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Some of you may remember that at the start of the 2011 season I wrote a review of each team [excluding Lotus – now Caterham – Virgin – now Marussia – and HRT] looking back to 2003. This year, I wish to explore these same teams and their rivals as far back as 1995. Here I will also look at the seasons with the current points system in place, as well as the respective contemporary systems. I will also apply a system that takes into account 24 slots on the grid, standing thus:
100, 80, 70, 60, 52, 46, 40, 36, 32, 30, 28, 26, 24, 22, 20, 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2.
We look now at the finest Italian stable in F1 history, Ferrari.
1995 was the last truly woeful year of Ferrari’s idea of the Great Depression. They had been over a decade without a championship, and their 1995 car was nothing special. To their credit, they beat all comers bar Benetton and Williams, with Alesi even managing a win for the team early in the year. By today’s system the Prancing Horse would have been one of only three teams to clear 200 points, but again would have been the lowest scoring of these three, akin to the end result in my own data which shows Ferrari clearing 1400 points, Williams clearing 1700 and Benetton exceeding 2000.
1996 was a coup of mammoth proportions. Alesi and Berger were shipped out of Maranello to Benetton’s British base, while Schumacher went the other way. Jordan veteran Eddie Irvine, signed specifically to act as Schumacher’s wingman, accompanied the double world champion. The wisdom in this choice was demonstrated by their beating of Benetton, with 69 points against the 68 of the second Renault works team. Williams, of course, had them beaten with Adrian Newey’s FW18.
Unfortunately for them, Ferrari wouldn’t maintain 2nd place by the current system, where Benetton would beat them by 25 points. They are lucky not to fall to 4th in my system, as McLaren are only 20 points behind them as well. This shows that their top 6 finishes were strong, but their weaker races were worse than those of their rivals.
1997 saw Schumacher’s first attempt to take the title for Ferrari. Ignoring his disqualification from the standings for the sake of argument, he lost the title by 3 points to Jacques Villeneuve’s Williams, again Adrian Newey proving the bane of Ferrari’s championship aspirations. Interestingly Schumacher would have taken the title under both my system and the current F1 format.
In reality the team lost to Williams by 21 points, although Frentzen’s pace compared to the French-Canadian perhaps made Ferrari look better than they were. Neither of the more generous systems used here offer Ferrari the Constructors’ title.
Adrian Newey’s skills were transferred to McLaren for 1998, and the evidence was unmistakable. Williams faltered as the Renault engines stopped being developed – taking Benetton out of the picture also – and McLaren-Mercedes became a force to be reckoned with. McLaren scored six 1-2 finishes, while Ferrari could only achieve two.
McLaren thus took the title in 1998 by 27 points, and I have no system that changes that result.
1999 was a year of disaster for Ferrari. Irvine nearly won the title after Schumacher broke his legs at Silverstone, which rather begs the question how dominantly Schumacher himself could have won the championship. As it was Hakkinen took that crown, while Ferrari sneaked the Constructors’ title by 3 points. The picture is very different by the current system, however, with Irvine taking the Drivers’ crown by 21 points, and Maranello taking the Constructors’ by 51. They took it by almost 200 points under my system, while Irvine won his only Drivers’ title by 84 points. McLaren, it seems, got lucky in 1999.
The new millennium dawned, and it dawned Ferrari red. They took the title in 2000 by 18 points from McLaren, a gap that increases to 26 points under the current format. Oddly, by my system Ferrari loses the crown to McLaren by 32 points.
2001 was a tight battle between McLaren and Ferrari once more – at least, that’s how it appeared on the surface. Schumacher won 9 races for Ferrari, while Coulthard and Hakkinen took 2 apiece for McLaren. 77 points was Ferrari’s final lead over the silver arrows, increased to almost 200 under the current system and over 500 by mine.
2002’s entry here is a mere formality: Schumacher never left the podium all year, taking eleven wins, five 2nd places and a single 3rd. Barrichello was less successful, but managed to lead home 4 Ferrari 1-2’s, and completing another 5. No system I have ever seen gives Ferrari anything but the title, in rather dominant fashion.
In 2003 Ferrari won the title by 14 points from Williams, with 158 in total. This was arguably their least dominant year in the 2000-2004 period, with Raikkonen and Montoya challenging Schumacher for the title almost all the way to the flag in the closing race. By today’s format, Ferrari won the title by 49 points, while my own system puts them 132 ahead of Williams.
In 2004 they were much more dominant, taking a 157-point win in the championship over BAR, amassing a total of 262 points. Perhaps the absence of Williams and McLaren at the top of the tables helped them, as both teams hit a major dip in form, but BAR and Renault both showed it was time for a changing of the guard. By today’s measure, BAR were 343 behind the Italian team, and they were over 1000 points down under my own system. That’s a stronger win than Ferrari could manage in their legendary 2002 season, which says an awful lot, both for Ferrari and the competition.
Standards took a hit in 2005, with the new rules and a dominant Michelin tyre compound beating them finally away from the top step. Only one win came in 2005 - Indianapolis. Aside from the lack of wins, however, Ferrari put in a respectable performance. The season saw them finish with 100 points, 75 behind McLaren and 76 behind Renault. By the current system, they were almost 200 points behind the pair, and the deficits were over 400 under my system.
The team rose again in 2006 to second, their 201 points being only 5 points short of Renault. More surprisingly, despite the upturn in form for McLaren in 2005 [which may have been nullified by the mid-season troubles and eventual sacking of Juan Pablo Montoya], the McLaren's were 91 points behind them when the final flag fell. This year’s system puts Ferrari 8 shy of the title, and McLaren over 200 points down. My standings put McLaren 800 off the fight for the title, so no real threat to Ferrari, but the Italian squad were almost impossibly close: only 22 points from the Constructors’ crown.
2007, the first post-Schumacher season, saw Ferrari running a more successful championship campaign - or so the history books will record. In reality, had McLaren not been disqualified from the standings, Ferrari could not have matched them. Ignoring, therefore, the said disqualification, Ferrari finished the season second to McLaren by some 14 points, despite taking 204 - third placed BMW Sauber could only manage 101. By current standings McLaren took a 31-point victory, with Ferrari 2nd on exactly 500 points. Ferrari were over 100 points down by my system.
2008 was less of a McLaren season, despite the young Lewis Hamilton taking the title he missed by so little in 2007. This time, Ferrari's 172 points were enough to beat McLaren by 21 points. BMW Sauber were also only 37 shy. By today’s measure, neither team could come within 40 points of the Prancing Horse, with my figures showing the same sort of lead.
2009 saw a shake-up for all the teams, with Ferrari and their McLaren rivals taking the option of KERS, only to find it compromised their weight distribution too much. Ferrari ended the year in 4th, 8 points behind McLaren and 112 behind the champions, Brawn.
2010 saw Ferrari start the season in fine form - a 1-2 led home by Alonso. However they finished the season 3rd courtesy of a mid-season drop in performance of Felipe Massa, coinciding with the team orders incident at Hockenheim. They finished with 396 points; 58 short of McLaren and 102 from title winners Red Bull. By my standings they were over 250 down on the champions.
2011 was Red Bull’s year from the first green light of the season, beating McLaren by 125 points, and Ferrari by 254. The latter gap increased to 900 points under my system, demonstrating how it is perhaps better geared towards ranking the lower teams than the frontrunners.
The 2012 season was so nearly Alonso's 3rd championship year, and Ferrari’s return to the top, but in the end they only beat McLaren by 22 points, and Red Bull were unbeatable after the Prancing Horse limped into the year with fundamental car issues.