Like no other, Ferrari is a team that has captured the hearts of racing aficionados in the fast-paced world of Formula One where speed, precision and cutting-edge technology collide.

Graham Duxbury

By Graham Duxbury

Ferrari is an Italian company that has produced world-class sports and racing cars since 1947 but traces its roots back to 1929 when Enzo Ferrari formed the Scuderia Ferrari racing team.

Today, Scuderia Ferrari’s distinctive scarlet livery and prancing black horse insignia are instantly recognisable as symbols of racing passion and automotive excellence.

For many drivers, the prospect of donning the illustrious red overalls and piloting a blood-red Ferrari is the realisation of a dream. It represents becoming a part of a lineage of time-honoured champions.

From the days of Juan Manuel Fangio and Alberto Ascari in the 1950s to the modern era of Michael Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc, the Ferrari cockpit has been likened to a seat reserved for legends.

There’s a good probability a new Ferrari legend will emerge in 2025. Lewis Hamilton’s unexpected switch from the Mercedes team to Ferrari – announced one year in advance – is the seven-time world champion’s boldest move yet, eclipsing his move from McLaren to Mercedes.

For Hamilton, joining a select fraternity where winning is expected is what makes Ferrari so alluring. Lewis’ intention to rejuvenate his career in pursuit of an elusive eighth championship aligns perfectly with this ethos.

Paging through the history books, we see that for Michael Schumacher, like Hamilton, the allure of Ferrari was irresistible. In 1996 the German maestro left Renault, with whom he had secured two world championships, with the intent to guide Ferrari to a new era of dominance.

Schumacher’s partnership with Ferrari resulted in five consecutive championship titles from 2000 to 2004, securing his place among the sport’s greats.

Sebastian Vettel, a four-time world champion with Red Bull, was drawn to Ferrari in 2015 because he wanted to emulate Schumacher, his hero.

Vettel’s stint with the Scuderia further demonstrated the team’s undeniable allure, even though he was unable to win another championship during his career. Vettel made a lasting impression and won the affection of the tifosi – the team’s ardent supporters.

In recent years, Charles Leclerc has become a Ferrari torchbearer. The Monegasque driver, with his prodigious talent and fearless approach to driving, would have been a favourite of the late Enzo Ferrari who loved Gilles Villeneuve’s daring approach to racing in the late ‘70s and early 80s. Sadly, Gilles’ life tragically ended before be achieved greatness at Ferrari.

Leclerc, since joining the team in 2019, has not only embraced the legacy of Villeneuve and other predecessors but has also showcased his determination to make an indelible mark in the F1 annals.

Although a small number of drivers can take great pride in their accomplishments with the Scuderia, for others, the allure of Ferrari did not deliver the successes they may have anticipated.  

Nigel Mansell, for example, joined Ferrari in 1989 after a successful stint with Williams. He was the last Ferrari driver to be personally selected by Enzo Ferrari before Il Commendatore’s death. It was an honour Mansell described as “one of the greatest in my entire career”. Soon after, Nigel received a brand-new Ferrari F40 as a gift from Enzo himself.

However, Mansell’s time with the team was marked by frustration and unfulfilled expectations. His F1 car had its challenges and Mansell struggled with it.

Despite his obvious talent he also had a difficult relationship with then-team manager Cesare Fiorio. The partnership ended acrimoniously and Mansell left Ferrari before the season’s end.

Alain Prost, already a three-time world champion, joined Ferrari in 1990 after leaving McLaren. He won five races with the Scuderia, finishing second in the ’90 World Championship.

Sadly, as with Mansell, internal conflicts created a strained relationship between Prost and Fiorio who, at the 1990 French GP, publicly criticised his driver’s performance. This contributed to a bitter breakup between Prost and Ferrari after just a single season.

The lure of Ferrari is an exceptionally potent force. For the drivers who succumb, their task is not only to win races, it’s a quest for building a lasting and special relationship with the team.

Success sets the stage for immortality. Failure is never accepted.