2014 was a difficult season for most constructors and Ferrari was no exception. The season had a runaway winner in Mercedes with two of their drivers winning most races, despite their personal differences. The worst sufferer of the season was Sebastian Vettel, the four-time F1 champion, who couldn’t win a single race in 2014 after emerging 2013’s most successful driver. Inarguably, the shakedown in technical rules and engine configurations left many constructors making changes all-round the year and even F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone admitted that the wholesale changes in 2014 were more favorable to Mercedes. But as the new season begins in Australia on March 13, 2015, constructors are readying themselves for fresh challenges. Some years ago, Ferrari was in the limelight with the mercurial Michael Schumacher as their top driver. Ferrari’s new team principal Maurizio Arrivabene wants his Italian team to win at least two races in 2015. While it will be difficult to dislodge Mercedes from its eminent position, Ferrari’s confidence comes from the Ex-Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel joining them. With Fernando Alonso having retired the Ferrari face will still have two eminently successful names of Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.
Sebastian Vettel, who was literally unbeatable in 2013, failed miserably. His best results of the season were; second place in Singapore and third places in Malaysia, Canada and Japan. Vettel’s Australian team-mate Daniel Ricciardo fared much better by winning races in Canada Hungary and Belgium. Mercedes’ dominance was reflected in 16 victories in a single season, breaking the records of McLaren in 1988 and Ferrari in 2002 and 2004 seasons. Mercedes also made 11 one-two finishes in 2014 and broke McLaren’s 1988 record. The 2014 world champion Lewis Hamilton won 11 races to his team-mate Nico Rosberg’s 5. For the first time since 1980, Ferrari failed to record a single win in 2014. It was a unique season in many other ways. Ferrari and other constructors are aware of this feat but they don’t want to give up. Around October, it became known that Sebastian Vettel was leaving Red Bull after 2014 and though he didn’t openly announce, lot of people knew he was going to Ferrari.
Following the dismal 2014 season, which was the last for Fernando Alonso, Ferrari management has been restructured. They will have a new engineering director in place of Pat Fry and also a new chief designer to replace the outgoing Nikolas Tombazis. Sebastian Vettel has replaced Alonso and the President of Ferrari Sergio Marchionne stated enthusiastically in a recent meeting that 2015 is being looked upon at Ferrari with renewed optimism. He didn’t mince words on the departure of Fry and Tombazis, whom he compared to the old baggage full of uncertainty. Marchionne added that the internal changes in the organization structure will have clear division of responsibilities. The arrival of Vettel has been enthusiastically welcomed by a company, which led the F1 scene during the times of Schumacher and for a while, when Kimi Raikkonen ruled the roost. It was for the first time in 7 years since 2007 that Vettel couldn’t win any race in 2014. But Marchionne is confident that Vettel will have a new beginning at Ferrari and he has been apprised of all internal changes. With his vast F1 knowledge, the champion driver is capable of taking the new environment in his stride. Marchionne is also aware that Vettel’s inclusion is a big gamble but it was worth taking that chance in view of Vettel’s rich experience. It is known in F1 circles that Vettel and Kimi are good friends and Marchionne is assured that they would conduct with each other amicably as team Ferrari. It is a very positive sign for Ferrari in the backdrop of numerous incidents of Hamilton-Rosberg feuds in 2014.
There have been some technical changes for 2015 season but none as revolutionary as those in 2014. Some major ones relate to a new nose design for improving safety and bring uniformity. The 2014 layouts of anteater and twin tusk will not be legal. For cockpit safety, the Zylon anti-intrusion panels on both sides of survival cell have been extended upwards to the rim of the cockpit and alongside the driver’s head. There are some other minor changes but they are too technical for an average reader’s comprehension.
There are still more than three months before the first F1 result of 2015 are available but the way Ferrari is going about its plans is admirable. Sebastian Vettel’s joining Ferrari must have been based on factors that the 4-time world champion would certainly have examined.