Following the news that Ferrari boss Luca Di Montezemolo has resigned after twenty-three years in charge, I am once again left pondering the uncertain fortunes of this veteran Italian marque in Formula 1. Ferrari are synonymous with Formula 1; of the eleven teams currently competing in the sport, only three names have been a constant presence on the grid throughout the whole time that I've been following the sport - Williams, McLaren, and of course, Ferrari.
Steeped in history, romance and Italian passion, Ferrari's presence in Formula 1 may have been consistent over many decades, but their performances of track have been anything but. For anyone who grew up, as I did, during the period of great Ferrari dominance in the late '90s and early '00s, and for whom a Sunday lunch still doesn't quite seem complete without the inevitable strains of the seemingly never-ending Italian National Anthem emanating from the television, Ferrari's recent period of misfortune has been rather difficult to fathom.
So, what is to be done about it? Di Montezemolo has paid the price for the past few years of Ferrari malaise, but now is the time for the team to look to the future, and start to rebuild.
When all-time great of the sport Michael Schumacher arrived at the team in the mid-'90s (having already won the World Championship twice at Benetton), Ferrari were in a mess. Together with technical chief Ross Brawn and designer Rory Byrne (who followed Schumacher to Ferrari from Benetton), Schumacher transformed the team; the rigour, the passion, the point-blank refusal to accept anything less than the absolute best which Schumacher and Brawn brought into Ferrari dragged the team back up to the sharp end of the grid, and the culture of winning this attitude instilled within the garage eventually (after a series of setbacks including a broken leg in 1998) brought Schumacher - and Ferrari - a further five consecutive World Championship victories.
The Ferrari team of 2014 is a pale shadow of the slick race-winning operation of ten years previous. They are crying out for another Brawn, another Byrne - and, above all, another Schumacher. But where will they come from? The Formula 1 paddock isn't exactly awash with the kind of people capable of shaking Ferrari out of their current malaise.
Ferrari's current driver line-up of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen is, on paper, the best on the grid. But in practice, whilst they are both great drivers, Räikkönen is cut from very different cloth when compared to somebody like Schumacher - his 'iceman' persona is the opposite of the seven-times World Champion's zeal - and Alonso, whilst fiery and passionate in his own way, can seem a little petulant on occasion. In truth, there are maybe two, or possibly three people currently in Formula 1 who would be able to rise to the challenge of kicking Ferrari back into shape - the task of convincing them to leave their current teams, however, would be nothing short of gargantuan.
The only other option, then, is to look outside the current Formula 1 sphere. A few years back, there was speculation that hugely successful MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi could make the rare switch from two-wheeled racing to four-wheeled racing, and join Ferrari as a driver. I was excited by this left-field prospect at the time, and a little disappointed not to see it come to fruition. Maybe something similar might emerge as this season starts to come to a close? If so, at least that would show Ferrari's ambitions to be moving in the right direction.