Two-hundred thirty-eight wins. Fifteen Drivers’ World Championships. Sixteen Builders’ World Championships.
The team with all these accolades is Ferrari. The only team to be in Formula 1 without interruption since the World Championship began in 1950, Ferrari is a brand revered around the world for its excellence in racing and in producing beautiful – and expensive – speed machines.
That’s why Ferrari is the best team in Formula 1 history, with the most wins, driver titles and constructor titles.
But there’s been a problem: Ferrari hasn’t been fast enough in Formula 1 for quite a few years.
A driver for the Prancing Horse hasn’t won the World Championship since Kimi Raikkonen in 2007. The resulting 15-year drought is the second-longest dry spell for Ferrari since the 22-year non-championship streak from Jody Scheckter in 1979 to Michael Schumacher in 2000.
Ferrari hasn’t won a constructors title since 2008. This 14-year drought is the second-longest in the team’s history behind only the 17-year span from 1983-1999.
But what’s worse is Ferrari has stopped winning races altogether.
Sure, Ferrari won races from 2009-19 with past champions and legends such as Fernando Alonso, Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel. Current lead driver Charles Leclerc also has two wins in the Ferrari red.
However, Ferrari hasn’t won a race since Vettel captured the Singapore Grand Prix in 2019. It’s an eternity for the greatest team in the history of the sport.
Ferrari standing atop the podium is ideal for Formula 1, just as any sport benefits from its historical powerhouses being competitive. The NBA is better when the New York Knicks, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers are great. why? The Lakers and the Celtics have the most titles in NBA history and the Knicks are in New York, the biggest market in the world.
These teams have great histories with their success and super-loyal fan bases built by winning. The same goes for the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL or Manchester United and Barcelona in soccer.
Ferrari is the most extreme case of those above examples. Steelers’ and Packers’ fans are mostly regional with a good national brand, as well, in America.
Ferrari is the national brand in Italy.
Italians follow Ferrari like the team is a religion. The fan base even has a name: the tifosi. There is no other brand like Ferrari in Formula 1, no other team with the same national support and history.
What’s unique about Ferrari now is the team’s lineup doesn’t feature an F1 World Champion. Since Schumacher joined the team in 1996 on the heels of his second straight world title with Benetton, Ferrari has entered only one season – 2007 – without a World Champion driver in its lineup.
And Raikkonen delivered that year after replacing the retired Schumacher, winning a drivers’ World Championship for the Scuderia. For the 2021 and 2022 seasons, Ferrari’s lineup has consisted of Leclerc and Carlos Sainz. Leclerc has two career F1 wins, both with Ferrari in 2019; Sainz has never stood atop the podium.
This is so odd because throughout the history of Formula 1 and Ferrari, six of the top 10 all-time F1 race winners drove for Ferrari at some point.
With all this history and the current win and championship drought, the pressure is on Sainz and Leclerc to win races. The good news for them is it looks like they will have the chance this year.
Eyeing the radical changes to the car regulations for the 2022 season, Ferrari has been working on this year’s car since the beginning of last season. The work has paid off so far as Ferrari looked great in last week’s testing, and was second and third in this weekend’s first practice session for the season-opening race in Bahrain.
And then to put a cherry on the top, Leclerc earned the pole for Sunday’s race, while Sainz will start from the third position.
This is great news for Ferrari and Formula 1. Because of the hit Netflix series “Drive to Survive,” a behind-the-scenes reality show documenting the last few Formula 1 seasons, many new fans are tuning into races on Sundays.
With a fast car, new fans will get to see why Ferrari and their fans are cemented in Formula 1 as the best ever.
As Formula 1 continues to add new fans, Ferrari will look to add more wins and championships, something F1 boss Stefano Domenicali – who was team principal from 2008-14 — and his management team will savor.