Scuderia Ferrari have started their 2017 Formula 1 season in style with utter dominance of the time sheets during the first pre-season test in Barcelona, recording either the first or second quickest times on each of the four days.
Just as encouraging as the pace shown was their reliability; so far Ferrari have only experienced a minor issue on the 2nd day (of the first test) when their car stopped on track with just minutes left in the day.
To emphasize how seriously this new-found pace and reliability is getting treated, Lewis Hamilton told Autosport on Tuesday the 7th of March, “Ferrari must be the favorites [in 2017].”
Believe it or not, Ferrari haven’t actually been ‘the favorite’ for the last eight seasons. Since 2008, the team has gone without a Constructors World Championship and have only managed to secure 15 Grand Prix victories in the same time period. In perspective, Ferrari won the same amount of races in the 2002 season alone.
So yeah, the Tifosi have not experienced that winning feeling for a long, long time. But we, as fans, need to make sure we’re not getting ahead of ourselves because, you’d probably be surprised by how well Ferrari have performed in recent history during pre-season testing.
The campaign of 2014 is arguably the most grimmest, darkest, and toughest seasons of all time for Ferrari. It mustered just two podiums and was constantly marred by rising tensions between Fernando Alonso and Marco Mattiacci. The team could only manage a 4th place finish in the Constructors Championship and 2014 became the first season since 1993 in which Ferrari failed to win a race.
Despite the clear flaws that came with hindsight, pre-season testing never made Ferrari out to be a ‘fourth in the Constructors Championship’ team. In reality, they proved consistently quick and reliable during all tests, finishing at least two days of every test within top three times – a feat they’ve, so far, completed in 2017.
But this isn’t all, successful testing was also present in 2016 when Ferrari failed to build off their promising 2015 campaign. Despite a phenomenal preparation for Formula 1’s first 21 race season, Ferrari struggled to show any actual race-winning pace at most points in the season.
As a matter of fact, of all the lap times set during the eight test days in 2016, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel set the two fastest aggregate times. They were also the only team to go under a 1:23.000 lap time. Although they did run the softer compounds more extensively, the team still appeared as though they were steps ahead of Red Bull and knocking on Mercedes’ door in Australia’s opening round.
So, my point is, let’s not treat Ferrari like race winners until they actually are. 2016 was supposed to be their year and it was majorly hyped by many fans alike.
Testing is not about going fast, it’s about gathering data, which is usually aided by doing more laps. So far, Mercedes have, again, dominated the lap count; raking in 558 laps (during the first test) over four days. That’s a total distance of eight Grand Prix’s. In reply, Ferrari achieved a commendable 468 laps. So, I guess they’re not out of the equation, but please, wait to Melbourne on the 26th to judge them.
By – Steven Walton