Vettel and Ferrari rediscover their winning ways

2015 F1 season review

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Ferrari team stats 2015

Best race result (number)1 (3)
Best grid position (number) 1 (1)
Non-classifications (mechanical/other) 6 (3/3)
Laps completed (% of total) 2,091 (97.08%)
Laps led (% of total) 186 (17.27%)
Championship position (2014)2 (4)
Championship points (2014)428 (216)
Pit stop performance ranking2

Maurizio Arrivabene’s first year at the helm of Formula One’s most famous and celebrated team was a resounding success. Ferrari bounced back from a win-less 2014 to take a trio of victories.

And while they were unable to mount a serious challenge to the all-conquering Mercedes for the titles in 2015, Ferrari strength across a variety of tracks and conditions showed real progress has been made and the team is back to being a force to be reckoned with.

Along with the arrival of Arrivabene, Sebastian Vettel took the place of the disillusioned Fernando Alonso and a major reshuffling of the technical department saw the departure of several familiar faces. In theory 2015 was supposed to be a rebuilding year, and Arrivabene’s original target of two victories looked a little optimistic.

But as early as the first pre-season test in Jerez in February it was clear that Ferrari had made major strides with the SF15-T. That early promise was quickly realised at only the second round of the season in Malaysia. Vettel executed a flawless two-stop strategy to outwit Mercedes and snatch a brilliant victory, the team’s first for almost two years.

It was a performance that would set the tone for the rest of Ferrari’s season. While unable to match the sheer pace advantage of Mercedes at the vast majority of races, Ferrari were comfortably and consistently the second-fastest package – at least in Vettel’s hands.

The newest driver to wear Ferrari red took the final spot on the podium behind the two Mercedes on eight occasions, qualified outside the first two rows of the grid in only five rounds all season and took two more victories in Hungary and Singapore. He rebounded from his own poor season 12 months ago, and remained a serious threat to Nico Rosberg’s runner-up position in the championship until the final races.

In sharp contrast to Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen had another largely forgettable season in the second Ferrari. The 2007 world champion struggled to match the pace of his team mate for the second consecutive season, out-qualifying Vettel only four times all year and spending only 215 racing laps ahead of Vettel, compared to 718 behind.

The result of Raikkonen’s collision with Bottas in Mexico
There were also a number of uncharacteristic mistakes from him, including a pair of collisions with Valtteri Bottas which, fortunatley for Rakkonen, came after Ferrari had extended his contract for another season.

However, there were still flashes of the brilliance that Raikkonen is capable of in 2015. In Bahrain, he produced the kind of gutsy, aggressive drive that he became famous for in his early years in the sport to take his first podium for Ferrari since returning to the team after dispatching Rosberg’s Mercedes for second in the closing laps. Raikkonen also tailed his team mate in second in Hungary for 48 laps, until an MGU-K issue ended his hopes.

But perhaps the most important achievement Ferrari made in 2015 was to re-establish their identity. After years of frustration and speculation of tension within the team, both Vettel and Arrivabene have injected a level of infectious energy into the team that has been sorely missing in recent times.

Vettel’s humorous press conference quips and Arrivabene’s passionate leadership have brought back some much-needed character to Ferrari and there is a strong sense of optimism surrounding the team’s future. With the arrival of Haas, Ferrari will also benefit from a new ally in the paddock next season – although the nature of their relationship is likely to be under intense scrutiny in the beginning.

After scoring over 400 points this season, Ferrari have established themselves as the team with the greatest chance of putting a stop to the all-conquering Mercedes juggernaut next year. The team have the money, the resources, the technical prowess and the drivers to challenge for titles next year. but they’ll need to make sure that the make the most of everything they have if they are to do so.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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12 comments on “Vettel and Ferrari rediscover their winning ways”

  1. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
    22nd December 2015, 12:43

    I hope Ferrari can keep momentum, because it’s obvious Mercedes won’t sit to wait for them to catch up. If Ferrari can snatch more victories and more frequently, and with the current tension that is going inside Mercedes (and to add to that, Nico’s 3 victories in a row may bring back “shaky Lewis”), 2016 could finally be a fantastic duel between the best drivers in evenly-matched cars.

    1. I don’t believe they will have the pace just yet to bring the fight to Mercedes. But at least I think they will be there to bother them, and Mercedes equal treatment of both drivers, in relation to their strategies, will have to end. If they keep only one strategist for both, I can see someone getting angry very quickly.

    2. Honestly, Ferrari need to gain 0.5s to 0.6s on top of Mercedes’ winter development for them to be in the game. In the hands of Vettel, it could be a championship contender, especially if the Mercedes drivers are fighting among themselves and taking points off. It’s almost like Vettel could pull a Kimi 2007.

      I think the partnership with Haas has definitely given Ferrari an under the table advantage, and I actually have high expectations of a team actually battling the Mercs next year. Personally, I don’t care if Ferrari have broken or bent a lot of rules to claw back some deficit. All I want is a championship battle for next season

    3. I am with you in hoping they do that @omarr-pepper, although I am not expecting too much of it.

      On the other hand, if Rosberg can hold on to that form he had at the end of this season and really give Hamilton a fight for wins from the go, I can see Vettel nipping between them often enough and taking a lucky win extra here and there to make it a real 3 way battle.

  2. I hope that Kimi can produce a final golden year of performance despite two very lacklustre seasons. It would add to the spectacle to see him challenging Vettel and the Mercs more frequently especially if Ferrari can find another half a second on Mercedes over the winter.

  3. I’m a McLaren fan at heart, but I have to say that Vettle looks good in that red overall, it really suits him and he looks more motivated than all of the recent Ferrari drivers, like he found somewhere he belongs.
    It would be great to see a 3 or even 4 (if Kimi pulls his socks up) way battle for the WDC and Ferrari and Mercedes nipping at each other’s heals in the WCC. The teams may have to start really concentrating on strategically sweeping up as many points as they can safely get their hands on, Mercedes may play more safe than Ferrari because they are the defending champions and for Ferrari, if you haven’t won, you’ve lost, so they can take a greater risk to maximize their points haul as they have nothing to lose, where for Mercedes, they only have one way to go and that’s down the order. It would be great to go into the last race with 4 drivers split by 1 point each, meaning they need to win to guarantee they take the title, that would be epic!

    Maybe Honda and Renault can make some gains and keep them all honest at the front.
    It’s a shame about the proposed rule changes planned for 2017, because the way things are and the laws of diminishing returns, 2017 and 18 could have the potential to be vintage years in F1, it just depends if the powers that be decide to see common sense and get some big gains from increasing the width of the tyres further than already proposed and and allow Pirelli to work on giving even more performance by adjusting the compounds (as has been suggested by Paul Hembery) and if the engine regs are kept stable then there is a good chance that we could see some very interesting and intense racing.

  4. If Ferrari are within 0.2 – 0.3 seconds of Mercedes pace, then Ferrari will win the championship( driver championship).

    1. Well unless they are level or ahead how can they win the title as 0.3 seconds off is 20 seconds behind in a 60 lap race so they would not get as many points or do you mean in quali with the race being a different matter. If not then thats like saying a car doing 200 on a straight can overtake a car doing 210.

      1. Well unless they are level or ahead how can they win the title as 0.3 seconds off is 20 seconds behind in a 60 lap race

        Because Vettel is so good a driver, he can get 110% out of a car– in spite of that defying all laws of physics, there are people who sincerely believe it.

        Problem is, Hamilton and Rosberg are both as fast as Vettel, and I have to give Hamilton the edge on overtaking over both Germans (assuming aero will allow overtaking).

        Ferrari was the best of the rest this year, but like Red Bull in 2014, they were “the rest”, and only won when Mercedes dropped the ball– and Vettel had two very bad races in Bahrain and Mexico this year. He needs to not do that again.

        1. In none of the three races Vettel won did Mercedes ‘drop the ball’. He won Malaysia on pace by saving a pitstop, he won Hungary thanks to a brilliant start and won Singapore because of a little change in the rules to which Mercedes failed to adapt right away. It doesn’t always take super pace to win a race, and if the Mercedes boys are going at it it will be Vettel who will sneak up on them and go with it. Besides Kimi will most likely improve a bit but will always drive with Vettel and the WDC in mind, or Ferrari will let him.

  5. People do a lot of talking about Vettel’s bad race in Bahrain, alright it may have been a bit scrappy, but he still bought it home 5th, it’s not like it was a disaster or anything!

    1. He went wide once, scrapped his wing and had to pit. Then he simply could not overtake Bottas. End of it, no shame really… He would have easily been on the podium in Canada, Austria and Abu Dhabi too…

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