A Ferrari F1 pessimist might say that there were two winners in the Prancing Horses stable on Sunday.
One, Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto was a winner because he stayed home and missed a forgettable Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after falling ill after the previous race in Bahrain.
And two, Driver Sebastian Vettel, saluted by his team as he left the garage one final time (pictured above), was also a winner because he’s now able to leave a sinking ship and begin preparations for his next chapter at Aston Martin Racing next season.
“Unfortunately, there’s not much to say about (the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix), except that it was a disappointing end to a disappointing season,” Binotto said in a post on the Ferrari F1 website. “We have to turn the page and look to the future, taking on board what we have learned during these very difficult recent months. We have to get back on top, working nonstop on next year’s car to make up the performance gap to the best.”
Turning this ship around will be a tall order.
Ferrari was simply not competitive for most of 2020. The team finished sixth in the F1 Constructors’ Championship—it’s worst finish in the series since it finished 10th in 1980. That’s before 2020 drivers Vettel and Charles Leclerc were even born.
The team didn’t fare any better in the F1 Drivers’ Standings, either. Leclerc finished eighth in the championship, while Vettel was 13th. It marked the first time since 2014 that Ferrari didn’t have a driver finish in the top four.
Vettel certainly look like a four-time F1 champion. It’s almost hard to believe that Vettel scored 240 points and finished fifth in the standings just one year ago. This year, he finished in the points just three times in his last 11 races and ended the campaign witih 33 points.
Vettel’s place in the final standings was his lowest since his 2007 rookie year were he finished 14th and scored six points in eight starts. This year also marked the first season in Vettel’s career that he failed to lead a single lap.
“In general, I hope that everyone can have a better season next year,” Vettel said. “It has been a very tough and tiring one for the obvious reasons. So I hope next year you will see us smile, see us angry and sad, and that it’s not all hidden behind a mask. That’s the main wish I have.
“I look forward to starting a new journey, but for now I’m happy to be going back home and recharging.”
Leclerc scored in 10 of the 17 races, but also failed to lead a lap.
“It has been a difficult season for us, and it’s a shame to end it like this,” Leclerc said. “All the same, we have made some progress over the past few races, and hopefully we can continue doing so over the winter to come back stronger next year.”
Vettel, believe to be the second highest paid driver on the grid, won 14 races during is six-year run at Ferrari, but he manged just 1 win in his final 46 starts. He finished 14th in his Ferrari finale.
“This race is not one I will remember,” Vettel said. “But what I will remember are the gestures of all the team members, the mechanics, the engineers, the catering guys and so on. I think the energy has been different today and I felt that, and will carry it with me forever.”
Next year, Binotto and the Ferrari tifosi welcome Carlos Sainz into the fold to replace Vettel. It turned out to be an interesting move for Sainz, who is leaving a McLaren team that finished third in the Constructors’ Championship.
And, if Ferrari fans are looking for a silver lining, it’s worth noting that the last time Ferrari fell this far in 1980, the team rebounded to finish fifth the next year and it won the championship in 1982.
“Nevertheless, this was also a special day as it was the last time Sebastian raced in our colors,” Binotto said. “He is the third most successful driver in Ferrari’s history, with only Michael Schumacher and Niki Lauda winning more races with the Scuderia. You only have to look at the numbers to see the mark Sebastian has left in Maranello during his six years with us.
“He joined us full of hope and his arrival was eagerly anticipated. He leaves us many happy memories and also a few regrets for what might have been. It’s a shame, but that’s life, for a driver and for a team. One thing is for sure, even if as from next year he will be a rival on track, he will always be part of the Ferrari family.”
Let’s here from Ferrari fans. What went wrong? Can it be fixed before the new regulations come into play in 2022. Let us know your thoughts about Ferrari’s plight in the comments section below.
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