Scuderia Ferrari will no doubt see 2018 as a disappointing year, given the strength of the SF71H car it launched with.
SOUNDBITE (English) SEBASTIAN VETTEL,
4-TIME F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
“The real magic happens, sort of, underneath from what you can see but every little detail matters. Every little part can make a difference [to your overall performance] and I think this year's car is a big step from last year, so let's see how it feels.”
And in what was the fastest car on many occasions, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen secured six wins: the most for Ferrari since 2008, the last time it won the constructors', and six poles.
Indeed Vettel led the drivers’ standings from Australia to China – but the death of chairman Sergio Marchionne, and various errors, held Ferrari back, many from its four-time F1 World Champion, Vettel.
At Paul Ricard in France, he speared into Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, while in Germany, he skated off a wet track and into the barriers while leading…
In Italy, he clashed with Lewis Hamilton and spun to the back. In Japan, it was with Max Verstappen. In the USA, with Daniel Ricciardo.
Ferrari also messed up with its Singapore update, which put the Prancing Horse onto the back foot until parts were progressively removed in Japan, and then in Austin where Räikkönen won. But too late.
For 2019, Ferrari young gun Charles Leclerc replaces the Finn, and it’s a departure from the past with the Monegasque brought in to shake-up the system and challenge Vettel.
Should Ferrari again produce a consistent front-runnner, it’ll be fascinating to watch on-track and off as the apprentice takes on the master… with the Ferrari team lining up behind the victor.
Regardless, the pressure is on the Scuderia to again up its game in 2019 – and do what it couldn’t this year, be the first team in F1’s turbo-hybrid era to beat the Silver Arrows to either title.