Italian media putting Ferrari under ‘huge pressure’

Ferrari have failed to secure a podium in all three races so far this season, a disappointing start to Frederic Vasseur’s time as team principal.

Ferrari is seen as Italy’s national team, with the Constructor facing day-to-day pressure on and off-track, as its success or failures are dissected in the national media.

On a daily basis, there are newspaper headlines about Ferrari’s performance, putting the team under the microscope, adding to the need for the team principal and drivers to deliver victories.

Former Ferrari test driver Pedro de la Rosa and race engineer Rob Smedley have explained that additional challenges presented by the bright media spotlight on the team.

“When I was at Ferrari, I remember in the Monday morning after a bad result, I go to the factory and I went into Stefano’s office and there was La Gazzetta dello Sport opened, his mail [on] his office desk, and I realised that we were in trouble. You know, that’s a bit [of] radiography of what Ferrari is like,” De la Rosa told the F1 Nation podcast. 

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“It’s a difficult team. There’s a lot of huge pressure from the press mounting up and the moment that you haven’t had a good result that specific weekend, already on Sunday, at 4pm, you already know what kind of week you’re going to have the next week.”

“Pedro’s absolutely right, the media is almost part of the team, and lots of team principals have had a go at either embracing that or trying to stop that,” Smedley added. 

“But in the end, it’s kind of a fact of life, that the strength of the Italian media, or the power of the Italian media is inveigled in the team psyche. Absolutely.”

The fear of pressure comes as Ferrari finds itself having dropped down the grid compared to last year’s performance

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While 2022 saw Ferrari fight Red Bull during some races, at one point resulting in the Italian outfit taking the lead in the Constructors’ battle, that ability to compete hasn’t been visible this year.

Ferrari’s best result of the year has been a P4 finish in Bahrain, although Carlos Sainz was over 48 seconds off the pace of the eventual winner Max Verstappen.

Since Bahrain, Ferrari has dropped further down the grid, finishing sixth in Saudi Arabia and leaving Australia with a pointless finish.

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“So when you have a good race, they will write brilliant things about you, and when things aren’t going as well, then, you know, it just needs somebody with the gravitas of Lapo Elkann to say something like ‘Ferrari need to wake up’, and that becomes a real thing within the team,” Smedley explained. 

“Now, depending on, how much Fred [Vasseur, current team principal] can protect everybody from that is dependent on how much people get distracted, but it can be a distraction. 

“And I know from personal experience that it can be a distraction, especially when it’s about you personally.”