Ferrari is “disoriented”, F1 legend Sir Jackie Stewart has surmised.
The great Italian team targeted the titles in 2016 but has instead failed to win a single race and even fallen behind Red Bull.
“The momentum, consistency and getting the team together has not worked,” Mark Webber, Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel’s former Red Bull teammate, told The Sun.
“Even things like reliability, they’ve not even managed to bag that,” said the Australian. “Strategy looks flaky at times. They look reactive rather than proactive, so next year is a massive year for them.”
Webber thinks a bad 2017 could even cost Ferrari its lead driver, German Vettel.
“Next year is a massive year for Ferrari and Sebastian,” he said. “It is a juggernaut in terms of their collective belief in the team and whether they have the weapons in place to get the job done.”
Triple world champion Stewart agrees with Webber when it comes to Ferrari’s ‘weapons’, arguing that the loss of James Allison was a key blow.
“It didn’t help that it separated with its technical director halfway through the year,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“The team was used to him as a leader and it takes time to recover from that. James Allison had managed to unite the team and win the trust of the people — for me, he is an outstanding engineer.
“Ferrari seems disoriented,” Stewart added. “They had come to the point where they wondered why they were not winning races.
“James Allison lost his father, who meant a lot to him, and his wife – who didn’t want to live in Italy – died as well. James was not happy,” he said.
“But with his departure brings instability. And stability is still fundamental to success in formula one.
“Ferrari needs to get the right people now. Ken Tyrrell never had the most money, but he knew exactly who the right people were,” Stewart added.
But for now, German-language Sky pundit Marc Surer said Vettel has little chance of repeating his 2015 win in Malaysia this weekend.
“Last year they had the advantage of less tyre wear, but they don’t seem to have that this year,” he said. “I don’t think Vettel has any chance of winning, except with luck.”