Charles Leclerc’s bone-chilling scream — after crashing out of the lead in the 2022 French Grand Prix (GP) — rings just as loudly in my ears as it did that day, watching from my hotel room in Orlando. But how does this memory explain my love for Scuderia Ferrari?
Early in my brief time as a Formula 1 (F1) fan, I quickly fell in love with the Rosso Corsa of Ferrari, and I knew 2022 was set to be our year. In the first three races, Leclerc and the Ferrari team had built a forty-six-point gap over Red Bull Racing’s reigning champion Max Verstappen. Yet, a run of engine failures and a strategic blunder that robbed Leclerc of a win in Monaco helped Verstappen claw his way back to a 38-point advantage over the Monégasque.
But coming off of a win at Red Bull’s home GP in Austria, Leclerc looked set to reignite his championship challenge, holding the lead in the 2022 French GP for the first 17 laps. What happened next seemed like it came straight out of a movie. Suddenly, the cameras cut to a car spinning off at the race’s eleventh turn and ramming into the barriers. My heart sank as I recognized the scarlet car. One scream later, and Verstappen was set up to win not only in France but in eight of the remaining nine races — securing back-to-back championships.
Ferrari’s struggles in the past decade make no sense. It is not only F1’s most valuable team, worth around 3.9 billion USD, but its history is steeped in success, boasting 16 constructor’s championships and 15 drivers’ titles — the most won by any team. Yet Ferrari has not topped the table since 2008, and you have to go back to 2007 for Ferrari’s last driver’s championship. In that sense, Ferrari fans and Toronto Maple Leafs fans share and follow the same annual narrative: delusions of victory only for their teams to find new ways to disappoint them.
Yet, like the Leafs, what makes Ferrari so enticing is hope. The hope that I felt as Leclerc briefly led in France. The hope that things could only get better, and never knowing whether joy or depression was waiting at the end of every race weekend.
One only needs to watch the reaction of the Tifosi — Ferrari’s ardent fan base — as Leclerc held off the Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas to win the 2019 Italian Grand Prix and end Ferrari’s nine-year victory drought at their home Grand Prix. “Everyone is a Ferrari fan,” Sebastian Vettel, a former driver for Ferrari, once said — and on that day in 2019, it seemed like every F1 fan cheered just as loudly as I did when Leclerc stepped onto the top step of that podium. It’s the hope and desire we have to feel those same feelings again that helps Ferrari fans endure the pain.
That same hope translates to its drivers. Ferrari has signed some of the sport’s best drivers, and their current line-up is one of the most exciting on the grid. Leclerc is arguably one of the fastest drivers over one lap. Critics point out his infamous pole-to-win ratio — 23 times taking a pole position compared to five wins — but, in an era where 74 per cent of the wins over the past five seasons have been taken by either Hamilton or Verstappen, to be consistently near the front, in an inferior car, points to Leclerc’s raw talent. It is the wonder of watching how Leclerc performs precariously on that limit of risk versus reward that makes his laps so intoxicating.
The same can be said for Leclerc’s teammate, Carlos Sainz Jr. Sainz can match Leclerc’s pace on a good day, and is also one of the most intelligent drivers on the grid. His two wins for Ferrari were at some of the most enthralling F1 races in recent history — most notably, his move on Leclerc for race victory at the 2022 British GP, and his tactical driving at the 2023 Singapore GP, leading to the only non-Red Bull victory of the season.
So, why do I support Ferrari? It’s because, despite all their pitfalls, the passion of the fans, the exciting and talented drivers, and the team’s extravagant history cook up a formula for a team that you can’t help but love.
Plus, with Hamilton set to join the Scuderia in 2025, Ferrari will have one of the greatest driver lineups of all time. More pain is surely all but guaranteed. Yet the hope that Hamilton will bring Ferrari back to victory is a renewal of the vicious cycle of being a Ferrari fan — and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Forza Ferrari!