F1: Ferrari (NYSE:RACE) Stepping Up to Win the Championship
Ferrari’s (NYSE:RACE) stepping up to becoming a F1 world champion again will be hard, lead driver Sebastian Vettel said Thursday.
Ferrari made a huge improvement in Y 2017 to go from a winless in the Y 2016 F1 season to challenging MercedesAMG for the title, it has still not taken a driver to the championship since Kimi Raikkonen’s Y 2007 success or won a constructors’ crown since Y 2008.
Mr. Vettel says that he believes Ferrari can carry its momentum from last year into Y 2018, but acknowledged going from underdog title challenger to being capable of ending MercedesAMG’s 4-season run of championship doubles is another step.
“Obviously the regulations stay roughly the same. I think we have a good and healthy platform to build on at the beginning of the year so I hope we can continue,” said Mr. Vettel.
“What we have to do is take that final step. If you look back it is always that step that is the hardest.
“There’s a lot of work going on already and for the last couple of months focusing on next year, trying to make the car faster, with more power into the power-unit, and then we’ll see where we are.”
Prior to Y 2017, Ferrari had not been in a championship fight since Fernando Alonso’s 2010 near-miss and his shock title shot in Y 2012 in a car that was rarely a match for the front-runners.
It was the 1st time Mr. Vettel had been a title contender since is 4X wins with Red Bull that finished in Y 2013.
“In the end as a driver you want to win, and obviously when you are competitive at the beginning you don’t know if it will be enough to fight for the championship,” he said.
“Usually it’s a no-brainer: if the car is quick and you are doing your job well then as the season progress it will lead you to good news or bad news.
“For the most of it I think it’s been good news.
“There were a couple of weeks that were quite painful for us, but overall it’s always great if you have a package that you can take to the fight.”
Wednesday, Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne played down any significance of their ex-chief engineer Lorenzo Sassi leaving the team and joining MercedesAMG.
Mr. Sassi spearheaded Ferrari’s early-season revival in Y 2017 but was eventually sacked during the campaign in a Scuderia shake-up, a tactical move carried out to try and stop Ferrari’s slide in the 2nd part of the season.
Mr. Sassi was expected to stay within the Ferrari family and join up with Fiat-Chrysler but instead opted to stay in F1.
But Mr. Marchionne is happy with his replacement and does not feel Mr. Sassi will be a big loss to the team.
“I don’t know who said Sassi is a phenomenon, but I do not remember saying it,” Mr. Marchionne said.
“What is true is that our problems were not only due to him. Our intention was to keep him in GTs, but he decided to leave and continue his career elsewhere.
“For the team, it’s a normal change and now we have Corrado Iotti and we’re fine with him.”
After all Mr. Sassi was not able to squeeze 1000 hp out of the Ferrari hybrid power-unit, was he?
Ferrari shares finished Thursday at: 111.31, +4.14, or +3.86%, and now at 111.50 +0.22, or +0.20% after hours
HeffX-LTN Analysis for RACE is: Bullish to Very Bullish across the board