Poll Ferrari and McLaren: Who will get to the top first?

Which team will win a race/championship first?

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If you started watching F1 in 2013 you could be forgiven for thinking that Ferrari and McLaren are nothing more than upper-midfield teams and not the giants that they really are. Ferrari haven't won a race since May 2013, when Alonso won the Spanish grand prix. For McLaren it's even longer, in November 2012 Button won the Brazilian grand prix. Since McLaren's first season in 1966, I believe this is the longest period during which neither McLaren nor Ferrari have won a race.

So what's gone wrong? None of this will be new for most of you but the story begins in 2008. Both McLaren and Ferrari were fighting tooth and nail for the championship up until the last race of the season, with Hamilton ultimately winning his first title in that dramatic last lap which saw Massa's family celebrating only for Lewis to overtake Glock in the final few corners and take it for himself. At this point McLaren or Ferrari had won 9 out of the last 11 WDCs and constructors championships. 2009 then brought the major aerodynamics regulations overhaul, and whilst the likes of Adrian Newey and Ross Brawn were completely focused on creating a winning package for F1's future during 2008, McLaren and Ferrari had been battling it out trying to gain a development edge in the 2008 championship and were left seriously compromised in their 2009 efforts. Neither McLaren nor Ferrari have won a championship since (joint longest period since the 9 seasons between 1965 and 1973, in which Lotus, Brabham, Matra and Tyrrell won championships).

With the resources and experience of Ferrari and McLaren, though, you would have expected them to find their way back to the top again pretty quickly but it hasn't happened for different reasons. Although Alonso was able to drag the Ferrari close to championships, the Ferrari design team has completely failed to build a car that even comes close to Red Bull in terms of mechanical and aerodynamic grip. McLaren, on the other hand, gradually closed the gap to Red Bull and probably built a car that was capable of winning the championship in 2012, only to completely drop the ball in the first half of the season with a multitude of errors (pit stops, fuel loads etc.) and then with reliability in the second half of the season. They then inexplicably got it completely wrong in 2013 and fell way back down in to the midfield.

The continued failures have eventually seen both teams lose arguably the two best drivers on the grid to try to take advantage of the change to the V6 engines in pastures new. Hamilton, no doubt frustrated by the 2012 season, left McLaren at the end of 2012 to move to the emerging and now dominant Mercedes (with Ross Brawn again masterminding the regulations transition). Alonso finally gave up on Ferrari at the end of last year after another season spent in a mediocre chassis now coupled with a mediocre engine. The saving grace for McLaren is that they convinced Alonso to move back to Woking despite their history. Ferrari haven't done too badly either, nabbing a 4 time world champion in Vettel, although time will tell if he can fill Alonso's shoes after suffering a pretty comprehensive defeat by Ricciardo in 2014.

What are the prospects for each of them now, then? Although it's now been six seasons without a championship and almost 2 seasons without a win for either team, they are still two of the power houses of F1 and surely they will find their way back to the top eventually.

In their efforts, McLaren have made two key choices (aside from grabbing Alonso) - becoming the lead team for the new Honda V6 and hiring Peter Prodromou from Red Bull. Now the engines have again become a key factor in performance, it would seem that the non-manufacturer teams have little chance of winning championships as they have to base their design around the choices made by the lead team. Although it seems unlikely that Honda will be able to compete with the Mercedes engine package straight away, both McLaren and Honda have a hugely successful history with V6 engines and the expectation is that they'll be right up there sooner or later. On the design side, Prodromou brings with him a wealth of knowledge about the incredible aerodynamics package on the Red Bull and will no doubt drive the team forward in that way, although long term the question will be whether he can stand on his own without the guidance of Newey.

Ferrari are not going to run anything other than a Ferrari engine anytime soon so they are "stuck" trying to get their V6 and associated energy recovery systems on to the level of Mercedes'. They still have the benefit of a year's worth of experience over Honda, though, and with the regulations allowing a large proportion of the power train to be changed this year they will almost certainly make a large performance step in this area. Having said that, there is absolutely no doubt that 2015 is a year of transition for Ferrari as they have completely overhauled their staff over the course of the last year in response to continued poor performance. I've lost count of all the changes but Domenicali was replaced by Mattiacci to be replaced by Arrivabene at the top, as well as other high profile departures such as Pat Fry and Nikolas Tombazis. The emphasis is now on James Allison, who proved his talent at Lotus, to develop a championship winning car. This year's design, though, will no doubt be compromised by the major restructuring of the team.

My two questions for you are: who will be the next to win a race between the two, and who will win a championship next? For me the decision comes down to:
  • Alonso vs. Vettel
  • Prodromou vs. Allison
  • Honda vs. Ferrari engine.
I've hacked a poll in such a way that you can choose one team for the next race win, and a different team for the next championship. I suspect most people will go for McLaren, but I really think it could go either way. The poll will close after 2 months, so you can cheat and watch the first two races of the season before you decide if you like... I think Ferrari will be the stronger package in 2015 (as McLaren/Honda get to grips with the new engine), but that neither of them will win a race during the year. From 2016 I think McLaren will be the stronger package so I've gone for them for both options.
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Ferrari should be closer to wins and thus Champion Titles than MaClaren simply because of the lessons they should have learned from last year. MaC on the other hand have lost many of the engine and powertrain lessons thay had last year since its a different engine and installation.

Also Honda, whilst I am sure they have many great engineers, start with almost nil current F1 knowledge. The changes that MaC need to make to install the inad may not have been the way they would have changed things from last year if they had kept the Merc so unless they find a double diffuser type rule they should start behind almost everyone. And Honda have one less engine this year than everyone else had last year but we know how close many many drivers were to engine penatlies....it may be fast but if its fargile it will get "nul points"

Having said all that I think Ferrari will win races first but then the pressure will get to the team and they will crack....I think the revised and enhanced corporate focus at MaClaren Honda will result in a Championship before Ferrari....

We may find out more in the next few days.... Roll on Testing :)
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Ferrari have set themselves two wins as a target so what happens if they don't achieve it and have gone massive overhaul to the point it is a brand new team although James Allison is there after witnessing a bloodshed

Mclaren have not set any defined goals but they would expect to be challenging for the podiums and there was signs they were getting back to the front towards the end of last season certainly in Button's hands being able to at least mix it with Red Bull and Williams

I would think given the directions and performance of the two teams last season Mclaren would be in better position to build momentum but the initial shakedown with the Honda engine did not give any clear indication of the engine compared to the other teams

Getting back the engine development will be massive to Honda who have had a year to review the data from the Mercedes engine

For Ferrari there has been too many changes and require more rebuilding time to get them back to the front , we know how hard Alonso can push teams but we don't know if Vettel can do the same having only driven for a team who produced the best car for the last 5 years prior to 2014
Alonso will need to bring more than 6 tenths to Mclaren this time around if they were to challenge Mercedes.. and how much will Vettel bring to Ferrari or will they go backwards
I've gone for Ferrari for both, although I believe that a championship for either is a long way off.

I don't know if Alonso has been designated the number 1 driver. Particularly with JB's popularity in Japan, Honda might prefer that Jensen not be designated the "lesser" driver. If he ISN'T named the number 1, will FA behave as he did in 2007?

It is also true that both McLaren drivers are getting a bit long in the tooth in F1 years, while Vettel is still in his prime years. I also think that Seb and Kimi will work well together, and from what I have heard, they both prefer cars that handle the same way, whereas FA and Kimi preferred opposite traits in the handling department. That should facilitate much more rapid improvement.
McLaren on both accounts. I can't see how anybody could be bullish on Ferrari right now. If they struggle out of the box this year then we can expect a disinterested Kimi and a disillusioned Seb. He almost quit last year ya know! :o LOL And if it's not one of them leading Maranello back to prominence, then who?
Christian Horner said he almost quit last year and he's the spurned lover.

When it comes down to it, other than the Schumacher period, Ferrari has been a poisoned chalice since the mid 80's. There have been a lot of very highly rated drivers who have gone there and not got the car to get to the front with Alonso being the latest one. As much as I rate Seb, (as a driver having a year where he suprisingly beaten by a team mate does not a bad driver make......ask every other driver in the field who have all been beaten at least once) I don't think he on his own is going to turn round the Ferrari issue. Unless of course he does what Schumacher did and brings in his own people. Horner, Brawn, Newy and a number 2 driver who is great on set up but has slower race pace in the mould of Barrichello (Rosberg maybe?) should do it. That ain't going to happen.

So as much as I dislike Ron Dennis as a man and the constant media jibes at everyone by Alonso I'm going to have to plump for Mclaren. Button and Alonso are a great development pair and Honda usually get things right in the end. It'll take a couple of years though and it may not be Button and Alonso that reap the rewards of it all.

I'm going to be very brave and say "No wins for either team in 2015"

You can quote me on that - I know you will teabagyokel ;)
If the first numbers coming out of testing are to be believed we are, again, going to be looking for Mercedes to fail for another team to win so not such a bold prediction RasputinLives
Ok then heres another question - if both the Ferrari and the Mclaren turn out to be turkeys who will fall out of love first; Vettel and Ferrari or Alonso and Mclaren?
Alonso. With his previous history at the team, I don't expect them to cut him a lot of slack.

I am also not convinced of his ability to develop a car. In his five years at Maranello, the team finished: 3rd, 3rd, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. Their point totals were: 396,375,400,354, and 216.

From that, it appears that they were on a constant downward trend while FA was their lead driver. Not a ringing endorsement of his abilities to improve a team, as far as I can see.
Depends on whats on offer to them....

Alonso can't expect go back to Ferrari so he's stuck unless a Merc role opens up (not much chance of that at present) or unless Red Bull reverse their driver policy and go for him over all the young guns they have in tow ; would he jump ship for Williams if they were close to the front ; it seems like his only option if the Honda unit is crap?

Vettel can be patient and give Ferrari three years and unless he gets pummeled by Kimi or his replacement there would still be interest in him in the drivers market.
Ferrari have done something with their motor over the winter break with both the factory team and Sauber looking quick so I've gone for Ferrari for both. This season at least I doubt McLaren will be competitive until half way through and by then they may well have used up most of their engine allocation for both drivers.
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