At least they didn’t run into each other.
That may be the sole comfort Ferrari fans can take away from this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix. At least they didn’t run into each other.
Mercedes struggled for pace and Ferrari was ready, new upgrade in tow, to take on the boys in silver. And how ready they were. Dominating free practices, set up locked in. Then… Disaster. Vettel’s engine died on a warm-up lap in Q1. But at least they didn’t run into each other.
Kimi Raikkonen looked back to his championship winning form, qualifying P2, ready to give the scarlet team a chance to win. Then his engine died too, and he and his car were rolled, unceremoniously, from the grid to the pitlane. But at least they didn’t run into each other.
Vettel drove a superb race to finish fourth. But he was unable to pass Ricciardo for the final podium position and then in the strangest turn of events I think I’ve ever seen, he was socked by Lance Stroll on the cool-down lap and may require a new gearbox for the next Grand Prix. But at least they didn’t run into each other.
Ferrari blew this one. Plain and simple. Malaysia was their race to win. And they couldn’t seal the deal.
No doubt the team is feverishly working back in Marenello, attempting to diagnose the problems with the car. I hope for our sakes they will, but both of their cars failing during the course of the weekend reminds us all that none of these cars or teams are infallible. No matter how much money their parent companies and/or sponsors pour into the sport.
We thought for sure Hamilton would take his 4th championship, only to see his hope destroyed by an engine failure at this very track. Looking back through the history of the sport, so many winners and champions have had victory snatched from them because of rotten luck, Mansell probably being the first one of those unlucky few that springs to mind.
I don’t mean any of this as Ferrari bashing. Quite the opposite, actually.
Yes, Ferrari blew their chances, but there are still races to go and points to be won. Mercedes has seems untouchable in terms of reliability, but we thought that up until Malaysia last year. All it takes is one $5 part to snap and ruin a race (just ask Mario Andretti).
There are still a lot of races to go and a lot of points to be won. Things may be bleak for Ferrari. But they’ve been bleaker.
And at the end of the day, this is Ferrari we’re talking about. They’re never out of it completely.