Oh, Ferrari, you just can't seem to catch a break: F1's most illustrious team in the doldrums

Ferrari team boss, Mattia Binotto (right) (rosf1design / Instagram)
Ferrari team boss, Mattia Binotto (right) (rosf1design / Instagram)

• Ferrari had a disastrous Styrian GP this past Sunday.

• The team is the most illustrious in F1 history.

• 2021 could be another difficult year for the Italian-works team.

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I could have gone and written a slightly more technical piece on Ferrari's troubles, but it will not 'okay' anything. Delving into the reasons for the team's poor showing will only underline what we already know: That they are dog poor this season.

We could use many more descriptive words to paint a picture of the current state Ferrari is in, but that, too, will not bring the team to order. Also, I'd like to believe that some very passionate Italian is giving the team an earful after what transpired in Austria on Sunday.

In case you missed it, an ill-timed overtake from Charles Leclerc on team-mate Sebastian Vettel in Turn 3 of Lap 1 resulted in both drivers exiting the race - in the first two laps! Not that it would have mattered, anyway. Ferrari's race car is so slow this season that they were competing with Williams for 11th place on the starting grid for the Styrian Grand Prix. Heck, Vettel secured 10th place and Leclerc 11th, but the latter got demoted to 14th following a grid penalty.

Everything is not well at Ferrari…

The mystique is gone

We've said it many times, but Ferrari was last genuinely competitive in 2004.

After that, they had to deal with Renault, McLaren, Brawn GP, Red Bull Racing and Mercedes in the championship battle. Always playing second fiddle and never making any real progress in challenging for season glory.

In 2007, the team won both championships because the two McLaren drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, couldn't stop bickering, and well, SpyGate. Not because they were superior on-track.

READ: A double blow for Ferrari and Hamilton's fist of solidarity: Winners and losers from the Styrian GP

Since then, every year saw the team trying to reach the top, but failing to make an impression. Even when great signings like Alonso and Sebastian Vettel came on board, things never changed.

Drivers are drawn to Ferrari because of its mystique, but the team is a mere shell of the one that dominated F1 between 2000 and 2004 - and all the years before. That core group of people - Jean Todt, Ross Brawn, Michael Schumacher - are all gone, and Ferrari is still trying to puzzle everything together.

2020 is the 16th year since their 2004 domination; 16 years in which the most illustrious team in the sport has been relegated to the laughing stock of the paddock.

It won't get any better

For years now, Ferrari has threatened to quit Formula 1, especially when the rules are not to their liking.

Despite complete overhauls and regulatory changes, these threats never came to fruition. But when you think about it, their threats were always with the intent of how they can benefit from it. "If the rules and regulations don't allow us to win, we're throwing our toys around", is what it comes down to.

At the end of last week, Wheels24 contributor Braam Peens spelt Ferrari's fortunes out in his piece titled "The curious case of Ferrari's missing pace".

Peens delved into the essence of Ferrari's current situation and how 2021, at least for now, won't see an improved showing from the Prancing Horse team.

READ: 'I am sorry' - Leclerc after nightmare start causes double Ferrari retirement

Though Ferrari is committed to F1 and the two entities go hand-in-hand, nothing is stopping the Italian giant from pulling the plug on its F1 project and focusing on other motorsport codes. It won't happen, thankfully, but Ferrari wants to win. And Formula 1 needs Ferrari to win.

Following Ferrari's exit from Sunday's race, a sad reality came to the fore: F1 can survive without them. If the team fails to pull up its socks and produce a race-winning car, we have ample teams and drivers that can conjure the magic Ferrari so desperately lacks.

But it won't feel right. F1 may be able to survive without Ferrari, but it won't be the same.

Ferrari needs to improve its car, urgently, or risk becoming superseded in a time when the sport is looking at levelling the playing field.

What can Ferrari do to improve their performance in 2020 and 2021? Please email us.

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