Actually, I didn't mean it that way at all. It was launched as the ugliest car on the grid, and even though that's just aesthetic and is neither here nor there, its performance in winter testing did very little to change the impression.
It had poor grip through all phases of cornering over nearly every type of corner; it was pitch-sensitive; it voraciously devoured tires; it was slow with a full fuel load and even slower on low fuel; it had no traction; and it probably would have lost to an elephant in a drag race. Worst of all, the team were completely caught off-guard by its atrocious performance. They threw everything at it but the kitchen sink to try to correct it, and nothing worked. It's very difficult to underscore just how bad the F2012 initially was.
When Australia rolled around and the car was no better than maybe six or seventh fastest, I was adamant that Ferrari should just call it a year and devote themselves to figuring out whatever the hell went on in Maranello that caused them to introduce a red turd to the world. It was wretched.
But, then, out of nowhere, Alonso won in Malaysia. I think that race single-handedly revived Ferrari's 2012 campaign. It meant that they wouldn't be completely out of the running before the Mugello test, which allowed for a calm and apparently very thorough analysis of the car. And it worked. I've never seen a turnaround like the one engineered by Ferrari this year.
Granted, a lot of that may be down to the tires. In hindsight, I think one of the biggest reasons why Ferrari was miffed by the F2012's substantial teething problems could have been that they simply never entertained the possibility that the tires could be as unstable as they've subsequently been proven to be. That sent them on a wild goose chase around the car to look for answers that would never be found and probably initially compounded the matter for the worse.
But, again, the win changed everything. I think it transformed into precision targeting a development path that had previously more closely resembled a shotgun blast.
Fan loyalties aside, and with apologies to Sauber, Williams and Lotus, I think Ferrari's performance this year has easily been the most impressive.