It has been so long, too long, since I sounded off about one of the most important interests in my life. Formula 1. So much has happened, so many storylines are in play, that I must confess, I don’t even know where to start.
Is Hammer Time back for good? Has Nico Rosberg really up’d his game? Red Bull seems to be a transformed team right now. Daniel Ricciardo surely should have a pair of wins, circumstances notwithstanding, and the young phenom Max Verstappen (aside from a Monaco weekend to forget) stock is on the rise in becoming the youngest winner in F1. He surely is something special.
The American team, Haas, is doing quite well in their freshman year by anyone’s standards, and it is really nice to see Kevin Magnussen and Renault back in F1. McLaren look like they are back in the top 10, if only just, and as for the rest of the grid they are more or less where they always are as the circus moves ever closer to the European leg of the season.
So now I am back too and what better story to obsess a bit on than what Ferrari’s team principal said shortly after the Monaco Grand Prix? Something along the lines of, we will see a completely different Ferrari in Canada. I don’t know if he was referring to the car or the team. Maybe both.
Ah Ferrari, F1’s prodigal son, F1’s royalty some would even argue, certainly those guys from Maranello would agree. F1 was, is, and always will be Ferrari, which is why the story of the season thus far has to be about Ferrari. You surely see where this is going???
Yes, the only real story in F1 worth our attention is that six races into the 2016 season Ferrari has yet to score its maiden win, not to mention by their own admission has yet to perform throughout any race weekend in a way befitting their pedigree and history. Pre-season started with such confidence, such high hopes. But that was then, and this is definitely now…
Reliability, missed opportunities, setup issues, crashes and a bit of bad luck have all conspired in the crucible that is Grand Prix racing to deprive Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen, Maurizio Arrivabene and James Allison (and everyone else it must be said, especially the man in charge of Ferrari’s most recent revolution, Sergio Marchionne) of what every pundit, expert and casual fan thought was a foregone conclusion–that Ferrari would take it to Mercedes this year from race one.
Do I sound like I am enjoying Ferrari struggling a little bit? Not-so-secretly, I am. Sorry for my poor sportsmanship, but loyalty to the Spaniard sometimes gets the best of me. Or course just by typing these words about Ferrari I have probably guaranteed that Seb sticks it on pole and goes on to win the race so in that sense I did the Reds a favor and by the end of Sunday should have a good helping of egg on my face. Karma is a…well you know what it can be, don’t you?
Anyway, my ill-advised pleasure is probably short-lived. As most of us know, Ferrari usually have a significant chassis upgrade for Canada and this year is no different. I am seriously feeling that this time it’s for real. I have a sneaking suspicion that Ferrari is going to be fast, really fast, this weekend, and as much as I complain about Ferrari, Alonso and the partnership that was, and could have been much much more, this is a good thing because F1 needs a shake-up. So far this season, the racing has only been interesting when Mercedes bollocks it up.
Mercedes is yet again the car to have and despite their missteps they are running away with it. But they have been somewhat inconsistent. They should have lost the season opener and they should have also lost the most recent outing in Monaco, ergo this season is not as straightforward as the last two have been. But we really do need Ferrari to get in the mix. Because the only thing I want more than for Fernando to be able to fight for podiums, for wins, for the championship, is compelling racing. Wheel to wheel, edge of your seat, nail-biting stuff. At the very least I want each and every weekend to be a question mark. And not the one after “Will Mercedes Keep It Together This Weekend or Which Mercedes Driver Will Have The Measure Of The Other?”
How awesome was it watching young Verstappen hold off Raikkonen for all those laps a few races ago? How refreshing was Monaco? My guess is there was not an F1 fan not loving the way the weekend progressed, apart from Red Bull / Daniel Ricciardo fans that is.
So while I will still [shamelessly] be pulling for Alonso and McLaren, I would love nothing more than for Ferrari’s updates to really bring it this weekend. I would like nothing more than to see the magic happen during last ditch laps in Saturday’s Q3 as the Mercs, the Ferrari’s and hopefully the Red Bull’s break timing and scoring with that lovely shade of green or purple. I so want Sunday to NOT be a top team progression: silver cars, red cars, matte blue cars and then all the rest. Let’s see some racing! I recently read in the always abundant news cycle that Damon Hill said:
“If Ferrari ever get their act together, then you have a big battle on and the points are going to be all over the place,”
I agree Damon, and I say bring it on…