Formula 1 motorsport chief Ross Brawn believes that the Asian stanza of the 2017 Formula 1 world championship has been the downfall of Ferrari, but at the same time he is adamant that the Reds can take some solace from the season.
In his report after the Japanese Grand Prix, Brawn wrote, “This Asian leg of the season has been a real nightmare for Ferrari. On pure pace, the team probably had the best car over the past three rounds, certainly in Singapore and Sepang, and though the advantage was less obvious in Suzuka, where Mercedes dominated in qualifying, Ferrari’s race pace arguably made front-row starter Vettel a real contender for victory.”
“However, despite the pace shown on recent weekends, events conspired against them and Vettel and Raikkonen have scored just 22 points since the Italian Grand Prix, notching up four retirements in the process.”
Brawn noted that even Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, who now leads the championship by a massive 59 points, pinpointed the differences between the two teams – reliability.
The former Ferrari and Mercedes boss said, “During the podium interviews in Suzuka, Lewis paid tribute to the reliability of his car, and it has been Ferrari’s Achilles heel over the past two race weekends, as quality control issues badly affected their efforts in Malaysia and a spark plug problem destroyed Vettel’s race in Japan.”
“The team’s woes were compounded by the heavy toll exacted by Kimi’s off in final practice. It led to a gearbox change, a grid penalty and a battle from 10th on the grid to fifth. Add the Singapore crash into the equation and a meagre 22-point haul from three races in which Mercedes took 105 points tells all.”
Brawn relates to the pain that Maranello are undergoing, “Having experienced reliability woe of this kind at first hand with various teams, I know how painful it can be to see the hard work of so many people undone in a moment, so I have some sympathy for Ferrari at this difficult time.”
“The team comes under incredible pressure, especially at home, and it’s easy for heads to drop. But the key is to stay calm and focus on immediate goals,” added Brawn who spent ten years with Ferrari and was part of their glory years with Michael Schumacher and Jean Todt.
Amid the gloom, Brawn points out the positives, “Ferrari should be pleased with what it’s achieved in 2017. For the first time in the hybrid era, Mercedes has come up against a rival capable of fighting for the title. It’s been a long time since Ferrari have been as competitive and the problems of recent weeks haven’t erased that fact.”