Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016

This year is the real test of the new regime at Ferrari

2016 F1 season previewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

If Mercedes are going to face any serious opposition in their quest for more championship silverware, Ferrari are their rivals who are best-placed to offer it.

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Singapore, 2015
Vettel was the only non-Mercedes race winner in 2015
This year will be the real test for the new management installed at the end of 2014. Team principal Maurizio Arrivabene has described the team’s 2016 challenger, the first to be produced by his reorganised technical team, is the car he has been most looking forward to seeing.

Last year’s SF15-T was a leap forward for the team which brought them back to winning ways, largely thanks to a much-improved power unit. But the design groundwork had largely been laid by the outgoing technical team and Sebastian Vettel arrived just in time to make the most of it.

The new SF16-H has been designed by James Allison and should better suit the four-times world champion as well as fellow champion Kimi Raikkonen. The result is a car which marks a departure for Ferrari in terms of aerodynamics and suspension geometry, and features a much more tightly packaged power unit.

The car showed promise in testing but a few reliability problems were unearthed too – not just by Ferrari but their customer teams as well. But as they say it’s easier to make a fast car reliable than the opposite.

Last season Ferrari made progress with tyre warm-up, a recent areas of weakness which had compromised them in qualifying. With softer tyres across the board in use this year, and Vettel’s formidable qualifying pace, that all-important deficit to Mercedes may well be trimmed.

5: Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016

After the low of 2014, Vettel seemed reinvigorated by his switch to Ferrari last year. He scored all three of the team’s victories and claimed most of their podiums too.

But it’s not just his success that has got the team behind him. Vettel has quickly embedded himself in the unique culture of F1’s most revered and passionate team.

7: Kimi Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016

Raikkonen’s unobtrusive style and easy relationship with Vettel goes some way towards explaining why the team has continued to keep the faith in him despite two less-than-stellar seasons.

He didn’t always get the rub of the green last year but he was out-classed by Vettel in qualifying and there were some lapses of race-craft too. He may need to raise his game if he’s to stay in Ferrari – and F1 – beyond the end of the season.

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17 comments on “This year is the real test of the new regime at Ferrari”

  1. Year 2 of the new Ferrari regime is the acid test whereas it took Mercedes until Year 4 to achieve regular wins and a championship? By all counts 2015 was to Ferrari what 2013 was to Mercedes, so they are already overachieving in comparison in my opinion.

    1. Merc were built out of a depleted team that needed to be built back up. Ferrari has everything in place they just do not seem to utilise their facilities and team power that well. I like your thought process as a Ferrari fan but to be honest with Ferrari resources already mostly in place it should be quicker than Merc to get competitive when looking at their starting points.

      As for this year I doubt a proper title challenge I think good progress is more race wins and poles than last year along with pushing Merc in many races into split strategies for their drivers.

      1. If you consider how long Vettel stayed in the title hunt last year with only 3 wins, a few wins more should keep them well in the game right until the end.

      2. I’m with @wallbreaker on this one, Mercedes’ weakness is in race strategy, the harder Ferrari can push them the more mistakes they’ll make.

        1. @George To be fair, Vettel stay that long on championship because intra team battle at Mercedes itself. Assuming Merc saw Ferrari as a big threat enough for them to fully backing only 1 of their driver, I think few wins won’t be near enough to win the championships. (How it will affects the morale at Mercedes is different debate though)

      3. Mercedes GP started 2010, by acquiring Brawn GP, which won both the driver and team championships in 2009. Hardly “built out of a depleted team”.

        1. Brawn was depleted by 2010 their title was based on huge development fund from 2008 and a silver bullet but during 2009 with the staff they had lost they fell away in performance so by the time 2010 came about the whole team needed a lot of reinvestment. Ferrari have never been in a depleted state they just have during some eras not utilised what they have.

        2. by the mid-season brawn was a midfield car at best, and with no development progress to be seen. they had the fastest car at first because their car implemented a design element (double diffuser) which no other team had considered. an extreme example would be if last year we took off the rear wing of all the cars except for the manor’s. yes it would be the fastest car but as soon as other teams started developing their rear wings they would in the end be back-markers again because the rest of the car cannot compete with the rest of the field

          1. Barrichello won two races in 2nd half of the 2009 season. No way he would have won those races if the car was only “midfield at best”.

          2. @papalotis

            Midfield at best?

            Don’t mistake Jenson underperforming for the Brawn’s lack of pace. Ass peejay mentioned, Rubens was taking poles, win and regular podiums in the Brawn in the 2nd half of the season. Sure Red Bull came on strong, but they were unreliable. Mclaren was particularly strong on a few circuits and below average on the rest.

            You could say that at the worst, Brawn was the 3rd quickest car in the second half of the 2009 season.

      4. I see your point #markp however I am more a Mercedes fan than a Ferrari one, I just think the thorough technical restructuring along with the arrival of a star driver bears more than a passing resemblance to the Mercedes rise. I see them challenging in earnest in 2017 but I would love to be proved wrong this year.

        1. There are similarities but also with Ferrari in 1996, that took 5 seasons to work but seeing what Irvine did in 99 it could have also been 4 years without Schumachers accident.

  2. Kimi needs to step up his game if Ferrari doesn’t want a massive gap against Mercedes in WCC by the end of the year.

  3. I think what plays to Ferrari’s favour is having Vettel driving one of their cars. I think any little sniff of a victory and he’ll push for everything he possibly can. Two years of watching Hamilton win the championship is all the motivation he could possibly need.

    1. They had that with Alonso, in fact they nearly won a title out of having a driver that could sniff a win out of a potential podium.

      They still manage to blow it when it counted. The only difference now is i don’t think they rely on Seb like they did with Alonso. It was ok with Alonso he would get a result no matter what. Seb needs a good car, which they gave him. & when he has it he is incredible.

      1. Bwahaha. Seb NEEDS a good car?? The Alonso fan club is alive and well I see. And as delusional as ever…

  4. Very much agree with this analysis. This car being designed by Allison, not just tweaked by him, will be a true test. Kimi may benefit the most from that considering their history at Lotus. Vettel is already on his game and will continue to improve with an even better car. With the leadership, personnel, drivers and resources at their disposal I think Ferrari can really achieve some great results this season and maybe even win championships. This would be the ultimate way to end the dominance of Mercedes. Achieve results through team improvement, not by silly rigged anti-competitive rule changes that some have in mind.

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