[F1 2018 VIDEO FEATURE] SCUDERIA FERRARI: CRUNCH TIME

Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya is a happy hunting ground for Ferrari, as the most successful constructor there since 1991, with eight wins from 28 visits. Fernando Alonso the last to win there for the Scuderia in 2013.

… and this year all the stars looked to be aligned, with the Prancing Horse leading the Formula 1 constructors’ standings heading into Round 5 for the first time since 2008.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton was also barely in control of the drivers’ standings, his four-point advantage over fellow four-time F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel care of a lucky win at the previous round in Azerbaijan; his W09 a diva in getting its front tyres to the right temperature.

All the ingredients were there for Vettel to dominate. But, Mercedes turned the season on its head with its largest upgrade for 2018. Hamilton using it to stunning effect, dominating for his 41st win from pole position. 

And with the Silver Arrows re-discovering its pace, now is the time for Ferrari to return fire with development, with the Prancing Horse already needing to revise its halo - and remove the controversial wing mirrors the FIA outlawed post-Spain.

Vettel, though, is well versed in the fine details required to put together a world championship campaign.

SOUNDBITE (English) SEBASTIAN VETTEL,
4-TIME F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
"I think [that] timing is crucial, to get everything together in the right moment. Obviously in Formula 1 where it really matters, every split second matters a lot to us to be in front of your competitors.”

In developing the SF71H, the stability of Ferrari’s technical team should continue to pay dividends – as the hallmark of a champion team.

SOUNDBITE: (English) MARK PRESTON, 
F1 TECHNICAL DIRECTOR, 2006-2008:
“Keeping everything stable, keeping it on the path. It’s all about perfection, it’s all about not making mistakes. It’s all about good directions.”

Technical director Mattia Binotto continues to lead the Prancing Horse’s efforts, having successfully replaced James Allison in 2016 – but beyond that, Ferrari’s last world champion Kimi Räikkönen, says that much of the iconic team’s workforce are long-term employees.

SOUNDBITE (English) KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN, 
2007 F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
“To be honest it's a lot of the same people still, obviously some people are gone, some new people came in, but it hasn't changed a lot. The atmosphere is still the same, they are very passionate about Ferrari and racing.”

For Vettel, though, it’s a long-term mission to replicate his childhood idol Michael Schumacher’s achievements at Maranello; and while last year’s campaign was frustrating – one marked by mistakes and technical issues – a 2018 title win for Vettel would still be in one year less than his countryman took the first time around in 2000.

SOUNDBITE (English) MARIO ANDRETTI,
1978 F1 WORLD CHAMPION: 
“I would love to see Vettel win a championship with Ferrari because I think he really wants to be there. He’s there because it's been his dream I think Michael [Schumacher] was his hero.”

For Ferrari, it’s now got to build that momentum that Hamilton used last year to overhaul the Italian squad’s challenge and seal a fourth world championship… 

Monaco ahead is, for all intents and purposes, a stand alone Grand Prix, the result not necessarily reflecting general competitiveness, but Ferrari should use it – not just as a morale boost, but to come out of the blocks fighting at the following round in Canada to challenge Hamilton at his favourite track.

Either way, you can bet there will be some long nights ahead for the team at Maranello, as the game steps up a gear.

SOUNDBITE (English) MARIO ANDRETTI,
1978 F1 WORLD CHAMPION: 
“Never short change the Ferrari as far as their effort - because they live, breathe, eat, sleep Formula 1."