Ferrari enter the 2013 season chasing its first drivers’ championship in six years.
With a car that was arguably the Scuderia’s worst in nearly 20 years, and despite problems with the team’s windtunnel at Maranello impacting on performances on the track, Fernando Alonso somehow put together a title challenge, leading the championship for a large part of the season before losing out to Sebastian Vettel at the final race by just three points.
The Prancing Horse have worked hard over the winter to ensure the mistakes of last year are not repeated, and from pre-season testing it looks like the new car is a much better machine than the one which left Brazil last November.
With a determined Alonso paired up with a reinvigorated Felipe Massa raring to go for the new season, Ferrari have all the ingredients to consistently challenge for wins this year, and if the F138 lives up to its promise then he should be seeing F1’s most famous team right in the mix for honours once again.
3) Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso produced arguably the best season of any driver in the last decade in 2012 by taking the title fight right down to the wire.
Despite having at best the third fastest car for a large part of the season, Alonso took the fight to the vastly superior Red Bulls and McLarens, scoring more podiums than anyone else and taking three wins in a display of relentless consistency.
Given his talents and the way he has driven in the last few years, it is incredible to think that Alonso has not added to the two titles he won whilst at Renault in 2005 and 2006, with Ferrari not giving him a car capable of winning the title since the Spaniard joined the team.
If Ferrari can give him a car able to challenge for the world championship, then it would be incredibly brave to bet against Alonso breaking Sebastian Vettel’s stranglehold on the drivers’ title and adding his name to the exclusive list of triple world champions this year.
4) Felipe Massa
There were signs towards the end of last year that Felipe Massa was finally beginning to rediscover the form that almost won him the world championship in 2008.
The Brazilian struggled massively in the first half of 2012, with a series of lacklustre performance leading many to doubt whether Massa deserved to remain at Ferrari, and the likes of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg were linked with his seat.
However, the 31-year-old fought back in style in the second half of the season, outqualifying teammate Alonso in the final two races and taking his first Formula One podiums in nearly two years. It was a run of form not seen by the Brazilian since his dreadful accident in qualifying for the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix.
With a new one-year contract behind him, and a good run of form at the end of last year under his belt, this season is shaping up to be much better than the last few for Massa.
Hopes for the season
Last year was a disappointment for Ferrari. The Scuderia let both their drivers down with a car that, quite simply, wasn’t good enough. For a team with the history and success of Ferrari, they know that they must produce a better car this time around.
The team chose to develop the best parts of the F2012 and vastly improved the weak areas of the car, and from pre-season testing it looks like that evolutionary approach could well be paying off for them.
With a driver of the ability of Fernando Alonso in the car, Ferrari will always have a chance of coming out on top, and as long as they can keep up in the development race (an area that cost them dearly last year), they should be primed to challenge for both titles.
The pressure is on Ferrari this year. The tifosi expects victory, and after a relatively long run without success by its standards, they will be wanting to reclaim their spot at the top of both championships this year.