Ferrari left the Singapore paddock with their heads hanging today. A rather disappointing qualifying has only served to underscore their underperformance in recent races. While the visits to low-down force tracks like Spa and Monza helped Ferrari a little bit, the team didn’t enjoy any wins like they expected. As a result, Red Bull has effectively sealed their fourth consecutive world championship before the season has reached its end.
With Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso starting the race tomorrow from sixth and seventh respectively, there is little hope of major progress. As we saw in Monaco earlier in the season, as well as in Hungary, the Ferrari chassis does not cope with intense rear-end traction points. Getting the power down efficiently is not one of Ferrari’s strong points, making the task on Sunday all the more difficult.
With Mercedes, Red Bull and one of the Lotuses ahead of them on the grid, Ferrari will have to pin their hopes on the start. Traditionally, Ferrari makes great starts, so relying on that will be a major factor in their race. Beyond that, we could end up seeing a lot of damage limitation from Ferrari. Mclaren have found themselves nipping at the heels of the Ferraris, and considering Mclaren’s performance at Monaco earlier this season, Ferrari might not have the easiest day in the office tomorrow.
All eyes, however, will be on Massa. After confirming to the public that he will be leaving Ferrari at the end of the season, the Brazilian has been on the lookout for a top drive. That does, however, require him to up his game. The question everyone is asking, though, is “if Ferrari didn’t want him, why should anyone else?” That will be Massa’s job tomorrow to prove that he is someone a team should invest in.
Turning around his weekend after a miserable Friday was the first successful step in making a case for a top drive in 2014. Even better for himself, though, was the fact that he out-qualified Alonso. If he can compete with his teammate tomorrow and not fall back through the field like most suspect he will, then he may just convince some teams he is someone to which they should throw a lifeline.
For now, Ferrari will have to prepare for a long and hard race. The track is working against them, and tensions in the team are strained amidst a tough and trying season. A good result tomorrow could depend on a bad one for someone else.