Formula 1: Ferrari’s horrible season could have historic implications

Ferrari are as bad as they have been in Formula 1 in a long, long time, and the 2020 season continues to progress toward becoming one of their worst ever.

It’s not a new concept for Formula 1 fans: the Ferrari SF1000 is slow. That’s putting it nicely.

Sure, pretty much every car other than then Mercedes W11 is “slow” this year. But Ferrari, the most successful team in the history Formula 1, have had a horrible start to the 2020 season, and it doesn’t look like that will be improving at any point in the near future.

It is often stated that Formula 1 needs Ferrari to do well, given their illustrious history in the sport, their outstanding fanbase, and even their haters. They are the “it” team of the sport.

Suffice it to say they haven’t done well in 2020, which is slowly becoming one of their worst seasons ever.

Take away Charles Leclerc’s gutsy Austrian Grand Prix and British Grand Prix performances that somehow netted this tractor of a car two podium finishes, and the results illustrate that in full.

In fact, even with the 25 points that Leclerc shockingly managed to collect at the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone Circuit, 37 if you also include his impressive fourth place finish in the second race of the doubleheader at the latter, they are on pace for their worst season in decades.

Performances like the one we saw last weekend in the Belgian Grand Prix at Circuit Spa-Francorchamps, which netted the team their first true finish outside of the points since 2010 when Fernando Alonso finished in 14th place ahead of Felipe Massa finished in 15th in the British Grand Prix, back that up.

To put that in perspective, Leclerc won the Belgian Grand Prix from the pole position last year — before the whole engine debacle.

Even in the 2010 British Grand Prix, Alonso was running toward the front before he was issued a drive-through penalty. So last weekend’s effort was their first time missing out on any points due to raw performance since the 2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit, when Raikkonen finished in 12th place ahead of Giancarlo Fisichella in 16th.

On Sunday, Sebastian Vettel finished in 13th place with Leclerc behind him in 14th.

https://twitter.com/ScuderiaFerrari/status/1300081160572284928

The only other three drivers who finished the race were Haas teammates Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, who run the slow Ferrari engines in their VF-20s, and Williams rookie Nicholas Latifi. Williams have scored one point in the last 35 races dating back to 2018, and even that was a fluke.

Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen even managed to finish ahead of the Scuderia teammates in his Ferrari-powered machine.

This isn’t how you want to cap off a Rawe Ceek.

Ferrari are the Dallas Cowboys of Formula 1 — successful throughout history, but nothing to show for it in recent years. It’s always “their year”, until we quickly realize it’s not.

Even when they have been able to challenge Mercedes regularly, such as in 2017 and 2018, that concept has been clear.

The Italian team haven’t won a world championship since 2008, and they haven’t had a driver win a world title since 2007 when Raikkonen pulled it off. But even during this drought, they have been able to be competitive.

Now back to 2020.

Just look at Mercedes this year. The world championship battles are effectively over already with Ferrari running dozens of seconds, sometimes more than a lap, behind the Silver Arrows.

It’s the same three drivers, Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, on the podium in almost every race.

Hamilton leads the driver standings by nearly two full race wins through just seven races, and he has five times as many wins as both of his two rivals. Mercedes have six times as many wins as Red Bull, the only other remotely competitive team.

The “best of the rest” has gone from its usual seventh place up to fourth.

Through seven of the 17 races on the schedule, Ferrari sit in fifth place in the constructor standings behind Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren and Racing Point. This is despite the fact that Racing Point, which lead them 66-61, lost 15 points earlier this year due to a rule breach.

But Ferrari effectively have the sixth quickest car in the field. Renault sit just two points behind them following a double top five result, something Ferrari would consider a pipe dream for 2020. Vettel hasn’t managed a top five result yet himself.

Leclerc has had a respectable year, sitting up in a fifth place tie in the driver standings. But Vettel sits in 13th, and he sits behind AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly in 12th. AlphaTauri currently sit in seventh in the constructor standings, ahead of only Alfa Romeo, Haas and Williams, three times which have combined for just three points on two top 10 finishes.

Let’s take a look at the historic implications of this treacherous season.

If Ferrari finish worse than fourth place in the constructor standings, it would be the first time they have done so since 1981 when they finished in fifth. But even in 1981, they managed two wins.

Good luck halving that number this year.

If they finish lower than fifth place, which seems like the most likely possibility given Renault’s recent success and the tracks remaining on the schedule, it would be the first time they have done so since 1980 when they finished in an abysmal 10th.

Dating back to the introduction of the constructor championship in 1958, they have just four finishes outside of the top five (1962, 1969, 1973 and 1980). Even in 1980, they managed five top six finishes in 14 races. They have four so far this year.

To put in perspective just how long ago the 1980 season was, at that point, the now 16-time champions had won only six titles. In 1962, 1969 and 1973, they were just two-time champions.

Fortunately for Ferrari, their home race, the Italian Grand Prix at Autodromo Nazionale Monza, is coming up later today. Unfortunately for Ferrari, Monza is a power-heavy track, and Leclerc only managed to qualify in 13th place ahead of Vettel in 17th, making their first Italian Grand Prix without a top 10 starting spot.

So while Leclerc won it last year, this year’s running of the race looks like it will be a battle for them just to score points. It is set to be broadcast live on ESPN beginning at 9:10 a.m. ET.