Will Spa Prove to be the Final Nail in Ferrari’s 2016 Coffin?

Ferrari head to the Belgian Grand Prix in bad shape. The last three races have been fruitless for podiums and 2016 is panning out to be yet another season to forget for Ferrari.

In Kimi Raikkonen, the team have a Spa specialist. The Finn has four F1 victories at the track, twice as many wins than any other circuit he’s raced at. It’s a shame that this year’s race will probably see Kimi struggle to score a podium.

SPA FRANCORCHAMPS, BELGIUM - AUGUST 29: Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and McLaren Mercedes celebrates with Michael Schumacher of Germany and Ferrari and Rubens Barichello of Brazil and Ferrari after winning the Belgium F1 Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on August 29, 2004, in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SPA FRANCORCHAMPS, BELGIUM – AUGUST 29: Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and McLaren Mercedes celebrates with Michael Schumacher of Germany and Ferrari and Rubens Barichello of Brazil and Ferrari after winning the Belgium F1 Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on August 29, 2004, in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Ferrari have been using the hashtag ‘RedSeason’ throughout the year. Little did we know that the red would represent the pigments of rage slapped across every Ferrari fans face. The team have had a series of below-par performances over the last three race weekends. Meanwhile, Red Bull have managed four podiums between their drivers and are closer to Mercedes than they are ahead of the Scuderia.

The second half of 2016 will be agonizingly frustrating in that focus has shifted to 2017 in an attempt to avoid a repeat of this year. They might be able to win a race, but only by picking through the debris of a potential future incident between Red Bull and Mercedes. But it isn’t Ferrari’s style to rely on such vulture-like race wins, so nobody who supports the team will be very satisfied with that.

Spa demands that teams are strategically on the ball with variable weather and safety car inevitability. This has been a staple weakness for Ferrari this year, strategic blunders will be even more costly this weekend.

Vettel Rosberg

One thing that Ferrari can’t be accused of lacking is passion. Even when they aren’t performing to their own high levels of expectation, the fans remain loyal and the drivers stay focused. Vettel has shown great leadership in managing the off-track “crisis” ordeal, taking it upon himself to shoulder the blame where most drivers would throw their toys out.

Even the boss at Mercedes feels at a loss with Ferrari’s lack of on-track competitiveness. Toto Wolff dual-wielded compliments and knife twisting with,

“Ferrari is a great brand with capable people and it would have been good fun to fight it out on track. For whatever reason they have not been able in the most recent races to reach the levels they expected to perform and we expect to perform, but I can’t really look into it in detail and I don’t know the reasons.

For me, a battle with Ferrari would be great for F1 and, even if this sounds a little bit absurd, I was really looking forward to it and I hope they find their strength again and we fight it out on track.”

– Toto Wolff

MONTMELO, SPAIN - MAY 13: Mercedes GP Executive Director Toto Wolff and Ferrari Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene in the Team Principals Press Conference during practice for the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya on May 13, 2016 in Montmelo, Spain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
MONTMELO, SPAIN – MAY 13: Mercedes GP Executive Director Toto Wolff and Ferrari Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene in the Team Principals Press Conference during practice for the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya on May 13, 2016 in Montmelo, Spain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Maybe Ferrari are the victims of post-2015 pundit over-hype? Too much was expected of them this year perhaps? This weekend will be a difficult one for the Italian team to stomach. As long as Hamilton and Rosberg behave themselves, a podium looks a long way off.