Ferrari to celebrate 1,000th race in Mugello

Ferrari ready to celebrate 1,000th race on home soil in Mugello… but this is their worst period in nearly 30 years as they head into the Tuscan Grand Prix well off the pace of Mercedes

  • Well off the pace, Ferrari have endured a disastrous Formula One season
  • Team’s engine concerns have left struggling around the midfield this term
  • The Mugello circuit could suit their car better after horrific Monza display 

There’s nothing much wrong with Ferrari at the moment — just the car, the engine, the drivers and the management.

Which is a curse because this weekend marks the Scuderia’s 1,000th race, a figure no other team can boast. And the bunting is coming out in Florence’s Piazza della Signoria.

A public show close to the Fountain of Neptune will give way to an invitation-only gala dinner. Every man alive who has driven one grand prix in the red car has been asked along. So has Piero, the second and only living son of Enzo Ferrari, as well as those who led the team along the high road of history, Luca Montezemolo and Jean Todt chief among them.

Ferrari will be celebrating their 1,000th race at Mugello with a dinner that will see the likes of former president Luca di Montezemolo (right) and team principal Jean Todt (centre) attend who along with Michael Schumacher (left) helped the team dominate F1 in the early 2000s

Michael Schumacher, unseen by the world since his skiing accident in 2013, will not attend, of course. He continues his recovery, if that’s the word, back home in Switzerland — ‘fighting’ as Todt said again on Friday.

The family will be represented by son Mick, the 21-year-old Ferrari academy driver who won his second F2 race last week in Monza, which was at least something for the Tifosi to cheer.

On Sunday, ahead of the Tuscan Grand Prix in Mugello, where there will be a sprinkling of fans for the first time this season, he will drive the car his father steered to the last of his seven world titles 16 years ago.

Since Schumacher claimed his seventh world championship and his fifth consecutive title with the team in 2004, Ferrari have only won the drivers’ title just once since

In all, Ferrari have won 16 constructors’ and 15 drivers’ titles, both records. In light of that history, how will this year’s awful lack of competitiveness go down with the exquisite pasta at the big bash?

This season is one of the team’s worst ever, certainly since the early Nineties when Montezemolo was summoned back by Fiat’s Gianni Agnelli to work his restorative magic. In fact, they were in more of a pickle back then because the whole business was in tatters. At least now the piggybank is well-stocked.

And, to be serious, they have a promising young driver in Charles Leclerc, but it is hard to judge just how good he will be. At the moment, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen stand above him. Call me mad, but why haven’t Ferrari signed one of them?

Charles Leclerc is the bright new hope at Ferrari but is still yet to realise his full potential

Along with Leclerc, Sebastian Vettel spent practice at Mugello in the midfield

Awful races in Spa and Monza over the last couple of weekends underlined how bad it is since their suspect engine was reined in by the FIA. They are left with too little power and too much downforce.

Friday’s practice finished with Leclerc 10th quickest and Sebastian Vettel 12th.

This track is theoretically more suited to their car than the previous two. A flicker of hope, perhaps, but they cannot remotely match Mercedes’ might.

A new engine for next year is running on the bench in Maranello. But even if that works for them, have they got the right men in the right jobs — Binotto, for example?

Ferrari’s biggest loss in recent times has been engineer James Allison to rivals Mercedes

Will his bosses — chairman John Elkann and chief executive Louis Camilieri — remain loyal? In a recent interview, Camilieri said he was inclined to do so, that he did not want to chop and change.

The Scuderia’s most telling loss in the last few years is that of English engineer James Allison, their technical director. He is now at Mercedes and precisely the man Ferrari need.

They should have found a way to keep him involved when his wife died.

On Friday FIA president Todt, who was at Schumacher’s side in his glory years, said: ‘I respect how difficult it is to be competitive.

‘Mercedes have to be admired but the others have to kick their a*** to make a challenge. It is as simple as that.’

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