Two hundred and thirty-eight victories. Fifteen World Drivers’ Championships. Sixteen constructors’ world championships.
The team with all these accolades is Ferrari. The only team to be in Formula 1 continuously since the start of the World Championship 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, drivers’ titles and constructors’ titles.
But there was a problem: Ferrari hasn’t been fast enough in Formula 1 for quite a few years.
A Prancing Horse driver has not won the world championship since Kimi Raikkonen in 2007. The resulting 15-year drought is the second longest drought for Ferrari since Jody Scheckter’s 22-year championship streak in 1979 to Michael Schumacher in 2000.
Ferrari has not won a constructors’ title since 2008. This 14-year drought is the second longest in the team’s history behind only the 17-year spell from 1983 to 1999.
But the worst part is that Ferrari has completely stopped winning races.
Of course, Ferrari won races from 2009-19 with former champions and legends such as Fernando Alonso, Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel. Current lead driver Charles Leclerc also has two victories in Ferrari red.
However, Ferrari haven’t won a race since Vettel won the Singapore Grand Prix in 2019. That’s an eternity for the greatest team in the history of the sport.
Ferrari’s position at the top of the podium is ideal for Formula 1, just as any sport benefits from the competitiveness of its historic engines. The NBA is better when the New York Knicks, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers are great. Why? The Lakers and 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 fanbases 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 football.
Ferrari is the most extreme case of these examples above. Steelers and Packers fans are mostly regional with a strong national brand also in America.
Ferrari is the national brand in Italy.
The Italians follow Ferrari as if the team were 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 the same history.
What is unique about Ferrari now is that the team composition does not include an F1 world champion. Since Schumacher joined the team in 1996 on the heels of his second consecutive world title with Benetton, Ferrari has entered just one season – 2007 – without a world champion driver in its lineup.
And Raikkonen delivered that year after replacing retired Schumacher, winning a drivers’ world championship for the Scuderia. For the 2021 and 2022 seasons, the Ferrari lineup consisted of Leclerc and Carlos Sainz. Leclerc has two career F1 wins, both with Ferrari in 2019; Sainz never made it to the podium.
It’s so strange because throughout the history of Formula 1 and Ferrari, six of the top 10 F1 race winners of all time have driven for Ferrari at some point.
With all of this history and the current drought of wins and championships, the pressure is on Sainz and Leclerc to win races. The good news for them is that it looks like they will get their chance this year.
In view of sweeping changes to car regulations for the 2022 season, Ferrari have been working on this year’s car since the start of last season. The hard work paid off as Ferrari looked great in last week’s practice and finished second and third in this weekend’s first practice session for the season-opening race at Bahrain.
And then to put the icing on the cake, Leclerc took pole for Sunday’s race, while Sainz will start from third.
This is great news for Ferrari and Formula 1. Thanks to Netflix’s hit series ‘Drive to Survive’, a behind-the-scenes reality show documenting the past seasons of Formula 1, many new fans are tuning in to the races the Sunday.
With a fast car, new fans will see why Ferrari and its fans are cemented in Formula 1 as the best of all time.
As Formula 1 continues to add new fans, Ferrari will be looking to add more wins and championships, which F1 boss Stefano Domenicali – who was team principal from 2008 to 2014 – and his team executives will savor.