Ferrari is the one constant thread in the story of Formula One.
The Maranello outfit totally dominated the early part of the 21st century spearheaded by the great Michael Schumacher and subsequently Kimi Raikkonen, taking six drivers titles and eight constructors' titles during a period of unrelenting domination. Surprisingly however, their last constructors' title came in 2008, and since then betting sites have consistently predicted other teams to win, initially favouring McLaren and Renault, and more recently Red Bull and now Mercedes, despite having the driving talents of two-time world champion Fernando Alonso at their disposal. Their history however, has assuredly remained intertwined in F1, and you can never write them off.
Enzo Ferrari ended the Second World War with a substantial factory since, during hostilities, he had made ball bearings for the military using machinery pirated from German designs. The first Ferrari cars appeared in 1947 and there was little difference at first between formula and sports models.
Alfa Romeo withdrew from Formula One during 1949 and Ferrari expected to clean up but was twice defeated by ageing, normally aspirated, Talbot-Lagos which used less fuel. This prompted Ferrari to abandon supercharging, a significant move since supercharging had been a feature of Grand Prix racing for more than 20 years.
The return of Mercedes-Benz in 1954 saw Ferrari wrong-footed, its designs were simply not up to the competition and when Lancia hit financial trouble in early 1955, Fiat brokered a deal whereby Ferrari took over the Lancia team cars and also received a subsidy from Fiat because Ferrari success was good for all Italian industry.
The successes that Scuderia Ferrari gained with its Lancias, should be credited to Lancia, in the same way that Tyrrell's wins with Matra and March chassis are credited to Matra and March.
Ferrari was late to latch on to new developments such as disc brakes and mid-engined designs, and after brief success in 1956, running Lancias, Ferrari would not know dominance again until 1961. Meanwhile, its reputation was secured by its sports racing and GT cars and, from the late 1950s Ferrari also took the manufacture of road cars seriously.
Ferrari's success in Formula One in 1961 was partly due to the fact that British constructors were against the new 1.5-litre formula and lobbied for it to be changed. So confident were they that they would succeed that they were late with new designs. After a dominant season, interrupted only by the genius of Stirling Moss, Ferrari again slumped when many of his most senior lieutenants left to start the ATS project.
After a thin season in 1962, Ferrari recruited John Surtees and Mike Parkes, both brilliant driver/engineers and they turned Ferrari around with Surtees taking the 1964 World Championship.
Surtees might have taken the title again in 1966, but he was dismissed after a row with Ferrari's team manager Eugenio Dragoni. This stupid act of self-destruction by Ferrari saw it slump for several years. It was a self-inflicted wound, but one which is typical of Ferrari's history.
In 1968 Enzo Ferrari sold 90% of his road car business to Fiat, and 50% of Scuderia Ferrari, retaining control of the racing side for the rest of his life.
For the next few years, Ferrari's fortunes fluctuated largely because of inherent conservatism. One thing which did affect results was aerodynamics, specifically the height of the rear wing as it was regulated in any one year. When rear wings were lowered, Ferrari improved because it ran flat-12 engines and could therefore get more air under the wing than teams using the relatively high DFV engine.
This advantage coincided with the arrival of Niki Lauda who, like Surtees before him, drove the team to new excellence. Ferrari was caught out by the arrival of ground effect, which was difficult to exploit with a flat-12 engine, and by the introduction of carbonfibre chassis. The Scuderia responded by employing Dr. Harvey Postlethwaite as chief designer for 1982.
Postlethwaite brought British chassis expertise to a firm famous for its engines. Ferrari made superb turbocharged units, but its chassis in 1981 was terrible.
Enzo Ferrari himself died in 1988 having created an automotive legend. Many may take comfort from the fact that he was 49-years-old when the first Ferrari was built.
A winning streak - 1975-1979 and 1982-1983 - usually meant that Ferrari fell apart and became a back marker for several seasons, but times changed.
The transformation occurred in 1996 when Michael Schumacher was recruited with an unprecedented pay cheque. Schumacher had the clout, the talent and the intelligence, to assemble the people he wanted to transform Ferrari into Scuderia Schumacher. Rory Byrne, Benetton's Chief Designer, had plans to bum around the world in a sailing boat, but Ferrari made him an offer he could not refuse.
Michael had worked with Rory and Technical Director, Ross Brawn, at Benetton. Brawn came on board and his design ability and racing strategies were crucial to the team's renaissance.
Jean Todt was recruited from Peugeot and he brought organisation to what had often been a team in name only.
Schumacher had stood head and shoulders above all other drivers since the mid-1990s. Allied to an astonishing talent as a driver was a cool brain and a rational evaluation of his own worth. Ferrari was Michael's team, he created it, and any driver in the second car has to accept that.
Eddie Irvine made hay while Michael was side-lined by injury for a while in 1999. Rubens Barrichello showed that he could win, but seemed to be under the illusion that his contract, which said he had the same status as Schumacher, translated into the real world. Where was Barrichello when Schumacher was assembling the team?
Unlike most of its rivals since the late 1950s, Ferrari makes its own engines and transmissions. On the other hand, for more than a quarter of a century rival engineers have been of the opinion that, with Ferrari's budget and resources, it should have won every single race.
In 2002 Ferrari produced what must surely be one of the finest Formula One cars ever, the F2002. The Scuderia already had Michael Schumacher, arguably the finest ever F1 driver on board, therefore the result was a forgone conclusion.
The Italian team won 15 races and finished the season with exactly the same amount of points as all its rivals put together. Yet rather than covering itself in glory, Ferrari managed to upset almost everyone with its team orders, staged finishes and general attitude towards sportsmanship.
The 2002 World Championship was a stunning success for Ferrari, yet many now accused the Italian team of damaging the sport, possibly irreparably. The fact that Schumacher had wrapped up the title by mid-season is testament to the team's superiority and its opponents' weakness.
Post-2002, widespread criticism of the sport followed by the loss of TV viewers and indeed sponsors was largely put down to the Italian team's outrageous cynicism. For 2003, in an effort to revive public interest, and to prevent another Schumacher/Ferrari steamroller, all number of rules were changed. If McLaren, WilliamsF1, Renault and friends couldn't beat them on-track, perhaps it was time for the FIA to throw a spanner in Ferrari's works by making things a little bit harder for them courtesy of some new regulations.
Despite claims at the launch of the F2003-GA, named in honour of FIAT boss, the late Gianni Agnelli, that this was Maranello's best F1 car ever, the Scuderia made hard work of winning its thirteenth Constructors' Championship.
After a couple of races the mass media was claiming that both Ferrari and Schumacher had had their day. The German finished fourth in Australia then two weeks later finished sixth, a lap down on winner Kimi Raikkonen, in Malaysia. In Brazil the German slid off in the wet into the same barrier that had previously accounted for a number of other drivers. Barrichello wasn't faring any better, with two DNFs and one second.
At Imola however it all came good. Schumacher, despite mourning the death of his mother, gave a bravura performance that began a string of three wins that put him, and Ferrari, back in contention.
As the season developed, the Italian team was under increasing pressure from both WilliamsF1 and McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen. Although Schumacher and Barrichello did all they could to resist the challenge they were hindered by their Bridgestones, which were largely out-classed by their French rivals.
Some strong performances, divine intervention - by way of the weather - suspect stewarding and dogged determination saw Schumacher and Ferrari add another couple of titles to the trophy cabinet. Sadly the season was somewhat marred by the silly squabble over the legality of the Michelins, with Ross Brawn lucky not to be sued for some of his comments.
Despite making such hard work of the 2003 championship, Ferrari opted to remain faithful to the team that secured nine titles in the past five years - with good reason.
At the launch of the team's 2004 contender, the F2004, Ferrari's fiftieth single-seater, Jean Todt and Ross Brawn were at pains to point out that the team was not resting on its laurels and was "looking ahead".
Pre-season testing indicated that the opposition was catching up, and that, at long last, Ferrari's reign was over... then came Melbourne.
Nothing could have prepared Formula One for the tour de force that was Ferrari in 2004. From the first practice session in Melbourne it was clear that the Italian team, and Schumacher, was in a league of its own.
Everything was perfect, the car, the driver(s), the tyres, the strategy, the team, even the weather worked in favour of the Maranello outfit. If anyone ever needed convincing that God is a fully paid up member of the tifosi, just look at how the weather conditions favoured Ferrari, and Bridgestone, during those first races of the season.
However, that's not taking anything away from the Italian team. They won because they deserved too, because they were the best. Schumacher took five straight wins - with Barrichello finishing second on three occasions. Then came the blip at Monaco, when the German collided with nemesis Juan Pablo Montoya in the tunnel.
Would Michael have won, could he have gone on to win every single race of the 2004 season? There are some that think so, and cite the German's uncharacteristic outburst in the back of the Ferrari garage as clear proof. Then again, Jarno Trulli was on magnificent form in the Principality, and fully deserved his win.
In spite of Monaco, Schumacher went on to take another seven consecutive wins, with Rubens finishing runner-up on four more occasions.
The opposition could only watch and weep, happy to except any small crumb that fell from the table. BAR had shown a considerable improvement in form, but it was no match for Ferrari. Despite finishing runner-up in the Constructors' Championship, the British team had less than half of the Italian outfit's total points.
Once Schumacher had wrapped up the title - in Hungary - he clearly eased off, which allowed teammate Barrichello to take a brace of wins.
Ferrari had destroyed the opposition, and added another two trophies to its already bulging cabinet.
Sadly, despite the success of 2004, the Italian team's season was once again marred, with continued claims that Rubens was not allowed to race Michael
For what it's worth, who is to say that Rubens wasn't racing Michael? The truth is that the German was simply a much better driver.
Ferrari began the 2005 season pretty much cast as the villain, having done a 180-degree about-turn and abandoned the group threatening a breakaway series (GPWC), and signed up to Bernie Ecclestone's new Concorde Agreement.
To make matters worse, and further isolate the Italian team, Ferrari refused to sign up to an agreement - signed by the other nine teams - to a 30-day limit on testing during the season.
Consequently, even before the first practice session of 2005, Ferrari was already regarded as the 'bad guy'.
At the launch of the F2005, Ross Brawn described the car as the best the team had ever created. Based on the evidence of the preceding season, who would doubt him?
With the benefit of hindsight it would be easy to suggest that in future Ross avoids superlatives, however, perhaps the Englishman wasn't so wrong. The F2005 car was a fantastic car, trouble is, the McLaren, Renault, and to a lesser extent Toyota, were better.
The new regulations, with regards tyres and the 25 percent reduction in downforce, hit Ferrari particularly hard, a situation not helped by the fact that Michelin had finally got it right.
The Italian outfit retained a brave face for much of the season, and drivers and management refused to lay the blame at Bridgestone's door. However, the truth is that Bridgestone wasn't entirely to blame, Ferrari too had got it wrong. As Bridgestone and Ferrari worked to find a solution, the situation was massively hindered by the fact that no other serious team was running on Japanese rubber, therefore there was no useful data available that might have helped solve the problem.
Towards the end of the season - after a mammoth test programme - the Bridgestones were clearly improving, yet the F2005, particularly with regards aerodynamics, was unable to make good use of them.
There were good days of course - and we do not refer to the debacle that was the United States Grand Prix. At Bahrain, the F2005's first race, having been introduced two races earlier than originally planned, the car was (pace-wise) a match for the Renault, whilst at Imola, Schumacher was clearly quicker than Alonso, especially in the closing stages. Monaco was another good track for the car.
Yet overall, the Ferrari was never really a match for the two cars that fought it out for the Constructors' Championship, and for much of the year it was about damage limitation.
As ever, Michael Schumacher gave it his best shot, and some would say that the German gave some of his best performances during the season. Then again, there were days (Shanghai), when even the seven-time champion must have wondered why he'd bothered getting out of bed. At Imola, and again at Suzuka, however, he was awesome.
In his sixth season with Ferrari, Rubens Barrichello clearly felt it was time to make a change, a situation exacerbated by the performance of the car. Then again, the Brazilian, having played second-fiddle to Schumacher for so long, will not have been happy with the incidents at Monaco or Indianapolis, when his teammate made it quite clear - yet again - that he doesn't take prisoners, not even within his own team.
After the disappointment of 2005, much was expected of the 2006 car, designated the 248 F1.
With Barrichello off to Honda, Schumacher was joined by Felipe Massa, who - surprise, surprise - was managed by Jean Todt's son, Nicholas.
In the early races the team struggled, the Bridgestones looking to be no match for the Michelins. Furthermore, there was controversy regarding the Ferrari's rear wing, which was said to be flexing. Following a protest, the Italian team carried out the necessary modifications between the San Marino and European Grands Prix, with (ironically), Schumacher winning both events.
Although Alonso strung together four successive wins beginning in Spain, Schumacher hit back with victories in the United States, France and Germany.
At Monaco, Schumacher had been relegated to the back of the grid when stewards claimed he had deliberately tried to halt the qualifying session. As the season progressed, and with some sections of the media still murmuring about flexing wings, the FIA banned Renault's controversial mass damper system, even though it had been in use, and therefore deemed legal, since late 2005.
There was also growing speculation at to Ferrari's plans for 2007, namely, would Michael Schumacher continue racing, and if not who would replace him. With question marks over the future of Jean Todt, Ross Brawn, and Rory Byrne also, the team revealed that an announcement would be made at Monza, and not before.
Despite the slow start to the season, by late summer Schumacher and Ferrari were back in the hunt for both titles, with victory at Monza bringing the gap in the Drivers' Championship down to two points.
While the tifosi cheered a famous victory at the Autodromo Nazionale, Ferrari was already issuing the press release that announced Schumacher's retirement, and the recruitment of Kimi Raikkonen, who had signed a three-year deal with the Scuderia.
Victory in China suggested that Schumacher was going to 'sign off' in style, retiring from the sport with eight World Championship titles. However, an engine failure in Japan - Ferrari's first since Indianapolis 2001 - appeared to put an end to the dream.
In Brazil, Schumacher gave one of the finest performances of his 250 race career, but it was not enough, the titles remained with Fernando Alonso and Renault, However, Ferrari could at least take consolation from the fact that Interlagos saw Felipe Massa take his second win of the season, the Brazilian giving a master-class performance.
Ferrari had won seven of the eighteen races in 2006, but it was not enough, the Italian team losing out to Renault by five points. Whether both titles were lost during qualifying at Monaco or at the Japanese GP is a matter to be discussed on long winter nights over a glass of wine. Others have already made their minds up.
At season end Ferrari gave further details of its plans for the future, with Rory Byrne heading off into the sunset, Ross Brawn going fishing and Paolo Martinelli taking up a new role at FIAT. This, coupled with Schumacher's retirement left many wondering whether Ferrari would recover, far less rediscover its (championship) winning ways.
For his part, Schumacher was given the role of 'special assistant', though it was a year later (January 2008) before Todt admitted that the German had actually been offered the position of Team Principal but turned it down. That said, it was noticeable that whenever the seven-time champion did make an appearance over the course of a race weekend in 2007, Raikkonen's performance took an obvious dip.
With so many changes, not least the departure of the 'dream team', many were convinced that the Maranello outfit's reign had come to an end, with some predicting that the decision to concentrate on 'home grown' talent could see the team revert to the dark, non-winning, ways of the late seventies and eighties.
Though many thought the Italian team would face an uphill battle on-track in 2007, it was events off-track that dominated.
Though Kimi Raikkonen took a strong, convincing win in Melbourne, getting his Ferrari career off to the best possible start, the victory was subsequently clouded in controversy when it was claimed that the team used a 'moving floor'. However, much worse was to follow, when the team fired Race Technical Manager, Nigel Stepney, accusing him of sabotage. Shortly afterwards, the charge became espionage, and so began the spy saga that was to dominate the sport for much of the year.
Back on track, Todt cited reliability problems as the reason Ferrari appeared to be losing out to McLaren, though to be fair in a season in which overall reliability of all the teams was excellent - save the Red Bull teams - the Italian outfit only suffered three race failures. That said, the loss of the team's windtunnel for two weeks early in the season was another bitter blow.
For whatever reason, McLaren, back on Bridgestones for the first time since 2001, seemed to adapt to the Japanese rubber - particularly the super-softs - better than Ferrari, however, for much of the year the two teams were pretty evenly matched. That said, Ferrari appeared to have the sheer speed, and, certainly in the final phase of the season, was pushing harder in terms of development.
Whatever one's view of the spy saga, which eventually saw McLaren excluded from the Constructors' Championship, the fact is that Ferrari, despite the loss of its 'dream team' won both titles. And though Bernie Ecclestone claims that the titles were lost by McLaren, there is no denying that the Italian team fought until the bitter end.
Despite his apprenticeship under Schumacher, Felipe Massa never seriously appeared to be a genuine contender for the title. On the other hand, Raikkonen, despite a few blips, kept his head down and eventually turned the championship on its head.
It's sad that, according to the British media, Lewis Hamilton lost the 2007 title, for Raikkonen was a worthy winner. Despite all the bullshit floating about the Finn got on with the job - as did his team - and even though the cause appeared lost, they never gave up.
Both drivers were retained for 2008, and while we expected to see an improvement from Massa, Raikkonen had to be hot favourite for another title, having finally got the monkey off his back, so to speak.
Meanwhile, having finally laid the ghost of the 'dream team' to rest, Stefano Domenicali, promoted to the role of Director of the Gestione Sportiva on 1st January 2008 was keen to oversee the beginning of a new - home grown led - golden era at Maranello.
Following the success of the 2007 car, Aldo Costa opted not to change a winning formula, the car was once again strong aerodynamically while the F2008 was more successful in handling slow corners and riding kerbs. Tyres, however, continued to be an issue. Particularly in qualifying, the F2008 failed to generate heat quickly enough in the front tyres, though once fully up to speed the car was blindingly fast.
It was soon clear that the F2008, with its tendency to understeer, suited Massa far more than Raikkonen, and that, combined with what appeared to be a loss of motivation from the Finn led to some strange performances and ultimately having to play support act to the Brazilian.
There were only two tracks where the F2008 appeared unable to compete with the McLaren, Hockenheim and Shanghai, both widely thought to be down to the team's conservative approach to its tyre choice.
Despite the engine freeze, the 056 appeared to improve as the season developed, with more than a little help from Shell. All in all, the Ferrari powerplant was right up there with the Mercedes.
But then there was reliability, with Massa cruelly robbed of victory in Hungary by a con-rod failure, only for Raikkonen to suffer a similar failure at Valencia. Both failures were subsequently traced to impurity in the materials used. Raikkonen also lost the French Grand Prix due to an exhaust problem, thought to be due to the team's decision to run his engine lean in an attempt to extend the length of his run following his first pit stop.
Then there were the operational failures, not least the pitlane traffic light system which led to problems for Raikkonen at Valencia and the debacle in Singapore when Massa was released early, a move which led to a Keystone Cops moment which was to cause much hilarity in the media but which also helped Hamilton further establish his grip on the title.
Having won the Constructors' Championship and missed out on the drivers' title by just one point, Ferrari will no doubt feel that 2008 wasn't entirely unsuccessful.
However, while we saw a vast improvement in Massa, Raikkonen's descent into relative obscurity was somewhat alarming, as were some of the mistakes made by the team, both in terms of strategy and reliability.
Massa and Raikkonen were both retained for 2009 the season in which Ferrari celebrated its 60th anniversary. We say "celebrated" but in reality by season end there was little for the Maranello outfit to smile about.
To put it bluntly, the F60, named in recognition of the team's 60th anniversary, was a dog of a car, and there is no single reason why this proved to be the case.
The raft of new rules were always going to level the playing field somewhat - after all, that was the intention - but the fact that Ferrari and McLaren took the 2008 title fights down to the wire was to cost both teams dearly in terms of progress with their 2009 contenders.
Like the majority of its rivals, Ferrari was caught out by the double diffuser saga, however, in all honesty once the FIA had approved the idea the Maranello outfit was amongst the first to come up with a competitive version.
The introduction of the double diffuser however, meant that other changes had to be made to the car and while the team did undertake a massive programme of updates it stopped short of introducing a new gearbox aware that that not only would it require a major testing programme but that the season was effectively already lost.
Tyres once again proved to be a problem, the F60 unable to generate heat quickly enough, particularly at the front. This proved costly in terms of qualifying and had a serious impact on Raikkonen whose driving style is less suited than Massa to the subsequent understeer.
The fact that chief aerodynamicist John Iley - who had joined Ferrari from Renault in 2003 - left the team mid-season probably tells you all you need to know.
There were some good performances, most notably Massa at Barcelona, until a faulty fuel display caused him to back off, and again Monaco. A steady performance in Germany saw the 2008 runner-up score his first podium result of the year however a horrendous incident during qualifying in Hungary two weeks later brought his season to an abrupt end.
Raikkonen had another hit and miss season, and, ironically, it was only once Massa had been sidelined that the Finn appeared to come alive scoring a string of strong results including a win in Belgium. It was to be the Maranello outfit's only win of the season, its worst tally since 2005 and before that 1995.
With Massa out of action the team sensationally looked to its "development consultant" to fill the void, a German by the name of Michael Schumacher.
Given that there was a four-week gap between the Hungarian and European Grands Prix, Ferrari was confident that the 7-time world champion could soon be brought up to speed. However, Williams and Red Bull were quick to register their objections to the German testing a contemporary car and so permission was given for him to run in a 2007 car while he would supplement this with some serious Kart running.
Writing on his website on 4 August, Schumacher complained of neck pains, the result of an accident earlier in the year while competing in a motor cycle race. A few days later, Ferrari officially announced that "a problem" had prevented Schumacher from replacing Massa and that Luca Badoer would be driving the second car in Valencia.
As Pitpass has since reported, the "problem" wasn't so much the neck pain but the fact that Schumacher found the F60 to be a pain in the neck. According to our sources the German did drive the F60 in a secret (illegal) test at Mugello and, on climbing out of the car, told members of the team: "If you think I'm risking my reputation in that piece of s**t you've got to be joking".
Following two horrendous races, Badoer was replaced by another likeable Italian veteran, Giancarlo Fisichella, who had been recruited from Force India. Giancarlo, who came fresh taking pole position and finishing second at Spa, now found himself struggling to get into Q2 in the Ferrari far less battle it out for points.
Ignoring Badoer, whose last Grand Prix outing was ten years earlier, Fisichella's form in the F60, coupled with Schumacher's comments, speaks volumes of the performances of Massa and Raikkonen.
At season end, with only Raikkonen adding to the points tally, McLaren pipped the Maranello outfit to take third in the Constructors' Championship, the Italian team's worst finish since 1993.
At the end of September, the team announced that it had signed Fernando Alonso for 2010 while making a hefty payment to Raikkonen in order to prematurely terminate his contract. The signing of Alonso - surely the worst kept secret of the year - had been delayed while the Italian manufacturer waited on the result of the World Motor Sport Council's investigation into 'Crashgate'.
Other than Alonso, all eyes were on Massa to see how the Brazilian fared not only in terms of his recovery following his accident but also how he worked alongside his new teammate, who, after all, has history.
After the disappointment of 2009, much was expected of the F10 and initial signs were very good. With double diffusers given the all clear - at least for 2010 - the new car had been built around the controversial device. While the F-duct and blown diffuser were not to appear until later in the season, two interesting features of the F10 were the fact that at the rear the engine was tilted upwards - allowing the diffuser greater capacity - and a longer, narrow bottomed gearbox.
Launched on January 28, the car was due to be shaken down by Massa later in the afternoon. Sadly, weather conditions meant the car didn't make its first public run until a few days later when the first pre-season test got underway at Valencia.
Alonso led home a famous 1-2 in Bahrain, the season opener, however, this owed more to a problem with Sebastian Vettel's car rather than the F10 being the latest Maranello 'wondercar'.
By the time of the Spanish GP, the F10 was widely acknowledged to be around 1s off the pace of the Red Bulls, the deficit widely believed to be down to the car's aerodynamic deficiencies. At Maranello the team had been working furiously however, few new components were making it on to the actual cars.
For Spain, the team introduced its version of the F-duct - a device pioneered by McLaren, with its version of the blown diffuser - Red Bull's contribution to the sport - on the car in time for the European Grand Prix. The blown diffuser meant a number of changes to the car including the repositioning of the exhaust between the rear upper and lower wishbones, a beefed up bodywork and rear upper and lower wishbone assemblies to handle the temperatures and repositioning of the rear brake ducts.
Despite decent performances at Barcelona and Monaco, Ferrari continued to lose ground, with McLaren now edging into the lead of the championship having taken back-to-back 1-2s in Turkey and Canada.
Imagine therefore, the mirth in Britain when, Alonso declared, via the team radio, "we will win this championship". This came moments after the team's first non points finish since Abu Dhabi the previous year, leaving some to think the Spaniard had lost the plot.
Silverstone had been a particularly galling race for the Maranello outfit, its two drivers tangling at the start and Alonso subsequently being handed a penalty for illegally passing Robert Kubica who had retired from the race by the time the penalty was handed out.
No strangers to controversy, Ferrari found themselves in the spotlight once again just a couple of weeks later in an incident that brought back memories of 2002.
Felipe Massa was leading the race, with Fernando looking good for second, the team's second 1-2 of the year. However, via the team radio, Alonso made it clear that he thought he should be leading the Ferrari steamroller. Invoking memories of Austria 2002, a move which caused the FIA to ban team orders, Massa was effectively told to slow and allow his teammate through. What should have been a great moment for the team, indeed, a moment in which its season turned around, instead became a source of utter embarrassment.
While Massa visibly sunk in the wake of Hockenheim, Alonso was on a roll. A strong second in Belgium, where the team introduced an improved double diffuser layout, was followed by a commanding win at Monza, where the team introduced a number of modifications including new front and rear wings.
Wins in Singapore and Korea meant that Alonso's Silverstone prediction was now being taken very, very seriously. As Massa slunk into the shadows, his Spanish teammate became team leader and though one might query how it happened it is what was needed, the team needed a leader.
Sebastian Vettel took a sublime win in Brazil but going into the season finale in Abu Dhabi, Alonso held an 8 point advantage over Mark Webber and 15 point lead over his German teammate. Surely, in the eyes of most, the title was Alonso's (and Ferrari's) to lose. And lose it they did.
The team made a disastrous strategic call when, for reasons known only to themselves, they opted to follow Webber when he pitted. As it happened, the strategy failed on a number of levels, not only had the Spaniard pitted too soon, he emerged in heavy traffic. For much of the race, Alonso was stuck behind Vitaly Petrov the Russian yet to secure a drive for 2011. While the onus was on the Ferrari driver to pass the Russian it appeared he didn't want to. Indeed, his gesticulating at the end of the race appeared to suggest that - as in the case with Massa in Germany - Alonso thought he had a divine right to pass.
Alonso finished runner-up in the championship, four points shy of Vettel, while Ferrari finished third in the Constructors' Championship again, over one hundred points behind its Austrian rivals.
Accepting defeat in Abu Dhabi, Alonso talked of his new found passion for the sport with his new team, yet warned that it must learn from the mistakes of 2010. While it was widely speculated, including here on Pitpass, that Massa would head off elsewhere, the Brazilian remained. However, it was unclear how he must have felt about some of the post-season criticism, especially from Luca do Montezemolo.
In the wake of the Abu Dhabi disaster, there were calls in the Italian media, and even from leading politicians in Italy, for heads to roll at Maranello, with di Montezemolo usually in the firing line. However, four days into the new year it was announced that Chris Dyer had been replaced as Head of Race Track Engineering, the Australian appearing to be the fall guy for the Italian team's failure.
2011 hardly got off to the best of starts when Ferrari found itself embroiled in a row over the name of its car. Ford sued the Italian outfit claiming that F150 was the name given to one of its most popular pick-up trucks, insisting that this could cause confusion for customers. The Maranello outfit then renamed its car the F150th Italia before shortening it to 150º Italia, the two automotive giants settling their case out of court.
Although pre-season testing had gone well, it was clear in Melbourne that the Ferrari didn't have the pace of the McLaren, far less the Red Bull, with even the Mercedes and Renault giving the red car a run for its money.
Technical Director, Pat Fry, was to later claim that 2011 was all about evolution not revolution, the F150 Italia suffering from a number of issues including its failure to come up with a decent exhaust/diffuser package and also its failure to get to grips with the new Pirelli rubber, particularly the harder compounds. It is no coincidence that the team's sole victory came at Silverstone, where use of the blown diffuser was restricted.
While both drivers were in the points in the season opener, they qualified fifth and eighth and eventually finished fourth and seventh. This was to be a regular pattern, the Maranello outfit picking up the crumbs from the table after Red Bull, in particular, and McLaren, had gorged.
Like its Milton Keynes and Woking rivals, Ferrari scored points in every race, however, the first podium didn't come until Turkey, the first front row grid position until Canada.
Finishing fifth in his home race, a lap down on race winner Sebastian Vettel was a major blow to Alonso - who had just extended his contract by a further four years - however, it was to be an even bigger blow to Technical Director, Aldo Costa, the Italian's sixteen year career at Maranello coming to an abrupt end when he was forced to walk the plank. Former McLaren man Pat Fry was subsequently promoted to the role of Technical Director.
At Silverstone, mainly due to the (temporary) ban on blown diffusers, Ferrari was able to give the Red Bulls a run for their money, though they'd also given the Austrian team a hard time in Turkey. That said, having come so close in 2010, a single win in 2011 was not the step forward the team had been hoping for.
Early in the second half of the season, the team admitted that it had switched its focus to 2012, subsequently recruiting Hirohide Hamashima, former head of tyre development at Bridgestone as it sought to overcome the ongoing problem with the Pirelli rubber.
Though he finished fourth in the standings, Alonso had one of his best seasons ever, the Spaniard, despite overwhelming odds, never giving up the fight. Teammate Massa however, continued to disappoint, and while Alonso took a win and nine further trips to the podium, the little Brazilian's best result was fifth, which, admittedly, he achieved six times.
Finishing third in the Constructors' Championship, 275 points down on the winners, was a bitter pill for the Maranello team and no wonder that the end-of-season threats from Luca di Montezemolo were even less veiled than in previous years.
Though the F150 Italia was extremely reliable, so too were the Red Bulls and McLarens, they were also winners, with the Austrian team taking twelve wins and its British rivals six.
Speaking ahead of the launch of the team's 2012 contender, and having admitted that it was not pretty, Luca di Montezemolo said that he didn't really care how ugly the car looked as long as it was a winner, a view shared by millions of fans around the world, including a certain Spaniard.
However, other than being ugly, the car was not a winner. Straight out of the box it was clear the F2012 was uncompetitive in terms of pace and handling. That the Italian team took the title down to the wire and Fernando Alonso scored three wins says much, much more about the Spaniard than his car.
While the car was 100 percent reliable - the only retirements of the year due to accidents - despite a determined, year-long development programme, the Italian team was always on the back foot.
That Ferrari took two poles, compared to McLaren's eight and Red Bull's seven says it all, Alonso frequently starting from the nether regions of the survivors of Q3. However, demon starts and dogged determination meant that other than his three wins the Spaniard made ten visits to the podium. Each of the wins was hard fought and thoroughly deserved.
Although frustrated, Alonso managed to spur the team on however problems with the Maranello windtunnel were to thwart their efforts.
In the latter stages of the season, Massa, who at one stage looked set to be dropped, got his act together and was able to aid his teammate in the fight for the constructors' title. Indeed, in the final couple of races the Brazilian's pace was better. Retained for 2013, much was expected not only of him but of his team. While the car had to have the reliability of the F2012 it also had to be quick and competitive straight out of the box - though the frenzied development of the 2012 car in the fight down to the wire was sure to have hit the team's 2013 programme.
In many ways it was a season of two halves for the Maranello team, a strong start only to slowly fade in the later stages. Pre-season testing indicated the F138 was competitive and second (Alonso) and fourth (Massa) in Melbourne suggested the Italian team had finally rediscovered its mojo.
However, despite the continued updates, as the season developed it was obvious that, like so many, the team was struggling with the Pirelli tyres and also aero grip. Sadly, again like several other teams, the mid-season change to the compounds resulted in Ferrari going in the wrong direction and in the end, with an eye on the major changes scheduled for 2014, development ground to halt as the team switched its focus to the year ahead.
Once again, in the eyes of many, Alonso was the 'peoples' champion', the Spaniard continually punching above his weight. However, there were a couple of occasions when his frustration got the better of him leading to continued speculation linking him with a move to rival teams including McLaren.
In addition to his wins in China and Spain, three consecutive seconds kept Alonso in the championship hunt until quite late in the season, though not as late as some sections of the media would have us believe.
Massa upped his game, certainly in the opening stages of the season indeed, there were several occasions when the Brazilian was clearly getting the better of his illustrious teammate. However, as his team's spirit wilted in the closing stages of the championship, so too did Massa's.
Other than the raft of new rules that see all the teams starting with a blank piece of paper in 2014, not least Ferrari and Mercedes, the only teams building their own engines, the decision to bring Kimi Raikkonen back on board is sure to hold our interest.
Billed as the 'fire and ice' combo it will be fascinating to see how these two work together, with some pointing to McLaren in 2007 and suggesting it will end in tears.
As ever, Luca di Montezemolo has been very vocal in terms of changes he wants to see made to the sport, a ploy many see as a typical smoke and mirrors approach to the failings of his team in recent years. Having lost out to the drinks manufacturer again in 2013 and even slipped behind Mercedes, there is much pressure on the Maranello outfit to raise its game. Sadly, in our humble opinion, we think that particular train has already moved on and that a major overhaul is needed.