In Depth

F1: can Leclerc and Vettel finally end Ferrari’s title drought in 2020?

Scuderia have not won the drivers’ championship for 13 years

It’s a question that is asked every pre-season: will this year be the one where Ferrari finally break Mercedes’s stranglehold on the Formula 1 championships? 

While the Silver Arrows and Lewis Hamilton have dominated at the front of the grid in recent years, the Scuderia last won the constructors’ championship in 2008 and are without a drivers’ title since Kimi Raikkonen’s victory in 2007. 

Last year Ferrari impressed at pre-season testing and went into the 2019 campaign full of confidence. They had a new team boss in Mattia Binotto and Charles Leclerc had arrived as Sebastian Vettel’s team-mate. 

However, 2019 did not go as planned for the Prancing Horse as Mercedes stormed to the titles thanks to victories in the opening eight grands prix of the season.

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2020 car problems?

Finishing a massive 235 points behind Mercedes in the 2019 constructors’ championship, and talk of a strained relationship between Vettel and Leclerc following a number of controversial incidents on the track, Ferrari go into the new season looking for big improvements.

However, this week the media in Germany claim that Ferrari’s 2020 challenger has a “possible aero flaw” and it is performing “worse than expected” in early tests, Planet F1 reports.

It’s also reported that Ferrari could follow Mercedes’s 2019 tactics by bringing two different versions of their car to winter testing in Barcelona. 

Ferrari launch their 2020 car on 11 February before heading to pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya from 19-21 February.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel celebrates his victory at the 2019 F1 Singapore Grand Prix

Lars Baron/Getty Images

Defining year for Vettel 

This week the official Formula 1 website published a profile on German driver Vettel which explains why 2020 will be a “defining year for Ferrari’s man of the people”. 

Vettel is a four-time world champion from his days with Red Bull, but since moving to Ferrari in 2015 he has been unable to add to his title haul. 

The 32-year-old is in the final year of his current contract and following Leclerc’s breakthrough season, Vettel is “no longer obviously the main man at Ferrari…”, says writer Lawrence Barretto. 

There was speculation that Vettel could be on the verge of retiring from F1, but with his contract ending at the end of the season, questions remain about his future. 

Also, pressure will be on the German to reverse his form after finishing fifth in the standings last term.

Charles Leclerc and the Ferrari team celebrate the driver’s victory at the F1 Italian Grand Prix

Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

Leclerc has title in his sights

While Vettel struggled last season his young team-mate Leclerc emerged as a challenger at the front of the grid. 

There’s high hopes at Maranello that the 22-year-old Monégasque driver can battle for the title in 2020. He agrees that’s the aim, but he’s also prepared to wait until 2021. 

Speaking about how this will be a “very important year” for Ferrari ahead of the F1 rules overhaul, Leclerc said: “I hope in 2020 I can win the title, but I am happy to wait until 2021 if I have the title for sure. 

“It is going to be very difficult and I think 2020 will be a very important year when teams are going to invest a lot because the budget cap is coming in from 2021. 

“I will try to be as ready as possible for 2021 as I think it will be a big year and hopefully we will be working properly as a team to build the right car to be able to win the championship.”

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