Formula 1 managing director Ross Brawn says he understands Ferrari’s “pain” after a disastrous three flyaway races in Asia which has landded a critical blow to its Formula 1 world title hopes.
Ferrari has gone through a hellish run after seeing Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen involved in a collision at the start of the Singapore Grand Prix to take both drivers out of the race on the first lap before engine faults in Malaysia forced Vettel to start the race last and Raikkonen into a DNS.
Further pain followed this weekend in Japan when Raikkonen’s FP3 crash enforced a gearbox change and a five-place grid penalty, while Vettel’s race ended after four laps due to a broken spark plug that was detected on the sighting lap to the grid.
As a result, Ferrari has collectively scored just 22 points in the Asia flyaway races compared to the 105 point haul of Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton now leads the drivers’ standings by 59 points from Vettel, with Ferrari 145 points off of Mercedes in the constructors’ championship – meaning both titles could be sealed next time out at the United States Grand Prix.
The former Ferrari chief says he understands the Italian manufacturer’s frustrations having had similar experiences during his time as a team boss at a number of F1 marques before his switch into the sport’s management body at the start of 2017.
Brawn, who oversaw the success of eight world drivers’ and constructors’ championship during his F1 team career, has given the advice to “stay calm and focus on immediate goals” so Ferrari can cling on to unlikely hopes of winning titles this season.
“Having experienced reliability woe of this kind at first hand with various teams, I know how painful it can be to see the hard work of so many people undone in a moment, so I have some sympathy for Ferrari at this difficult time,” Brawn said in a Formula 1 media release.
“The team comes under incredible pressure, especially at home, and it’s easy for heads to drop. But the key is to stay calm and focus on immediate goals.
“This Asian leg of the season has been a real nightmare for Ferrari. On pure pace, the team probably had the best car over the past three rounds, certainly in Singapore and Sepang, and though the advantage was less obvious in Suzuka, where Mercedes dominated in qualifying, Ferrari’s race pace arguably made front-row starter Vettel a real contender for victory.”
Despite Ferrari’s downturn in fortunes, Brawn feels the Italian manufacturer should remain positive when reflecting on this season having been the first team to sustain a challenge to Mercedes in the V6 hybrid era in F1.
“However the season ends, Ferrari should be pleased with what it’s achieved in 2017,” he said. “For the first time in the hybrid era, Mercedes has come up against a rival capable of fighting for the title.
“It’s been a long time since Ferrari have been as competitive and the problems of recent weeks haven’t erased that fact.”