Win-less season prompts revolution at Ferrari

2014 F1 season review

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Ferrari team stats 2014

Best race result (number)2 (1)
Best grid position (number) 4 (3)
Non-classifications (mechanical/other) 3 (2/1)
Laps completed (% of total) 2,142 (92.01%)
Laps led (% of total) 32 (2.75%)
Championship position (2013)4 (3)
Championship points (2013)216 (354)
Pit stop performance ranking3

Ferrari hasn’t won the constructors’ championship since 2008 and none of its drivers has taken a title since 2007. They were defeated again this year – and it was a failure will have stung them even harder than the five which preceded it.

It wasn’t just that they failed to win a race for the first time in 21 years. Or that they were beaten by Williams, a team which at the most probably spends half as much as Ferrari. Or that it led to the departure of their team principal, and the man who replaced him, and Fernando Alonso – arguably the best driver in F1 today

The real pain for Ferrari was the humiliation factor. Because in the Ferrari narrative, this was the year things were supposed to get better for them.

Throughout the crushing years of Red Bull’s dominance it became Ferrari president Luca di Montezmolo’s mantra that the sport was too focussed on aerodynamics and its frozen-specification V8s prevented them from competing in the field of power unit development – a traditional strength for the team whose founder once scoffed that aerodynamics was for “people who can’t build engines”.

For 2014 Ferrari’s wish was granted. An overhaul of the engine regulations and a relaxation of engine development regulations (contrary to the spin which has since been put on it by Ferrari and Red Bull) handed them an opportunity to start afresh and leave behind the 2009-13 generation of cars which the team never fully got to grips with.

The shortcomings of the F14 T dawned slowly at the beginning of the year – partly because testing indicated Renault was in more serious trouble. But once the real action began and Red Bull suddenly found the fairway, the reality dawned that Ferrari produced had the weakest package of F1’s three engine manufacturers.

In a harsh irony, it gradually emerged they had made compromises with their power unit design with the goal of improving aerodynamic efficiency. But not only did the trade-off cost them in terms of power and fuel efficiency, the downforce gains didn’t materialise either.

The team made a middling start to the year. In Australia the performance of both cars was restricted due to ongoing problems. Then came the shock of Bahrain, where Ferrari’s two world champions limped home ninth and tenth, their rivals seemingly able to overtake them as they pleased.

Team principal Stefano Domenicali, a Ferrari man from the day he left university in 1991, stepped down from the position of team principal which he had occupied since 2007. In a surprising move Montezemolo appointed the CEO of their north American car sales division, Marco Mattiacci, to take over the running of the team.

After five years and two painful championship near-misses, Alonso’s patience was understandably frayed. But it seems friction between him and Mattiacci hastened Alonso’s decision to call time on his Ferrari career two years before his current contract was due to expire.

That was eventually confirmed in late November, but it had been widely expected for several weeks following Red Bull’s announcement in Japan that Sebastian Vettel was leaving the team. Vettel won’t drive for Mattiacci, however – the new boss split from the team on the day after the season ended, with Maurizio Arrivabene confirmed as Ferrari’s third principal in seven months.

The dominoes didn’t stop there. Montezemolo’s 20-year reign as Ferrari president also came to an end – though that probably had as much to do with the internal politics of the road car division as the F1 team’s failure to keep the championship silverware flowing.

While Alonso’s commitment to the team had waned, his commitment on the track clearly did not. He rose to the challenge of facing a fellow world champion at the same team magnificently, and utterly humbled Kimi Raikkonen over the 19-round campaign.

Alonso’s feats included a timely podium in China – Mattiacci’s first weekend at the helm – which was achieved by keeping the quicker Red Bulls at sword’s length. He considered Austria one of his best performances as he crossed the line 18 seconds behind Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes – Raikkonen was almost half a minute behind his team mate.

Rare were the days when Raikkonen was sufficiently on top of the F14 T to compete for anything more than the minor points places. He was unlucky in Monaco, his best chance of a podium finish all season, and on form as usual at Spa-Francorchamps.

Towards the end of the year Raikkonen was beginning to look happier with the car. But if he had been expected to contribute more to Ferrari’s point tally than Felipe Massa did, it didn’t happen. It gave some indication how much Alonso has been carrying the team and how badly he will be missed in 2015 and beyond.

2014 Ferrari race results

AustraliaMalaysiaBahrainChinaSpainMonacoCanadaAustriaBritainGermanyHungaryBelgiumItalySingaporeJapanRussiaUSABrazilAbu Dhabi
Fernando Alonso44936465652746669
Kimi Raikkonen712108712101011649812913710

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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37 comments on “Win-less season prompts revolution at Ferrari”

  1. So it looks like the prancing horse is lame and has been eating nothing but humble pie all year.

  2. This article couldn’t be better… sums so much all the hypocrisy within Ferrari and the failed romanticism it praises itself of emiting.

    From lobbying for engines, to getting the engines they want (not the 4 cylinders we were supposed to get) to failing to build a proper one and lobbying again. While getting more money than others because they can. And wasting 5 years of Alonso in the process.

    Hopefully they keep doing bad… just to balance out their power.

    1. Agreed. Both Ferrari and Red Bull can stay in the midfield for a while for me. Red Bull has lost a lot of appeal by criticizing Renault so much over the year, and trying to change the rules, threatening to start their own engine development, just like Ferrari starts to criticize as soon as things do not go as planned. I think its a sign of weakness. Both Williams and McLaren did not openly criticize the formula when things weren’t going their way, they take action, hire the right people and get it done. The more Ferrari and Red Bull complain about the formula, the more they will look like fools.

      1. @tamburello yeah but at least Red Bull is working hard on its chassis and making it work properly, maybe even better than the Mercedes so it’s understandable that they are annoyed by Renault’s failure. Also considering they wanted to switch to another engine only for others to block it. So they can’t do anything even if they build the best car.

        But they are not getting more money than they deserve. Just Montezemolo alone balances out decades of Red Bull complaining.

        1. @fer-no65

          Also considering they wanted to switch to another engine only for others to block it.

          Hardly… Like Ferrari, it was just public posturing designed to shame Renault into improving.

          Also, the engine switch thing is also rubbish PR fluff – they’ve got a long-standing agreement with Renault, Ferrari have a dogpile of an engine and Mercedes are already supplying more engines to more customers than their rivals – even if they would allow Red Bull to have a supply (not likely, given it would likely result in them beating the works team), they’re not allowed too because the regulations on engine supply limit the number of customers.

          Finally, if RBR (& Toro Rosso) abandoned Renault, they wouldn’t be supplying anyone, given it seems unlikely that Caterham will make the grid.

          1. @optimaximal what I said did happen. Not this year, before. ARound 2012, still in the V8 era.

      2. You hit the nail on the head there.

    2. Comment of the day!

    3. Amen to that. It’s time Ferrari be forced to not only learn to race fair, instead of with politics, but be paid fair.

      1. @joey-poey I’m afraid Williams and McLaren also get paid over and above the fair share for their history albeit lesser than what Ferrari get paid. And also remember Ferrari are not the only ones who try to skew the powers to be in their favour. Red Bull have been so successful in the recent past and even Mercedes threaten to quit if the sport switches to a different powertrain.

    4. @fer-no65 100% agree with you there, the highlight being

      Hopefully they keep doing bad… just to balance out their power.

    5. Whoa, they must have done something really bad at you in your past or present life to cause such a negative comment and taking such a devil pleasure in others failure :).

      1. Not as much as Sutil ! :D

        In a way, yes. What you say it’s kinda true. Because motorsports is my passion and just like Bernie’s comments about many things negatively impact on me, Ferrari’s anctics many times have done the same.

  3. they were beaten by Williams

    If Raikkonen had scored as many points as Alonso – which we all hoped before the season started – then Ferrari would have been 3rd and ahead of Williams.

    1. But if Massa scored as many points as Bottas as well, they wouldn’t.

    2. Yebbut @coldfly suppose Alonso and Kimi had been driving for Williams? Or McLaren? Ferrari could have been 5th. In fact, suppose Force India’s drivers have been of that calibre? 6th!

    3. @coldfly And if Renault had a better engine, RBR and TR would have done better.

      and if Ferrari made a better engine and car, they would have probably kept alonso.

      And if mercedes made a worse engine and car, we would have laughed at HAM’s decision to move

      and if pigs had wings, they could maybe fly

  4. Honestly given the resources Ferrari have and how much of an advantage they had being one of the only two teams to design their power plant around their chassis (something RB didn’t even have, and something Renault has to do next season), one could argue this was near Toyota levels of failure.

    At the beginning of the season I thought the chassis guys and the engine guys just didn’t communicate well enough with each other and Ferrari didn’t take advantage of the new regs. Nope! They just chose a really poor design route to go down with the oil coolers ( I believe it was packaged in a V shape or something) in order to get areo gains. It never panned out. Oh and they still have the habit of throwing a ton of different areo parts at the car and only a few actually work. And they still haven’t had a pole position in nearly 3 seasons. Honestly I really don’t know what the hell happened at Maranello this year, but I will not be surprised if we don’t see Ferrari win in the next 1 to 2 years.

  5. What a shocking, shocking season for a team like Ferrari. The only thing they can be proud of this year is beating McLaren, which to be honest, wasn’t exactly difficult.

    Alonso somehow dragged a car which was the fourth quickest yet only the third most reliable (as oppose to the most reliable or second most in recent seasons) into the top six in the championship. Williams, Red Bull and especially Mercedes were clearly on another planet in terms of car performance. At the same time, Raikkonen had his worst season in Formula One, the lack of times that he beat Force Indias, McLarens and Toro Rossos were evident of that.

    Vettel (and a reported sixty others) are walking into a complete mess. Performance-wise as well as elsewhere at Maranello. It will be interesting to see how it pans out next year, but I’m also more intrigued to see how Raikkonen works with a friend of his alongside him, as oppose to Alonso.

    1. What a shocking, shocking season for a team like Ferrari.

      Really? I wasn’t surprised this year. You get accustomed to failure I suppose.

      they had made compromises with their power unit design with the goal of improving aerodynamic efficiency.

      Haha right … they forgot the fact that they never understood anything about aero.

  6. I honestly think Ferrari would be better off without all the extra money. It just corrupts them and prevents them dealing effectively with the issues an F1 team has to face. Is it true they’re paying Vettel $80m a year? He’s not even the best driver.

    I love the idea of a pure, F1-founding racing team; Italian, passionate and stylish. But they’ve come to represent all that’s dishonest about F1. Even in the Schumi era they were just used really, by a bunch of people who wanted the resources, won a lot with it and then moved on.

    Now they represent Bernie, CVC and the tobacco industry. There’s not much sporting excellence to admire. Skills are imported with the dodgy money (60 people @craig-o???), used badly, blamed, and thrown out again. All this talk of the Ferrari family winning and losing as a team is so fake; it’s all about the Ferrari corporate ego, for so long exemplified by Luca DI Montezemolo.

    I’m more than happy to see Williams demote them, with Pat Symonds showing how to gain team performance with the same people. I’ll have to snigger if Alonso helps McLaren demote Ferrari another place next year. And watch out for Lotus, bambini.

    1. @lockup

      And watch out for Lotus, bambini.


      1. The Lotus chassis wasn’t too bad was it @optimaximal? They have a Merc engine next year. I know they’ve lost a lot of people but Ferrari have lost Alonso and sacked their engine guy and reportedly Fry.

        Yes Maldonado lol, but Grosjean can pedal. I don’t think Ferrari can assume there’s no threat at all. Lotus were 4th the previous two years, after all.

        1. The joke was the meme was the joke!

  7. none of its drivers has taken a tutle since 2007

    I misread that at first, I thought it said turtle.

    1. Appropriate.

  8. I think the trouble is that Ferrari don’t know how to efficiently develop a car. Their downturn has coincided with the introduction of testing restrictions. In their heyday Ferrari would have drivers blasting around Fiorrano pretty much every day of the week. They could produce 20 different wing designs then just pick the one that worked best. These days they can’t do that – the wing they design has to work straight away, and deliver the performance it should do based on CFD and wind-tunnel testing. At the moment, it doesn’t. And they simply have no idea why not.

    The fact that they lobbied to have the engine rules skewed in their favour merely adds to the humiliation. They have the biggest political clout, the biggest budget, a sprawling factory with state of the art facilities, a massive guaranteed windfall from FOM every year no matter how pathetic the performance, and until recently the best driver on the grid. Despite having all of these things in their favour, they’ve produced a poor engine and a dreadful car, have no idea how to fix it and are slipping down the rankings, not up. And there is absolutely no reason to believe that they have the first idea how to arrest the slide and begin to compete with the likes of Mercedes and Red Bull – tellingly two teams which have come recently to F1 in the ‘modern era’ who have the best handle on how to produce performance under the conditions as they stand today. Not as they stood fifteen years ago.

    1. @mazdachris, Excellent analysis, I would add that the Ferrari management seem to think that “belief” alone can succeed, and those with insufficient belief have to go.

    2. I think that’s extremely perceptive and accurate @mazdachris

  9. When a massive overhaul of the regulations happen the team at the front is rarely a great surprise. In 2009, the three worst teams at the beginning of the season were McLaren, Ferrari and Renault. The Big Two were obviously fighting for the title down to the wire but Renault and Alonso scored the most points in the second half of the season iirc. So logically the most time and resources that you throw at a problem, the better the results.

    Now if we take the above paragraph at face value then the 2009 champion should be Honda, who recruited Brawn and spent years at the back before the regulation change and then Mercedes this year given the recruitment drive under Wolff in 2012. What I simply can not comprehend is why Ferrari could not recognise or act on this at that time. They had embarrassing form in 2009, 2011, the beginning of 2012 and the majority of 2013. Changes should not have been knee-jerk at the start of this season. A conglomerate like Ferrari should have the foresight to implement the correct team of people knowing that a bad start to a regulation change rarely results in a dominant car at any point during that set of rules.

    2014 was a horror show. I began the year working on my dissertation, which involved researching the teams aerodynamic solutions extensively and I distinctly remember thinking, “this engine package must be ‘phenomenale’ because the aero looks very, very basic”. Part of the front wing, as I believe many top aerodynamicists pointed out, was aero-negative. AERO-NEGATIVE. Can you imagine a meeting at Red Bull where Newey signs off an aero-negative nose? Really shameful. Combine that to the fact that the wind tunnel never correlated with the track data at any point during Alonso’s half decade at the team and alarm bells should have rang a lot sooner.

    All this leads me to wonder: “What has Vettel been promised?” and by whom? If we look at Alonso and McLaren the talks first took place last year. Hamilton was surely spoken to long before Singapore by Lauda, who would have been shrewd enough to plant the seed of doubt in Hamilton’s mind for as long as possible. Lauda would also have a trump card in the progress made on the new era cars. Vettel must have been spoken to by Luca Di Montezemolo and Marco Mattiacci. Who have now been removed. Vettel is going into a broken team with no signs of progress and you can not afford to waste years of your career at dead-end projects. I really hope Ferrari fight their way back I just don’t have any logical reasons to believe that will be any time soon.

    1. I would not be in the least surprised if Vettel had coldly and methodically decided that he had enough titles but needed an extra few hundred million in the bank to retire and provide his family with a safety net to ensure the lifestyle he wanted.

    2. @rbalonso
      ” a conglomerate like Ferrari”
      I think therein lies the problem. When was the last time a massive comglomerate ever won anything? Honda, Toyota, BMW, Ford all came and went, and it just goes to show that big, isnt necessarily better. Mercedes have done the right thing, they are not very dependent on Stuttgart as they have their UK based facilities and personnel who can make decisions internally, instead of shuffling back to Germany at every opportunity.

      I remember reading an F1 mag interview with Mike Gascoyne a few years back on why Toyota failed, and he put it down to exactly this, where every decision needed to come from Japan. The entire Ferrari operation is based under one roof, while it could have been an advantage, its perhaps been its biggest problem. The internal politics at Maranello has been well documented, and I’m pretty sure there’s a lot of ego ping-pong going on in there as well. How overbearing was Luca? Was Domeniciali the one making the key decisions? How much freedom did Pat Fry have?

      Ferrari is a victim of its own design. The traditional ethos at Ferrari, espoused by the Old Man himself, was that they are a racing team before a car manufacturer. While this may be true from a factual sense, it isnt nearly the case anymore. Racing and building cars now is 10 fold, if not more, complicated when compared with the 50s, there is no way the two can be mixed and run under the same apparatus.

      Just look at Mclaren. Is it a coincidence that since Ron stepped back to focus on building his road car division in 2009, Mclaren hasnt really challenged for a title? Ok, Mclaren isnt a conglomerate, but can we wholeheartedly say that their drive to build more road cars havent had an effect on their race team? Mclaren is a rather corporate affair compared all the privateers. F1 teams need to focus on racing, period. While its may be easier with the big boys at the sharp end of the grid, the likes of Williams probably needed to diversify their business aid their revenue stream.

      1. While its may be easier with the big boys at the sharp end of the grid, the likes of Williams probably needed to diversify their business aid their revenue stream.

        And the second they stopped doing it (selling their Hybrid Flywheel stuff) the found a bung of cash to spend on making a fast car.

        Alas, some of that was Maldonaldo’s buyout money, so I guess it depends how 2015 goes…

  10. Ferrari have been here for decades and will undoubtedly endure a few more. They will come back, maybe not year, but they will bounce back.
    The one I feel sorry for is Alonso. Racing drivers have a limited period of time with their athletic skills at the maximum; maybe ten, fifteen years or so, and Alonso has dedicated five years of his precious few to a fundamentally under-performing team.

    1. Whilst I would agree that in terms of world titles Alonso has been let down, he certainly hasn’t wasted his time at Ferrari. In fact, the past 5 years has really cemented his legacy as one of the true greats of F1. Ferrari the team are the biggest losers in the relationship, not Alonso.
      It seems to me that the amount of wins and world titles whilst being important does not define a successful career in Formula 1, which is also what’s great about F1 itself.

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