Ferrari gearing up to take back F1 from Red Bull

Ferrari F1

Red Bull have dominated F1's recent history, but Ferrari appear to be gearing up to wrestle control of their beloved sport back from Sebastian Vettel and company.

Although 2014 is the year of Mercedes, recent history tells the tale of Red Bull being the dominant team. The last four constructors' crowns have gone their way, while the last four drivers' championships have gone to their lead driver Sebastian Vettel.

Ferrari, meanwhile, haven't won a constructors' title since 2008 or a drivers' championship since Kimi Raikkonen's 2007 triumph. In this time they've had a steady slide backwards, with Fernando Alonso taking the fight to Vettel in 2010 and 2012, but doing so only by massively outperforming his car.

At first, it seemed like Ferrari were looking to bounce back by poaching top Red Bull talent. Before he re-signed with Red Bull, design guru Adrian Newey was given a “name your price” offer from Ferrari, which he turned down. There are also regular rumours of Ferrari angling to sign Vettel one day.

However, landing a single piece of talent is no guarantee of instant success. Look at Mercedes when they re-entered the sport in 2010; they hired Michael Schumacher, the most successful driver of all time, and he couldn't bring the team straight to the front. Neither could Alonso when he went back to Renault in 2008, or Jacques Villeneuve when he arrived at BAR in '99.

Besides, taking back on-track control would not guarantee that Ferrari regained political dominance. Right now, Red Bull are in a powerful position – they essentially have two votes on sporting matters as they have influence over their Toro Rosso feeder team, and they are backed by a billionaire owner who gives them the ability to outspend anyone. Much like Ferrari have their Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Red Bull now have the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring. Right now, they are tangibly bigger and more successful than Ferrari.

But with their recent behind-the-scenes moves Ferrari appear to be trying to fight back and reassert their dominance by expanding their F1 empire.

Firstly, Ferrari look to be getting into bed with Gene Haas. A few weeks ago in Canada, Haas – who will be entering his own American-based F1 team in 2016 – was a guest of Ferrari. At the time he said he was on a fact-finding operation for the logistics of running an F1 team; however at Silverstone the relationship went further as Haas Automation sponsorship popped up on the Ferrari cars.

Along with driving speculation that this means the Haas F1 team will use Ferrari engines when they debut, it also raises the possibility of a closer collaboration between the two teams. Haas is not new to motorsport - he runs one of the most successful NASCAR outfits going - and will have noted the struggles of HRT, Marussia, and Caterham since they entered the sport in 2010. A close tie-up with Ferrari would be hugely beneficial for getting Haas F1 off the ground, and it could give Ferrari the extra sway in the paddock as, much like Red Bull control Toro Rosso, Ferrari could assert its power over Haas.

Elsewhere, the mysterious Forza Rossa team could be another outlet for Ferrari to exert some influence. Depending on who you believe, Forza Rossa have either been granted entry to F1 in 2016, are about to be granted entry, or are the money people behind the recent Caterham buyout. They also have very close ties to Ferrari, as the Forza Rossa business is the exclusive seller of Ferrari road cars in Romania.

If the team does show its hand, it could be another outlet for Ferrari to hold influence on a team and, by proxy, give them another voice in F1 political matters.

But along with accumulating teams under its influence, Ferrari will also be able to take on Red Bull in another area where the Anglo-Austrian squad currently dominate: driver development.

Red Bull currently has four drivers in F1: Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Daniil Kvyat, and Jean-Eric Vergne – and the last few years has seen a few more come and go as well. Rather than rely on signing outside talent, they are able to keep all their development in-house. Ferrari, meanwhile, are not. Currently, they have three decent prospects: Jules Bianchi, Antonio Fuoco, and Raffaelle Marciello. The team are also known to rate Nico Hulkenberg very highly, although nobody really knows if their relationship goes beyond some doting eyes.

However, Ferrari are in a conundrum with what to do with them as there is no room at the F1 inn. Ferrari don't hire rookies, and it'd take an insanely special talent to have them put an untested driver into one of their flagship cars. Right now they have Bianchi in F1 racing for Marussia, but apart from that they don't have access to any more seats.

Ferrari are putting more effort into driver development than ever, mainly because they are desperate to nurture a successful young Italian driver into somebody capable of winning races and championships in one of their cars. If they are linking up with more F1 teams, then it gives them greater access to seats to develop their drivers.

None of this, of course, will fix the recent slew of Ferrari's lacklustre cars. That requires an entirely different approach from the team, whether it be poaching top talent from elsewhere or vastly upgrading their factory facilities.

However, Ferrari have been in F1 long enough to know that form comes and goes. They'll be back on top eventually, of that there can be no doubt. What they need to ensure in the meantime is that Red Bull's expansive presence doesn't encroach on their position as the driving force behind F1. At the moment, it looks like the Prancing Horse is preparing to tackle the Bull head on.