Ferrari hoped Indianapolis might be the place to turn around a subpar Formula One season. The team's drivers never had a chance.
Despite dominating the first seven races on the 4.192-kilometer (2.6-mile) road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, winning five poles and six races - including five straight - Ferrari's drivers proved more afterthought than contender at Sunday's US Grand Prix. Although Felipe Massa of Brazil and Kimi Raikkonen of Finland finished third and fourth, they never seriously were in contention with the McLaren drivers, who went 1-2 for the third time in seven races this season.
What happened to Ferrari on one of its favorite Formula One courses? Bad luck, tough starting spots, and, of course, they don't have seven-time world champ and five-time USGP winner Michael Schumacher, who retired after the 2006 season.
"We cannot deny we are disappointed with how the last few races have turned out," said Jean Todt, the Ferrari boss. "But we strongly insist that we really want to turn this thing around." Things started out pretty well for Ferrari this season, with Raikkonen winning the opening race and Massa winning twice in the first four. Since then, however, the best finish by either has been third.
At one point late in Sunday's race, neither Ferrari driver was within 15 seconds of winner Lewis Hamilton, and although the final gap between Hamilton and Massa was 12.842 seconds, it wasn't that close. Hamilton slowed on the final lap, allowing the cars behind him to narrow the gap.
So, instead of battling Hamilton and his teammate, two-time defending world champ Fernando Alonso, Raikkonen and Massa spent more time battling among themselves and trying to find a way to contend.
"We need to work out how to improve the car to get ahead of our closest rivals," Massa said. "We need to work flat out on the technical development to make up the ground lost over these past three races."