Big pressure on Ferrari to deliver in 2010

Ferrari drivers get the flag from Bernie Ecclestone

Jan.27 (Daniel Chalmers) Ferrari goes into the new decade hoping they can return to winning ways. The 2000s was the most successful decade in their entire history winning 13 out of the 20 championships available. Repeating that this decade will be extremely difficult.

Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso to lead the Ferrari title charge in 2010

There is no doubt that this is a team currently under extreme pressure to fight back from 2009 when they only won one race. You got the feeling that there were a lot of sour grapes from Ferrari over their 2009 failure.

They blamed the 2009 rule changes, the saga over the double diffuser, and the fact that they were still in a championship battle late on in 2008.

It can’t be completely denied that these factors may have had an influence, but the fact is that Ferrari simply didn’t do as good a job as Brawn and Red Bull. When Ferrari did bolt on the double diffuser it didn’t exactly propel them to the front of the grid, and they were not the quickest of the non-diffuser teams to start with.

In 2010 there will be nowhere to hide if they have another bad season. The regulation changes aren’t as big in 2010, and also they started focusing on 2010 very early in 2009. The list of feasible excuses is much shorter.

The all conquering Schumacher era is now history

Many are asking whether Ferrari can win championships without the dream quartet of: Jean Todt, Rory Byrne, Michael Schumacher and Ross Brawn. These four men had a massive impact on the team, and were the key ingredients behind Ferrari’s unprecedented dominance of the 2000-2004 period.

They are no longer part of the Ferrari family. They are all simply irreplaceable, and left a hole bigger than the grand canyon to fill.

Whilst it’s true that Ferrari’s new look team did win three out of the four championships in 2007 and 2008, there was still an influence from the dream team. The F2007 was being designed, and built while Ross Brawn was still at the team in 2006.

Felipe Massa driving the Ferrari F2008

The F2008 was then an evolution of that design under stable regulations.  It could also be argued that Mclaren gifted Ferrari the 2007 championships thanks to spy gate, and the problems with Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.

The wholesale regulation changes for 2009 were the first real test for the new Ferrari team, and they failed miserably.

Ferrari will be desperate to show in 2010 that they can still be champions without the dream quartet.

There is a real danger that when F1 historians look back on Ferrari’s success in the 2000s that they will say that it was purely because they had Brawn, Schumacher et al.

Jody Scheckter won the world title in 1979 for Ferrari and what followed was a two decade barren spell for the team

Before Ferrari won the constructors championship in 1999 they had been on a long barren spell without winning anything. Their last constructor’s championship success was in 1983, and their last driver’s championship, before Schumacher clinched it in 2000, was Jody Scheckter’s title in 1979. A gap of 21 years!

Could Ferrari now face another lengthy period of no success?

Jean Alesi was at Ferrari before and after Jean Todt’s arrival at the team in 1993.

He talked to motorsport magazine about the difference it made: “Before he arrived there was lots of very talented people but there was also chaos. Jean changed all that.”

Colin Chapman was the force behind the Lotus legend

Throughout F1 history teams have gone downhill after they have lost the influence of a F1 legend(s). Look back to Lotus when Colin Chapman died in 1982. After that they didn’t win anymore championships, and won just another seven races.

In the 90s Williams were the dominant force largely thanks to the genius of Adrian Newey, and the powerful engine. By the end of 1997 both Newey and Renault had left the team. The end result has been no championship since then.

Benetton is another example from the 90s. They were championship winners when Brawn, Schumacher, and Bryne were all there. Once Schumacher left for Ferrari taking the other two with him their success became limited.

Adrina Newey has been key to Red Bull Racing's success

It’s no coincidence that Newey and Brawn have moved onto new teams who were midfield at best, and all of a sudden have turned them into winners.

One thing Ferrari can be very happy about is their driver line-up in Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa. Alonso is regarded as the best all round driver in F1, and he will be the leader that they lacked when Kimi Raikkonen was driving for them.

Stefano Domenicali told German tabloid Auto Bild: “Ferrari needs someone for the team similar to Schumi.”

He added when referring to Kimi Raikkonen: “If the car needs to be developed and the team fired up, Alonso is better.”

Fernando Alonso was recruited by Maranello to deliver

If they can give Alonso the tools then he can go and deliver the championship. Alonso is also a very good developer of the car. Memorably in 2007 he said that he added 0.6 seconds worth of the performance to the Mclaren that year.

If he could repeat that feat, or even better it, then it could give Ferrari a chance next year.

Ferrari aren’t the brutal force they were seven or eight years ago. Despite that a common saying in motorsport is that you can never rule out Ferrari.

They should at least be able to improve on their one win from last season. However it’s going to be very difficult to beat the likes of Mercedes with Brawn and Schumacher, and Red Bull with a re-motivated Newey on board.

The championship is a tall order.