The 2022 Formula 1 season has not gone as Ferrari or their Tifosi would’ve hoped or expected given the great F1-75 the Scuderia showed up with, but it’s no disaster after all.
In the minds of many of Ferrari’s Tifosi, the 2022 season that started with so much promise has gradually spiraled into a rot for which the only acceptable outcome is the heads of at least Team Principal Mattia Binotto and his Chief Strategist Ignacio Rueda.
For me, however, the expectations of a Red Championship victory in 2022 after a poor 2019-2021 period are unreasonable.
The 2019 power unit catastrophe and the path forward
The 2019 Ferrari 064 power unit debacle and the secretive non-disclosed agreement with the FIA that resulted from the governing body’s investigation after their sudden, obvious, and suspicious loss of power after the issue of TD/042-19 pertaining to power unit fuel flow, didn’t only impact the SF90’s performance for the balance of the 2019 season, it crippled them for the 2020 season, and although 2021 saw a somewhat improved performance level from them, it was an arduous battle for them to regain some semblance of their traditional position towards the top of the World Constructors’ Championship table.
Formula 1 was presented with a new challenge for the 2022 season with a completely new technical definition that changed the aerodynamic predomination from upper to lower surfaces due to the reintroduction of the ground effect underfloor, and Ferrari’s design, the F1-75 has certainly been one of the most effective on the grid, and in some instances, it has even been the standout, particularly earlier in the year.
Whilst Red Bull, Max Verstappen, and their RB18 are running away with both the 2022 Drivers’ and Constructors’ Titles at a canter, the root cause for Ferrari’s unexpected lack of accumulated points in both Championships shouldn’t be apportioned to what is an excellent and effective design, but rather to a series of poorly judged strategy calls, and a series of opportunities that were botched.
Bad experiences in F1 can bring success
Nevertheless, from a sporting perspective, success in F1 has never been derived only from mathematical or scientific factors.
It has rather come from those more human aspects, because the level headedness and wisdom that is conducive to maximizing opportunity in those fleeting moments during a Grand Prix are only ever derived from experience and sound continuous improvement programmes.
History has shown us frequently in F1 that whilst a team’s normative performance is generally cyclic, periodic slumps should never be a precluded, and, particularly in the highly technical modern age.
Serious declines in performance require comparative medium to longer term strategies to remediate, and these are usually three to five year prospects.
From a broader perspective Ferrari’s 2022 is a huge improvement
When evaluating Ferrari’s 2022 performance to date, it is not unreasonable to concede the comparison to the 2020 season when the team struggled to sixth in the Constructors’ Championship, and only managed to achieve three podium finishes, and 2021 which resulted in the team improving to finish third with five podiums, in the absence of any wins.
And yet, even though Ferrari’s improvement in 2021 in comparison to 2020 was significant, it has been dwarfed by their seemingly sudden progress in 2022 to be in a clear second position in the Constructors’, having won four Grands Prix, and finished in a podium position on fourteen occasions.
Given that Ferrari are only in their third year of what would realistically be a five year strategy towards being real Championship contenders again, 2022 has been far from a disaster, even if there have been mistakes, but they must learn from them.
I suspect that 2023 may very well be an even stronger year for the Scuderia.