People dislike seeing straigh-forward success stories. People take pleasure in following others through their path of initial struggle and eventual redemption. Every audience has a soft spot for the underdog, and Formula 1 is no exception. Ferrari's failure to capitalise on this dynamic might just be one of the biggest disappointments of the 2019 season.
Missing the fast lane
The first few rounds of the 2019 Championship would not be a fair representation on what this year's campaign panned out to be. What originally looked like an exciting, varied, surprisingly even playing field was trumped by Mercedes's apparent dominion.
Thi season, however, has given us many of those "underdog" stories the audience loves so much, and that is why it is already credited as the second most liked Championship of the decade, after 2012. Charles Leclerc's personal background added to this narrative, backed by on-track success. The comeback stories of Robert Kubica, Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly, the whole McLaren team were extremely beneficial to the sport, anchoring it to the "relatability" the 21st Century entertainment industry so desperately seeks and needs. Because motor racing is a sport, a business, but mostly an integral part of the entertainment industry. Ferrari pays the inability to deliver on that front for what seems like forever and, tragically, is almost a decade.
F1 and Ferrari: a story of codependency
The majority of motorsport fans are not here to ravel at the technical prowess that characterises Mercedes to the point of perfection. This does not make their involvement in the sport any less valid, but it definitely is something that the business behind F1 likes to remember.
Scuderia Ferrari has always been the backbone of the sport, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. It has been able to shape incredibly varied generations of fans: those who had been used to the most commanding of victories, and those who have stuck through thick and thin. The resilience this audience showed is what eventually made Ferrari so powerful. It is incredibly easy to support a team that never loses. When fans stay through the very worst of times, that's when you know the status of "iconic" has been reached.
This is the reason why Williams and McLaren still enjoy from such intense benevolence from any aficionado of the sport, and this is why comeback stories are needed. McLaren had theirs this year, and snatched a newfound breath of fresh air that benefited everyone. Williams is desperately looking for their own, and Kubica's year has not been coincidental in this. Ferrari has higher standards, and needs bigger comeback stories. When that time comes, we can be assured that the decline of Formula 1 as it is will have really been stopped. Postponed to the next decade, at the very least.
Written by Aurora Dell'Agli