F1: How Ferrari Threw It All Away

It was the fight that everyone wanted to see. Way back, far back in the hallowed days of the beginning of the season, there began a hopeful stirring that Mercedes would have finally met its match in Ferrari.

The alternating victories for both the Silver Arrows and Prancing Horses painted the season in a light that made it seem like we’d be treated to a back-and-forth scrap all the way down to the season finisher in Abu Dhabi.

Alas, it was not mean to be – and we are now witnessing the price that Ferrari must pay for their fervent development. It goes without saying that the season has reached a point in which any incremental upgrade to reliability or performance must be seized entirely – though development is never that easy.

Somewhere along the way – when pushing into the unknown – it becomes far too easy to find oneself taking a misstep where they otherwise believed a discovery to be made. Ferrari looks like they’ve taken such a gamble and got burned.

It is, of course, difficult to tell exactly how the error occurred – and it’s highly unlikely that the Italian team will clue its competitors in on its doings by divulging such information – but the proof is in the pudding: Ferrari have managed to make incredible gains in power at the expense of reliability.

Yes, what happened in Singapore was due to driver error. But what happened at Sepang and Suzuka wasn’t. Back to back instances where one of their drivers are being sent back into the garage before the start of the race or only six laps into it bespeaks a horrid mechanical issue – not the driver.

While the most we’ve heard from Ferrari regarding the most recent retirement of Sebastian Vettel is that it was a sparkplug-related issue. Are we really going to believe that? That a team of their history and resources can be utterly crippled by a faulty sparkplug? A sparkplug, which is arguably one of the easiest to test components in any engine system? Hardly.

Whatever secret sauce Ferrari have attempted to cook up has backfired on them. The results which their torrid concoction has borne are lamentable, but now unsolvable. Although the fight for the championship is not over, Ferrari’s capability to bring the victory back home to Maranello has become more of a fantasy than a possibility.

The team can still walk the razor-sharp edge ahead of them and rip victory from the hands of Mercedes. But that would take either a severely failure on the behalf of the German manufacturer, or a serious return to form from the Italian team – both of which seem to be incredibly low on hand.