Ferrari’s miserable start to the season continued on Sunday in Spain, as Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen came home a distant sixth and seventh, a minute and a half behind the dominant Mercedes pairing of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, with the Finn suffering the ignominy of being put a lap down.
This weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix marked a year since Ferrari’s last F1 win, courtesy of Fernando Alonso at this very same circuit. As a measure of the seriousness of this point, it is the first time that Ferrari has gone a year without a grand prix victory in two decades.
On the basis of Ferrari’s performance in Spain, this winless streak seems set to continue, with Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen unable to better a finish of sixth and seventh, as the Scuderia continues to stagnate, falling not just behind Red Bull, but also the rejuvenated Williams team.
This is all despite the changes put in place ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix, which saw Stefano Domenicali replaced as Team Principal by relative unknown Marco Mattiacci.
Fernando Alonso, racing in front of his adoring home crowd, had his worse finish at home since his debut year in 2001, then racing for Minardi.
If not for a preferential strategy call, receiving the option to stop first at the opening round of pitstops, despite at the time running behind his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, which saw the Spaniard move to a three-stop strategy, Alonso may well have finished behind the Finn on the track.
“Of course I’d have liked to have done better here in my home race, but I knew right from the start that it would be difficult,” said Alonso. “Our pace was too slow compared to the leaders and, on top of that, not making up any places at the start didn’t help.
“The gap to the best is nothing new and today’s result confirms the fact our rivals are strong on both the performance and the reliability fronts.”
Kimi Raikkonen fared even worse on his first return to the Circuit de Catalunya with Ferrari, having last won for the team here in 2008. Having lost sixth to his team-mate after a questionable strategy call – something the Finn moved to clarify with his team post-race – Raikkonen was then lapped by the pair of Mercedes cars on their final tour of the race.
Despite signs of an upturn in form for the 34-year-old during practice for the grand prix, seventh remains the Finn’s best finish of the year so far, with just 17 points posted on the board so far this season.
“Going for a two stop strategy proved to be the wrong choice because tire degradation meant I couldn’t push all the way to the end,” explained the Finn. “Overall here, we went better than in the last race, maybe because the characteristics of this track are very different to those we have raced on so far.
“We cannot be happy with sixth and seventh places, because we are a long way off where we want to be.”
Ferrari lie third in the constructors’ championship with 66 points, 131 points behind the all-dominant Mercedes team, with just one podium finish, courtesy of Alonso, to the team’s name with five races now complete.
Images courtesy of Octane Photographic