Analysis: Tifosi have Little to Celebrate

After years of title celebrations and Ferrari race wins, Monza could find itself hosting a wake instead of a party this weekend

Analysis: Tifosi have Little to Celebrate

Ferrari's spiritual home, a historic circuit full of great and tragic memories, is more likely to witness a duel between Championship rivals McLaren and Renault than any Ferrari triumph.

The glamour team founded by Enzo Ferrari, whose red cars still represent the sport to millions of people around the world, are no longer the kings of the road.

"Right now we don't just have one weakness, it must be said," declared seven-times World Champion Michael Schumacher this week.

"Formula One is like a puzzle in which everything has to fit. And at the moment things don't fit quite right."

After a record six successive constructors' titles, the inhabitants of Maranello will hear no church bells ringing out to celebrate another this year.

Germany's Schumacher could be ruled mathematically out of the title race this weekend for the first time since 1999. He is 40 points behind Renault's young Spaniard Fernando Alonso with five races left.

Ferrari, who had won the constructors' title by this time last year on their way to 15 wins in 18 races, have 86 points to Renault's 130.

The team have won just once this year and that in a U.S. race shunned by all their main rivals and with just the humble Jordans and Minardis to beat.

In Turkey two weeks ago, neither Schumacher nor his Brazilian teammate Rubens Barrichello scored a point - their third blank of the year - with the champion failing to finish.

Troubled Year

In 2001, Schumacher had won the drivers' title two races before Monza. For the last three years, Ferrari have won their home race with both drivers on the podium.

The fans know which way the wind is blowing, even if it proves only a temporary gust. Ticket sales are well down on last year and the frontpages of Italian sports newspapers are dominated by soccer.

Barrichello is leaving for BAR, who have yet to win a race but with whom he hopes to be champion, while compatriot Felipe Massa will step into his shoes next year for what could be no more than a stopgap appointment.

Already there is talk of a complete changing of the guard for 2007, with recent media speculation swirling around a possible dream team of McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen and MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi.

"I'm completely at a loss for words about what has happened to them this year," said former World Champion Nigel Mansell, dubbed 'Il Leone' (The Lion) when he drove for Ferrari in 1989 and 1990.

"I don't know if they've been told to disappear for a year. It's all been too quick."

Some have pointed the finger of blame at tyre partner Bridgestone, beaten by rivals Michelin in every race except the Indianapolis fiasco.

Tyre Problems

After finishing second in Hungary, Istanbul came as a cold shower for Ferrari.

"In Istanbul we had the same car that we used in Budapest," technical director Ross Brawn told the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper. "With one difference: The tyres."

However, blaming Bridgestone would also suggest that the Japanese manufacturer should take much of the credit for the six previous titles.

Ferrari bosses have said the problem has been a combination of factors, including the re-awakening of teams who have underperformed in previous years.

New regulations, forcing teams to use the same tyres for qualifying and the race, have played to Michelin's strengths.

While Ferrari and Bridgestone forged a special relationship, Michelin have been able to use the test feedback of seven partner teams.

"From our point of view, it would have been better if everything (the rules) had remained the same," said Brawn.

"But it's hard to say that the new rules are a weapon against Ferrari because the cars were becoming too fast and changes were necessary."

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