Breaking Down Ferrari's Biggest Droughts in Formula 1 History

Scott MitchellContributor IOctober 8, 2013

Breaking Down Ferrari's Biggest Droughts in Formula 1 History

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    Clive Rose/Getty Images

    It seems rather poignant that on the day that Michael Schumacher ended Ferrari's 20-plus-year wait for a Formula One drivers' championship in 2000, current Scuderia driver Fernando Alonso has branded his own presence in the 2013 title as a "miracle."

    Alonso has merely a mathematical chance of this year's crown, because the reality is Sebastian Vettel is waltzing towards it in some style.

    So what does that mean?

    It will be the fourth year Alonso has tried to win the championship with Ferrari, and the fourth year he has failed.

    It will mark six years since a Ferrari driver won the drivers' title, and five years since the Scuderia was last ranked the best team in the world. 

    But is this a barren run? A peek into the Maranello squad's history reveals it is characterised by inconsistency. 

Ferrari's History

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    Hawthorn was one of three Ferrari champions in the 1950s
    Hawthorn was one of three Ferrari champions in the 1950s

    Contemporary Formula One has Red Bull as its leading light, but historically Ferrari and McLaren are the sport's behemoths.

    Ferrari won three drivers' titles in the 1950s, while the constructors' didn't exist until 1958. Since then the team has won 16 titles, but they have fluctuated by the decade.

    In the 1960s, Ferrari won just two constructors' titles, doubling that in the 1970s but slipping to two again in the 1980s. Just the one came in the 1990s, before the Schumacher era of the noughties (with a little help from Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen) yielded seven titles.

    As you would expect, the team's win-rate follows much the same pattern. Ferrari triumphed 29 times in the 1950s but won only 13 Grands Prix the following decade. 

    The 1970s, in which the team won 37 races, heralded a mid-decade purple patch, but the next two decades were leaner—18 and 28 wins respectively. Of course, Ferrari blew that out of the water from 2000 to 2009, winning a staggering 85 Grands Prix.

Team Success

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    Lauda wore the #1 in 1976, after ending an 11-year wait for Ferrari glory
    Lauda wore the #1 in 1976, after ending an 11-year wait for Ferrari glory

    During that impressive haul of 37 Grands Prix victories in the 1970s, you might be surprised to discover that the team's first constructors' title of that decade, in 1975, ended the second-longest wait in its history to win the teams' crown.

    After its double success in 1964 with John Surtees, Ferrari was thrice a runner-up in the constructors' championship before finally succeeding in '75 when Niki Lauda (world champion that year) and Clay Regazzoni did the business.

    Ironically, that started a run of three teams' titles on the trot, then its greatest run in history!

    The Scuderia's longest wait for a constructors' title was 16 years, and ended in 1999, by the combined efforts of Michael Schumacher, Mika Salo and Eddie Irvine. 

    Ferrari finished second in the standings a staggering seven times between its 1983 success and its triumph in '99, including three successive years behind Williams and then McLaren.

Wait for a Champion

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    Schumacher ended a 21-year wait for a Ferrari drivers' champion
    Schumacher ended a 21-year wait for a Ferrari drivers' champion

    As aforementioned, Schumacher's 2000 title success was the team's first drivers' title since Jody Scheckter in 1979.

    That 21-year wait is the team's longest in history, while the runner-up for that unwanted honour is the same as its second-longest wait for a constructors' crown.

    After Surtees' '64 triumph, things dipped for Ferrari. Cosworth produced a far superior engine package for the new 1.5-litre regulations, and it would be until Lauda won the 1975 world championship before a Ferrari driver was perched on top of the drivers' standings again.

    Should Ferrari be concerned now? You could argue so. The wait since its 2008 teams' and 2007 drivers' titles is the third-longest in its history.

    However, as the next two slides show, it could be worse...

The 90s: A Dismal Start

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    Early 1990s were disastrous for Ferrari
    Early 1990s were disastrous for Ferrari

    In the early 1990s, Ferrari was struggling.

    1991, 1992 and 1993 were very barren years, in which a Ferrari never won a race and never started from pole (nor the front row in the latter two years).

    That heralded the Scuderia's longest wait for a win; 58 races. It was ended by Gerhard Berger in the 1994 German Grand Prix, and the run stretched back to Alain Prost's triumph in Spain, 1990.

    In terms of pole positions, the time was even longer! Well, just. Nigel Mansell had started the preceding race in Portugal from pole in 1990 adding an extra race to the wait until Berger lined up at the head of the field in Germany.

Other Dark Days

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    The 312T5: The most uncompetitive Ferrari ever
    The 312T5: The most uncompetitive Ferrari ever

    Aside from the bleak early 1990s, there are two years which Ferrari does not look at fondly in the history books.

    The 1973 and 1980 seasons were awful by any top team's standards, let alone Ferrari's.

    In '73, Jacky Ickx and Arturo Merzario mustered just eight top 10 starts between them, and did not once finish on the podium, let alone win. There were no fastest laps, or pole positions, and just one front row start. The team finished sixth in the standings, mustering a paltry 12 points. 

    Even worse than the 1973 season was the team's 1980 campaign, the worst in its history. Eight points, no wins, no podiums, no poles, no fastest laps and no front row starts. Ferrari, the defending champions, finished 10th in the standings.

    Other dark years include 1969, when the was on the podium once and scored just seven points on its way to fifth in the standings, and 1962, when four podiums were only good enough for 18 points and sixth overall.