2013 Team Reviews: Ferrari

A team with the prestige and history of Ferrari always have high hopes of success when heading into any season. Unfortunately for the passionate Tifosi, 2013 was yet another trophy-less season – the last championship success came courtesy of Kimi Raikkonen in 2007. Appropriately dubbed, “The Bull Fighter” Fernando Alonso once again finished second to Sebastian Vettel in the Drivers Championship, yet the Spaniard was once again Mr.Dependable, picking up two victories and a further seven podium finishes. Meanwhile, teammate Felipe Massa suffered another disappointing season claiming just one season. However, Maranello will be a hive of excitement as their Finnish son returns to partner the chosen one. It could be explosive!

Fernando “The Bull Fighter”

Fernando Alonso has had a difficult career so far at Ferrari – victories have come in each and every one of his four campaigns behind the wheel of the Scuderia, however, the championship’s have been snatched away by a certain Sebastian Vettel. In three of the four seasons, Alonso has finished P2 behind the seemingly invincible German and 2013 was yet another tale of Alonso earning the position of bridesmaid. 
Fernando has an incredible knack of extracting the maximum from his machinery. 2012 showcased these remarkable talents as he took the championship fight all the way to the final round while wrestling with a below-par F2012. At the start of 2013, Ferrari were exceedingly optimistic regarding the strength of the package, with Stefano proclaiming Alonso’s championship credentials prior to Melbourne. Alonso drove magnificently in the opening round to notch P2 behind an invincible Raikkonen, who was not set to be beaten on the day. Wins soon came for Alonso in China and then at his homecoming in Barcelona. At this point, the championship was “nicely spiced” as exclaimed by Sky Sports F1’s David Croft. He was taking the fight to Vettel just as he had done in the previous campaign.
While Vettel’s nine consecutive victories in the second half of the season left all of his rivals in a state of shock, Fernando maintained his ‘best of the rest’ accolade, with his own spell of form which ultimately sealed P2 in the championship and guided Ferrari to beating Lotus in the constructors. In the Belgian, Italian and Singapore Grand Prix’s, Alonso claimed P2 by a comfortable margin. They were impressive performances, deserving of the victory itself. While post-Singapore Ferrari suffered a downturn in car performance as their final upgrade package made the car suffer from uncontrollable understeer, Alonso only slipped out of the points just once, when finishing P11 in the Indian Grand Prix. Other than his retirement in Malaysia, this was his only race where he failed to score any points. Quite remarkable consistency when you consider the state of the final package…

Massa Unable To Match Alonso

Unfortunately, it is what we have come to expect in recent years. Felipe Massa was once again outclassed by his teammate in 2013, despite this campaign proving to be one of his best since 2008. The Brazilian can best be described as entirely inconsistent – Notable successes such as his P4 in the opening round or his excellent P3 in Barcelona were not incorporated in a sequence of results which were required to convince his employers of his value.
His patchy season saw him amass just 112 points compared to Alonso’s 242 – in what we can assume is equal machinery, such a stark contrast would always place question marks regarding Massa’s future. However, it was not all bad for Felipe as he provided evidence for his impressive one lap credentials with positive Saturday’s. His best qualifying performance came in Malaysia, where he claimed a well-earned P2 on the grid. While he managed P5 in the race, the weekend was also proof of Felipe’s difficulties regarding race performance, and it was typical of his season. It seemed as though he struggled to strike the correct balance between tyre preservation and maintaining lap time. If this is the issue, Felipe will hope that either Williams’ tyre management strategies suit his style, or alternatively, that he learns from his mistakes this season.

Strong In The Face Of Adversity   

While the F138 was undoubtedly a strong package during the early stages of the season, Ferrari chose the wrong development path, (when have I said that before!) The team were misguided by their wind tunnel and Pat Fry identified the issues as born from correlation problems – Their developments which had worked in the wind tunnel failed to add lap time when they eventually hit the track. It is a problem which has plagued Ferrari for several years now and they will have to solve them before they can take the challenge to Red Bull over the course of an entire campaign. This season, the front wing was the problem area, as it failed to pull air into the ‘coke bottle’. This meant that the coanda exhaust package was creating rear downforce almost independently. 
The aero deficiencies were visible for all to see during FP3 in Austin, when humidity reached 93% and vortices gave aerodynamisists fantastic insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the competition. On the F138, air which passed through the front wing was not drawn into the sidepod turning veins and was lost, costing vital lap time. Moreover, understeer crippled the progress of both Massa and Alonso in the final rounds as they struggled to get to grips with the erratic and unpredictable nature of the car. The fact that they managed to hold onto P3 was remarkable in itself, yet Ferrari are typically adept at being strong in the face of adversity. It was a struggle, but P3 is better than P4.

So, 2013 has been an up and down affair for the Scuderia and P3 will never be enough for the Tifosi, who always demand a lot from their team. Until they make a return to the top of the pile, nothing will ever be enough. However, a triumphant return seems even further away after yet another season of development failure and correlation calamities. Will James Allison solve the issues, or do the problems lie deeper?  

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