Alonso’s title hopes on hold until 2016
With this year’s third best car and work on the 2015 machine under way, Ferrari’s next championship could be a long way off
After some awkward early races battling Force India and Williams, Ferrari have just about established themselves as the third best team in Formula 1 behind Red Bull and Mercedes.
But they remain an organisation in crisis, having managed just one podium in the first six races of the season. That sole third place, by Fernando Alonso in China, underlines how much work the team still have to do to catch up with rivals Mercedes and even Red Bull.
Ferrari’s main weakness this year is their engine, which while better than a Renault is still some way off a Mercedes. But Ferrari technical director James Allison has now admitted that the chassis is not up to standard either. He dismissed suggestions that it was one of the better chassis produced by Maranello for some time as “probably a bit too kind”.
He added: “We’re not lagging hugely behind but there is nevertheless work for us to do before we can hold our head up and say we were completely happy with the chassis performance.”
Meanwhile, it has emerged that Ferrari had once again made a play for Adrian Newey to join them, although Allison insisted he felt he had the full support of his bosses. He said he expected president Luca Di Montezemolo and team principal Marco Mattiacci “would be continuously trying to find people of the absolute best calibre because at the bottom of everything this sport is about the people you put into it”.
He added: “Ferrari is extremely supportive of me, of the direction I would like to take the car in technically. So I don’t really have much I need to ask for from them because the company is already supporting the direction I would like to travel in, in the way I would hope they would.”
Allison has talked of fostering an environment at Ferrari where creativity flourishes more easily than in the past few years. The impression is that it is Allison, not Mattiacci, to whom Ferrari are looking to turn around the team’s performance.
Fernando Alonso admitted in Monaco that Mattiacci had changed “not much” since joining in April, and needed time to get to know the team and F1. Mattiacci himself said he had “a 75-80 per cent picture of the strengths and weaknesses of Ferrari. We work 24/7 in the last few weeks with our president, with our directors with my team, to understand where we can improve. We are going to make a lot of important changes in the way we work.”
With the 2015 car already well under way, it is hard to escape the impression that it may be 2016 at the earliest before Alonso can hope to get a car capable of challenging for the title.
Alonso on the grid at Monaco this year, poised to turn a solid but unspectacular P5 into a solid but unspectacular fourth place