Ferrari’s Spa embarrassment

Sebastian Vettel qualified 14th for the 2020 Belgian Grand Prix (image: Ferrari)

Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel qualified 13th and 14th respectively for the 2020 Belgian Grand Prix. It was a demonstration of just how far behind Ferrari is in the power stakes, and a foreshadowing of a nightmare to come at Monza next week.

It’s been 6 years since the last time Ferrari failed to have a car in Q3 in qualifying. That was at Silverstone in 2014, in the first season of the current engine formula when Ferrari (and everyone else) were playing catch-up to Mercedes.

Today’s qualifying session at Spa-Francorchamps was a huge low moment in a season that has already been largely forgettable for Ferrari. As if it wasn’t enough that the works Ferrari drivers qualified well outside the top ten, all of the Ferrari-powered cars qualified in the bottom 8. Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Haas were slower than all of the other teams save for Mercedes-powered Williams who slotted in 15th (George Russell) and 19th (Nicholas Latifi).

Perhaps the only positive for Ferrari was that they were faster than their own engine customers, though not by much – Kimi Raikkonen for Alfa Romeo was just a tenth slower than Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari in Q1.

Spa-Francorchamps is a circuit that exposes power deficits severely, as today’s qualifying results show. It seems likely therefore that tomorrow’s race will be just as painful. Unless the Ferraris have significantly better race pace than qualifying pace, they are likely to both be lapped, and it’s possible that neither driver might make it into the points.

Unfortunately for Ferrari, this is likely not going to be their worst race of the season. Next week Formula 1 heads to Monza, the “Temple of Speed” where the tifosi gather en masse to support their beloved Ferrari. If Spa exposes power deficits, Monza punishes them brutally. Ferrari are going to suffer massively at Monza, and their struggles will be all the more painful considering that Charles Leclerc won there to the delight of the Italian fans in 2019.

Considering just how poorly Ferrari’s 2020 season is going, Sebastian Vettel might be relieved to be departing at the end of the year. And he might think twice about signing for one of the other Ferrari-powered teams.

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