The team picture
- Constructors standing: P6, 131 points
Well, that could have gone better. Before the start of the season no one expected Ferrari to suffer their worst campaign since 1980, but the warning signs were clear from the minute that the SF1000 hit the track in Barcelona for testing. Even so the scale of Ferrari's problems took everyone by surprise, mostly connected to changes they had been forced to make to their power unit as a result of their super-secret settlement with the FIA addressing alleged power unit irregularities. It wasn't only Ferrari that suffered, as customer teams Alfa Romeo and Haas also took a big hit in performance terms.
While the start of the season was delayed by the coronavirus outbreak, the team made matters worse for themselves by telling Sebastian Vettel that he would be packing his bags and leaving Maranello at the end of the year. That was never going to be the way to motivate a driver and surely fed into a dreadful season for Vettel, although it's also possible that the car had been designed to Charles Leclerc's strengths leaving Vettel unhappy and uncomfortable. The result was a precipitous drop from second to sixth in the constructors championship, having amassed a meagre 131 points compared to 504 in 2019 . Their best outing came in Turkey which saw both drivers in the top four.
Team principal Mattia Binotto was conspicuously absent from a number of races at the end of the season, stating he had more important things to attend to - presumably referring to getting on with preparations for next year. He says that they have made progress on the power unit and is confident that it won't still be the weakest on the grid - although the chassis will be largely unaltered - and is targeting third place in the standings. While a perfectly realistic objective in the circumstances, it also underlines how big a hole the team is currently in. One thing is for sure: another season like 2020 and no one's job will be safe.
The driver line-up
- Charles Leclerc: P8, 98 points
- Sebastian Vettel: P13, 33 points
There's no question about which Ferrari driver was on top throughout 2020. With Sebastian Vettel already handed his papers before the first race in Austria, it was no surprise when the team appeared to put all its weight behind Charles Leclerc. The Monegasque driver beat the four time world champion 13 times out of 17 in qualifying, and finished ahead in ten of the 13 races that both men completed. Leclerc finished in the points in ten races and on the podium on two occasions (in Austria and Britain) compared to seven top ten finishes for Vettel and a single podium in Turkey.
What's most surprising about this is just how far apart the two drivers have been. Leclerc has managed to make it through to the final round of qualifying more often than not (his average grid position is 8.47) while Vettel has frequently failed to make the cut (an average starting spot of 12.06). Even Vettel himself has said he doesn't understand the gap this year, the biggest of any team mates in the same car. That's given rise to conspiracy rumours that Ferrari have been sabotaging Vettel's final season but it's hard to conceive of any situation in which Ferrari would sabotage the team's overall campaign. That said, there have been some conspicuous mistakes on pit lane that almost always seem to hit Vettel rather than Leclerc which only serves to fuel the gossip.
Vettel must be happier to be heading to Aston Martin in 2021 and hopefully the clean slate will reinvigorate him. It remains to be seen whether Carlos Sainz will be able to carry across the momentum of a strong season at McLaren that will allow him to stand up to Leclerc in the high heat of the Ferrari furnace.