German driver Sebastian Vettel has won many Formula One races during his outstanding career, some more emotional than others, but Scuderia Ferrari’s one-two victory in the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix was of special significance for the Maranello team’s fans starved of success in recent years, as Ferrari lost the fight for supremacy with Red Bull Racing and Mercedes over the last decade.
The last time the Italian team scored a victory in the Mediterranean principality was 16 years ago – in 2001 with Sebastian Vettel’s compatriot Michael Schumacher leading a one-two. At that time, Michael Schumacher, the eventual seven-times Formula One world champion, ended a similar 16-year Ferrari drought in Monaco in 1997 with a victory that followed fan favourite Gilles Villeneuve’s triumph from the 1981 season.
Villeneuve, Schumacher, Vettel.
The roll call is spine-tingling but results are what really matter in Formula 1 and a quick comparison of Schumacher’s first six races of 2001 and Vettel’s current performance will really get the heart racing at Maranello. Michael, exactly like Seb managed to do this year. He then took two more wins and two second places with one retirement.
Scuderia Ferrari’s current German driver is doing better, by comparison, with three wins and three second places, and makes a plausible argument when he says that the Maranello side could have won every Grand Prix this year had everything gone to plan. What happened in Australia, far from being a one-off, has become a sequence of success that has re-arranged the Formula One landscape with champions Mercedes already presenting themselves as underdogs. The contrast between last season, when the oldest and most successful team in Formula One history failed to win a race and a frustrated Vettel was making headlines with radio rants, is marked. Seb is now 25 points clear of his main titile rival Lewis Hamilton in the Formula 1 Driver Standings, as the British three-times world champion who has won twice but struggled to get performance into his car’s Pirelli tyres while the Ferrari SF70H car has seemed good everywhere.
“We are walking on a lovely beach of white sand after having run barefoot over sharp and jagged rocks.” – wrote columnist Umberto Zapelloni in the daily Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport – “These first six races of the season are worth as much as the arrival of an airplane for someone shipwrecked on a deserted island.” The front page headline of the national sports daily was “Potere Rosso” (Red Power).
The German’s podium celebrations in Monaco were reminiscent of the glory years of the turn of the century when Michael Schumacher dominated the Italian team and had everyone back at base singing to his tune. Sebastian was now the conductor as the Ferrari mechanics and engineers sang the Italian anthem, in the hope that the German driver can repeat his compatriot’s tremendous success with the Scuderia.