Ferrari's Vettel sick and tired of 'Alonsofication'

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel celebrates third place on the podium at the Italian Grand Prix yesterday.
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel celebrates third place on the podium at the Italian Grand Prix yesterday. PHOTO: REUTERS

MONZA • Sebastian Vettel has already succumbed to the disease and he has not yet completed two seasons with the most famous Formula One team.

They are calling it "Alonsofication", that terrible ailment where a driver joins the legendary Scuderia full of optimism that a flood of world championships will follow, only to discover a team in chaos and victories further away than ever.

Fernando Alonso, who has given his name to the condition, spent five seasons growing frustrated with a team who boast riches beyond all others yet could not convert cash into titles. He eventually ran out of patience.

Vettel has recently shown signs of annoyance although yesterday's third-placed finish at the Italian Grand Prix has renewed hopes of a first win of the season in Singapore.

"It has been a bit of a bumpy season especially the last couple of weeks, months," said the German, who finished behind a Mercedes one-two led by Nico Rosberg in Monza. "Things are starting to calm down and we're getting back to where we belong."

  • 9

  • Number of years since a driver from the ranks of the Prancing Horse won the drivers' championship.

When asked if victory is possible at the Sept 18 Singapore Grand Prix, he replied: "Could be. I don't think that's the way we look at it. We go to Singapore and try to do our best. We had a very good weekend here."

For most of this campaign, the four-time world champion with Red Bull has seen his former team replace Ferrari as the chief rivals to the dominant Mercedes.

It is now nine years since a Ferrari driver - Kimi Raikkonen - was world champion, a drought that bears little justification given the Italian team's privileged position in the sport. Under F1's unequal payments system, Ferrari received £15 million (S$27.12 million) more than world champions Mercedes last year because they have been in the sport since the modern championship started in 1950. They have the most lucrative sponsors, such as Shell and Marlboro, which is thought to have pumped at least US$1 billion (S$1.36 billion) into the team in the past decade.

The myth endures, though, particularly for Vettel, whose first F1 victory was in Monza in 2008. Then, he wondered through the boos from the partisan grandstands how much better it might be to win in the red of Ferrari.

Losing James Allison, the gifted British technical director, will not help.

Sergio Marchionne, the hardline president, dumped the charismatic Luca di Montezemolo to install himself as head of Ferrari.

He has not attempted to conceal his frustration and the new imperative is his decision to float Ferrari on the New York Stock Exchange.

Now, winning means profits. But victories are hard to come by.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2016, with the headline 'Ferrari's Vettel sick and tired of 'Alonsofication''. Print Edition | Subscribe