Why ailing Ferrari remains Formula 1's most historic and iconic team
There is no doubt that Ferrari embodies Formula 1, with a storied history en route to becoming the most successful team in the sport.
The Scuderia, that has featured in every single season since the F1's inception in 1950, heads into its historic 1,000th grand prix this weekend on the back of 237 victories, 16 constructors' championships and 15 drivers' titles. No other team can compare.
Bizarrely, Ferrari did miss the first race 70 years ago due to a dispute over a participation fee for the British Grand Prix.
It was not until the next race in Monaco that the team made its debut, with the trio of Alberto Ascari, Raymond Sommer and Gigi Villoresi behind the wheel of the 125.
There was no victory that day, however. Perhaps remarkably, Ferrari would have to wait 14 months to take a chequered flag, courtesy of José Froilán González at the 1951 British Grand Prix.
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The following year Ferrari and Ascari dominated with the 375, with the Italian winning six consecutive races to land the first of those championships.
In winning the first three races of 1953, en route to claiming back-to-back crowns, Ascari set what remains an F1 record to this day of nine straight victories.
Juan Manuel Fangio and the British trio of Mike Hawthorn, Phil Hill and John Surtees would continue to deliver championships to Maranello in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s.
Surtees, in particular, became the first driver to win a championship on two and four wheels when he won his title in 1964 to add to his four 500cc motorcycle world championships – a feat that is unlikely to be repeated.
Back to winning ways
With Fiat purchasing the Ferrari road car business for around $11million in 1968, legendary owner Enzo Ferrari injected the cash into the F1 team to bring it back to winning ways.
But it would have to wait until 1975 for Niki Lauda to take another title. After famously missing out on a repeat in ’76 after his near-fatal accident at the Nürburgring, the Austrian, who had a very stand-offish relationship with Enzo, clinched his second title in 1977.
Two years later, Jody Scheckter delivered a historic double. The South African led home team-mate Gilles Villeneuve to a one-two at Ferrari's home grand prix in Monza to clinch both the drivers' and constructors' crowns in front of the Tifosi, arguably the greatest race in the Scuderia's history.
Close but no cigar in the ‘80s and ‘90s
Unbelievably, Ferrari then went two decades without a championship. Alain Prost came close in 1990, battling with arch-rival Ayrton Senna in his McLaren, but the Brazilian crashed into Prost at the Japanese Grand Prix to ensure he and not Ferrari and the Frenchman would clinch the championship.
After five years and just two wins from 1991-95, Ferrari turned to Benetton, luring away two-time defending champion Michael Schumacher as well as Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne. While it would take another few years to turn the tide, Ferrari was clearly on an upward trajectory again.
The dynasty years
At the turn of the century, Ferrari and Schumacher became unstoppable. Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard could not prevent Schumacher from claiming Ferrari’s first drivers’ title since Scheckter in 1979, a win that opened up the floodgates at Maranello.
The German would claim five consecutive titles between 2000 and 2004, a run that remains a record
When a young Fernando Alonso dethroned Schumacher in 2005 and won again in 2006, ‘Schumi’ announced his retirement to bring to an end a remarkable era.
Replaced by Kimi Raikkonen, the Finn won an unlikely championship at the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix after going into the final two races with a 17-point deficit to then McLaren rookie Lewis Hamilton, at a time when there were only 10 points for a win.
Ferrari was also handed the constructors' title that year after McLaren was docked its points for the season over the 'spygate' controversy.
Although it retained that particular championship in 2008, Raikkonen remains the last driver to be crowned champion.
Ending the drought
In the early 2010s, new Ferrari talisman Alonso threw everything he had at Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull but never emerged victorious despite coming within touching distance in both 2010 and 2012.
Vettel, who had prevented Ferrari from winning for four consecutive years, was then lured to Maranello. A new dominant force had emerged in Mercedes, however.
Since the start of the turbo-hybrid era in 2014, Mercedes has been so consistent and relentless that Ferrari and Vettel have not come close to winning a title.
Vettel did put up a good fight in 2017 and '18, only for his challenge to peter out over the second half of both seasons compared to the ever-present Hamilton.
Charles Leclerc has since become the new poster boy for Ferrari, notably so when he won last year's Italian Grand Prix.
That victory, however, is shrouded in controversy given the power unit furore that unfolded at the end of last season.
This year Ferrari has fallen dramatically down the order, suffering its worst two-car finish for 10 years in the recent Belgian Grand Prix, before failing to get either car home on Sunday on home soil at Monza.
Currently a shadow of the iconic team, there is a serious rebuild going on behind the scenes in a bid to return to the front of the grid.
It is where Ferrari has historically always been, and it is where it should always be to keep the millions of Tifosi around the world happy.
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