Ferrari is in trouble. Double trouble.
In its worst display at its home circuit for 70 years, both Ferrari cars failed to finish the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday.
The Italian team has had double retirements at the so-called Temple of Speed before — with the last such incident coming in 1995. But never before at Monza has Ferrari not featured either in the top 10 of the grid or in the race result, at least with one car.
“This is the worst conclusion of a difficult weekend,” Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said. “Already yesterday quali was very difficult. Not finishing the race is even worse.”
After an appalling performance at the Belgian GP, with the cars finishing 13th and 14th, Ferrari was hoping for something better on home soil.
But Ferrari endured a miserable Saturday and its problems only worsened during the race itself. Sebastian Vettel had a brake failure on Lap 6 and limped into the pits with his right-rear brake disc in flames. His teammate Charles Leclerc crashed on Lap 25, causing the race to be red flagged.
At least no Ferrari fans were there to see it because of the coronavirus pandemic.
It was a far cry from last year when Leclerc was cheered by thousands of passionate Ferrari fans on the iconic podium at Monza after he ended the team’s nine-year wait for victory at its home circuit.
The Italian national anthem did ring out but it was for the AlphaTauri team after driver Pierre Gasly claimed an unlikely victory.
“This year’s very different. I think probably in that regard it’s good there are no fans,” Vettel said. “Life is like this. It always depends from where you’re looking.”
Vettel added “we have to keep our head up and look forward to next week and look at the positives even if they are very few.”
Ferrari will be hoping to do a lot better at next weekend’s race, which is also in Italy, at Mugello. The 5.245-kilometre (3.259-mile) circuit has never previously hosted an F1 race.
There will be a limited number of fans allowed in, for the first time this season, and it will also be Ferrari’s 1,000th Grand Prix.
However, in a season in which Ferrari is going from bad to worse, expectations are low.
Vettel is a four-time champion but has not even finished in the top five this season — and has been 10th or lower in four races — while both cars have retired in two of the eight races (Styrian GP and Italian GP), with Leclerc also failing to finish the Spanish GP.
“It’s clear in terms of expectations you see where we are. It’s not that we can expect an awful lot,” Vettel said. “I hope in Mugello we are in a little bit better place but that doesn’t mean that we are fighting for the podium so you need to be realistic.
“Expectations are very low but hopefully we have a smooth weekend, a weekend without trouble. That would be a good start.”
The last time Ferrari finished lower than fifth in the Constructors’ Championship came in 1980. The team is currently sixth and some will already be looking to forget this season, which is not even at the halfway stage.
“We shouldn’t forget anything, we need to learn,” he said. “This season will make us stronger.”