F1 2017 Pre-Season Report: Ferrari
Ahead of the opening race of the 2017 Formula One season in Australia on March 26, we take a look at how each team is shaping up for the new campaign.
Here we assess Ferrari's chances of finally putting an end to Mercedes' stronghold and delivering a first world champion since 2007.
HOW DID THEY PERFORM IN 2016?
There had been high hopes for powerhouses Ferrari to challenge Mercedes' dominance in 2016 and when Sebastian Vettel took the lead on lap one in Australia, only for a poor strategy under red flag conditions to derail his chances, that promise looked like it may yield results.
But it quickly became clear Ferrari were not title challengers. Further chances to win in Spain and Canada came and went and the famous red failed to win a race throughout 2016, with crisis talks were held in July. The end result was a disappointing third-place finish in the Constructors' standings, while Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were fourth and sixth respectively in the Drivers' championship.
THE 2017 LINE-UP
Vettel is no stranger to success in F1 having won four straight world titles between 2010 and 2013, but last year was a step back for the German, having finished third in his maiden campaign with the team.
A winless 2016 will not have impressed Vettel, whose own form was indifferent amid several team blunders. Pre-season testing has promised much for Ferrari, though, and the 29-year-old will fancy his chances of challenging for a place on the top step of the podium again.
Given Ferrari's pedigree in F1 it seems incredible that Raikkonen was the last man to win the Drivers' title for the Maranello in 2007 during his first stint at the team.
Pre-season testing does not always give an accurate forecast of what is to come, but Raikkonen clocked the fastest time of any driver in Barcelona, notably on the supersoft tyre rather than the ultrasoft.
THE TO-DO LIST
- First and foremost Ferrari must turn pre-season promise into results. 2016 promised much prior to the start of the campaign, but delivered little. This time around Ferrari have, perhaps surprisingly, emerged as favourites ahead of Red Bull to challenge Mercedes with Lewis Hamilton recognising they may be the team to beat this year.
- Get Vettel winning again. he will not be happy at seeing Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, and another year of stagnation may prompt Vettel to consider his future at Ferrari.
HOW WILL THEY FARE?
All the signs are in place that Ferrari's SF70-H has the pace to deliver a first Constructors' title since 2008 and end a 10-year wait for a world champion. But you have to imagine Mercedes will still be strong and Ferrari have promised much and failed to deliver in the past, so the jury remains well and truly still out.