Sebastian Vettel heads for Maranello, work begins now on a different kind of project
Scuderia Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel
Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Nov 2014   |  9:36 am GMT  |  382 comments

Four times world champion Sebastian Vettel will be in Maranello today, driving on the iconic Fiorano test track for the first time as Ferrari’s new star driver. But what kind of project is he walking into and should be be worried?

He follows in the footsteps of other greats who have taken the bow at Maranello, like Fangio, Prost, Mansell, Schumacher and Alonso to great expectation and excitement from the tifosi.

First the German will learn the track in a GT car and then he will test in a 2012 car, the most recent allowed by the F1 rules, to get promotional photos and video. The triumphant arrival of a “campionissimo” at Maranello is a very important moment.

Schumacher made his grand entrance there back in the 1990s when he switched as a two times world champion from Benetton and more recently Alonso. The journeys those two great champions made at Maranello were very different. Schumacher stayed 11 seasons and won five world championships, although none for the first four years.

Alonso in contrast came close to winning the title twice in five seasons and then walked away this year, encouraged out of the door by Marco Mattiacci, who found himself following the Spaniard. He’s on a short but significant list of champions, along with Fangio, Surtees, Lauda and Prost, of drivers who walked away from Ferrari.

The Scuderia has known turbulent times, where politics rules and success could not be bought at any price and the concern is that Vettel might be walking into another such era.

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari

Vettel arrives at Maranello at a time of great uncertainty and the ‘dipendenti”, as the management calls the employees of the Gestione Sportiva, will be looking to the young German to inspire them. Vettel will stay until Monday, when the new team principal Maurizio Arrivabene will be crowned; riding into town like the Marlboro Man, all gnarled-looking and ready for a fight. The “dipendenti”, rocked by the churn of three different team principals and two chairmen in seven months, now crave stability and will look to Arrivabene to lead them out of the troubled waters.

Vettel was annoyed at not being able to drive in the Abu Dhabi test, but revealed to Auto Motor und Sport that Red Bull technical chief Adrian Newey blocked it as he didn’t want Vettel to “pass secrets” to Ferrari from his test, despite the fact that Red Bull technical people are among the 40 people hired by Mattiacci for the Scuderia during this year.

Sadly for the team and for Arrivabene in particular, Ross Brawn and Mercedes engine guru Andy Cowell are not among that number. Cowell said no, while Brawn has denied that he is part of the new plan of Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne.

The scarlet cars were 85 seconds behind the Mercedes in the final race of the season – due to down on power engines – so what does success look like for Ferrari in 2015? Halving that gap? No, it has to be to challenge for regular podiums and show signs of getting back towards winning races. But there are only just over three months to the start of the new season and the new cars will be launched in around 60 days from now. And there will be no “engine unfreeze” in 2015, to give a mid season boost.

Maurizio Arrivabene

The success of Arrivabene will hinge on finding the right partner to fill the role of running the team and the technical side. To borrow the Mercedes model, which has been proven to be the best one for a modern F1 team with 800+ employees, the former sponsor is probably capable of doing the Toto Wolff role, but he needs a Paddy Lowe figure to run the team credibly. That man should be Brawn, but he would want to be the “reference point” for the team, as he puts it and that would mean Arrivabene swallowing a humble pill.

There is James Allison, but at this stage in his career, the talented Englishman is still a hands on engineer and technical director, is he ready to run the whole thing? Bob Bell is a fallback possibility; he handed in his notice at Mercedes early this year and has experience of running Renault and knows Allison well.

One wonders, though, how unsettled Allison has been by the heavy courting of Brawn. Also he will be looking around him at people like chief designer Nicolas Tombazis, who has the skids under him, according to colleagues in the Italian media.

There are also serious question marks about the leadership of the engine division, which needs to turn it all around if Ferrari is to compete with Mercedes in 2015, 2016.. or ever under this hybrid formula.

On top of the huge question marks surrounding the leadership and the infrastructure, with both Vettel and his team mate Kimi Raikkonen both on poor form on track in 2014, there is great uncertainty around the Ferrari project for 2015.

One final note: For Ferrari fans it will be something of a struggle to get a feeling of being close to the project as neither Vettel nor Raikkonen uses social media, particularly Twitter, to share their thoughts. So it will be the official line only, which seems very old fashioned in these days of the “connected” sportsman.

How do you think Vettel’s adventure at Maranello will turn out? leave your comments below

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I just want to add that a point in this article. Alonso was twice close to winning and did not get a championship and finally end up with a sour relationship with Ferrari.

In the case of Schumacher, even before his glorious 5 titles at Ferrari, he was close to winning twice in 1997 and 1998. I think with Schumacher finally did it with Ferrari, it was a very special moment, as special as his first WDC if not more so.


As Sebastain circled Fiorano in the 2012 Ferrari, the following was overhead in Sebastian’s radio ear-piece:

“Sebastian, Fernando was faster than you”


And so was Ricci!

Get a move on!



Well… Ferrari has a lot of work ahead, and seems a lot of it is either political and/or managerial. Shame.

Unless Ferrari are able to obtain a political freebie to get some rules in their favour, there’s no way they will beat the better teams with better drivers.

Grosjean was beating Kimi when Lotus unbacked Kimi. Massa was beating Kimi for a 2nd straight yr. Alonso murdered Kimi and Massa.

Webber was beating Vettel until it came to decision time in 2012, and RB decided Vettel. Ricciardo blasted Vettel.

And then you have management.

Frankly……. the scuderia needs a miracle or a benvolent fairy to help them out, perhaps in the form of Todt or Bernie……….


Your reasoning is possibly correct, but also might prove something else…

Kimi was beating Grojean until some internal management change happened.

Kimi beat Massa and won the WDC, until some internal management change happened.

Conclusion could be that whichever driver the team backs usually comes out on top? Actually in the case of Grosjean, I believe Kimi was not pushing too hard since he was ripped off 6 million by Lotus/ Genie according to the reports.

However Alonso has comprehensively beaten Kimi this year. This could be due to the car not being to Kimis liking/ driving style, and the next season will give some strong indications… I doubt Ferrari would have paid Kimi millions if they were not fairly certain of his skills. Kimi demonstrated his skills throughout his career, and look at his comeback after two years away – no driver has ever been able to replicate that to date!


What management change happened when Massa beat Kimi?

Massa beat him on 2 seasons… with no significant managemet change. Kimi raced for himself til the very last minute when he was totally out of contention. Massa beat him, fair and square.

Yes, Alonso had #1 status all along. That is not up to debate.

Kimi is indeed a top-tier world class driver. One of the best. But got hammered by Alonso. Yes, the car doesn’t suit him… but seriously, that was too much.

Kimi was also closely matched by Grosjean. Yeah he had a bitnof an edge when the team was backing him, but it wasn’t overwhelming. The only reason Kimi won the WDC is because Alonso threw the championship in Hungary, or Dennis threw Alonso under the bus… or Lewis’ mind went blank in that last race. And he got absolutely helped by Massa. Either way, a Mclaren would have won that yr.


Err Kimi was beating Grosjean…

Until he asked for his wage packet for the year!



Nice take on Ferrari story as always James, but could you please give us an inside regarding the engine allocation for each team in order to get an idea of their strategy, performance etc (spread on gps) as well what components the engine manufacturers are allowed to change for next year, say turbo?. Thanks


In regard to your last point re Ferrari fans and twitter/ FB etc in relation to Kimi and Seb.

Its widely felt that both of them enjoy fun antics and refuse to do the endless identical speech at every race meeting (anyone recall Hamiltons endless repetition of how much he loved the fans in Blah blah, that it was one of his favorite places blah blah during his Macca days?).

Leave them alone, they know what they are doing. Just give them a good car!


when they were learning their trade in karts no none was there to help now and now that they have made it so many want to tell them what choices to make. they are interviewed because they have achieved so if anyone wants to be interviewed in place of any of the drivers, go and achieve. am sure you’d be interviewed too and you will do it your way.

yeah, leave them alone.


Well said!


James, there are reports that you have been teaching Vettel Italian since before Spa 2014, so you must have known his future plans for a good while …


Si bravo!


Any chance you could take a small group of us for italian conversation, James?


I heard you taught him to drive too. Kudos to you sir 🙂


Schumacher might not have won a championship in the first 4 years, but it no way does it parallel with Alonso’s time at Ferrari.

Ferrari scored a 1-2 in Alonso’s first race at Ferrari. Throughout 2010 Ferrari had 1-2’s (like Hockenheim were Massa was forced to hand the win to Alonso), 1-3’s, dry poles (which is a rarity from Alonso) on polar opposite tracks like Monza and Singapore.

Alonso had handed on a platter a car equal of the Red Bull in 2010, yet he allowed a unpolished driver in his third full season of F1 to get the better of him when the pressure was at its highest. Alonso withered when it counted most. Even the McLaren was virtually the equal of the Red Bull and Ferrari.

Schumacher had a horrible Barnard-designed car in 1996 (worse than the 95 Ferrari), yet still managed 3 wins against the hugely dominant Williams. Todt had no success in F1 before Schumacher joined Ferrari. The difference Schumacher made was immediate.

The 97 Ferrari (based on the 96 Barnard-designed Ferrari) was completely outmatched by the Williams, yet took the championship to the wire. In 98 the McLaren was one of the most dominant cars of all time yet Schumacher took the championship to the wire. 99 he would have romped to the title if he didn’t break his leg.

In the 95 Brawn/Bryne Benetton, Schumacher managed 9 wins (would have been 11 wins if not for Hill punting Schumacher off at Silverstone and Monza), yet Berger and Alesi in the 96 Brawn/Bryne designed Benetton couldn’t muster a single win in what was second best to the Williams, but would have challenged for the championship in Schumacher’s hands.

It managed zero wins. Forget challenging for the championship.


Finally a statement from you I can agree with…

Although the Ferrari gearbox was a real performance enhancement in those early years and not to be sniffed at… It set the trend for today frankly..

Valentino - Schumacher # 1

Well said and all true Deutsch Samurai !

There is a reason why Schumacher was voted “Driver of the year” in the 2006 December issue of F1 Racing ! The fans voted for Schumacher , not Alonso …It speaks volumes does’nt it ?


i did say webber was taking too much of a risk racing those endurance cars, they are not as safe as f1 cars and we all know he had some big ones in f1.


if rosberg loses to hamilton in 2015 and 2016, I’d love to see alonso reunited with hamilton at mercedes just to confirm how good he really is.


Wish Vettel the very best. But I honestly don’t see Ferrari improving much over the next few years. The engine freeze is the dumbest idea to come out of F1. Agree freezing the V8 engines to keep costs low – but it was a mature technology. You bring in such radical ground breaking technology as has been the case this year, you then give it enough time to mature, like a 2 season window where improvements can be made after which you freeze it long term. Also limited testing as is now the case is going to go against Ferrari and Vettel to turn the car around. Gone are the days of a team changing things around mid season and Schumacher pounding around Fiorano perfecting the car.


It’s not frozen!!!

Honestly – can people just read the facts!

The argument is over ‘in season’ development!

That and the fact Merc out thought the others and they want complete freedom to copy which the percentage of end of year development does not give them!


The above link provides a little insight into the engine freeze

regulations. Even off season, the amount of development that an engine

manufacturer can do is limited to only 48% of 45 engine components. If an

engine design has a fundamental flaw which are not covered under those 45

parts, then hard luck….you continue with the power deficit.

This is like knowing what your problem is, but you are forbidden to fix

it. It could very easily have been Mercedes who made the wrong call on

their engine design…fortunately for them they got it right, the rest got

it wrong. I’m sure if you allow an unfreeze on engine regulations for 2

solid years both in season and off season, all manufacturers can iron out

their problems and we the fans can be treated to some great competitive



As happened after the earthquake of Enzo Ferrari’s death in 1988, the aftershocks involve a different feel around the Ferrari team; greater FIAT influence on things, which historically has not been a positive.

As quoted from one of James piece’s from earlier.

Fiat are now heavily involved again and Seb may need a year or two to get back to winning ways with the politic in Ferrari/Fiat. Unless of course he has a clause as his RBR contract, not in the top 3 and he can walk away.

I expect him to walk within 2 seasons if there are no podium finishes.


As happened after the earthquake of Enzo Ferrari’s death in 1988, the aftershocks involve a different feel around the Ferrari team; greater FIAT influence on things, which historically has not been a positive.

As quoted from one of James piece’s from earlier.

Fiat are now heavily involved again and Seb may need a year or two to get back to winning ways with the politic in Ferrari/Fiat. Unless of course he has a clause as his RBR contract, not in the top 3 and he can walk away.

I expect him to walk within 2 seasons if there are no podium finishes.


Vettel has to get at least three times as many points as Kimi next year to really prove he could take it to Alonso. Winning 4 WDC in a car that perhaps had so much extra grip compared to all the others isn’t really going to cement him as the best driver on the grid which he no doubt thinks he is.

If it is close between Kimi and Vettel next year, I’ll go out on a limb and say Alonso would destroy Vettel the way he did Kimi.

Anyone saying Kimi was unlucky this year or the car didn’t suit is just worsening the argument. To be one of the best in the world, surely you have to be adaptable to every situation.

Like Alonso is. Like Lewis is. Some drivers simply keep doing the same job no matter what the change in the regulations are. Vettel quite frankly sucked last year against a guy who wasn’t exactly destroying Vergne who in turn wasn’t setting the world alight vs Kvyat. So either Vergne, Ric and Kvyat are all amazing or they’re not actually as good as people think.

Dare I say that Nico Rosberg vs Lewis is a much closer fight than anyone on the grid could have managed vs Lewis except maybe Alonso who proved he could match him on points in 2007 even if Alonso did finish behind in the standings because of count back.

I’d love to see Ric vs Rosberg. My money would be on Nico.

It makes me wonder about Grosjean too. He did well against Kimi but Kim invariably got the couple of wins and did somewhat better at times. Alonso in that Lotus, wow who knows what he would have done. Or Lewis. When Grosjean was able to take it to Vettel in some races, who knows where Lewis or Alonso would have put that car.

Vettel needs a big season next year. He has to dismantle Kimi in a way that makes Alonso’s demolition job look amateur.


@ jason…i too would love to see ricci up against rosberg. my bet would be that ricci would walk all over rosberg. rosberg simply doesn’t have the ‘mongrel’ genes. yes, he is good, very good and he has progressed over the years. i used to call him an ‘easy beat’ as he rarely showed that he was capable of a sustained fight let alone a winning fight. that is where ricci’s determination comes to the fore. once he has someone in his sights he will make it his ambition to put the pass on. he is relentless and we have witnessed some of the best passes i have ever seen this year especially against the hard men.

that to me is the difference between the two. i only hope that he and red bull can take the fight to the mercedes next year. something tells me that that is a forlorn hope and it will not happen, but hey, if it did……..


I am not sure Ric would walk all over Ros…. beat him maybe but Lewis didn’t exactly walk all over Ros… unless you’re saying Ric is better than Lewis. He may be, we don’t know. Ric sure has had a great year and this was amplified by the fact he destroyed a 4x WDC but maybe that 4x WDC is a wee bit overrated because Vergne did well vs Ric. Unless Ric has jumped up in talent immensely this year.

I think next year will be interesting if Lewis sorts his brakes out. We may well see a lot more of him on pole and driving away in races. I hope the others close up but agree it is a forlorn hope. Red Bull looked like it had the best aero this season yet they were miles behind.


Jason – except for the Alonso vs Lewis contest…

Watch the year again (without the excuses everyone trots out) LH without doubt trounced FA that year. The points tally and wins etc were really not representative. The eventual champion enjoyed being waved by for certain wins that cemented things and the politics file should really have not been Alonsos reading material that winter.

He should as I have said before, spent it watching GP from the year before and the two or even five years leading up to it!


Before this season, Rosberg had won 3 races in his entire career.

Ricciardo won 3 races in 2014 alone in a car that was at best 3rd best on the grid and at times 5th best, and he has destroyed his 4-time world champion teammate in the process.

Rosberg possesses next to no race craft. He couldn’t make a pass stick on Hamilton on year. Even in Hungary he struggled to even pass a Toro Rosso despite being in the most dominant car of all time.

In 2014 Rosberg managed 5 wins in the most dominant car of all time.

In 2014 Ricciardo managed 3 wins in an uncompetitive car.

Rosberg is the third best German driver on the grid.

The fact that Rosberg was able to destroy Hamilton in qualifying and take the championship to the final round is an indication on Hamilton’s lack of consistency and inability to handle pressure rather than Rosberg’s speed.


“The very first year he gets a constructor winning car he wins 11 races many of them in long rows regardless of grid position and he is inconsistent?

Please – your comments are getting ridiculous…”

No, Hamilton got the MOST dominant car in the history of the sport, is faster than his teammate, yet only won 11 out of 19 races.

It’s only my opinion but he under-performed. Hamilton should have broken every record in the book in 2014 given his advantage over his teammate and massive car advantage over the field.

“That me well be the case but we’ve only see Rosberg lose to Lewis and beat Schumi though we could compare him to Webber at Williams, we saw how Vettel destroyed Webber and then saw how Ric destroyed Vettel. I’d love to see the matchup but doubt we ever will.”

By 2012 a 43-year-old Schumacher about 13 years past his peak was as quick as Rosberg in his prime. They were 10-10 in qualifying (Hamilton at his peak got smashed 12-7 by Rosberg) and head to head in races where both drivers finished Schumacher beat Rosberg. Schumacher had appalling reliability in 2012 and made some silly driving errors.


That me well be the case but we’ve only see Rosberg lose to Lewis and beat Schumi though we could compare him to Webber at Williams, we saw how Vettel destroyed Webber and then saw how Ric destroyed Vettel. I’d love to see the matchup but doubt we ever will.


By the RB came second…


Now that’s just daft. First off given the Merc performance and the fact you knew on any equal day regardless that you started the year a win behind, that you could not only pass your team mate at will, but probably at the start, despite any advantage given by the pit stops arrangement and that there were few races it mattered, why would you risk all for p1?

Particularly if you had already suffered a few issues that your team mate did not in both qualifying and races?

Oh and German…

Lewis has 30+ wins in fewer races than NR…

And this year suffered far more retirements and issues during the year thus having to fight back at every stage… Hence the streaks of four and fives in a row until they were not really required due to a ridiculous double points (Brazil) where second or first made little odds…


The very first year he gets a constructor winning car he wins 11 races many of them in long rows regardless of grid position and he is inconsistent?

Please – your comments are getting ridiculous…


Very myopic statement, so if for example Vettel wins the title next year but finishes 1 point ahead of Kimi, you don’t see that as a better achievement than scoring 3X the point of your teammate and finishing 6th.


Myopic? Haha that gave me a chuckle. You’re basically comparing Vettel and Kimi driving the best car in the field (1st and 2nd in WDC yields a constructors title clearly) to Alonso driving the fourth best car and scoring three times as many points as Kimi.

How is Vettel beating Kimi by 1 point ever going to in any way be as dominant as Alonso scoring three times as many points? It makes zero sense and maybe you ought to reserve the myopic description for your own posts. For Vettel to only beat Kimi by 1 point, you’re pretty much calling it 10-9 in race trim or something along those lies. Not exactly the 16-3 Alonso just dished out to Kimi this year.

I am here comparing drivers like for like as in team mate vs team mate and you’ve suddenly given them the best car. Rather myopic of you if I do say so. If this years Ferrari was the best car, even if both the Ferrari cars were 2 seconds a lap faster and thus no one was between them on the road, the fact is Alonso destroyed Kimi.

Alonso beat Kimi 16-3 in qualifying and the races.

Alono with 16 wins and 3 runner up spots would have scored 454 points. With the double points, make that 479 points.

Kimi with 3 wins and 16 runner up spots would have scored 363 points. With double points, make that 381.

How is Vettel winning the title by 1 point going to match this idealistic scenario above which (A) never happened yet (B) is as likely as your scenario as happening.

Vettel simply has to destroy Kimi next year because if it is a close run thing, it is a lesser achievement than what Alonso did to Kimi. Alonso blew Kimi away. It is as simple as that. 8.47 points per race vs 2.89 per race for Kimi. In a car capable of finishing fourth in the constructors championship. Even if Kimi finished 8th each race right behind Alonso, he would have scored 72 points which is 30% more than he scored anyway.

Either the car was so bad that Alonso is the best driver on the grid for hauling it to 4th in the contractors championship or Kimi had a terrible year or maybe Kimi is simple overrated in which case Vettel should beat him with ease. Without Alonso and with another Kimi, Ferrari would have had 110 points and finished 6th in the constructors championship. Kimi, a guy who lost to Massa in 2008 and was losing in 2009 before Massa had his accident, got slaughtered by Alonso the same way Massa did. Dare I say it, Massa put up more of a fight vs Alonso with a set of regulations both had time to get used to where this year Alonso and Kimi both had to learn the new systems. It is good Alonso is leaving because he would have destroyed Kimi worse next year. Alonso was 0.528s ahead on average in qualifying. That is massive.

If Vettel does not slaughter Kimi, a lot of questions will have been answered. Especially given Vettel got mauled by Ric in a team Vettel has been at for a number of years. Kimi the epic guy who at McLaren showed speed beyond question is just not as good as people think. It took Lewis breaking down and a war at McLaren to hand him the title. Vettel has to beat him. Not just finish ahead by 1 point but absolutely destroy him.


Ric vs Ros?

Hmmm – Ric has one major difference… He has proved he is a rather good racer and overtaker..

No offence to NR but watching (and being in the same race weekends over the years) well… Not so much frankly…

Yes he has ample speed but as we have seen this year (and others) sometimes his intelligence and dare I say it, arrogance, get in the way.

On the other hand, its earned him some wins so its swings and roundabouts.

We have to remember that for all the fuss, the Arab was still the second best constructor on the grid and far from shabby. In fact it was mighty at times despite unreliability (anyone still fussing that it was all about the ‘PU’ at this point needs a reality check) and as such, we have yet to see how DR will cope with a tight potentially winning year.

NR – well, we now know!


Ric vs Ros would be interesting for me. For sure Ric has shown the better overtaking ability yet to be fair to Ros, he kept up with Lewis. That is why his speed isn’t in question for me. I don’t doubt the speed by Ric either but unless Ric is actually faster than Lewis which we simply don’t know for sure, then Ros would be putting it on pole every weekend like he did vs Lewis. Of course, Lewis fans can point to the brakes or the fact Lewis simply decided to sort it on Sunday instead of Saturday.

I’d love to simply see it and would not like to pick a winner. Ros to put it on pole, Ric to win the race. Would set up Lewis vs Ric really well.

Unless of course Vettel is amazing as people say, Ric destroyed him and thus Ric would destroy Lewis, Alonso, Rosberg and everyone else.

With only one team mate per year, we sadly never get to see the match ups we want.

Now watch Kvyat destroy Ric and send the internet into meltdown 🙂


Not Arab – Red Bull…

I hate autocorrect!,,

And typing with my finger!

Fernando 150% Alonso



It’s tiring to keep coming across such comparisons that have no logic. Any seasoned F1 fans would understand that most F1 drivers are very good, a few exceptional. But for the supposedly best drivers in F1 to perform to their best most of them need the right car under them. From season to season, team to team, the cars just aren’t exactly the same everytime. To be able to get results, or to be WDC, a driver needs to be in the right team at the right time. Is this too difficult to understand?


@ jason…sound logic. i agree.


Jason – +1000


It is tiring hearing condescending remarks from seasoned people questioning my understanding but life is full of opinions and most of them stink 🙂 You’re allowed yours, I am allowed mine and I stand by my opinion that adaptability is the mark of an exceptionally gifted driver.

The point is Lewis and Alonso have adapted to EVERY generation of car in F1 whereas Kimi, Vettel and Button need a sweet spot. That is why Vettel got destroyed this year and why Kimi got destroyed also.

Therein is the major differences between the current flock of WDC on the grid. Surely a seasoned fan would not find this logical comparison difficult to understand right?


What ever way you gauge it, I cant see this turning out well.

The only drivers trophys since 1979 have been under the management of Brawn and Co’

I don’t know who was in charge in 2007 but that year needs no introduction anyway.

Exactly how they allowed a fall back into the politicking of yesteryear is another topic but the path out of the hole they have dug is the issue. I don’t see hybrid Tech being the Ferrari core business; you don’t buy a Ferrari for efficiency, even in Brussles! Step up Renault and Honda to take it to Merc, eventually…

So where does that leave Seb?

I don’t need an answer because Hamilton is champ and hopefully will be next year too ;D


I think it’s a mistake to underestimate Vettel, it wasn’t so long ago that he was asked to drive the BMW Sauber and was the youngest driver to ever score a point in Formula One. He brought a win to the perpetual also ran, Torro Rosso, and brought to Red Bull Racing what neither David Coulthard or Mark Webber were able to bring which was a much higher level of natural talent. Many people thought Lewis Hamilton was making a grave mistake leaving McLaren to go to Mercedes, and he has proved his critics wrong. I suspect that Vettel will do the same, probably not in 2015, as the car will not suit him, the team is in upheaval, and it seems to take longer for drivers to settle into the Scuderia than other teams; but most likely in 2016 we will see that Vettel’s talent is such that he tends to make significant accomplishments in Formula One look easy.


Just one other point…

It cannot be ignored that waved by in a race or two and very lucky (ably supported by FA at Macca) that Kimi, not only did not take long to settle in to Ferrari but is their last champion.

In his first year…

It’s why I chuckle at the ‘but poor Alonso had tyre/car/anything issues in his first year at Macca’ excuses… Errr – Kimi?

Alonso blew everyone’s chances and in many ways F1 respectability that year…

Obviously events since have made that year a minor hiccup

But KR certainly capitalised…


I agree with your points but tempered with the reality that SV has yet to prove he is more than a good racer in an exceptional car. No one gets four in a row by total chance so his mental strength is a given but to totally disregard the Newey effect is foolish in any aero driven era.

The trouble I have is that he has only now been tested against a young hungry and ‘red bull’ approved racer in a similar car.

And been found wanting….

I really liked Webber but let’s face it. He was a good racer with grit on the downward slope of his career that showed a predilection to buckling under pressure or at least not necessarily getting the best out of the moment. In other words SV was spoilt with his team mate, his clear number 1 status. Bottom line – a younger than webber, fresher, hungry non race winning or championship winning ‘approved’ team mate has just absolutely spanked him.

That like it or not would not have happened to those one can truly consider having the ‘great’ monicker applied and certainly would not have happened to a Shumi, Lewis, Alonso (LH rookie year excepted – I doubt FA watched GP2 from the year before but he should have put down the politics file and taken a really good look at the previous three years one of which was non Macca) Prost, Clarke etc etc.

That right there is what bothers me. Yes he is good but is it all related to a particular set of dynamics or circumstances and given the current ones, are we going to see some good races and future attempts at being ‘great’ but truthfully, just a good young mentally strong driver in at the right time? Note I use the term driver not racer. I do feel particularly given this year that SV has yet to prove, much like NR, that the term ‘good racer’ applies.

Yes he has had good even great races. They are however completely supported by a team that really does know how to win, an undoubted number 1 status and a car streets ahead of the others.

A more fighty teammate in such times?

Well we have just seen what happens….


All points well taken, we shall see how he fares, and it will be fascinating. I like Webber as well, and thought to myself more than a few times this season as Daniel performed well whilst Vettel struggled with all manner of issues, ‘well Seb, now you know what it was like to Mark Webber all those years, how does it feel?’ If I believed in Karma…


The main problem for ALO and VET are HAM and ROS ….


First thing for Ferrari to do is to get rid of that mega understeering bulldozer built for Alonso. There must faster way to go around the circuit than pushing through the corners. RB had poor engine too but they were still much competitive than Ferrari.


Its a strange combination of problems, the turbocharged engines have much more torque, which contributes to understeer, yet their engine was not as powerful, or had the driveability of the Mercedes, so one wonders how bad it would have been If they had a better engine. Red Bull also had some strange handling characteristics, that seemed to suit Riccardio and not Vettel, yet it was manageable enough for them to get some podiums. I’m sure Ferrari will try something else, they just seem to be guessing more than developing.


@ stone the crows….where i live now we have No12 sized big blacks who get noisy around 4.30am. they deserve a good stoning!!! moving on….vettel had four new chassis/cars during the season and he still could not match ricci. i think somehow it falls back onto the driver and not the car. maybe 80/20?


… So Ferrari s lack of success can’t be just about lack of engine power.


Q- Did Alonso really want to leave Ferrari?


were he and Flavio only manouvering to up his pay and privileges?

Did Seb and Mattiacci seize the initiative and out-manouvre Fernando and Flav, forcing them to take the McLaren option?


Nice one 🙂 I believe he was playing games, and the only reason he did not lose badly at his own poker game was because McLaren (or actually Honda) were stupid enough in courting him, again! (Clearly they did not learn a thing about 2007!).

Alonso’s Ferrari honeymoon crashed after Abhu Dabi 2010 and ever since 2012 he was begging Horner for a seat at RBR (while at the same time telling the media how “intense” his love for Ferrari was). He then started begging Toto. I am very glad that both teams have openly disclosed Alonso’s begging because that has completely discredited his “I can drive for whomever I want and do ehatever I want” diva attitude. Truth is no, most top teams did not want him because they know how disruptive he is, and if Honda would not be coming back then Ron would have never considered him again and he would have been stuck at Ferrari.

Mattiacci called his bluff very quickly, and I suspect it was him that leaked to the Italian media the insane amount of money Alonso was demanding to stay with them. For not putting up witb Alonso’s typical bullshit I will forever admire Mattiacci 🙂


I think they can stand the disruptive part if he’s getting results, however I agree that, Alonso’s ‘I can drive for anyone’ attitude ignores basic facts, if a team is winning with someone else, why bother with him? The only teams that are worth going to right now are RBR and Mercedes, and they’re doing just fine without the surly Spaniard to contend with. He does have a habit of playing a lot of games behind the scenes, which is why his return to McLaren is so odd, but I suppose he’s a known quantity who can bring sponsors in. We shall see.


Yes, it appears Alonso wanted to leave, as he spoke to Luca Di Montezemolo, and Luca offered to grant him a wish before he left Ferrari, and Alonso’s request was to be released from his contract. Alonso is not an old driver, but he cannot afford to spend more years at a team that is continually fumbling and stumbling the way Ferrari is. He likes his compensation as much as anyone, but he wants wins and championships, and Ferrari have not been giving him the tools to do that. One could argue that McLaren may not be able to do that either, but at least they’re stable and have an entirely new drive train package coming which is more than can be said for Ferrari at this stage. Mattiacci is now the Judas Goat at the Scuderia for being the one who ‘allowed’ Alonso to get away, rather than being the one who brought them Sebastian Vettel. Mattiacci out maneuvering Alonso and Flavio? Just the opposite I would wager, and the fact that his services are no longer required at Ferrari in any capacity would indicate that’s a good bet.


A well trod path is this one that Vettel is now taking and there is no guarantee for his success. Having previously thought that he would manage this better than Alonso, I have to come revise this. Schumie’s stunning success was due to the amazing team he had around him in the form of Todt, Brawn and Byrne. These men collectively created a critical mass of leadership and drive that was able to nullify the effects of the traditional Ferrari politics. Unless Vettel can find a Montezemolo like Lauda did in the 70s, I cannot see Ferrari providing Vettel with the package he needs to add to his already impressive collection of 4 WDCs.

James’ article again touches on another key area of concern for F1 – the “right” afforded to Merc to stop developmental work on engines under the very thin guise of keeping costs down. This is tripe and it has confirmed that F1 is no longer a sport at all. Merc can rightly reflect on an incredible season and enjoy the rewards of their hard work and foresight. But they are using F1 as a R & D vehicle for their mass produced motor cars and not participating in it as a sport, albeit a very high tech one. F1 has never been used as active R & D vehicle for the car industry but whatever spin-offs can be taken on board by the motor industry can be seen as an incidental benefit.

The FIA are to account here. They must be more assertive and relax the rules on engine development. Just as the initial technical advantage that guaranteed Brawn F1s WC was turned over by the FIA so should the FIA level the playing field. By all accounts Merc had extended its advantage by the season’s end and neither Renault or Ferrai were anywhere close. The racing we were seeing was between the Merc powered cars especially in the second half of the season.


I for one expect Ferrari to turn their fortune around over the next couple of years. What Ferrari needed was a clean-up and a fresh start. Well, Mattiacchi cleaned up and gave them a fresh start.

It’s easy to forget that Alonsos tenure at Ferrari started of with a 1-2 for Ferrari. Ever since then we have watched Ferrari fall behind. I think the enviroment within the team became too political and fractuos and limited creativity. When you have an athmosphere like that in an organization It’s very difficult to perform. The main people responsible for this athmosphere has to be removed. I think they have been removed now.

As for Vettel I think he was the perfect choice. He has made every team he has driven for in F1 into winners. As a matter in fact I think his will to win was partly to blame for his performance this year. Whereas Ricciardo was happy to fight for third and just got on with the programme Vettel spent the first half of the season looking for a way to take on Mercedes. When that didn’t work he looked bad. But if you want to win you have to tale a chance, not be happy with third place. I think this attitude will serve him well at Ferrari. I also think his easy going character will help promote creativity within Ferrari. And last but not least: A team is not best served by having drivers that drive around problems, that approach will never result in you having the best car. A team is best served having drivers that know what they want and are able to communicate what they need.


If Vettel and Raikkonen race pretty same, 50/50 or 60/40, then it will become obvious they both are way slower than Alonso.


That’s one crappy logic mate 😀


I just saw the clip narrated by Alonso which tells his story of his last weekend as a Ferrari driver. I was surprised to see the reaction from majority of the members of the team. There is nothing but sincere affection & goodwill. For instance, his chief of mechanics “wails like a baby” overcome with sadness to see him go. However, what I do find remarkable was the message, Alionso gets from another Ferrari member who tells him, “I undersatnd why you’re leaving but I want you to do me a favor. Go out there to win. Win for me. Show them how good you are and how much you deserve to win”. This massive send off tells us huge volumes about what the people who work with Alonso think about him. I can only wish Vettel good luck as he has huge shoes to fill.


Thanks for your post! It’s nice to see the close relationship and positive impact FA had at Ferrari. Many times on this site I hear how divisive he is and I know it’s drivel so it’s good to hear the truth.

I wish they could have produced a better car for him as I think he truly wanted to retire in red. How tragic if he goes to McLaren – I think he should have stayed several more years and accepted that his chances at winning another WDC were not likely. To go back to a team where there was ( ans still is I’m guessing) so much animosity not to mention they are starting from scratch won’t work. Sorry Fernando – your future looks very bleak but at least the money will be good…


Much noise has been made about “if Fernando couldn’t get them to win, then nobody can”, and I strongly disagree with that opinion. I am no Alonso fan (in fact, I find him highly disruptive and unethical), but I agree he is a very strong racer with great talent. As David Tremayne put it recently on Sky’s mid-week report, you can give Lewis or Alonso *any* car and they will make it work, whereas the same cannot be said about Vettel, and this season was proof of that.

All that being said, I have been saying for more than a year that Alonso was being more damaging to Ferrari that helpful because his driving style is so aggressive that he could make the horrible pull rod suspension they have had in the car for the last couple of years. McLaren made the insanely stupid mistake of going for the same suspension geometry in 2013 and we all know what happened there (although I suspect they made that decision *before* Hamilton decided to leave, and they were hoping Lewis’ driving style could make the suspension work; obviously when they were left with 2 of the smoothest drivers on the grid -Button and Perez- that was never going to work). If Ferrari would have abandoned the pull rod geometry then Kimi would have had much better results and that would have helped the team as a whole. Yes, Alonso fans will claim that if you can’t make any car work then you are not a great driver, but I only partially agree with that. In fact, to those Alonso fans I would claim that in 2007 when the cars were at their maximum aero advancements and you needed a lot of natural talent to drive the car he got effectively trounced by a rookie Hamilton that was a much better braker than him.

Going back to Vettel, it was time for him to move on. I don’t know how much the fact that Ricciardo was perfuming that strongly had an effect on it, but I believe he was disillusioned with F1 even before the season started due to the fact of the V6 engines. In any case, he knows that a lot of people don’t hold him in the highest regard for only winning his championships with the best car on the grid, and, with all his records, honestly it was worth taking the risk. He knew he could demand a much higher salary from a team like Ferrari and make much more money. He also knows that only 2 main outcomes are possible: either he helps them return to glory and wins big with them, or he fails to do that and leaves them with no championships. You could argue that the risks of the second option could outweigh the benefits of the first one, but honestly with 4 championships on his bag he can take that risk and still have a decent end of his career.

In terms of personality and work ethics though (and I should clarify I am not a fan of Vettel either and I find him ruthless), I do believe he will actually do much better at Ferrari, even if he does not win a WDC with them. I think he will be able to bond the team around him much better than Alonso. With Alonso, as highly talented as he is, he is also two-faced, disruptive, demanding, hypocritical and not really a team player. And before I get hundreds of replies claiming that “what about all his positive comments for years about trusting Ferrari and loving the team” please first spend the time analyzing the context of all those comments and then rebuke. He did not have another option in the first place, so the only thing he could say was “I love it here, I trust them, we will win together”. He kept saying that to the media while in the background he kept begging RedBull first and MB second to hire him. Just hours after he was no longer a Ferrari driver he was mocking them with non other than Briatore. As much as some people inside the teams he’s driven for regard him highly as a great driver, he also gets a lot of low marks for his behavior. Mattiacci, as much as a lot of people like to make fun of him, is a pretty smart guy, and it only took him a few weeks to realize that Alonso was neither a team player nor a driver he could trust or could use to fix the team. Ferrari fans should be forever grateful to him for effectively pissing Alonso off and causing him to leave.

If Ferrari changes the geometry of their suspension completely for next year I suspect they will perform much strongly than this year, *even with the power unit deficit they have today -and will continue to have next year*. They will also score a lot more points because Kimi will be able to perform strongly with a better car. I suspect Vettel will outpace Kimi, but in general they will be closer than what we had this year. Of course some people will claim that they will be closer because Vettel is not as strong as Alonso, but in my mind it will be because of the changes in the car I mentioned above (all these statements I am making are of course contingent on Ferrari really changing the car the way I described).

In general, I predict Ferrari will be happier with Vettel in the long run, and I do predict that they will be more successful with him than with Alonso. This is of course just my speculation and of course I could end up being completely wrong, but I think all the elements are in there to achieve success. It would also be a great slap in the face to Alonso, and that would be great to see as well.

Lastly, the only real threat that I see to them being able to return to winning form is the focus of the current management. Montezemolo, as much as I disliked him, was very good at realizing that a strong Ferrari F1 team meant very strong sales of their road cars, so he pushed on the F1 side. That was done through through a lot of political bs and games (Todt was in bed with the FIA for years and that was a disgraceful behavior and very damaging to the sport), but you could argue that in the end they achieved their goal anyway and they did grow Ferrari as a whole by having a very strong F1 team.

It appears to me that Marchionne is smart enough to realize he needs the team to get back in bed with the FIA. Lets not forget who the FIA president is :). Mattiacci came up as “too smart” for F1 honestly. He realized it was a club of piranhas and that a lot of things needed to be changed, and I think Marchionne realized Mattiacci was only going to piss people off (including Ecclestone) and decided to pull the plug for somebody that is strictly commercial and political (Arrivabene). It is the potential lack of focus of the new management that could derail Ferrari from going back to their glory days.

On the same token though, if they pull the same type of FIArrari bond as in the past, and with a ruthless german driver at the helm (Vettel), we could be bracing for another round of very dominant years from Ferrari. Not that I want to see that (I would hate it), but it could happen.


FT, you summarized it well. Good insight – not just taking things at the surface level.


Well said!!



Do you find Hamilton unethical for Lie-Gate?


To Krischar: I don’t understand your hostility, and I would recommend you read carefully[mod]. Nowhere in my post is there a reference about Hamilton (except when I mention that he trounced Alonso as a rookie). So, no, I don’t need to wake up or realize the real world. I am perfectly aware of it. And before you put more words in my mouth, there isn’t a reference about Schumacher either, but just for the sake of clarity I also do find him extremely unethical as well. In fact, to me, the two most unethical F1 drivers of the last 20 years are him and Alonso. So, there, you should first get informed before passing judgement without knowledge.

To Jon:

I don’t know if your question is “loaded” or not :), but yes, from a sportsmanship point of view what they did (the race engineer and Hamilton) was unethical because they did try to gain an advantage by lying. All that being said, more than unethical I thought immediately after it happened that it had been utterly stupid. Anyone that has followed F1 for years and is objective would know that Mosley had Dennis in his crosshair for a long time. In 2007 he came very close to destroying him (and Dennis did himself no favors that year), but what was done in 2009 was what gave Mosley his best chance. It is well known that in exchange for not going further with punishments it was agreed that Dennis would step down from the racing team. How they thought they could get away with such dumb thing was beyond me because all radio communications were recorded.

So, yes, it was unethical but mostly stupid, and I do believe that it was more about Hamilton following what the engineer was telling the FIA rather than Hamilton just coming up with that by himself. And, irrespective of whether it was arranged by Ecclestone or not, I did think that at least Hamilton had the decency of apologizing and accepting what he did (in that infamous press conference). When, on the other hand, have you EVER seen Alonso or Schumacher admitting ANY of their ruthless or unsportsmanship behavior? Never. Not even when confronted with the evidence in their face have they accepted wrongdoing. To me that differentiates them from other people that sometimes simply just make mistakes or let their emotions dictate their behavior. And, for the record, I think Vettel has shown he is on the same category, as Rosberg as well (meaning, they do something wrong and then cynically deny it or refuse to accept it). And yes, Twitter-gate was also a pretty stupid thing from Hamilton. I don’t know if I would classify that as unethical more than just not really thinking about what he was doing though.

To: Me and my monkey

First of all you should have the guts of not deleting the first reply you had posted, in which you showed your low class and plain lack of maturity.

a) I post as FT or FTamayo, not as any other name, so all those “akas” you list I have no clue where you got them. You should first have evidence before making accusations.
b) I have never pretended that I am always right and everybody else is wrong. And no, I don’t sit on a “sofa with airs” as per your original post (the one you deleted)
c) Clearly you are one of those usual persons that as soon as your idol is criticized you don’t have the maturity or objectivity to take it on the chin and accept things for what they are when they are true. And of course, when you disagree you accuse people of just posting “hatred as disguised as scholarly opinion”
d) For your information I have followed F1 for 28 years and I am very well informed about a lot of things. I have watched more than 400 races, I read a lot of different blogs and publications about F1. I also happen to be an engineer. And again no, I do not pretend I am always right (my post clearly states it is just an opinion and I could be totally wrong, but of course you can’t even read properly so what can we expect huh???)

So, I would recommend first growing up a little and learning how to debate before you come to a serious blog to post your “stuff”. And don’t mind replying, I am not going to get into a war of words and waste more of my time with somebody that clearly hasn’t got the maturity to discuss anything seriously.


This site is not about you, it’s about F1 – no more posts like this please. You had a right to defend here but please focus on the topics from now on in shorter posts


@ FT, aka F. Tamayo, aka Eddie Chapman, aka sami, aka Lau

… and then with another name you answer yourself with praise.


Not when compared to seeing your world champion team mate try to blackmail the team principal with your competitors confidential data because he can’t cope with your speed, cost the team around £175m and swan off into the distance without a single comment, watching your team effectively implode costing you a championship in your first year because you were obedient to their demands with respect to pit calls etc… All that while your the rookie

No I really don’t!



All the greats in the F1 world ceratinly have some controversies about them, yet fans here are only interested to libel alonso all the time for whatever that happens in the F1 world or paddock sad and pathetic to read though

Lewis Hamilton is very ethical becuase he is a kid and does nothing wrong never? As Jon above pointed out what about the Lie-gate? what about the Twitter-gate? Lewis pretends as if like he is Acquitted right.

Wake up and realize the real world. Even a certain 7X WDC michael schumacher has been unethical in many ways and his WDC or wins were not ethical either as he drove into his fellow cohorts on purpose to defeat them in the WDC battle what you make up of him then?




Nice honest assessment there James, there are many many questions with Ferrrari for next season as you pointed out. Kudos to them for securing a strong driver line-up again but as we know its going to be all about the car. Despite the changes in key managment positions success still rests with the technical dept and its going to be a tall order to find the gains needed to challenge Mercedes next season.

I think the strength or weakness of the management team will be seen in year two or three as they move forward in the new formula and position Ferrari through further development and additions to technical personnel. It can’t be lost on Vettel or Raikkonen just how steep this climb is likely to be and it will be interesting to see how long they stay committed.


It’s difficult for me to believe Seb will make much a difference at Ferarri. I can’t see them keeping up with Red Bull let alone Merc and teams with their engine. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Honda engine faster then them right out of the blocks as they had the advantage of studying Merc’s engine before developing their own.

Seb just drives the car and his input won’t make a lot of difference with an engine that lacks power. He got his wish to drive for Ferarri but unfortunately the timing is bad. To me the most interesting thing happening at Ferarri next year will be the Vettel, Kimi pairing and how long their friendship will last

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