest in Jerez and generally seems to have been performing well. Like Raikkonen, it isn’t the speed or driving flair he lacks but he needs the car beneath him to be able to demonstrate it.

As both drivers have a point to prove, this could prove to be the fireworks that many expected last year. While the drivers are good friends away from the track both will want to beat each other after finishing behind their team-mates last year. With a much improved car Ferrari could enter the battle for second in the championship along with Williams and Red Bull, but can they win races in 2015?

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