Ferrari can make the ‘impossible possible’
For 18 months, Ferrari and Red Bull have thrown money and manpower into their efforts to swing the pendulum that seemed to perpetually point in Mercedes’ favour.
Last Sunday it finally moved – marginally – but it was enough to give a glimmer of hope.
Though the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend began as a typical Mercedes routing, with Lewis Hamilton quickest in all three practice sessions and topping the times in qualifying, it ended in the team’s worst result since the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix.
In a wretched day at the office, Hamilton was swamped by the Ferraris off the line, ran off the track on the first lap and connected with Daniel Ricciardo with enough force to break his front wing.
Deemed responsible for the crash, the world champion was given a drive-through penalty.
His home country’s national newspapers unleashed a barrage of criticism against him.
Lewis’ team-mate Nico Rosberg did not fare much better. He was also unable to keep the Ferraris at bay at the start and, more surprisingly, wasn’t able to keep them in his sights.
Rosberg fell to almost 15 seconds behind the race leader after the Mercedes pit opted to put him on medium Pirellis in the middle stint, which cost him time.
Like Hamilton, he was also involved in a late incident with Ricciardo. In Rosberg’s case, it necessitated a pit stop – his W06’s rear right was punctured.
Sixth and eighth on the day, Mercedes were left to bemoan back-to-back race weekends marred by poor starts.
Formula 1 was able to celebrate as the team’s woes all but gave Sebastian Vettel a free pass to victory, his second with Ferrari.
But the German actually did put in a flawless race on the fastest tyre strategy – soft-softmedium – while all Ferrari’s stops on the day were perfect.
Vettel’s desire to win endured from the start. And he did it all over again when the safety car returned to the pits.
It was a Ferrari show reminiscent of days gone by as the Scuderia ran 1-2 for over half the race with Kimi Raikkonen playing rear gunner to his teammate’s challenge. It left one wondering whether fans would have been treated to the first Ferrari 1-2 since the 2010 German GP if it had not been for the Finn’s MGU-K issue.
It also left fans speculating – and teams other than Mercedes hoping – that the winds of change had finally swept through the paddock.
While Ferrari walked away from the Hungaroring dreaming of making the “impossible possible”, other teams, like Williams, now feel it is “possible to beat” the Brackley duo. And that is what F1 needs. While any team getting the better of Mercedes is good for the sport, the fact that it was Ferrari is even sweeter.
The passion and history behind the Scuderia mean they have some of the most avid fans, and even those without fire in their blood understand who and what Ferrari is.
At a time when the sport is being criticised from all quarters, last Sunday’s result – and the race that went on behind it – could not have been more rewarding for Formula 1.