Maranello is not in the mood. It’s spirit, it seems, is marred by the general lack of form.
Some might call it underperformance. Others might call it a yawn-inducing start to the new season.
Whatever it is- the general lack of pace or the utter absence of ambition to dominate, things aren’t going well for Ferrari.
The usual trolls are out there; many on social media have taken to the cuss word used an umpteenth number of time.
It’s not Ferrari, they say; it’s fail-rari.
And if there was ever a season that proved that the gain in performance demonstrated last year was well, just for the time being, not for longevity, then it’s the 2023 Formula 1 season.
It’s a season where things are going quite right for some and bang on the money for most others.
It’s a season whereas per normal, Verstappen and Perez are right on the pace.
A year where Aston Martin is no longer the midfielder; Fernando Alonso being the real deal.
It’s also a season where the likes of Nico Hulkenberg are showing that there’s more to Haas than just the captivating livery; the tenth in quali at Australia followed by the respectable seventh in the Grand Prix was evidence of marked improvement.
Rather dramatically, it’s a season where a driver who’s not even on the grid and is perhaps munching on the hospitality of his team’s paddock is enjoying far more than those who are in the thick of the action.
Is Daniel Ricciardo not having any fun? Rather, the question should be just how much fun 2023 is for Leclerc and Sainz.
But, never mind. Who’s enjoying himself and who’s not doesn’t change the woeful form for a team whose best days, it now appears, happen to belong to the past.
Though to cast one’s mind off soppy feelings, it’s worthwhile to focus on a telling fact.
For stats don’t lie.
In order to understand just how far down Ferrari are on pace this year when compared to the last year, let’s focus on the number of poles they grabbed then vis-a-vis their present season.
For a team that bagged no fewer than twelve pole positions in 2022, Ferrari have bagged none in 2023.
And we’ve already completed thee races.
But the serious low point or so it seems is Charles Leclerc, generally one of the fastest drivers of the F1 grid as also among the most promising names out there.
For someone who claimed nine of the twelve poles his team scored last year, Leclerc has scored none so far.
Last year- he was quite simply flying.
This year, however, it seems he’s just trying and much in vain.
In fact, Leclerc’s hanging on a loose thread this season; the monegasque driver scored a DNF in the season opener at Bahrain as also in the very latest F1 contest held at Melbourne in Australia.
In between the first and the third race of the season came his P7 at the Jeddah street circuit.
Probably it seems that remembering the name of a camel associated for tourism purposes in Saudi Arabia would make more sense than reminding Leclerc’s points rather the lack of them this season.
The pain, the disbelief, the huge swarms of crowds rooting for and ultimately garnering only disappointment being Ferrari fans is a saga of endless suffering.
One fan at Australia even held a placard that perhaps only exacerbated the Ferrari number 16’s woes; “Charles, i travelled 11,603 kms only to see you DNF!”
How horrible. Yet, how very true.
What was in fact more appalling than appealing was that Carlos would draw the wrath of the
stewards for causing a collision with Alonso and was resultantly, relegated to twelfth at Melbourne.
At one stage thanks to a ballsy move on one of the Alpine’s he was comfortably reaching the frontal end of the grid.
Though, in the end, a season that was anyways penalising fans for being Ferrari backers threw up a penalty for the only car running in points in Australia.
Not the Sainz one was expecting particularly because making progress with each race was the team’s original target.
A car that seems seriously faulty on pure performance. The drivers who are constantly under pressure with every passing race earning the scrutiny of a wide array of observers, could things get any worse?
There’s already the depressing site of Carlos Sainz hanging out on fifth and Charles Leclerc on tenth on the Driver standings.
Even a newcomer like Piastri hasn’t had as many DNF’s so far as that of Leclerc.
On the contrary, the Australian newcomer scored his maiden career points just last Sunday.
But it is under pressure that diamonds are prepared.
The key question, now is, how much more pressure can Leclerc and Sainz endure.
With every new race, Ferrari will have a chance to win or improve.
And given they clearly lack the straight line speed when compared to a Mercedes or an Aston Martin, is a gradual improvement in the days ahead the only real win for the squad in red?
Moreover, when might Fred Vasseur provide a cohesive direction to alter the course of his aggrieved team is the next big question.