Has dirt overwritten their name?
After being in F1 for more than four decades, they are known as the one of the sport's oldest and most glorious teams, with fabled drivers,(Juan M.) Fangio,(Michael) Schumacher,(Niki) Lauda,(Alain) Prost, (Phil) Hill and many others driving for them, and of course, their infamous digits that speak for themselves. 850 Races, 15 driver's championships, 16 constructors' titles, 220 wins, and 668 podiums! Yes, I'm talking about Ferrari. Image is everything in F1. And Ferrari being one of the oldest on the grid, sure have established theirs in the sport. Ferrari, the "best" F1 team, celebrated glorious days back in the 2000's with Michael Schumacher. With super digits and big drivers speaking for them, we would expect Ferrari to be the "best" in terms of everything. Car, drivers, strategy.. and they were! No doubt. But ultimately, the team in itself, in the recent years, is a let down.
Ferrari's 'spoil-sport' attitude started way back to the 2000's. Also known as Schumi era. 2002 Austrian Grand Prix, when Rubens Barrichello was ordered (radio broadcast can be seen) by the Ferrari team to let teammate Michael Schumacher pass him for the championship, more interesting, just a couple of meters before the finish line! This pulled negative attention and of course protests along. Team orders were legal back then, this meant Ferrari could get away with it. Another team order the same year in USA to Michael this time, was to let Rubens through, just as a 'returning the favor' gesture. This happened, again just few meters before the finish line and with a very small margin of 0.011s.
After these 2 incidents, FIA banned team orders, stating it changes the outcome. Both the times, it was Ferrari's master plan. For the next 2 years nothing major happened regarding team orders. But it was never over. But this had an effect on the team. You could say, that Ferrari only looked at winning and only winning. This became even more evident in 2010.
It wasn't the 2002 anymore where Ferrari could openly tell teammates to let go of the race lead or "maintain the gap" till the chequered flag! It was 2010, with new regulations and of course, a new driver's line up. Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso.
Infamous words from Ferrari : "Fernando is faster than you..", are the first words to pop in your head when a grand prix is held in Hockenheim, like this year. These were team orders from Felipe Massa's race engineer. You may be wondering, how does this sound like a team order? The reality is, Massa's engineer did not make it direct. Ferrari knew team orders were banned, and with Alonso running for the championship, but behind teammate Massa, in P2, things did not look right. Right after this radio was transmitted to Massa, he slowed down drastically, to let Alosno through. This was a major controversy. And finally, the FIA penalized them (Ferrari) with a slap in the wrist of $100,000. Later on, the championship, probably call it, taught Ferrari a lesson, or in a simpler way, turned tables in the last race. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix saw Sebastian Vettel clinching the title and Ferrari's Alonso turning to be vice champion.
Ferrari played dirty this year too. 2012 began 7 different winners from 7 races and saw the title going to 7 contenders. Until in Valencia, Alonso's win extended his lead. And for nearly 3 quarters of the season, the Spaniard retained his lead, until the RedBull driver, world champion, Sebastian vettel took over, after winning 4 races in a row. Suddenly the rumours of Vettel moving to Ferrari in the end of 2013 erupted, even after Vettel had extended his contract with the Austrian team until the end of 2014, earlier this season. The speculator is still unknown and untold, but one thing looked clear, this was speculated only to disrupt the relationship in the RedBull Garage. Dirty #1 of this year.
Dirty #2 was at this year's inaugural US grand Prix. Massa qualified ahead of teammate Alonso. Ferrari openly admitted on Sunday, that they changed the gearbox on Massa's car (which meant a 5 place grid penalty) to promote Alonso up the order and 1 pace closer to pole sitter and championship rival Sebastian vettel. Along with the 1 place promotion bonus that Ferrari gave Alonso, he eventually got the clean side of the new track. All happened, by pushing Felipe down to P11. Which again, was a reminiscence to what happened in 2010, Ferrari fighting smart till the end, but RedBull played hard to win the title for Sebastian Vettel.
Take a look at all of Ferrari's statements, the only essence of it that, we could get is, Ferrari wants to win, win and only win. It's priority over everything for them. They wanted the title so bad, that Ferrari was willing to challenge Vettel's title! But after all FIA's confirmations that Vettel's move was legitimate, Ferrari cry foul over their "lost title".
This is today's Ferrari. Glorious, yet dirty. And yes. The dirt does overshadow that 'glorious' image.