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F1 2017 midseason review: Ferrari

RealSport takes a look at how Ferrari have found themselves favourites for the championship for the first time in a long time


It has been eight long years since Scuderia Ferrari last won a world constructors’ championship, and nine years since one of its drivers became a world champion. Could this be the year where the team finally end their championship drought? If the first half of this season is any evidence, things are looking rather promising. Sebastian Vettel leads in the world championship title race and Ferrari are in second place in the constructors’ standings, only 39 points behind Mercedes. 

2017 expectations vs reality

The 2016 season for Ferrari was one to forget as they came third in the constructors’ and were winless all year. However, pre-season testing in Barcelona and an overhauling of senior management set a promising tone for the start of 2017. The expectation from the Ferrari camp never seemed like one of domination, but one that a fan could appreciate: a competitive car that can challenge a Mercedes team that had been untested for three straight seasons. However, with veteran drivers who have FIVE championship titles amongst them, and a historical legacy to maintain, expectations were never just that. With Ferrari, the expectation is always to win championships.  

It is safe to say, then, that Ferrari has performed beyond expectations. Sebastian Vettel has four wins on the season while the team have finished one-two on two occasions. On both those occasions, Ferrari qualified both their cars on the front row. The Prancing Horse have also made it to the podium in nine of the eleven races. The consistency and speed have made for a very strong season so far by the Italian team and one that they will be looking to maintain into the second half of the year. 

Prospects for the rest of 2017

The twisty, slower, higher-downforce circuits have suited Ferrari’s aerodynamic package over the faster circuits where Mercedes have a clear speed advantage. This could make for a very tricky second half to the season. On paper, high-speed tracks like Spa and Monza should suit the Mercedes but things could get more interesting in Singapore, Malaysia, and Abu Dhabi which require higher downforce. It is fair to say that this season will go down to the wire before a constructors’ and drivers’ champion is crowned. 

It will also be interesting to also see how Ferrari approach driver hierarchy within the team for the rest of the season. Historically, Ferrari has always favoured one driver over another to put team interests first but this may prove to be disadvantageous considering that Mercedes allow their drivers to race equally. This year, that has resulted in Mercedes putting both their drivers well into the hunt for the championship, more team wins and, in turn, more constructor points. There were times this season where Kimi Raikkonen was the faster driver, but team strategies and orders in favour of the German driver meant the Ice Man had to play second fiddle to Sebastian Vettel. Will Ferrari let Kimi race in the second half? Time will tell but if they don’t, perhaps they will miss out on some points that were theirs for the taking. 

Driver battle

Sebastian VettelKimi Raikkonen
Australia
Q: 2nd
R: 1st
Q: 4th
R: 4th
China
Q: 2nd
R: 2nd
Q: 4th
R:  5th
Bahrain
Q: 3rd
R: 1st
Q: 5th
R: 4th
Russia
Q: 1st
R: 2nd
Q: 2nd
R: 3rd
Spain
Q: 2nd
Q: 2nd
Q: 4th
R: DNF
Monaco
Q: 2nd
R: 1st
Q: 1st
R: 2nd
Canada
Q: 2nd
R: 4th
Q: 4th
R: 7th
Azerbaijan
Q: 4th
R: 4th
Q: 3rd
R: DNF
Austria
Q: 2nd
R: 2nd
Q: 4th
R: 5th
Great Britain
Q: 3rd
R: 7th
Q: 2nd
R: 3rd
Hungary
Q: 1st
R: 1st
Q: 2nd
R: 2nd
Head to head wins (out of 11)Qualifying: 9
Race: 10
Qualifying: 2
Race: 1

If you needed any further proof that Ferrari favour a ‘first driver-second driver’ approach, the above table makes it clear. After a sluggish start thanks to technical issues, unlucky racing incidents and DNFs, Raikkonen has much to prove going into the second half of the season. Vettel, in comparison, has been on fire from the get go. The German has driven outstandingly and exploited the Ferrari’s capabilities to the fullest. Kimi did start putting some impressive race pace and qualifying performances as the summer break approached but as the numbers suggest, he needs to do a lot more.

With all that said, the two work very well as a team, and that may be a reason that Ferrari may retain both drivers for 2018. In Hungary, the two worked beautifully together to ensure the Ferraris were ahead of the Silver Arrows despite Vettel having steering issues throughout the race. It will be interesting, however, to see if Raikkonen continues to be consistent and whether his competitive performances, if any, in the second half of the year will help further make a case for Ferrari to let their drivers race without the overhanging shadow of team orders and strategies favouring one particular driver.

Driver performance: Sebastian Vettel

Vettel has four wins this season, and is currently leading the championship battle despite constant threat from Lewis Hamilton who at one point cut the lead down to just two points. The multiple championship-winning driver is a firm favourite to win the title again; not only that, he has consistently proven to the world this year that he is not one to just benefit from a strong car. Impeccable overtaking manoeuvres like the one he deployed against Daniel Ricciardo in Mexico and Valtteri Bottas in Spain, arguably the best one of the season so far, shows that the German is not afraid to put everything on the line. Outside of the incident with Hamilton at Baku, which was unwarranted to say the least, he has not put a foot wrong all season. Will Vettel be able to take his championship tally to 5? It certainly seems like he wants the title more than any other driver on the grid.

Driver performance: Kimi Raikkonen

Unlike his teammate, Raikkonen, for whatever reason, has struggled all season. This has not gone down well with Ferrari president, Sergio Marchionne, who called labelled the Finn a “laggard”. Kimi is currently fifth in the drivers’ standings, 86 points behind Vettel. It would, however, be unfair to say that Kimi has lost his pace altogether. He took pole in Monaco and looked well on his way to win the race, until the team ordered him to relinquish his position. In Hungary, Kimi had more race pace than Vettel but had to put team interests first to ensure that Mercedes stay behind the two Ferraris as Vettel struggled with steering issues. Raikkonen has stayed professional and focussed throughout the year so far and his commitment is something that one cannot question. Ferrari have announced that they will be confirming their 2018 drivers during the Italian Grand Prix weekend in Monza, and if Kimi continues with the team, a win or two may not be unattainable. 

How do you think Ferrari will fare in the second half of the season? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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Ansh Sanyal

Avid Formula 1 fan. Passionate sports fan.

A passionate marketing & communications enthusiast who is on a constant quest to positively impact communities by creating public engagement in the field of sports, music, entertainment and beyond.

I also host F1 Chaat Corner, a fun podcast based on Formula 1, where we discuss the events of each grand prix weekend, the most important news stories out the paddock, and nominate drivers for the most outrageous awards! Give it a listen if you are bored during your commutes! Link is below:

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F1 2017 midseason review: Ferrari

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