September can be a problematic month.
Especially if you happen to be the lead singer for Green Day, Billie Joe Armstrong. That lazy rock star prefers to sleep through it all and stay in bed for the whole month. It’s alright for some, eh? We’re betting that Ferrari wished they could’ve done the same.
Here’s how the miserable month played out for the Scuderia in F1: 25 points in Italy; 0 points in Singapore; and 12 points in Malaysia. It’s not been a good haul. And it looks even worse when in comparison, Mercedes took 111 points over the same three races.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, Sebastian Vettel had a 7 point lead in the championship standings at the start of the month. As we depart September though, he’s now 34 points behind Lewis Hamilton. Ouch.
Ferrari's 2017 championship challenge. September so far summed up. pic.twitter.com/cVNmivCFrB
— Grand Prix Diary (@GrandPrixDiary) September 30, 2017
What must really stick in Ferrari’s craw though, is that they now have the quickest car out there; September should’ve been their month. Recent engine upgrades for the red car have resulted in them leap-frogging Mercedes in speed.
The silver arrows have been left behind, often out-qualified and out-gunned by the more powerful Ferrari cars. But despite this, these improvements haven’t yielded any wins in September. Luck simply hasn’t been on their side.
Circumstances either outside of their control, or unexpected failures, have seen them relinquish their grip on the title. Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes can’t believe their good fortune; with 5 races left, they sit in pole-position in both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships.
It could prove to be another triumphant year for the German team. No-one should discount Ferrari though, as the season is far from over. Team boss Maurizio Arrivabene issued this rallying cry after their disappointing Malaysian Grand Prix:
“All weekend, it was clear we had a very competitive car. That could be seen from our pace in free practice, Kimi’s front row in qualifying and Seb’s amazing fight back in the race, when he went from last to fourth.
However, it all added up to our hardest race of the year, as we had to confront problems that we will now analyse in depth. They prevented Sebastian from qualifying and Kimi from even taking the start.
The team remained focused on its job throughout, putting in a great deal of effort working in the garage and then implementing an impeccable strategy.
It’s further cause to continue to believe in ourselves: we have the car, the men, the drivers, the means and the spirit to fight all the way to the finish.” – Maurizio Arrivabene
Arrivabene’s statement is backed up by the fact that they’ve proven they can go faster than the Mercedes cars throughout September. But they’re not the only ones though, as Red Bull also seem to have overtaken Mercedes in performance.
And this will cause further problems for Ferrari, as a resurgent Red Bull will be fighting tooth and nail for every podium place in the final races.
What does this all mean for Ferrari’s championship chances then? Well, they’re still in the fight. And if they can be free of this continually rotten bad luck, they’ll definitely be winning races again. The question is though, is it too late now?
Mercedes and Hamilton may have just benefited enough in the last month, to keep their noses ahead of the prancing horse in this tight championship race.
The coming race weekend in Japan could be vital in seeing if Ferrari have finally woken up now September has ended.