Ferrari: Real progress or another false dawn?

Jerez testing suggested that the new SF15-T is a step in the right direction for Vettel and Raikkonen.

Ferrari: Real progress or another false dawn?
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF15-T
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF15-T
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF15-T
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF15-T
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF15-T
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF15-T
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF15-T
Maurizio Arrivabene Marlboro Europe Brand Manager

The snow lies deep right now at Maranello. A winter snowfall – half a metre to be precise – turned the surroundings of the Ferrari factory into a picture postcard scene, meaning the engineers had an extra hurdle to conquer as they scurried to work, to crunch all the data from the SF15-T's encouraging first test at Jerez the week before.

Recently-ensconced team principal Maurizio Arrivabene speaks of the Scuderia rediscovering its team spirit, and what we saw – and heard – in Jerez was a much tidier car and more purposeful-sounding V6 turbo engine.

And therein lies Ferrari's recent travails: a chassis department that blamed the engine group for its win-less 2014, and vice versa.

Neither operating to the peak of their abilities, and the sum of the parts fell way short compared to Red Bull and, latterly, Mercedes.

The end of the blame game

But you can only play the blame game for so long, and out of the ashes of a firestorm of high-profile departures (Luca di Montezemolo, Pat Fry, Nicholas Tombazis, Neil Martin, Hirohide Hamashima to name but five) there must be strong direction to keep the new-look staff on track.

Marque chief Sergio Marchionne is renowned as a tough operator, not afraid to take difficult or bold decisions, and should be just the ticket in tandem with Arrivabene, who is a renowned and well-connected innovator.

Technical director James Allison worked wonders to turn Lotus into a winner, to get the most out of Kimi Raikkonen, and in Sebastian Vettel it has an A-lister to replace Fernando Alonso with far less political tendencies than the McLaren-bound Spaniard.

Fixing the weaknesses

Allison admits to a "definite weakness" in the recovery of electrical energy from the car's hybrid system last year, and the engine department has concentrated on changing the architecture of the power unit to better balance its race and qualifying performances.

We're hearing rumours of a "massive power boost" compared to its 2014 internal combustion engine, so if it plays its tokens right, we could be set for a game-changing turnaround in fortunes.

Yet to read too much into the Jerez laptimes is a fool's errand; there is no way yet to truly quantify where Ferrari stacks up to its rivals. The smart money is that Mercedes is still out front, also that the Prancing Horse is considerably closer than the 1.7s off the pace that it ended last season.

The Kimi factor

The fact that Raikkonen was positively bubbly (by his standards, anyway) after his first two days in the car speaks volumes.

It was clear last season that Alonso's input was 'turned off' in favour of Raikkonen, and it looks like Kimi has been listened to – just like he was mid-2007 for THAT amazing world title turnaround.

In its Corse Clienti F1 hangar at nearby Fiorano, also covered in snow right now, Raikkonen's title-winning 2007 car sits as a silent reminder that its glory days weren't so long ago.

It's perhaps unlikely that SF15-T is its next world championship winner, but it has to be a step in the right direction.

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