Analysis – F1 2014 the story so far: Ferrari
Posted By: Justin Hynes  |  24 Apr 2014   |  7:14 pm GMT  |  214 comments

With the first four ‘flyaway’ grands prix out of the way, it’s a good time to assess the start each team has made to the season and look at how each team has fared so far with the new hybrid turbo technology.

And the subject of our second post-‘flyaway’ analysis pieces is a team many expected to profit from the changing regulations but which has found itself once again facing troubled times…


Best result: P3 (Alonso, China)
Best grid slot: 4th (Alonso, Malaysia)
Average grid slot: 7th.
Retirements: 0
Constructors Championship: 4th
Drivers’ Championship: P3 Alonso, 41pts; P12 Raikkonen 11pts

Fastest race lap, gap to pace setter
Australia: +0.138s
Malaysia: +1.099s
Bahrain: +2.418s
China: +1.679

What’s gone right?
A couple of weeks ago you’d have said “not much”. Pre-season season testing showed that the F14 T was encouragingly reliable but worryingly sluggish and the opening round of the championship only served to confirm that suspicion. In Malaysia, the first really representative circuit the F14T was seventh in terms of maximum race speed in every sector. Through the speed trap Alonso was ninth quickest at 307.4kph compared with Felipe Massa’s 324.56kph.  Bahrain was the nadir, with Alonso and Raikkonen finishing ninth and tenth.

On the upside, Alonso has recovered from his dip in form in late 2013 and -whether inspired by the arrival of Raikkonen or just because he’s back to himself – is driving at an extremely high level, as like 2012. The improvements the team has brought since Bahrain have proved effective, especially in China where the most visible item were the larger brake ducts and blown wheel nuts first trialled in the Bahrain test. However, the revival of ideas already tried in the past by Williams and Red Bull, was probably not the signal upgrade run in China. Ferrari had clearly eked more power from the 059/3 engine. Rumours suggest that part of this improvement came from a new fuel from Shell and also via improvements on the software side.

Raikkonen was sixth-fastest through the speed trap, 4kph slower than fastest man Rosberg. Alonso, meanwhile, might only have logged the 16th-fastest speed but his pace was sufficient that Red Bull admitted to having doubts about whether Daniel Ricciardo would have been able to have a crack at the Spaniard due to the Ferrari’s better speed on the straights had he been free to fight with the Ferrari driver in the closing stages of the race.

Afterwards, Engineering Director Pat Fry admitted improvements had been made. “We made some progress and in general, the speed of the car has increased, both in the corners and on the straights,” he said.

Aerodynamically the car is solid, though clearly not in the same league as Red Bull’s RB10. While the team’s much-publicised wind tunnel issues were reported as solved in pre-season testing, with the team insisting the track data correlated with figures from the tunnel, former Team Principal Stefano Domenicali targeted poor aerodynamic performance as the team’s big weakness barely a week before stepping down.

With power unit issues being the most obvious handicap afflicting the F14 T, (not only in the unit’s output but also in power delivery that affects balance) the fact that the team is slowly getting on top of its problems is encouraging, especially in a championship in which the quest already seems to be to finish as ‘best of the rest’ to Mercedes.
What’s gone wrong?
Where to start. It has simply been a cataclysmic start for the season for Ferrari. Most of the teams issues have been put down to the power unit and the team’s inability to master it – specifically in terms of weight, power and driveability.

Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport has reported that the engine is 13kg overweight. The power delivery has also been called into question, with suggestions that the team hasn’t got on top of integration of ICE and ERS power and that this leads to rear end problems that make the car tough to drive and which harm the rear tyres.

Allied to that are the problems being faced by Kimi Raikkonen. Initially the team blamed a lack of comfort with the car’s brake-by-wire system only for the Finn to rubbish his own team’s excuse in public. The Finn admits, however, to struggling with the front end of the F14 T and so far those problems haven’t been cured. In China, too, Raikkonen confessed that his driving style was at odds with the circuit and the conditions. “I don’t think I work the tyres very hard. So obviously when it’s cool conditions and wet conditions it’s been many years that it’s been hard to get the tyres working,” he said. “Today it just feels that when you have a new tyre it works well until the grip from the new tyres goes away and obviously you have to go slower and then you start cooling down the tyres more. Everything goes round and round and you cannot fix that. I reckon it’s more to do with that.”

It isn’t just those issues that are hurting Ferrari, however, and again in the week before he parted company with the Scuderia, Domenicali’s assessment of where improvements need to be made was bleak: “Basically everywhere,” he said. “I don’t think by fixing one problem you fix the whole performance – so we need to work to have a more efficient car; we need to work to have a better engine; we need to work to exploit better the balance between electric power and traditional engine power. Everywhere!”

Add to all of those technical woes a political situation at the team that is characteristically Borgia-like. Domenicali’s abdication has resulted in the appointment of the previous little known company man Marco Mattiacci, a figure trusted by the parent FIAT/Chrysler board, who will be carefully steered, as he learns the ways of the F1’s ‘Piranha Club’ of team owner politics by Luca Di Montezemolo. Whether Montezemolo can turn around the apparent cultural malaise affecting his team remains to be seen, however. It also remains to be seen how the current hierarchy will be organised in the new Ferrari world order and how that will affect 2014. Former Mercedes technical director Bob Bell keeps being mentioned; he worked very well with James Allison in their Renault days and may find his way to Maranello by the end of the year.

Strong points of the team and car
Reliability has been excellent with a full complement of finishes so far. And despite the obvious issues the team is facing all buit two of those finished have been in the points, leaving Ferrari fourth in the Constructors’ Championship with 52 points, just five behind Red Bull. Alonso is third in the Drivers’ standings five points ahead of Nico Hulkenberg. If 2014 is a case of being ‘best of the rest’ Ferrari are well placed ahead of the European season.

Weak points of the team and the car
The climate at the team deosn’t seem to be conducive to a sudden revival and it remains to be seen what kind of positive strategic influence Mattiacci can ultimately have in the short term. 

Raikkonen’s woes are hurting the team in its pursuit of it’s main rivals Red Bull Racing and (at the moment) Force India.

Power unit issues would seem to be the biggest barrier to progress.



Where do they go from here?
If you were in a confident frame of mind, you might suggest that Ferrari keeps plugging away as it did in China, where the power unit solutions they brought had a clear benefit. There’s been no major upgrade yet and it will be interesting to see what the team brings – particularly in terms of aero solutions – to Barcelona and the test that follows. Solving the issues affecting Raikkonen would seem to be an immediate racing goal. The Finn hasn’t lost any of the pace and skill that saw him take eight podium finishes from the 17 races he contested last year.

A more pessimistic outlook would be that there is no hope of making a dent in Mercedes dominance and that attention should switch to 2015 and plotting the right choice of power unit elements to focus on.


Overall Marks out of 10

Ferrari – 6/10

Fernando Alonso – 7/10

Kimi Raikkonen – 5/10

How many marks out of ten do you give Ferrari so far? Leave us your comments on this post in the comments section below.


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montezemolo told “alonso’s aim is wdc. raikkonen’s aim are points”

wake up people. the ones who aren’t able to admit that alonso looks so good also because the team wants him to look that good haven’t understood much about f1. sorry.

it was the same story with massa and it will be the same story even if they change driver next year.

in ferrari everyone would look like a rookie if compared to alonso, simply because alonso has a big power in there and domenicali clearly admitted that this car was built according to alonso’s driving style. I can’t remember a single season when alonso wasn’t number one driver and had to share the team with someone who wasn’t just there for scoring some points. maybe 2007, and we know how it ended.

I’ve never heard ferrari repeating constantly “schumacher is the better f1 driver” ” we have to give schumacher a wdc material car”.

as for 2007 wdc…

you need to remember that f1 is a highly manipulated sport.

2008 hamilton’s win against massa at the last corner of the last race…what about it? someone argued that glock knew something about it. so we can easily argue that if raikkonen’s wdc is a bit fake(even if he won more races than any other driver) than hamilton’s wdc is a big fake, since hamilton won less races than massa and he won his wdc only at the last corner.

2009 brawn gp meteor?

2010-2013 rbr dominance?

2014 mercedes? I remember clearly what ecclestone said in 2013: he said that 2014 would have been mercedes’ year. So it is.

2006 mass damper?

2005 mclaren infinite engine failures?

we can easily discuss about most of the past seasons.

come on, f1 is more of a money and marketing game: sponsor behind drivers(santander?), pay drivers, terrible asian circuits, endurance races, drs and more. everything is on the fake side, so everything has lost value and needs to be taken as it is: a circus, where the biggest interest is money. you can watch it just for fun, but nothing more.


Alonso has earned the number 1 in its initial stage of Renault, do you not think so?. And Vettel and Hamilton and Raikkonen at Lotus?, Have not had a car made ​​to measure?


Don’t understand how pilots scored 7 and 5 out of 10.

If the car doesn’t perform, what could you do?

minor part depends on pilots, may be 20-25%, everything else is car.


Is it coincidence that Ferrari generally suck in development since they have 100% focus on Alonso’s requirements.

Alonso needs to start delivering wins with his favoured Pull-Rod, or else Ferrari might get fed up of it’s limitations and revert to other development paths that might generally be quicker, easier & less volatile to develop for both drivers, especially if Vettel is set to make a Ferrari move.


I disagree with you.

Please show your reasoning. You’re invited to the techniques and design of Ferrari meetings to affirm what you say?


Wow James! Alonso only 7 out of 10? That’s a “C” grade! And you say he has returned to his top form?? Is his top form only worth a C? Harsh to say the least.

Third in points with a car low in power and placing in front of other teams with Mercedes’ powered engines? Better than a 7 I think.


All I have to say is Massa is a very lucky man not to be driving the Ferrari car. I doubt he would get so many dispensations, forgivenes and being excused for being so far down the point table compared to his teammate. Also, I doubt “car problems” would be brought out at all to explain his poor performance.


You don’t think there’s a relationship between “car problems” and poor performances from a driver?


Ferrari have in general been poor, particularly in the technical department, meaning that they have been building cars which are lacking in just about every department, not by much in each, but it adds up to a lot of time.

In terms of the drivers, Alonso has been superb as usual, dragging that car into a position where it doesn’t deserve to be. He should be in a much better car than this, and everyone knows that.

Raikkonen has had a bit of a struggle with the car, and he is not driving as well as you would expect, so something is a miss, either with the car, or with him. They need to set-up the car to what he likes from the car, to give him confidence, and to make him feel comfortable in the car. At the stage of his career that he is currently at, he cannot really change his ways without the changes being a failure, so Ferrari must listen to him, and work to his clock, not the other way around.

This leads me to Ferrari President, Luca De Montezemolo. I want to say to you that you for a quite a while have been putting everyone in the F1 team under pressure via your actions. Back off, and let the people within the team work it out themselves.

Overall, they have no chance of winning races, let alone the championship.


Di instead of De.


James, I’d like to ask you just one question: is Fernando’s work ethics as impeccable as many people describe it or is there something wrong with it?

If I’m not wrong, in the BBC podcast after Brazil 2013, when asked about the laziest driver, you answered “Alonso” (was it you or Gary Anderson? I didn’t download it and now it’s gone). Gary Anderson wrote last year that in 2013 Alonso would sit comfortably in his chair in the garage for the first hour of the FP1 session each weekend while everyone else was on the track gathering data to help find the right quali-race setup.

He hasn’t been the most brilliant driver in qualifying recently… Does he work hard enough to understand his car as well as possible? (I bet his biggest competitor does)

A couple of days ago Peter Windsor called Alonso an “improvisor”.

All these thing make me start questioning his work ethics.


What a difference a year makes.

Half-way through the season last year, you ranked Kimi’s performance second behind Vettel and ahead of Alonso. Kimi was second in the championship, had a win, multiple podiums and the closest anyone came to Vettel that year.

This year, Kimi’s performance is not what we expected/wanted. I really hope that him and Alonso can be fighting wheel to wheel as soon as possible so we can all get what we were looking for.


James, is it possible you could do a tech analysis that explains the Ferrari suspension issues and whether they can have two different systems for their cars?

I ask because @ Pete, and others above, have interesting views on push-rod versus pull-rod suspension


To have two different suspensions on their car wouldn’t make any sense at all, in my view; you have to go down one path when it comes to car development. They would have to design, produce and test twice as many new pieces


James i cannot understand the reasoning behind you scores for the Ferrari or either the pilots.

Ferrari should be only given 3 or 4 at best for the start they made this season. Before the season started LDM was sanguine and put positive spin among the fans. Yet once the season started we have clearly witnessed the pattern like previous season Ferrari were poor and sacked Stefano D now. Ferrari simply cannot beat the RBR for the last five seasons and now trail Mercedes by biggest margin which they cannot overturn at least in 2014

I do not denigrate kimi by any stretch, yet he is simply not good enough at the moment and kimi also confessed the fact F14T was difficult to drive and not quick enough. This itself proves how well alonso have driven in the last 4 races and pretty much for the last 5 seasons. Alonso have done a exemplary job ever since 2010 to this point.

Alonso is a fable and his performances over the last 5 seasons has been simply fantastic. Without Alonso Ferrari are nothing. The day alonso leaves Ferrari they will become even more worse from bad

Finally it’s 10/10 for Alonso. Well i agree with 5 for kimi and Ferrari should be only given 4/10


Hi James, is there any remote possibility of Chris Dyers to return to Ferrari as Kimi’s race engineer? Antonio is good or maybe great but Kimi and him are not working at harmony. I never saw him(Kimi) screaming to his race engineer race after race. Awaiting your reply James


I would doubt that. Not heard of it


Thanks for the reply James. I would also like to ask you why Kimi always having difficulties in setting up his car not just now even with Lotus?


According to Andrea Stella, who was Kimi’s car engineer during Kimi’s first spell at Ferrari, the car for Raikkonen to get the most out of it has to be in a certain, rather narrow, performance window.

Kimi goes with the flow of the car, he’s a reactive driver while Alonso’s his opposite, his driving style is more bullying, it works across different lines and many grip levels (wet, dry, cold etc.).

Also, Kimi doesn’t like understeering cars.


Merc admittedly worked on their engine and power unit for approximately six years prior to this season, and threatened to leave the sport if the V6 turbos weren’t adopted as the formula. I assume that Ferrari, as well as McLaren, Red Bull, et al weren’t devoting half as much time or research into the turbo issues. Give it time, especially if it’s true that Merc have got about all they can out of their power unit. I like what I’ve heard from Mattiacci, he may not be up to speed on F1 but he has a proven record of success in business and racing.


I have been following Kimi since his first year (Sauber) and consider him in terms of raw speed at the level of Hamilton. Alonso and Vettel are top classes for different reasons. Kimi is not the most dedicated,and he is not at his peak anymore but if he gets the car that suits him he still will be very, very fast and entertaining to watch. His problems are clearly down to the car. People who suggest that driving style or car characteristics are not important do not know what they are talking about. I think Ferrari never has suited him as the Mclarens and never will. Alonso has the same crew, many years of recent experience with the team and the car has been build around him for years even if this years car is a new technology. Ferrari should hire Kimi`s old race engineer by any price and lead by Allison build him a car that suits his style to put both cars into the front. Hamilton has had problems with some of his cars just as Vettel is having now. Kimi will be back if Ferrari wants.


I think 5/10 is fair for kimi but 6/10 is very genorous for Ferrari, a team with the money, experience and resources of ferrari doing this kind of pathetic work on they’re car should get 4/10 IMO. I don’t route for drivers im a Ferrari fan but the truth is Alonso is doing a great job he should get at least 9/10 IMO.


Please, can someone explain what a “front-limited circuit” means in layman’s terms?

I keep reading this expression but I don’t really understand what it means, much less what impact it has to a particular car or driving technique.

Could anyone also share what are the characteristics of such a circuit?

Thanks a lot.

Michael Frennesson

James: How would you rank Alonso’s years at Ferrari? Do you agree with me…

2010 – 9/10

2011 – 7/10

2012 – 10/10

2013 – 8/10

…and what do you think Alonso lacks or could do better?


I wish Fernando to find another team and within next three years win 3rd title as he dreamed. Ferrari was a grave for him. 5 years of struggle while finger boy did mistakes and easily won 4 titles in a raw.


2010- 8/10




2010 and/or 2012 would be 10/10 had he won the title.


I am rooting for him since 2005 but i think you are too generous

2010 8/10 only, he made several mistakes by himself, and each one would have gotten him the title

(example; start of canada, crash in Spa, losing a place at the start to BUT in the last race)

2011 , i woul go to 9/10. his car was not so good but he did far less mistakes )

2012 9.5. he would have had the 10 if he won. i believe his suzuka /kimi DNF was not 100% kimi’s fault

2013 7/10. some opportunities missed in the first half. Some bad quali in the second half and less “warrior attitude” as James pointed out

Fernando "150%" Alonso

*Start in China


Alonso is unbeteable with a car difficult to drive. VET, HAM, MAS & RAI need a car easy to drive or well tuned for their skills. All these drivers, included MAS are able to run equally fast or even faster as the Spaniard with the correct setup at one lap, but just in that conditions: A perfect car for them or driveable enough. Alonso has the perfect brain for the sport: almost invulnerable to pressure, inteligent, multitask & the hability to do this work without wasting a lot of resorces. Say that, after China GP I see the Spaniard almost off. His effort was extraordinary.


and you think this years ferrari isn’t made for alonso’s liking?


Yes I do. Possibly someone who knows something called F1 can support that statement like James Allen, at least his hability to drive difficult cars. Since Minardi Alonso has driven cars difficult to drive, not conceived for him, and he beat all by far. He did not begin in a top team. You can find documentation about his beginings or you can reply in a forum whatever. Maybe your rethorical question aims for too much. I vote red, you vote black


Wow, really! Speechless




James, do you think Alonso needs another title before he can be considered an all time great?

I wasn’t huge fan of his but since he’s been at Ferrari, he’s been absolutely incredible. I genuinely think he’s up there with Prost, Senna etc. Relentless.


Not sure about the fans but I think Alonso will consider it a borderline failure not to retire with 3 titles to his name. I think that’s why he’s already making noises about continuing past age 36 and showing a keen interest in Schumacher’s fitness regime (who put some of the drivers in their 20s to shame in his 40s fitness wise). I think Alonso knows he needs more years to get into the right car at the right time. I think after that 3rd title he’ll be content and might move into another formula after that.


KR and JB are the same, they regarded as greats because of their personalities. Its not kimi’s first season or the first time he is driving for a top team, he’s expected to be competing at th top.


KR and JB are the same – Very well put ahmed

Both kimi and jenson cannot simply drive around the problems of the car. These 2 pilots have a very narrow operating window. If the car and set-up are well to their liking then they are quick enough to win races and WDC, otherwise they struggle a lot.

Also you are spot on about the no non-sense attitude which kimi and jenson possess as well. People here like certain pilots for different reasons rather than just the skillset which they possess


Sorry, that’s rubbish. They have almost nothing in common.


I presume he meant people like them because they have interesting personas. JB is the Gentleman racer who needs a perfect car set up to show his best. KR is the one-line inscrutable character who needs a perfect car set up to show his best.

I think there’s more to them than that but they certainly have a good media following – JB because he’s so easy to talk to and KR because of…well…the opposite 🙂


@james its unfair to say alonso had dip in form in late 2013, he had podium in last race, in india his car was damaged, and in other races he achieved more than what the car was capable of, so i don’t agree with your statement.


Not surprisingly he lost a bit of his mojo with Vettel dominating, an uncompetitive car after a strong start to the year and the row with Montezemolo in summer

I was there, I saw it. I’ve known him his whole career, remember


That can also explain why he lost several quali to Massa who was instead vindicated by his need to find a seat elsewhere.

James , what is the general opinion in the paddock on the Massa- Alo “bump” of last race. My couch expertise tells me Massa seemed to have stopped moving left and it was alo who hit him by keeping on going right but he may have had no way of seeing him coming from the far right instead of from behind ?


James if you ‘were there and saw it’ I guess you must have also seen Alonso dominating Massa during his supposed slump. I guess Alonso is that good he can still dominate his team mate during a ‘slump’.

I looked over his last 6 races of 2013, and apart from India with a damaged car he produced amazing finishes. There was no slump apart from being out qualified by Massa 3 times in that period.


I never called it a slump

He lost a bit of motivation, that’s all

kenneth chapman

james, based on your long standing relationship with alonso would you care to expand a bit on where you see him right now?

do you see any changes that might give us an insight into his thinking re this years changes and his ability to get on top of it all?

he seems to be quite an open sort of chap most times and i was always impressd with the relationship that he had with mark webber, both on and off the track.


What a ludicrous thing to say. So one of the things that make him lost his mojo was the fight with Montezemolo, despite that he got second position in the next 3 races after the fight. You were there, but we are not blind, we watch the races too.


He might have won a race without the necessity of the ear tweaking, though. And please don’t be rude to James. His is one of the best free reads on the net.


Watching is different from being with the person and talking directly. You get much more info that way. And I trust James’ judgement better than others’ who just watch races or some journos like in BBC who are more like fan-boys.


I think it’s fair to say he didn’t seem like the usual Alonso. The defining thing about him is he is just relentless and that comes across, whether he’s angry, sanguine, up or down – he still projects a confidence that he’ll keep going.

You are right that his results didn’t drop off incredibly in 2013 – but he just didn’t seem to have the personal confidence any more. I think that was obvious just from TV and Alonso’s social media statements – so I imagine it was palpable for journalists seeing him in person every other weekend.

It’s probably a slightly vague thing to describe someone’s mojo – I guess it’s down to personal impression rather than concrete results.


To understand the Domenicalli “effect” I recomend to watch 1949’s movie: Twelve O’Clock High. Domenically is the calm & friendly boss who failed to get the best of everyone in Ferrari on a technical point of view. I like him as a person, but in F1, you have to raise the game, even being not so kind. In the case of drivers, there is no extra motivation needed. ALO & RAI are self motivated persons and dont need anything to improve their speed, not the case of other drivers like HAM who needs a big rival to get the best from him. Saying that, Ferrari is so “comfortable & relaxed” that Alonso is not considering the possibility to leave it even losing.


So Alonso has made Kimi look like a pay driver and performed flawlessly, yet only given a rating of 7?

Please explain the logic behind your rating, although I suspect there is not any and you have confused the performance of the car with the driver.


I think it is extremely difficult for us to judge drivers performances. Most of us only have external point of views and absolutely no insights of what’s going on inside the garages. We are only fans and some of them are multiple world champions. Whatever Raikkonen and Alonso say to the media, I am sure there are plenty of other things that they cannot say. Our point of view is a bit biased because we get most of our information from the same sources. The only thing I think we can all agree to is that they are both great drivers who deserve a car to their liking, which seems to be more the case for Fernando so far. But in any case I would rule Kimi out or give him a slower rating. And I seriously hope the car gets to Kimi’s liking soon to, some wheel to wheel battle between those 2 on the same car would be great.


Extremely difficult?

You think its extremely difficult to compare their qualifying times, race positions and points totals?

Its actually pretty easy, unless of course you don’t like the results.


Yes its easy to compare them but its hard to draw too many conclusions from them. There’s just so many factors in play and most are unseen by the fans.


Hey? You claim that Alonso is giving his all and performing at the same level as 2012! Yet he only scores a 7? Raikkonen has been woeful and scores 5? Lol



LOL indeed


I am disappointed that the much anticipated Alonso vs Kimi battle is a non event.

my assessment:

Alonso: 8

Kimi: 4*

Ferrari & Monte: 5**

(*) Because I know there’s room for lots of improvement. You can do better Kimi!!

(**) They totally missed the start of the new F1 era. Instead they decided to focus on sound. Their China turnaround was impressive … unless Alonso is flattering us? I am giving them the benefit of the doubt.


Thanks James.

Clearly ALO has a great ability to adapt and especially to the new generation of F1 cars which are frisky to say the least. I would give ALO an 8/10 and agree with your scores for Ferrari and RAI. The latter has surprised how he has been outperformed by ALO, when clearly the expectation was that he would give ALO a run for his money if not beat him – the hope of the MAS fans who consistently believed there was a conspiracy against him in favour of ALO.

Interesting point re-the different driving styles of RAI and ALO. BUT and HAM have very different styles and is that what penalised McL?

James, can we be reminded who was the drivers’ choice of driver of the year for each of the 4 years of VET’s championships please?

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