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Why "embarrassing" Monza result highlighted Ferrari's two main weaknesses

Written by  Sep 04, 2017

It's safe to say the Italian Grand Prix didn't go to plan for Ferrari on Sunday, as Sebastian Vettel was left doing his best to keep the Tifosi happy on the podium after a disappointing home race for Ferrari, finishing over half a minute behind a dominant Mercedes team.

While the German remained upbeat, company President Sergio Marchionne didn't beat about the bush when reflecting on the Scuderia's performance at Monza.

"It was almost embarrassing to see the difference between Mercedes and Ferrari," he claimed to Sky Sports, "we could not do anything. We obviously did something wrong in the last seven days."

The reality is for the Italian team, however, that while their struggles at the Italian Grand Prix may only be a blip, they highlighted the exact reasons many felt they wouldn't be able to sustain a championship push this season and they are the main reasons that now must be addressed.

In the case of the first reason, it is already too late as Kimi Raikkonen was confirmed for another year two weeks ago, but on Sunday he produced the kind of performance that once again has many claiming his retention is simply part of keeping his teammate happy.

It's hard to know what changed Marchionne's mind so fast when he saw the Finn and Vettel standing on the podium in Hungary, but before that moment he was the one man inside who seemed to acknowledge that Kimi is now a weak link.

Yes, on his day the 2007 world champion can still be great, but against the young blood of today his lack of hunger shows and it showed big time as he was stuck behind the Williams of Lance Stroll and the Force India of Esteban Ocon, two guys that have a combined age just one year older than the 37-year-old and both Vettel and Valtteri Bottas had passed with ease. 

Raikkonen was then simply blown away by a recovering Daniel Ricciardo, as a Red Bull, that started 16th, flew past in an overtake at the first chicane that made you wonder if Kimi was paying attention.

This is the main problem with the No. 1, No. 2 driver system, which clearly exists even if Ferrari tell you otherwise! Without a No. 2 that is at least on a similar level, the chance for him to back up the lead driver in the championship fight by taking points of rivals is basically none and at Monza, and elsewhere, Bottas has done exactly that, helping Hamilton into the lead for the first time this season.

Each year we expect that Ferrari will get with it and realise that there is a number of drivers that would be better to not only back up Vettel but win races themselves and allow them to battle for the Constructors' crown, let's hope that year might just be 2018.

The other is car development, an area where it has been expected throughout the year that at some point Maranello wouldn't keep up with what comes out of Brackley.

It seemed that moment had come at Silverstone but results in Hungary and Spa suggested otherwise but then, though circuit specific, the SF70-H just simply wasn't suited to Monza.

The car didn't seem to be working the tyres enough to produce the optimum performance but more telling, the engine, which has been an underrated part of their success this year, simply didn't have the performance to keep up with Mercedes, even when the German manufacturer turned their unit down.

It was noticeable at Spa, as there wasn't enough power for Vettel to pass Hamilton after the Safety Car and then it was clear at Monza when Valtteri Bottas would breeze past Raikkonen on the opening lap. An update is expected for Singapore but that will come under new oil burn guidelines which could hamper Ferrari further.

It is true much of the gain in performance from development this year was going to come from aerodynamics and in that area, the car remains ahead but without the engine to match, Ferrari ends up like Red Bull, limited in their opportunities to finish ahead.

The only benefit is the embarrassment of the Italian Grand Prix could just spark Ferrari into life, if they had gone home and won, potentially complacency would have set in. As it is, now the team should be angry and now desperate for revenge by winning the overall title.

And that does seem to be the case as you could sense a snarl from Marchionne as he concluded: "This is not Ferrari, we need to double our commitment.

"It's okay that the next circuits are more favourable, but it does not mean anything. We have to remove the smile from the face of these guys here, I'm flat out."

It will be fascinating to see if they can "remove the smile" over the final seven races.

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