2018 was a missed opportunity for Ferrari: the fast car that could’ve won both world championships wasted through a combination of driver errors, bad strategy calls and blind development alleys.
And what it needed most for this year was stability, the power of incremental gains a much-underrated factor in top team success.
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.”
But, what it has is change – most notably, at the top, with its former team principal Maurizio Arrivabene gone.
In his place, a Scuderia lifer Mattia Binotto who will take on the 24/7 role, in addition to his own position, as technical director. The Swiss engineer ushering in a new culture of creativity and openness.
… and at a frantic time for the Italian marque – its new car launching next week, which has been codenamed internally the 670.
One that F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel hopes will take him to his fifth crown, his first for Ferrari – and first since Red Bull in 2013.
Alongside Vettel, though, is a new charge in young gun Charles Leclerc. The Monégasque undoubtedly talented, but yet more change for a team gunning to close the gap to Mercedes.
Leclerc’s hype is deserved on the back of his rookie F1 season at Sauber, where he beat Marcus Ericsson 17-4 in qualifying and 6-3 in races when they could be compared. He also scored 30 more points.
But Leclerc will need time to acclimatise, despite being part of the Ferrari family – and a former Driver Academy member.
All of which could set the Prancing Horse back, and against a storming Mercedes that has won every title in the turbo-hybrid era.
Pre-season testing, though, will be our first taste of form for 2019.
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."