Maranello, 16 November – The end of a season is a time to look at the numbers and analyse the results. There can be no doubt that this year represents a significant step forward for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro compared to 2009, going from one to five wins, from 6 to 15 podiums, from 20 to 32 points finishes. However, it is also interesting to look back at the last three years, which is the period in which Stefano Domenicali took over as Team Principal.
Out of 54 Grand Prix starts, a Maranello car ended on the podium forty times: 14 times on the top step, 9 seconds and 17 thirds. No one has done better: Red Bull is on 37 (although with one more victory,) McLaren is on 34, (with one less win.) The other teams were left with the crumbs, apart from the Brawn team and its phoenix like reincarnations, having started out as Honda, n ow known as Mercedes, while under the Brawn name in 2009, it picked up 15 podiums, its best year, only to disappear after this miraculous season. Renault has not won a race since 2008 and has got one driver into the top three on only eight occasions. Before quitting the sport, BMW took just one Grand Prix win and 12 podium finishes, while Toyota, also no longer with us, took just seven podiums.
Under Domenicali’s watch came the joy of the 2008 Constructors’ title and the regret at Felipe missing out on the Drivers’ the same year and now, Fernando seeing it slip away two days ago. In fact, if you take into account his time when he took on the Team Principal responsibilities in 2007, a year when Jean Todt took on the role of head of the Gestione Sportiva, handing the actual operational responsibility to Stefano, then Sporting Director. Looking at the facts in this light, one can see that the actual management group, the one which took over after the departure of the Todt-Schumacher-Brawn triumvirate, consisting of the aforementioned Domenicali and then a mix of Costa, Tombazis, Dyer and others, was able to win three of the eight titles up for grabs in that period, with just one bad year, 2009, the circumstances of which are well known.
One could say a team boss is rated on the basis of his successes, but neither should one forget that, at a time when Formula 1 was going through an epochal moment of change, from a technical, sporting and financial point of view, then simply staying near the top is already an achievement. To appreciate its significance more clearly, it is worth comparing it to another three year period, which was very similar, especially in the last of the three years, which saw the start of the long chapter regarding Michael Schumacher’s tenure at Ferrari, in other words, the start of the Todt era. Leaving out the second part of 1993, the Frenchman took up the post on 1stJuly at the start of the French Grand Prix weekend at Magny-Cours, in those three years, the Scuderia managed to put together the following result sheet: five wins, twelve second places and fourteen thirds, along with another eighteen top ten places, seven pole positions and five fastest race laps. Well, the three year period just ended in Abu Dhabi looks like this: fourteen Grand Prix wins, nine second places and seventeen thirds, along with 38 top ten finishes, ten poles and nineteen fastest race laps.
The figures are clear, but more importantly and worth recording is the fact that it was only in 1997, after four and a half years that a Ferrari was back fighting for the title at the final race. That time also, the crown slipped away at the last and then there was also a wave of emotion pointing the finger of blame at the person whose hand was on the tiller. And we all know how that story turned out in the end.