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Alonso wants an end to wacky races
Posted By: James Allen  |  19 Apr 2010   |  12:01 am GMT  |  218 comments

Fernando Alonso had another astonishing afternoon in the Chinese Grand Prix, coming through from the 17th place to claim fourth spot.

Afterwards he said he had had enough of F1′s wacky races and wanted some more straight forward weekends, “We hope we get to have a normal race, ” he said. “These GPs with 5 pit stops don’t help us – I’m not even sure how many stops we had. Up to now we have only had one normal race, in Bahrain. I won that race, and we were first and second.”

Alonso: Astonishing recoveries (Darren Heath)


He’s right that since Bahrain the races have been fairly eventful and the weather has intervened either in qualifying or the race, to shake up the order. But on raw pace with a dry qualifying and race, the Red Bull would still have the advantage at the moment. Alonso’s point is that the likes of Rosberg and Kubica and maybe even the McLarens, would not be ahead of him in a normal race.

The lottery of the weather has helped them. But it is the same for everyone. Alonso is new at Ferrari and still assessing team’s ability to steer a course through troubled waters. It may be a co-incidence, but in Melbourne, Malaysia and Shanghai, his old team Renault has made all the right calls with Kubica.

There were many strong performances in China, but Alonso’s really deserves a closer look because, had it not been for his mistake at the start, setting off before the lights had gone out, he could have fought Button for the win today.

He was third on the grid, ahead of Button but jumped the start taking the lead. He was one of the many who pitted for intermediate tyres on lap 2, dropping to sixth place. Realising that he was on the wrong tyre and that a penalty was heading his way, he pitted again on lap 5 for slicks, rejoining in 12th place.

Now on the right tyre, he served the drive through penalty on lap 6, his third time through the pits, while Button and Rosberg had yet to make a single one.

Each tyre stop was taking around 23 seconds today and a drive through is 5 seconds less than that, so Alonso had dropped almost a minute and was in 17th place by lap 6.

He didn’t stay there long, cutting through to 14th in a couple of laps at which point he came up behind his team mate, Felipe Massa. He stayed behind him until lap 19, when the famous overtaking incident in the pit lane took place.

As Massa saw it, “I ended up on a puddle of water coming out of the hairpin and slightly lost control of the car: he managed to get inside me, passing me going into the pit lane. I lost some places because of it, as I had to wait for his stop to be finished.”

The move was executed at the apex of the left hand corner in the pit lane entry road, where Hamilton went off in the 2007 race. Massa was forced wide onto the grass strip between the road and the gravel trap and then followed Alonso into the pit boxes. Alonso had no intentio of queueing up and losing more time. It was a graphic illustration of his mentality.

Massa lost six seconds by queuing up and more importantly he lost track position to Barrichello, so on lap 20 the Ferraris were 10th and 12th.

In the 10 laps it took Massa took pass his fellow Brazilian, Alonso passed Vettel, Schumacher and Sutil, so he was up to sixth place. He picked off Petrov for fifth and then leapfrogged Kubica for fourth at the final pit stops on lap 38 by staying out a lap longer on worn intermediates.

In Malaysia, Alonso had to fight his way up through the field from 19th position on the grid after getting the timing wrong in a wet qualifying. He also had to contend with a gearbox problem, which meant that he had no engine braking and had to go through a complicated procedure at the corners involving going into neutral and pre-select the gear he wanted to come out of the corner with.

“My main problem was that the gearbox was broken from the start, ” he said. ” I had to accelerate the engine at each corner to be able to change gear and I couldn’t brake as I wanted to.”

Barcelona is his home race and his first in the Ferrari, so Hispanic expectations are likely to be off the charts. All the teams will have major development steps by then and it may redraw the pecking order.

But for Alonso to be 3rd in the championship, with 49 points, just 11 adrift of Button and ahead of Vettel is quite an achievement, given what he’s been through in the wacky races of the first part of the season.

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218 Comments
  1. Charles says:

    I think I speak for everyone watching when I say: we don’t.

    1. wow says:

      No you don’t

      I wanna know who’s the best, not the luckiest gambler!

    2. rolando cz says:

      Charles, you DO speak for me,and for most f1 fans I think. Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel and any who is as good as those guys should be mandated to start from the back of the field, just for the fun of seeing them escalating through the whole field. Don’t forget it is just a circus.

      What happened to the idea of artificially wetting the track?

      PLEASE, no more ferrari-schu formula boredom eras!

  2. Jeb Hoge says:

    Nice, Alonso. Wanting the races to go your way does not equal “having a normal race.” If YOU can’t make it happen regardless of conditions, then it’s a reflection on you, not an elevation of the others.

    1. Thalasa says:

      I can only say that when Alonso, last year, was in a mediocre Renault, he was also asking for normal races, because he considers that abnormal ones are much more of a lottery.

      Obviously, he is not in the business to play lottery.

    2. Peter says:

      Well said.

  3. rob says:

    James – I think both alonso and hamilton have been stellar in the last 3 gps, all of which have had them driving from the back for various reasons.

    I imagine given the ‘wacky’ nature of the races and the pace of the red bull they will both be quite happy to only be 11 points off the lead.

    Would you also agree that they would prefer to be 11 points behind each other rather than each other or vettel?

    1. rob says:

      Sorry, I meant prefer to be 11 points behind button rather than each other or vettel!

  4. John says:

    Hi James

    I have a rule question for you after todays excellent race in Shanghai.

    We saw Vettel and Hamilton receive reprimands for what was obviously a simple racing incident in the pit lane, but Alonso’s over takeing of Massa on the pitlane entry has gone almost with out comment.

    To my eyes this seemed obviously dangerous especially as to complete the move he needed to force Massa onto the grass.

    Could you please explain what the rules are relating to “racing manouvres” while entering and exiting the pits, and (hopefully) why this would not have infringed on any rule?

    Many thanks

    John

    1. zadrav says:

      Short excerpt:

      “International Sporting code Appendix L,
      CHAPTER IV – CODE OF DRIVING CONDUCT ON CIRCUITS

      4. Entrance to the pit lane
      a) The section of track leading to the pit lane shall be referred to
      as the “pit entry”.”

      So, pit lane entry is a part of a track, and all rules for the track should be applied.

      “2. Overtaking, car control and track limits
      c) Drivers must use the track at all times. For the avoidance of
      doubt:
      - the white lines defining the track edges are considered to
      be part of the track but the kerbs are not and
      - a driver will be judged to have left the track if no part of the
      car remains in contact with the track.
      Should a car leave the track for any reason, and without
      prejudice to 2(d) below, the driver may rejoin. However, this
      may only be done when it is safe to do so and without gaining
      any advantage.”

      As we can see, track is defined not with end of asphalt or kerbs, but with white lines.
      Alonso completely left the track just before the turn with all four wheels. And when he rejoined track, he broke both conditions – he gained advantage, and he didn’t do it in a safe manner – Massa turned to the grass to avoid contact.

      He should be punished for his action.

      1. Ironman_Ironman says:

        I do agree with you that Alonso crossed with all 4 wheels over the white line, to take the apex of the turn.

        However after watching others during their pit-stop entries, it is clear that the preferred racing line through this corner cuts across the white line, many others did this without anyone else near them.

        So I surmise that the stewards decided not to penalize Alonso or Hamilton or … others.

        So I say, “That’s racing” and Massa lost the position spinning his wheels the corner before. They were almost side by side when they entered the pit lane and Massa had no choice but to give it up or drive off.

        I believe that if they were not pitting at the time Alonso would have overtaken him into the last corner as well.

      2. zadrav says:

        Entering pit lane corner, Massa was clearly 50-60cm ahead of Alonso, who was clearly outside white line with all four wheels.
        Drivers can drive outside white line(track)as many times as they want and everything is fine if they obey rejoining track rules.
        Alonso broke both…

    2. Pierce89 says:

      @john: You mention Alo passing Mas on entry, but ignore the fact that Hamilton did the same move on Vettel 20 secs before the side by side thing.

  5. DeepSkyDiver says:

    Alonso is the man.
    Ferrari need to get it right and make the most of the talent they have. As well as Massa has stood up to other teammates, Fernando looks to be a consistent step ahead.

  6. Banjo says:

    Wacky… but my god the past three races have been good to watch! I need a race like Bahrain just to give my heart a chance to relax. If you neglect the first race of the season, i’d say 2010 has lived up to all the hype. Schumi might not have, but, Renault fighting near the front with Kubica and Petrov – F1′s new talent, have certainly been a pleasant surprise.

    I didn’t think it were possible, but, with every race i’m falling more in love with this sport at the moment.

    Wacky? I’d say wonderful.

  7. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    Yes, Fernando…you seem to forget that you won the only “normal” race because Vettel had a problem.

    1. alex petrov says:

      Ok – let’s start. Alonso was catching on Vettel very fast you newer know what could have happened. Vettel had a problem but later was able do defend from Rosberg or who it was?

  8. David says:

    Massa ten laps to pass Barrichello while Alonso picks off the likes of Vettel and Schumacher! Tells you everything you need to know about where this particular team mate battle is going. On this evidence alone, Alonso was right to nick past Massa into the pits first as only he could make good use of the better position. Truth is Massa only really did well in 2008, his best year, when he had the Ferrari tuned perfectly in quali and headed the grid. Working his way upfield like Alonso, Vettel or Hamilton seems way beyond him. And since this year will be all about fighting from lower positions – given the number of top challenging teams (five at present, including Renault now?) – that’s a skill a driver needs. Ferrari will presumably have sussed that out already.

    1. Rafael says:

      As a Massa fan, I can’t help but agree with you. Pretty frustrating to see Hamilton & other top drivers work their way up the field quite quickly whereas Massa gets stuck behind a particular driver for 10+ laps. Quite annoying.

      I [was?] hope[ing?] that Massa retains his Ferrari spot for an extra year or two as I’d like to see him continue there – but at the moment I would understand Ferrari dropping him for Kubica.

      Massa is a fast driver but he is just having way more trouble overtaking other than at the start (he has been outqualified three times I believe, but in 2 of those he passed Alonso at the start which was nice). He MUST improve.

      1. Mario says:

        There was and still is a lot of talk about Kubica going to Ferrari. But what I hear from him speaking in his native language when he’s back home, he would prefer to stay at Renault and build himself, so to speak, a winning team there.
        He is constantly saying he likes it there. All that is in line with the sort of man he is so I would hold your breath.

      2. joe says:

        i too would like to see Kubica building a team to fight for the championship rather than going to a team that is established to fight for a championship. he can do what alonso did at renault, it happened in the past and at the moment is seems like it could happen again. :D

      3. Mario says:

        mod: sorry I meant do not hold your breath

    2. Mario says:

      Well spotted. It is there for everyone to see that Alonso is way faster and better at overtaking than Massa. Alonso was polite to his team mate in the previous races but now he seemed to lose his patience and I don’t blame him for that. If he wants to stay in the title race he has to move Massa out of the way.
      But I would expect him to do it in a slightly better class than what we’ve seen so far.

      1. Zobra Wambleska says:

        Alonso is simply ruthless. For him class doesn’t enter into the picture. At least not high class.

      2. herowassenna says:

        So was Senna, and Senna was awesome too.
        I have to differ on class though. Alonso is a wonderful man, polite and genuine. I have met him a few times. In a car, he’s the best. End of.

  9. Good analysis James. In my opinion, “Alonso” is Spanish for Relentless!

    Let’s hope he gets some “ordinary” races in Europe. :)

    1. Mario says:

      Well, if he can only win ‘normal’ races then he’s not going to win a lot, is he?

      1. Remind me, why are normal races called ‘normal’? Hmm…

        It’s pretty obvious to most of us that rain just brings with it a bunch of randomness that is only ever going to work against the better driver/car packages. Good for the viewers but not for the front running drivers. Why not just forget about the race and play spin the bottle to decide who wins – that would certainly save lots of cash.

        Personally I don’t like races being decided by who has the better weather forecasters. Roll on some ‘normal’ races!

      2. joe says:

        well because in uncertain conditions the drivers still have to race. and thus there will be always action on track. dont think that would happen with spinning a bottle :P

      3. Martin Collyer says:

        “…rain just brings with it a bunch of randomness that is only ever going to work against the better driver/car packages…”

        Are you sure about this Craig?

        Silverstone 2008 didn’t work against Hamilton and Schumacher won plenty of wet races too.

      4. matt nz says:

        only ever work against best driver??

        Really!? It wasn’t so long ago people said the opposite about Schumacher, and Senna.

        I.e. ‘bring on the rain because then they can really show their driving skill is the best, not just who has the best car’.

        And as for wacky races – well it doesn’t get any more wacky than your team ordering your team mate to crash in order to stage a safety car incident after your pit stop. Alonso, you will forever be the winner of the wackiest race of all!

  10. Kevin says:

    Alonso did well today but had the luxury of the unessesary 2nd safety car to catch up 60 seconds …. kubica was robbed today.. i think FOM/FIA should really insist on full time track marshalls .. or FIA licenced track marshalls.. the marshalling this weekend was very amateur.. cars not moved quick enough (ie alonso ferrari in practice… )… they seemed to be running around like headless chickens.. forgetting to pick up debris. rant over… Great race… well done FIA for not handing out penalties.. let the Men race…

    1. Pawel says:

      fully agree, alonso along with hamilton should be penalized for racing in the pitlane..

      1. Deepan says:

        I’m not sure why Alonso should be penalized, The pit lane entry is part of the race track and it is legal to overtake there. Hamilton’s incident was within the pit lane which means he was putting the mechanics at risk by racing Vettel there!

      2. MartinWR says:

        Agreed, that would certainly be the common sense approach to the problem. Unfortunately common sense seems to be a bit beyond the mental capacity of the sophisticates who run F1. Obviously far too taxing for their mighty brains to comprehend.

        “Duh? Racing in the pit lane? Duh?”

      3. Zahar says:

        I agree that they should have been punished. My hope is that Massa will punish Alonso next time Alonso tries to past Masssa. I fully expect Massa to place Alonso on grass or a gravel trap as a payback! Also, can we paint Schumacher’s car red, I am beginning to think that is his main problem

      4. kbrooklyn says:

        as well as not able to overtake, massa’s not able to defend. i can’t see him ever successfully punishing alonso. he sticks to his racing line and that’s that. if alonso drives past him again he’ll still just sit and watch. and that doesn’t go for just alonso, that’s anybody trying to overtake him

      5. herowassenna says:

        Kbrooklyn,
        Massa in Australia couldn’t defend Hamilton or Webber or anyone until Alonso came up behind him. Then you saw Massa going stupid trying to keep him back.
        Yet when Alonso had Hamilton and Webber behind him on fresh tyres, you just knew they weren’t going to pass. Ferrari, do yourselves a favour, make sure Massa starts on hard tyres every time.
        He may have beaten Kimi conclusively, but Kimi is the most over-rated driver of the last 20years.

      6. Hamilton should have been penalised for endangering the mechanics by not backing off once he realised Vettel had the lead.

        Alonso simply took advantage of a mistake by Massa who himself seems to have accepted the overtake as legitimate. I’m sure that it will disappoint Alonso-haters that he and Massa are getting on so well…

  11. chris green says:

    It will be very difficult for Alonso to lift the championship because of his engine allocation issues.

    It could be Massa who is challenging for the title by season’s end.

    Was that another Sauber Ferrari engine failure in China?

    1. Alberto Dietz says:

      That would be great.

    2. alex petrov says:

      How Massa is challenging title? From the 12th place on the grid behind Barrichello or from 10th place on the grid behind Sutil? Massa is only fast when he is in front.

    3. Firstly, it could be an installation problem on the Sauber, or cooling issues or any number of other things which are causing them problems.

      Alonso, has said that he is still proceeding according to plan with the engine allocations provided they don’t have any further failures there is no problem at all.

      Even with a potential 10 place penalty, Alonso has already shown that he is still able to score good points from down the field so as long as he scores a few wins or podiums between now and the point at which he might need a 9th engine then he should still have a good chance of winning the WDC.

      Massa is unlikely to lead the championship by the time Alonso runs out of engines (if he does) – more likely Vettel, Button or Hamilton and the latter two are clearly going to take points away from each other.

  12. Steve says:

    “Alonso had no intentio of queueing up and losing more time. It was a graphic illustration of his mentality.”

    Couldn’t agree more with James’ comments.

    Overtaking your team-mate like that on the way into the pitlane and essentially pushing them off the road in the process: well, it’s most likely legal in technical terms. But that kind of approach is also decidedly unsporting and not really suggestive that Alonso has turned over a new leaf and become a team-player. Ferrari’s words pre-season about everyone “driving for the team” sound a bit hollow when you see Alonso’s “me, me, me” approach in action.

    One can’t help but wonder what was going through Massa’s mind at the time: “So THAT’s how it is around here now…”

    1. P Byrne says:

      Alonso’s aggression and determination should be praised, not criticised…

      1. Steve says:

        Alonso is a supremely gifted and talented driver. He doesn’t need to resort to tactics like that.

      2. Mario says:

        If Alonso was a supremely gifted and talented driver he wouldn’t need to resort to tactics like that.

    2. Racehound says:

      [mod] If that was Hammy doingthat to Button you wouldprobablybesaying what a daring manoveure it was!!!! Massa is no way as strong as Alonso under any conditions, and has held him up in 2 races this year! Alonso cannot afford to keep being stuck behind his own weaker teammate, so when the chance comes to get by he has to take it, and losing another 6 seconds behind Massa in China was not an option Alonso wanted to take!! Massa will be shown for what he is this season, a weak racer who likes to play the “team game” and say all the right things Luca di Montyzemolo likes to hear!!! Massa will get weaker during the season, and with that will prob be on his way to Williams next year! #:)

      1. Steve says:

        “If that was Hammy doingthat to Button you wouldprobablybesaying what a daring manoveure it was!!!!”

        From re-reading my comment I can’t see why you’d make that assumption? I really don’t think that’s good sportsmanship regardless of who’s behind the wheel whether it be Alonso or Hamilton or anyone else. It smells of the “win at all costs” mentality that Senna and later Schumacher popularised in Formula 1.

    3. Gilles says:

      I agree: he took the opportunity of not letting Massa ruining yet another race for him.
      Massa should have bumped into him again, ‘not expecting him to be there’. Now, he’s just shown what a pushover he is.
      I saw the race as a real ‘the gloves are off’ moment, with all the fights going on.
      I start to fear for RB: 4 poles, just 1 win, 2 technical failures – very small return. Plus: a gearbox change just before the start. There’s a lot of work to do there in the technical department !
      Strange thought: usually we’re praying for rain before a race, now we’re praying for it to stay dry and become… more boring. Catalunya always produces a snoozefest, so my expectations are low for that one.
      James, could we see a return of the tire heat issue that plagued Brawn last year with the RB, as Webber was complaining about their pace in the wet ?

      1. Henry says:

        Who is praying for dry weather?! I’m certainly not, I think most fans are loving the excitement the stop-start rain delivered in China.

      2. Gilles says:

        I was just referring to the comments made during the race coverage: it would be nice to see the true (dry) race pace of the cars.
        How would JB perform when there’s no trick up the sleeve ?
        But I agree on the excitement; best racing in years with battles all over !

    4. Alberto Dietz says:

      Right on the nail.

    5. David Perel says:

      Alonso was actually passed Massa leading into the Pit Lane. His nose was ahead after Massa spun up his tires coming out of the hairpin.

      Lewis did the same thing to Vettel if I remember correctly.

      1. Steve says:

        That’s not my recollection but I’d like to see another reply to double-check before commenting on that first part.

        As far as Lewis and Vettel, their antics in the pitlane were dangerous and also similarly unsporting. As they drove along the pitlane Vettel was edging Hamilton across to the right, rather too close to the pitboxes for comfort. That the pair of them got away scot free with those shenanigans is a bit perplexing…

      2. CH1UNDA says:

        as it happened in lap 6 and a decision couldnt be made during the next 50 or so laps clearly indicates there were very sharp divisions among the stewards. Practically all commentators expected a technical penalty agains Lewis although Vettel’s conduct of deliberately pushing Lewis into a more dangerous situation from an already serious safety setting must be just as serious as the technical infringement – if not worse

    6. Horacio says:

      Alonso did that to Massa just before the whole F1 moves to Spain, where the pressure will reach a different level. That is shameful. If Alonso is such a good driver, he doesn’t need that kind of attitude.
      And that idea that Alonso would not let Massa ruin “another” race for him is just unnaceptable, as Alonso ruined Massa’s race. So, Felipe: just be ready for the pressure in Spain…

      1. CH1UNDA says:

        if things go really s*** hitting the fan in Ferrari we know who started it

    7. snow says:

      If he didn’t pass Massa at the pits he would have been stuck behind Massa for the entire race – just like in 3 of the previous races. Massa is slow and is actually impeding Alonso’s championship campaign.

      Massa should acknowledge he is slower and move over cos he aint got a chance in hell at the title.

      1. Zobra Wambleska says:

        If Alonso is such a good racer why is he behind Massa so often?Being fast is not enough in and of itself.

      2. herowassenna says:

        Well Zobra,
        I’d say Bahrain was not only [1] a mistake in Q3, [2] a track that traditionally Massa goes well on and [3] also the fact that it was his first proper race for Ferrari. He soon put it right in the race. When he got into the lead, Massa was nowhere…
        Australia, [1] Alonso messed up his start and was last. Mixed conditions…
        Malaysia, [1] Alonso and Ferrari screwed up their qualifying. As did others. [2] He had severe gearbox problem from the start.
        [3] his drive was absolutely stunning, and still kept up with Massa…
        China, [1] Jumped the start.

        I reckon a normal race weekend, will have Alonso qualify ahead of Massa, and then with non changeable weather he will destroy the pathetic Massa. Felipe has been caught out at last. 2006, raced a tired mistake making Schumi. 2007 raced Kimi and for alot of races made Kimi look silly, 2008 and 2009 he outshone Kimi, an over-rated driver.
        Now he has the real deal, a relentless awesome driver. Massa is out of his depth

    8. Yeah F1 drivers should all be gentlemen like David Coulthard eh? That’s the way to win world championships… Ruthlessness like that shown by Schumacher won’t get you anywhere eh??? (sarcasm)

      Note that I am a DC fan but I’m sure David would acknowledge that perhaps he played too fair at time with reference to his gentleman’s agreement with Mika.

      Massa made a mistake, Alonso took advantage. Massa is frustrated with himself but doesn’t blame Alonso for passing him. End of…

    9. Racehound says:

      HOW DID ALONSO PUSH MASSA OFF TRACK??? ALONSO WAS ON THE INSIDE FOR THE LEFT TURN, SO MASSA NEEDED TO YIELD THE POSITION FOR HIS OWN SAKE, NOT ALONSOS!!!! MASSA JUST TRYING TO MAKE A MOUNTAIN OUT OF A MOLEHILL!!!!!

  13. Steve McGill says:

    I agree with Alonso. I think Jenson has been very lucky with his one trick pony strategy – this did not pay off in Australia in the dry and Button was nowhere in Bahrain. Alonso & Hamilton driven with raw speed and aggression in all races so far – the way it should be and in normal conditions, I fear Jenson is going to be left far, far behind. Half of his six wins at the beginning of last year were wacky races – not sure his luck will hold out.

    1. Martin says:

      Steve,

      I think your are being a little unfair on Jenson and Brawn last year. Button had the fastest car in Australia and Malaysia and did a better job than Barrichello. Bahrain, Spain, Monaco and Turkey were all won by being the fastest car and driver combination in the race.

      Certainly across Bahrain and Malaysia you’d have to score Lewis more highly in the race, although traffic, and in Malaysia strategy, made a direct comparison difficult. If you look at the final stint in China where both had changed onto new intermediates, Jenson was slowly dropping Lewis, then Lewis tyres went off and the gap grew more and then Jenson made an error.

      Lewis has been saying the MP-25 is the best McLaren he’s had. Jenson has generally been supportive but not as enthusiastic. It will be interesting if all the positive qualities can be retained as the car is developed. Last year’s Brawn wasn’t as nice as it was developed. The MP-25 is interesting in that it lacking downforce compared to the Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes, yet is still good in the wet. That suggests its mechanical set up is nicely tuned. If you believe Frank Dernie, this is of minimal benefit in qualifying, but has its benefits in the race.

      A dry weekend in Barcelona should show who has good downforce and a good F-duct.

      1. CH1UNDA says:

        Martin, Button did not make an error, his tires went off. As Brundle noted during the race, Button and Lewis have been evenly matched on tyre wear. Indeed they lasted on the penultimate intermediates within a lap of each other despite Lewis having to over take from 7th to 3rd by the final tyre change.

        On my part, i am still deciding whether Hamilton’s charging style in better than Button’s celebral alternative. You want to have a Lewis when things are not working which can happen very quickly in F1 but you also want to win a championship with less overhead which makes Button very attractive. At the moment, i am hoping that Lewis retains his aggressiveness but learns the cool calculating antics from his older more experienced team mate.

    2. Cliff says:

      Unless i’m very much mistaken, Button won in Australia..following an incident when Alonso turned into him. That incident put Alonso at the back of the Grid. The fact that Vettel had problems is just part of racing. Many people acknowledge Alonso as the best on the Grid, but Saturday qualifying dictates a lot of the race come Sunday. Button has not been able to do a good job in qualifying, but what he has done better than most is capitalise on the changing conditions. Yesterday, Alonso may well have been able to take the fight to the Red Bulls, but once again, he made the mistake by his Jump Start. Basically, in two out of the first four races, Alonso has been the author of his own misfortune, not to mention the Malaysian GP Qualifying Session. JB may be a ‘One Trick Pony’ but races such as SPA, Silverstone, Singapore,Brazil and Suzuka may well add to your frustrations. As a Fan of Lewis Hamilton, I am only frustrated that he is yet to read the situations as well as his team mate. As for his six wins last year, I can only remember one race being wet (Malaysia), yes there were accidents, but JB qualified on the first two rows and gave himself the opportunity to win the race.

      1. Jake Cooper, Australia says:

        Right on mate

      2. CH1UNDA says:

        Lewis will probably beat Button this season due to more races having predictable weather rather than anything else since his pace has basically come through in such races. However, i am sure he will learn that to beat Button in 2011 he will have to be more calculating. This is not a new weakness. Indeed it is what has been quoted as the difference between him and “the complete” Alonso. It is a quality which if he acquired would make him a formidable driver.

    3. k9major says:

      His luck certainly held out through the second half of last season!!!!

    4. Dave Bird says:

      Quote: “I think Jenson has been very lucky with his one trick pony strategy – this did not pay off in Australia in the dry and Button was nowhere in Bahrain.”

      I think it did pay off for Jenson in Australia as he won the race.

      1. Steve McGill says:

        Yes I meant Malaysia – was in a unique position of watching both races in Vegas, alone in on 33 tvs! The amricans are missing out on a fantastic sporting spectacle…

    5. iceman says:

      Isn’t it strange how the more experience he accumulates, the luckier he seems to get (to paraphrase some old golfer)

      1. herowassenna says:

        It’s actually “Lucky? Yes, and the more I practice, the luckier I get” Gary Player.

      2. iceman says:

        Yes that’s why I said I was paraphrasing!

    6. matt nz says:

      raw speed? Hasn’t Jenson out qualified Hamilton 3-1…

  14. Fausta says:

    Fernando’s drive was brilliant! His pass on Massa was fair and show’s his hunger and drive.
    It was a great race to watch overall.

  15. Sebee says:

    Alonso should have gotten another panalty for that pit stop entry stunt. So should Hamilton. Both cases are unfair advantage by leaving track. Both cases driver that folowed the rules lost out, and that ain’t right.

    1. Les says:

      Vettel also cut straight across that corner on one of his stops, with no-one on the inside of him, so he would also have to have been punished. I think they know the rules enough to know it was legal. I seem to remember another car doing so, but can’t remember which, but I’m pleased to say the stewarding in terms of the meting out of punishments was fair, letting people race.

      Alonso’s move, while very questionable in terms of how you play fair with a team mate, showed raw agression and a killer instinct. I’m not an Alonso fan, and think he’s probably not the teamate you’d want, but I certainly cannot blame him for seizing the opportunity. Massa better get tougher to deal with it. This type of attitude is what I think is missing from F1; Hamilton has it, Alonso has it, Shu used to have it, possibly Vettel (the pit lane incident?)…. but they are the only ones. Lets face it, they bring a lot of attention to F1, don’t they? Love them or hate them, as the adage goes, any publicity is good publicity.

      I also wish that drivers didn’t have to be so politically correct. I want the old school drivers, where they would throw their toys out of the pram if it wasn’t going right and would be brutally honest about other drivers, their teams, or the race. In this respect Alonso and Hamilton have been neutered, apart from some in the heat of the moment in-car radio calls.

      If I have a doubt about any part of the race, it has to be the second Safety car, which seemed a little unnecessary considering what has been dealt with under local yellows in the past. It artificially manipulated the race result, in my opinion, though I don’t subscribe to the conspiracy theory that it was stage managed by the FIA or Bernie.

      I’m a Button, Hamilton and Maclaren fan, and am pleased at the result. But I want to see more raw edged, hairy chested racing, so I for one am happy to see Alonso and Hamilton strutting their stuff and fighting it out on the track. Let them race.

      1. Spenny says:

        I think Vettel has already shown he is not the super-sweet good boy the media has him portrayed as. How he can deny doing anything to Hamilton when the in-car of him down the pit lane shows him looking across and then steering across several times shows that he has just the same characteristics that people seem to claim are Schumi’s, or Alonso’s or Hamiltons’s.

        My hobby horse is that there is never an application of the rule about not crowding people off the track. In principle, if you can get along side someone, you should be able to drive around the outside and the driver cannot squeeze you off the track – but several drivers regularly do this.

        One thing was really noticeable was that certain drivers: Schumacher and Vettel were the ones that stuck in my mind, deliberately drove other cars off the track in very wet conditions, either in defending or passing – Sutil was victim to it two or three times (of course Vettel is going to out accelerate him out of a corner if he has two wheels on the grass). In fact, Webber got punted off by Hamilton because Vettel forced him wide after they got three abreast after an over-optimistic move from Vettel which Hamilton defended and Webber got hung out to dry.

        That is different to taking the wider line as you get in front to force someone to concede. Schumi was described as really aggressive, and that is what Hamilton was referring to: it is one thing being held to the edge of the track so you don’t get the racing line, but Schumi & Vettel were putting people off the track. The rules have been changed since he last raced but I have yet to see the stewards penalise that.

        Hamilton in the past wasn’t averse to an aggressive squeeze to get the job done, but one thing about his (on-track!) passes at China was that they were all really clean and didn’t rely on forcing people off the track – they were all about establishing track position.

      2. CH1UNDA says:

        Webber also has that aggressiveness although in his case he seems to think it means you ram your competition off the road – i think yesterday, Lewis was paying back for Melbourne and just as well.

    2. Bim / Sweden says:

      I fully agree with you.

    3. Horacio says:

      Agree.

  16. Peter Jones says:

    James,
    I light of the Hamilton/Vettel and Alonso/Massa skirmishes entering the pits, what do the regulations say about this? Also, what about Hamilton driving in the “slow lane” next to Vettel on the way out of the pits?

    thanks

    1. Ian H says:

      I might be wrong on this, and stand corrected if this is the case, but I’m sure I remember Martin Brundle saying in the past that the pit lane is still counted as part of the race track and hence overtakes are allowed. The only reason there isn’t normally any is due to the pit lane speed limit meaning everyone is going that same speed. If then entry and exit are wide enough then you’re free to overtake if you can. The thing in China is that the pit lane entry wasn’t wide enough for 2 cars so one is pushed onto the grass. If one car pushed another onto the grass elsewhere on circuit would they get a penalty? Probably yes.

  17. JohnBt says:

    Alonso will always be a complete driver amongst all. He was really dissapointed with his jump start reflexes. My admiration for Alonso has never faded. He drove an excellent race after all the wacky-ness. What a charged he displayed on all the overtaking madness. Well done Alonso! and big congratulations to Mr.Button for his brilliant strategy. Await the European leg to begin.

  18. Jake Cooper, Australia says:

    Nice one James. Really good insight to sum up Alonso’s season up to date. Anyway, I must start by saying ‘Vettel & Hamilton not being penalized (particularly Hamilton) is just a mockery of having any pit line safety rules’. It was obvious from the video footages on any angle that The McLaren was released on the path of Red Bull. If that’s the case might as well not have pit lane speed limit either. Certainly it wasn’t Hamilton’s fault, it was the pit crews & whoever called the car to be released. No penalty given is a crying shame. Ted Kravitz was standing in the McLaren garage while the incident happened & he summed up the incident according to the rule. So did the BBC commentators. And somehow the stewards didn’t find anything to penalize for!!!!! Ex drivers as stewards need a good course to go through the rule books & then get the job. I’d love to know your view on the incident James.

    As far as Alonso’s championship goes, he is by far the best driver going around. Of course after Bahrain the cry for rule changes was the biggest issue in F1. Last 3 races have quietened the viewers only because of the dramas happening in every race. With all the obstacles Alonso faced in the last 3 races, there’s no way he should be in the position to be close to Button in the championship. He is still so close because of his sheer genius. I can’t believe I’m saying this & I’m not even a Alonso fan.

    Every year Barcelona race brings some twists into the championship as the teams bring introduce their biggest developments in the Spanish grand prix. That’s when we can tell the picture of the championship as a whole. It is understandable why Alonso is so frustrated about not having a normal race. I’m expecting a normal race as a viewer only because I’d love to see who really has the upper hand this season.

    I’ve checked the weather for Barcelona for next 3 weeks & it doesn’t look very encouraging I’m afraid. There’s 45% possibility of rain in 2 weeks time & expected changeable cool conditions on the grand prix weekend in Barcelona. Of course it is little bit too early to predict something as vulnerable as weather. But it doesn’t look normal by a long shot. So it is not entirely up to Alonso to bring home the bacon for Ferrari. Ferrari is getting their changeable condition calls wrong, simple as that. Looking at the championship we don’t need a rocket science to prove what Alonso is capable of. But Ferrari’s tyre calls are the key to their own result. Alonso has done more than what they deserved. Not sure if the engine is going to be any issue or not later in the season. But I think we have had enough of abnormal races.

    Still there are 15 more races to go. The point rewarded to the winner is 8 points higher than the 2nd place. 375 more points to be won. I’m sure we will see more shuffles around the championship table in the next race. We’ve had only 4 races so far & already there have been 3 different championship leaders!!! Well congratulations to Button & Rosberg for proving their worth. Congratulations to Massa also for scoring points in 11 races in a row. Hopefully we are not going to see any more chaotic races like China. I’m sticking with my money on Alonso to win the championship, are you James?

    1. Boo Boo Foo says:

      Great post there my friend. I like writing with a bit of depth too and it was nice to read your insights.

      Kepp ‘em coming!

    2. **Paul** says:

      Agreed about the penalties. How Alonso didn’t get one for his move on Massa I don’t know, and Lewis could have taken 3: One for his pass on Vettel into the pits (mirror of Alonso/Massa), one for turning back up to the track to get into the pits for his first stop (hasn’t Alonso got done for this in the past?) and one for not driving between the white lines when exiting the pits (which he could easily have done if he’d lifted for a micro-second and slotted in behind Vettel who was 3/4′s of a car length ahead). It makes Schumacher seem like a saint frankly, and I do feel that the German would have got all three penalties in his prime.

      So looking at that and taking into account the lucky break of the smallest bit of debris on track to ever warrent a safety car, which handed most of the field 45+ seconds says to me that Jenson Button wasn’t lucky today, far from it, it was Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso who got lucky. Button used his skill of judging grip and track conditions to win, just as he did in Australia, that’s just as important as drving quickly and overtaking ability. The best of the best like Senna and Prost could drive hugely quickly, overtake AND make the right calls. So far no one on the grid is doing all three.

    3. Henry says:

      “I’m expecting a normal race as a viewer only because I’d love to see who really has the upper hand this season.”

      Well to put it simply, Red bull have qualified on Pole 4 times out of 4. If that is not convincing, what is? Ah of course, in Malaysia, the only race where they haven’t had reliability issues (or seb crashed) they finished in 1 & 2.

      Lets face it, if we take driver error and reliability out of the picture, if we just want to know who has the best pace, Reb Bull are the ones to beat. Ferrari and McLaren will have to pull some big improvements out of the bag if they want to take their place as the pace setters.

      So far this season we have Alonso (who I hate but yes he is supremely talented), Hamilton (who can be a bit of a nob but again is incredible) and Vettel (tends not to deliver as consistently suring the race as in quali) showing some insane skill – all in fast cars. Add Button and Rosberg, Webber and Massa, and there is alot of talent in very fast cars…of course schumi, who hopefully will get the hang of it by the second half of the season, and its all there to fight for. The teams are close enough that good decisions and drivers will always get the points rather than one team dominate. Its been good so far, its gonna get better!

      1. Jake Cooper, Australia says:

        Yes Henry you are right about Red Bull being the fastest car as far as qualifying is concerned. However, the race is a different matter all together. It is obvious that Ferrari has a really good car in terms of the race pace. Adding Alonso’s brilliance to that seems to be quite unbeatable after 19 races (I’m not an Alonso fan either). Well surely I don’t think anybody wants to watch Bahrain like races again, but it doesn’t mean that every race has to be ‘Wacky’ as Alonso said. One team domination isn’t good for the sport or the fans surely, but rain affected races & introduction of safety car during key moments aren’t the true picture of the car’s and driver’s capability. I’d rather see 2/3 similarly matched teams having a fare & square fights. That is when the driver’s genius becomes a key factor. Well, I hope your right about it will be getting better.

    4. Les says:

      I think one of the cardinal points in the decision making process behind the lack of a penalty has to be that BOTH cars were in their pit BOXES when Hamilton was realeased; the pit lane is the pit lane, not the area where they change the tyres, and how would you deal with a simultaneous release?

      If Vettel had been out of his box and actually in the pit lane itself, then I would concur that an unsafe release was performed, but when you are racing and you release the cars in adjacent pit boxes at virtually the same time, things like this are inevitable. If it was the case that you had to wait until the car in the box behind you had released and gone, then in the normal course of a race, the box further from the entry would always be at a disadvantage.

      Imagine the scenario where a car stalls just as the release was made? The car in the next box would concievably have to wait for it to be cleared.

      No, I think the way it was handled by the stewards was fine. Vettel might be criticised for his move towards Hamilton, just as Hamilton might be criticised for not backing off earlier, but they both raced and neither picked a fight after the race.

      1. AP says:

        If they were both released simultaneously, and taking into account that Vettel was several meters behind Hamilton, how did he end up being in front of him when Hamilton reached the pitlane?

        There is some logical fallacy here…

      2. Les says:

        Lewis got tons of wheelspin as he tried to pull away – without a doubt Vettels pit exit was much cleaner. You can see by the way that he got sideways, and the painted area didn’t help. He messed that bit up, that’s sure

        Les

      3. Jake Cooper, Australia says:

        I’m not convinced according to the rules mate. The problem is that somebody else will be penalized for the same sort of incident in future. Webber was penalized in germany last year for similar reason. Massa waited 11seconds in the pit pane in Australia, which cost him the win. It’s fine that you reckon that the stewards were right. But the rules says otherwise from what I know as well as according to the expert British commentators. McLaren was even considering to put Lewis ahead of Button to lake up 25 seconds penalty according to Ted Kravitz’s report from the pit lane. I guess that’s one way to cover up silly rule changes FIA, is not following their own rules.

  19. jw1980 says:

    Surely it was no ones fault other than Alonso’s regarding the jump start? That was a clumsy mistake. Likewise was the first corner incident in Melbourne avoidable? Alonso is making great comeback drivers but he cannot blame anyone else for these opening lap incidents.
    Considering the head start Ferrari had on the opposition with regartds to developing this year’s car I would have thought that they would have wanted better returns than they have received so far.
    It’s questionable whether Alonso will get any favours from Massa following on from that pitlane incident.

    1. Boo Boo Foo says:

      Yep, I’d agree. Alonso will need to make a highly visible “gesture of good will” for Massa not to withdraw some of his team mate help, moving forward.

      Great for the media of course, but very bad for team morale. And to be frank, the soap opera side of Formula One is so highly contrived nowadays that it does smack of NASCAR driver soap opera at times too.

      Now before I go on, my comment there had nothing to do with which racing category is superior, blah blah blah – what I was referring to is the contemporary propensity to infer greater soap opera into the driver conlficts than really exists sometimes. It doubtless sells magazines and airtime, but often, it’s conjecture based on speculation based on gossip. And the driver soap opera side of things is something which NASCAR openly promotes as part of it’s strategy for hooking in viewers, you see. And to be fair, it works very well.

    2. Satish says:

      Alonso is not blaming anyone for those two mistakes.

      You’re right about Ferrari’s results not being good enough. One place where they need to seriously improve is pit strategy. Unfortunately for Stefano, there’s no Luca Baldiserri to blame this time!

      I doubt if Alonso was/is expecting any favors from Massa. It’s not like Massa’s been dishing them out to Fernando anyway.

    3. Jake Cooper, Australia says:

      Well I don’t think Alonso blamed anybody for the unfortunate incidents & his own mistakes. That is something has changed in him as a driver over the last 2 years I believe. Before he used to either blame the team or another driver for these kinds of situations. By ‘wacky’ he meant the changeable conditions over the weekend. That’s what I understand from his comments anyway even though Ferrari has got their changeable conditions call a bit wrong (timing mainly). Alonso had 5 stops during the Chinese grand prix. In a normal situation he probably would’ve had 2 stops including the drive through penalty. Malaysia was by far the wackiest of the lot (it is most of the time anyway), having wet quail & dry race. So, 3 out of 4 races in significantly changeable conditions is a bit ‘wacky’ to me. After all no refuelling and starting the race with the same tyre as the fastest quail lap by the top ten is ‘EXTREMELY WACKY’ in my opinion.

      From the reports that I have seen so far says Massa is not critical about Alonso passing him in the pit. However, I don’t think any driver likes this kind of moves from anybody let alone team mate. From a racing point of view I think Massa should’ve covered his line to make sure Alonso doesn’t pass him. He is experienced enough to do that. Again maybe slippery condition was a factor as well. Anyway, I’m hoping that the teams will be able to get back to Europe soon to start the development for the next race. Having some sort limited testing this time of the year would’ve been great for the fans. But unfortunately that is how it is now.

  20. pupfiction says:

    Good morning. My comments:

    “Up to now we have only had one normal race, in Bahrain. I won that race, and we were first and second.”

    He was not even on pole in Bahrain, and besides it was Vettel’s race to win, not his. It was his lucky day.

    “The lottery of the weather has helped them.”

    The weather is not a lottery. It has consequences on the performance of the cars, but it does not affects the racing significantly. Rarely.

    “Had it not been for his mistake at the start, setting off before the lights had gone out, he could have fought Button for the win today.”

    Jump-starting is one of the silliest thing that a F1 driver can do. That was very wacky. Had it not been for thee safety cars, Alonso would have thrown himself out of the race at the first second of it. Besides Button was untouchable and he did the perfect race.

    “Alonso had no intention of queuing up and losing more time. It was a graphic illustration of his mentality.”

    Overtaking a team-mate in the pitlane, is that showing his mentality? When did that ever happen before? Alonso says: “nobody would talk about it if he was not my team-mate!. That’s rather hypocritical. The pits are not a gas station, there is one spot per team. Alonso was behind Massa when entering the pitlane, he should have stayed there. Video available on the BBC website.

    “But for Alonso to be 3rd in the championship, with 49 points, just 11 adrift of Button and ahead of Vettel is quite an achievement, given what he’s been through in the wacky races of the first part of the season.”

    And the others did not..? Button said yesterday that it was his best win ever and he was probably right. Anyway he felt so. For Alonso it was one of his luckiest finishes ever.

    No to mention that he showed his true colors once again…

    1. Boo Boo Foo says:

      It’s worth noting that Alonso’s fastest lap time ranked him only 9th on the day in comparison to the other fastest lap times.

      Button himself ranked 4th. Hamilton was 1st, Vettwl and Webber were 2nd and 3rd respectively.

      All things considered, Red Bull lost that race yesterday more than Button won it. Kudos to Button for being in the right spot at the right time, playing the gamble on less pit stops the way he did, but the statistics don’t lie. Almost every driver set their fstest lap time on Lap 14 and their lap times progressively deteriorated for the rest of the race, despite the ever lighter fuel loads.

      With hindsight, if either Hamilton or Vettel or Hamilton had gone for full wets with 25 laps to go, it’s highly likely a very different finishing order would have occurred, but it is what it is.

      Given Alonso’s FLT ranking of only 9th on the day, he can count himself very lucky to have finished in 4th spot. It was Red Bull Racing who got it more wrong, than anyone else, on the day – and nobody to blame but themselves for that.

      1. Ncedi says:

        If like you said everyone’s fastest lap time was set around lap 14, then you would realise that Alonso was right behind Massa at this stage…

    2. Alberto Dietz says:

      In a scale of 1-10, 20.

      1. Horacio says:

        Exactly my thoughts.

    3. Tom says:

      pupfiction, I tend to agree.

      Had Vettel qualified 3rd, jumped the lights, barged Webber out of the way in the pits, and finished 4th, would we be declaring what a great race he had?

      Really?

      1. Carl says:

        We would be declaring what a great comeback it was.

        Hamilton, Alosnso and the others were fortunate with the safety car, other wise it would have most likely been Button, Rosberg, Kubica, Petrov

    4. Luca says:

      Bahrain – no one will ever know who would have won that race as Alonso was closing down Vettel before the spark plug issue. And you don’t need to start on pole to think you can win a race. You could say that if Rosberg hadn’t slipped off the track, Button would have been second in China – we’ll never know!

      Nothing wrong with the pass on Massa (esp as Massa had made a mistake on the way in himself). Its good to see some proper racing. Like Vettel and Hamilton, going into the pits, it was a non-event, and it is because everyone is expecting Massa and Alonso to come to blows like Hamilton and Alonso at McLaren…. but its pretty clear that Alonso is quicker than Massa so far this season, and time he made the most of his speed.

      As for the comment on ‘Wacky races’, it sounds like this may be pointed more towards the team and the strategy calls over the last few races – as pointed out by James, Kubica and team are doing ok. And I don’t think he is trying to pass the blame on the jump start – he is kicking himself on that one.
      Melbourne was a different case as you had 3 cars (MSC/JB / FA) all trying to get round the same corner on near enough the same piece of tarmac. So that is more of a racing incident over just Alonso’s fault.

      For those who watch the BBC coverage, as Martin Brundle has been saying, from a racing drivers point of view the perfect race is from A to B as quick as possible with no issues, no interference and no hinderance. This does not equate to an exciting race to watch for the general public, so for the people to moan that Alonso is arrogant or whinging for a straight race doesn’t appreciate that the rules make the racing on a normal day boring, not the race drivers.

      Anyway, roll on the next race.

    5. Jake Cooper, Australia says:

      Mate it is okay if you are not an Alonso fan, neither am I. But it doesn’t mean that I’m gonna look at the performances wrong way.

      Bahrain race was normal in terms of rule changes, track condition and engine failure isn’t new in F1. It happened to everyone. Alonso won his 2nd WDC as a result of Schumacher’s engine failure in the 2nd last race in 2006. So, Vettel’s Engine failure is normal scenario in that case.

      Weather change and introduction of safety car are lotteries, keeping on mind that no team builds a car for a wet race. For example, Button’s first victory in Hungary, Kubica’s win in Montreal, Massa not winning the Singapore (2008), Button’s win in Australia 2010 are all lotteries. So, I disagree that the performance of the car doesn’t change because of the weather conditions.

      Jump start is a silly mistake when it comes to Alonso’s experience and talent. But it’s not inhuman. He doesn’t blame anybody but himself for that either.

      Massa is experienced enough to cover his line not to let Alonso pass in the pit lane (don’t reckon he disobeyed the pit lane speed limit). If Alonso didn’t pass him, it would’ve compromised his great drive to fourth place.

      Button’s drive was fantastic without a doubt. He said about numerous wins as the best drive ever before. Drivers seem to do that a lot. It won’t be last time we hear the same thing from different winners in different races. Considering 5 stops (including drive through penalty), rejoining on 17th place & finishing 4th isn’t lucky from any sense. That was an excellent drive in anybody’s book unless biased.

  21. rupert seymour says:

    Alonso back in a competitive car is a great addition to an already fascinating season. But, after waiting years to get into a Ferrari, he is now having to get used to “Ferrari reliability.” Blown engines, broken clutches, etc Ironic that he won his last WDC at Renault the day when Schumacer’s Ferrari engine grenaded in front of him. From what I can remember, he enjoyed exemplary reliability during his years at Renault and also in his year at McLaren. Let’s hope that his championship charge isn’t blunted by these repeated failures.

    1. Satish says:

      How come everyone conveniently forgets that Alonso also had an engine blow up on him in Monza 2006? I guess he didn’t loose any points whatsoever because of that?

      1. Tim says:

        And a driveshaft failure while leading in Hungary.

      2. Amritraj says:

        It was a loose wheelnut actually. The right rear wheel almost came-off.

    2. Steve J says:

      I agree – great to see Alonso back in a competitive car. And a cracking drive to boot. Yes, he benefitted from the safety car, but Vettel, Webber, Schumacher & co all had track position over him and Alonso still made it through. Luck, yes. But being a great champion is also about making the most of the opportunities handed to you – and Alonso did that in Shanghai. And I bet he’s more critical with himself for the jump start than any of his critics.

      On the Ferrari reliability point, I’m not sure I agree. Ferrari’s reliability has been the benchmark in F1 for more than a decade. The blow-up in Suzuka in 2006 was certainly high profile and costly for Schumacher. But remember, in in Monza in 2006, the very race before Schumacher had his engine failure, Alonso also suffered a Renault engine failure which swung the 2006 championship in Schumacher’s favour.

      Over the years, MLaren’s drivers have arguably suffered from reliability issues far more than Ferrari’s – think Kimi in 03 and 05, Mika in 2000. And this season Red Bull’s driver’s drivers would have a pretty good case too.

  22. Tim Cooper Duckworth says:

    James – there is a picture of Tony George at the race in Shanghai Sunday on Autosport’s site. What was he doing there?

  23. Aussie F1 Fan says:

    Yes he is a great driver, & yes he had a great drive at China, but so did quite a few other drivers yesterday. His comments regarding ‘wacky’ races smack of arrogance. Lets not forget that the “5 pitstops” were a result of both his driving errors (jump start) and his call to come in for inters (which alot of other drivers messed up too). The teams have to rely on their drivers input regarding what to do with the tyres in changeable track conditions.

    Mr Alonso, you cannot simply ask the rain to stop to make it easier for yourself, & a race is what you make of it.

    Also lets not forget that when he is pointing out that he wins normal races like Bahrain (yawn most boring race ever?) he seems to be neglecting the fact that without Vettel’s spark plug fault he would not have even won that.

    There’s nothing worse than a driver whom needs (through subtle word plays & comments) to “remind” everyone how great they are constantly, it shows weakness of character in my opinion.

    1. Alberto Dietz says:

      Exactly.

  24. Kedar says:

    Nice one James, Wacky races or not definitely entertaining.
    I noted that Alonso and Hamilton got away with a lot of shenanigans in the pits. I remember not too long ago Ralf Schumacher was awarded a stop go or a drive through for cutting the white line and if I remember correctly Rosberg was penalised for cutting the white line at “Crash-gate” Singapore GP.
    Have the stewards become more lenient or is it just that Alex Wurz who was himself a pretty on the edge driver just decided they were “racing incidents”

    1. Satish says:

      I believe Rosberg’s penalty was for cutting the white line at the pit EXIT, which somehow seems to be more sacrosanct.

      As for Wurz (and other ex-drivers on the stewarding panel), they can only recommend a decision; they do not call the shots from what I understand.

    2. Carl says:

      No, what you are talking about is the pit exit onto the track. Any driver cutting that will get a penalty. No driver cut that in the last race.

  25. Panya says:

    Great story as usual James. Always enjoyable to read.

    Looking at the last 3 races, Alonso is really magnificent!!

    Can’t wait to see him to normal races.

  26. Gil Dogon says:

    I think the most amazing thing, is his Malaysia drive. He had a broken gearbox, could not brake as he wanted into the corners, Yet still was faster than Massa. He certainly seems to be able to adapt himself to the car. That also reflects rather sadly on Schumacher’s performance. I think that the first thing that goes with old-age, is not the physical condition, but the flexibility of the mind, the ability to adapt yourself and learn quickly. I do not want to think how dominant Alonso could be, if manual gearboxes were re-introduced to F1 ….

    1. Steve J says:

      Alonso’s Malaysia drive is right up there with Schumacher’s Barcelona drive in 1994. Truly impressive performance and sad that Fernando was unable to make it to the chequered flag.

  27. russ parkin says:

    it seems to be clear that alonso and hamilton are the best drivers by far. to pull themselves from virtually last to the podium shows some serious skill. if vettel is not in clean air he just doesnt have the balls to drive hard. button im still not sure here. i think he is better than i expected but if the roles were reversed on sunday would he have cut through to second? but the main point is either his team(most likely) or himself opted to risk the tyres and it paid off again.

    1. Tom (London) says:

      Agreed with you about Vettel. Nice guy and all that but I have been wondering why more people haven’t noticed that he struggles to overtake people.

      I’ve heard that Anthony Davidson has been making similar comments.

      At the moment I put Vettel in the same sort of space as Massa but I think in Vettel there is a lot more to come whereas I think that Massa is a finished product.

      James you always seem to be as quick to praise Alonso, which I can understand because he’s a great driver but surely in this case Hamilton’s race was the better one given that he overtook more people than Alonso, started from further back and finished ahead of him?

      I would love to see some stats on over taking for this season, given how much everyone said that there was going to be less over taking this year it feels like I have seen a lot more!

    2. Spenny says:

      One thing that came out of the race was the realisation that although the McLaren doesn’t have the ultimate performance, what it does have is grip and consistency. The Red Bull is great in clean air, and fussy in dirty air. Hamilton could follow and still hold a line.

      I think the Ferrari is also sensitive. We see it time and again that cars can be 2 seconds a lap quicker and grind to a halt. Hamilton was superb because he had extra grip so could follow and make a move, but also he had higher top speed, and he had his special passing place.

      The other teams just didn’t have the handling to get the job done behind other cars.

  28. Phil E says:

    One thing that struck me re: Alonso getting past Massa on the pit lane entrance. Is there a penalty for fitting a car with tyres meant for the other car? Not that I’m suggesting Ferrari did that in this case, but they must have been expecting Massa in first. Presumably there was some very quick work in the garage when they saw Alonso in front.

    1. Ross Dixon says:

      Yea thats what I was wondering

    2. JoFarr says:

      this morning in the italian sports papers farrari are saying that the drivers called them when they changed places. i find this a bit far-fetched given the limited time available to switch tyres!

    3. Érico says:

      Outright disqualification. If the mechanics hadn’t thought on their feet, it would have been a double DSQ for Ferrari.

    4. Neil says:

      What a great point!

      Who were the pit crew waiting for? I didn’t see any frantic tyre swapping when the “wrong” Ferrari appears in the box.

      Neil.

    5. Galapago555 says:

      Yes, there is a penalty in that cases, but it did not happen. I read in spanish papers (www.elpais.com) that Fernando reported on the team radio that he had overtaken Massa, so they changed the tyres and fitted the right ones to his car. Amazing race. Is this the boring sport that everybody is talking about?

      1. Horacio says:

        It is very difficult to believe that the mechanics had time to run inside and swap the tires. I truly do not believe that. I would like to know Alonso’s opinion if he had to wait seven or eight seconds to change tires…
        In any case, if Alonso says that he talked one more time to God and asked Him to swap tires, El País would publish that, full stop.
        In my view, Alonso is doing inside Ferrari the same thing he did inside McLaren: but one team of mechanics/engineers against the other one, and using the Spanish press for that.

      2. Galapago555 says:

        “It is very difficult to believe that the mechanics had time to run inside and swap the tiresI truly do not believe that…”

        Ok, that’s your opinion. Obviously, the mecanics did not had to “run inside”, they just had both sets of tyres prepared to be attached to the cars. Looks like Alonso has been talking to Italian papers as well; you can check at “La Gazzaetta dello Sport” (as a Spaniard, I think that you don’t need a translation from Italian).
        I can not believe that the race stewards would not have penalised both drivers should they have used each other’s tyres. It is as simple as that.

    6. Carl says:

      They would have been expecting fernado in before massa as he was ahead before the pit lane. It just so happened that both drivers made mistakes and over took one another.

  29. anthony says:

    If I were Massa I would be mighty hacked off.

    So Alonso wants nice boring races so he can win.

    I thought it the best race of the season by a mile.

    Button and Hamilton were superb and the Mclarens look to be as fast as anyone.

    Button does not seem to have the overtaking ability of Hamilton but two wins out of four speaks for itself.

    James

    Did you see the after race interview with Norbert Haug in the Mercedes motohome?

    He was defending a 7 times world champion saying there might be something wrong with his car.

    There may well be something wrong with the car but it is interesting to see him defending Schumacher so strongly.

    What say you?

    1. Andy C says:

      I guess it is die to the fact that they are paying him a fortune to drive, and he is getting a lot of criticism.

      I think it’s too early to pass judgement on michael personally. It’s not too out of the ordinary to be ring rusty.

    2. Heffalump says:

      I think that’s mostly due to Germany’s biggest and most (self-)important newspaper ‘Bild’ running a massive campaign against Schumacher during recent weeks who used to be their undisputed hero not only in his time at Ferrari but also in the run-up to the new season. “Schumi looks old” is what they are writing this morning.
      And Schumacher is probably the best paid driver in F1, and some Mercedes board member were not to keen on spending millions of Euros on him when the company is still struggling with the difficult economy. Once ‘Bild’ jumps onto that ship (“Is he worth that much money?”) things might get really sleazy for Haug (whose voice, by the way, sounds like he’s been carrying a throat infection around for a couple of months now).
      ‘Bild’ managed to change the outcome of the ‘German Idol’ on the weekend by overtly supporting their favourite and digging deep into his opponent’s muddy past. The opponent had won all the rounds up to the final and then suddenly the vote swung around. It’s very possibly this power that Haug is afraid of and he tries to fight it with all he’s got (left).

      1. James Allen says:

        Haug had an operation on his throat before the season.

  30. Henry says:

    I can see that for a driver it would be irritating, but if he had made the right decisions at the right moment he would not have had to fight so hard. The drive through penalty also was entirely his fault. So really I think he is just complaining a bit unnecessarily – these races have been incredibly exciting for the spectators, and at the end of the day F1 is a spectator sport, if every race was similar to bahrain there would be a major problem.

    1. Roger Carballo AKA Archtrion says:

      He said the jump start penalty was his fault. Can’t find where arrogance or complaint is in that sentence…….

    2. Jake Cooper, Australia says:

      I don’t think Alonso complained about his jump start anywhere mate. But in a normal condition most of the front runners would’ve had only one (maybe 2) stop instead of 5. That’s what I understand from his commments. Any driver would’ve been frustrated if that happened.

      1. James Allen says:

        Alonso says it was definitely his fault, he has not complained, except with himself

  31. chris says:

    Barcelona should prove the perfect tonic to these wacky races. I think a lot of people would like normal racing conditions just so that we can construct an accurate picture of the fields true pace in both qualifying and race trim.

  32. MacGraw says:

    I’ve been a little disappointed with Alonso. He followed Massa for a lot of laps in Oz and again in China . . . . would he have got past him but for that bit of pitlane ingenuity?

    He also followed Rosberg in China at the end for quite a lot of laps, without looking like he was ever going to really challenge him . . . . probably taking the “wise” decision to hoover up points, but certainly not full throttle racing.

    1. Amritraj says:

      I think he did the wise thing in China. A consecutive DNF would have put a lot of pressure on him.

      1. MacGraw says:

        Yep, I totally agree with the logic . . . . that way of thinking might bring him the WDC . . . . but it lacks (for me) the true spirit of racing.

  33. antony says:

    Yes i agree with Alonso its really annoying to have so much going on in the GP, i usually watch the start then pop out for some breakfast, pop back in then go for a shower, and then scanning the papers whilst keeping an eye on proceedings. Yesterday i couldnt get anything done!

  34. Andy says:

    No doubt Alonso’s drive was great, but he also had quite a lot of the famous Alonso luck as well. The jump start was a stupid mistake from him, but any time he lost there he recovered with the safety cars. I have hard time believing he had challenged Button for the win without the jump start as he did exactly the same mistake in going to interns in the beginning as almost everyone else. He may call the conditions wacky, but the conditions are the same for everyone. The most complete driver on the field should be able to handle rain as well.

  35. El Shish says:

    I see very limited justification in arguing where everybody would be if every race was ‘normal’. The answer is probably quite simple: Red Bull would be one and two in the driver classifications and Alonso would likely be in a pack with Button, Massa and Hamilton. There is nothing to suggest otherwise so arguing that Alonso’s performances have been remarkable despite whacky races is, for me at least, rather pointless.

    As much as I admire Alonso as a driver, his reputation as a driver has undoubtedly been strengthened by the fact that he won two races in an uncompetitive Renault in ’08. Neither of those could be considered ‘normal’ races. The season throws up all sorts of scenarios and surprises. The situation as it is at the moment is representative of how the drivers, cars and teams have performed. The same will be true at the end of the season.

    Also, not sure how Alonso’s race was any more impressive than Hamilton’s. Had Hamilton been the one to jumpstart, the press would be on him like a ton of bricks with the same old ‘maturity’ issues. That aside, Hamilton’s race was far superior, the sheer number of overtake moves and the quality of the other drivers involved being evidence of this.

  36. Frankie Allen says:

    Alonso is a good driver and I doubt many would not be surprised if he won the WDC this year. But for this race, I think he will want to forget as quickly as possibly. When was the last time you saw such a basic mistake of jumping the start, from the front of the grid? Then came very close to taking out both Ferrari’s in the pit lane, when odds suggested he was on for a minor points finish. If he did crash into Massa and block the pit lane, it would not have surprised me if he ended up with a ban. The risk / reward just did not figure at that point in time for Alonso and was on a par with the jump start. The subsequent safety car got him back into the race and allowed him to get as high as he did, but he is very lucky not to be having serious regrets after this race. Just imagine the consequences within Ferrari and the FIA if he had crashed into Massa.

    I was surprised with what Alonso was doing in this race. The head was not functioning as normal and reminiscent in a small way of events that over took him at McLaren. If that had not been Massa in front of him in the pit lane, I don’t think we would have seen that risky pass.

    1. mvi says:

      If it were not Massa in front of him going into the pit lane, Alonso would not have needed to pass anybody there, as the point was that they were competing to be first in the Ferrari box to change tires. I think the head was functioning very well!

  37. anthony says:

    We are constantly told that Alonso is the most complete driver in F1.

    Jumping the start does not exactly endorse that.

    His move on Massa is hailed by his suppoters as demonstrating his single mindedness and justified as Massa has been holding him up in races.

    Imagine the furore if Hamilton nhad done that to Button, he would be slagged of f left right and centre.

    I imagine Massa is seething, he did the decent thing and did not turn into him as he would have taken Alonso and himself out.

    Gloves are now off at Ferrari and my support is with Massa.

    1. mvi says:

      “Imagine the furore if Hamilton nhad done that to Button, he would be slagged of f left right and centre.”

      Looks to me like Alonso IS being slagged off left, right and centre!

  38. Tobi-wan says:

    When Alonso and Ferrari stop making so many mistakes, they will be a very dangerous force. It’s an ominous sign that with all their mess-ups, he’s that high-up in the WDC.

    From what I’ve seen this season so far, Alonso and Hamilton are the proper racers out there. I don’t know the overtaking stats, but I bet the pair of them have the lion’s share.

    It’s a great season so far!

    1. alex petrov says:

      Ferrari clearly make to many mistakes, especially by keeping Alonso behind slow Massa

  39. Thalasa says:

    After watching and reading about Alonso/Massa’s incident, I draw my own conclusions:
    Alonso starts an overtaking manoeuvre on Massa well before the entrance to the pit lane. Once they are in the lane Massa seems to be better positioned than Alonso, since he is between the lines. Given the fact that crossing the continuous lines to overtake is not illegal at that point of the entrance it is Alonso, in fact, who has an advantage because he gained the interior to Massa. Massa has only two options: give way to Alonso, or be driven out of the track (well, he could collide as a third option).

    I could have never performed Alonso’s move, not to offend Massa. But I have never had what it takes to be either a champion or a leader. I’m just happy sitting on the back seat watching the wheels go round and round (who said that?) :)

  40. Enrico Fiore says:

    - Had it not been for …. he could have ..

    Ah, if only things would just follow the script that we wrote for ourselves.

  41. Elly says:

    Thank you very much,James for this interesting article.
    Alonso is the most vivid and determind driver of nowadays, maybe sometimes he’s rude and selfish but this is the part of a game. He helped Fellime a lot in Australia…
    Your estimation of Fernando and his driving skill is really important, James. I think he will be able to fight for the title till the very end. He deserves it after all this unsuccessful years.

  42. Gilles says:

    James,
    can you shed some light on the setups everybody was using for the start ? For STR, Buemi and Alguersuari had a different one; but how about Maclaren vs RB ?
    That could also put relative speeds in perspective.

  43. Red5 says:

    The action was certainly great for the viewing public, despite Alonso’s comments the weekend was positive for most people. With points in the bag he won’t be complaining too much.

    As long as he continues to maximize chances I expect to see Fernando well placed to challenge for the title. Although there will likely be a number of drivers going in to the last few rounds with a mathematical chance of winning.

    As for the pit lane entry & exit, this needs to be clarified as ‘single file’ once off the main track. I may have misunderstood but I thought the white lines preceding the pit lane were also not to be crossed. Leaving with only a reprimand was in fact fortunate both for the drivers and fans. Is this the same as a suspended sentence/yellow card?

    As Kevin above correctly says ‘Great race… well done FIA for not handing out penalties.. let the Men race…’

    Finally, if the rumors are true I would love to see Alonso, the experienced multiple world champion, partnered with Kubica.

  44. Mark Edwards says:

    I didnt win so there must be a raeson that has nothing to do with me. The conditions that will do!!! Blah blah blah.

    Well the “wacky races” didn’t make you jump the start mate. Stop moaning get on with it – do your talking on the track.

    Next!

  45. Vic says:

    Hi James

    A little off topic but.. Mercedes are apparently giving Schumacher a new Chassis for the next grand prix.

    In your experience can a bad Chassis have an impact, i just find it difficult to think with the high level of engineering that a bad chassis can be produced. Has such a thing happened before?

    Vic

    1. Tim says:

      When they were team mates at Ferrari in 1990, Alain Prost reputedly arranged for his car to be swapped for Nigel Mansell’s. Mansell couldn’t understand why his car felt so different and complained to his mechanics who eventually admitted the swap.

      There have been examples of F1 drivers suffering from faulty chassis – but none that I can think of from recent years. March, for example, were fairly notorious in the 1970s for recycling their monocoques.

      As you say, the high level of engineering that goes into modern F1 cars tends to mitigate against serious chassis problems going undetected.

      1. James Allen says:

        That is true. I wrote that in Mansell’s autobiography in 1995.

  46. Gilles says:

    Another suggestion: can the FIA organize for the driver briefings to be aired on TV ?
    If the one in China was agitated, I can’t wait for the next one !
    I think they discussed this in the past already.

  47. Olivier says:

    What Alonso did to Massa was disgraceful! Hungary 2007 comes to mind. He did ruin Massa’s race!

    If he really were to be a great and hungry driver, why didn’t he manage to pass Massa on track with a fair battle? Like Lewis is showing us time and time again.

    A true Champion is the one who can best adapt to changing conditions. Not the one who is lucky to drive the fastest car in ideal conditions.

    Wake up Alonso! Stop moaning! Button is the rightful leader of the Championship at the moment!

    1. Amritraj says:

      Watch the highlights again. He did overtake him on the track! The move started at the hairpin at the end of the back straight, and the left hander for the pitalne is taken at racing speed. The pit-lane line starts much after that turn. Fair and sqaure and truly cold-blooded.

      1. Olivier says:

        He wasn’t overtaking Massa. Massa wanted to go to the pits anyway and had no interest in defending his track position. He didn’t expect Alonso coming into the pit as well.

        Regardless of the overtaking move …  I think Ferrari wasn’t expecting two cars in the pit at once.

        It is a clear statement of a (growingly) frustrated Alonso not being able to overtake Massa on a clear race track. As previous races have shown us.

    2. Brace says:

      I can’t believe you said that:
      “why didn’t he manage to pass Massa on track with a fair battle? Like Lewis is showing us time and time again.”

      Are you so far up you know where that you didn’t see Hamilton doing exactly the same thing. :)

      James, you have some great humor providers on this message board. :)

      1. James Allen says:

        We aim to please

  48. Nick4 says:

    Thanks James for your excellent insight,

    The FIA insituted the measure of utilising ex-F1 drivers to assist in making better decsions on racing incidents. As fans, we should accept that the decisions made yesterday were for the benefit of a better spectacle all round. F1 cannot afford to be seen as not being able to not police itself effectively, which means being safe, and fair, whilst being cogniscant of the rules. We should rather embrace that development. Even Martin Brundle alluded to the positive impact of having Alex Wurz in the mix to assist in making the right call. Only LH/SV got a reprimand, yet apart from the FA/FM incident, which was ignored, even the possible infringment that Martin thought Jenson may have been guilty of at the end of the second safety car, didn’t warrant sanction in the stewards’ eyes.

    FA had to assert himself over FM sooner rather than later to further his WC’s cause and his his status in Ferrai. We all know he’s better than FM. And, interestingly FM doesn’t seem to have too much of a problem with the incidentat the pit entry!

    F1 is as exciting as it was in the late ’80′s and early ’90′s. FA and LH (and others) are giving us the display of driving that Senna and Mansell used to give when they banged wheels all those years ago. Wacky races or not F1 is healthy and thank goodness we have some drivers with guts and adaptability. Let’s enjoy this while it lasts!!

  49. Érico says:

    Well, he jumped the start all by himself yesterday. And at Australia it was down to him putting the car over the painted lines at the start. These races would have been much less wacky without these two mistakes.

    Hamilton gets A LOT of heat for his blunders, Alonso should get his share as well. He has been in F1 for nearly a decade now.

    At last, in normal dry races, Alonso could easily be caught 5th or 6th if everyone around him nails it in qualifying. So it’s not so straightforward as he wants to believe. What will he say when McLaren finally do get their qualifying together?

  50. rpaco says:

    A bit rich blaming the weather or his performance, like it did not affect everyone the same, or rather, levelled the playing field!
    Rather like Schumi now blaming the tyres, as if only he had to endure them whilst everyone else had better tyres. He is not looking confident, the old Schumi would have sussed out the tyres and worked out all his opponent’s strategies as well, within the first few laps, he is driving nowhere near his limits.
    Alonso can now blame engines, if he fails to nail a win in Spain, he will be saving the engine!

  51. Robert McKay says:

    There’ll be plenty of opportunities for “non-wacky” (read: dull processional) races when we get back to Europe.

    Starting at Barcelona.

  52. Les says:

    James, I have seen some commentary elsewhere that indicates that the Alonso / Massa pitlane overtake was a way of circumventing the ‘team orders’ and ‘no overtaking’ rule during a safety car situation. Is there any basis for this thought?

    1. James Allen says:

      Didn’t look like it to me!

  53. AP says:

    Dear James,

    thank you for this very nice post! Alonso seems to be thriving at Ferrari, but should stop the silly mistakes, like the jump start.

    Otherwise, he can completely and utterly thrashed Massa… that little canny overtaking manouevre being indeed full proof of it :)

    1. AlexD says:

      You are contradicting yourself….To thrive would mean to perform far above everything experienced so far. I do not think it is the case with Alonso…and when you thrive, you do not make a jump start. When you thrive, you are above pressure, above everything. Alonso would have overtaken Massa on track if he was thriving, but he is again showing his ego.

  54. Adrian says:

    You cannot but admire – be amazed at – Alonso’s single-mindedness in deciding to overtake Massa in the pitlane entry. Can you imagine how stupid he would have looked if the two Ferraris had crashed into each other in the pitlane, especially after Alonso had jumped the start… Also extraordinarily impressive – and quite fortunate – that the Ferrari mechanics had the presence of mind to get the right tyres on the car: again, it would have been massively embarrassing if both cars had been disqualified for running each others tyres. It’s a pretty interesting take on the whole idea of being a ‘team player’ and it says something for Alonso’s confidence within the team that he’s prepared to take that sort of risk (this is not to criticise Alonso, only to point out that he’s not necessarily one to believe that F1 is ultimately a team game at all).

    Massa finds himself in the unfortunate position of appearing to be quite vulnerable in the team (the contract negotiations etc.) and has had the manners put on him by Alonso by this incident. He’ll need to do something to reassert himself – beating Alonso in Barcelona would do the trick nicely.

    1. Joe says:

      I can guess Ferrari is happier with Alonso finishing 4th, rather than 10th behind Massa.

      Alonso already played nice teammate in Melbourne protecting Massa from being eaten alive by Hamilton/Webber. Enough is enough.

      If Massa continues to finish races 48 seconds behind Alonso (who had a ~25 sec drive through penalty), it will be hard for him to reassert himself.

  55. Ginger says:

    Fernando certainly put down his marker when overtaking Massa on the way to a very important pit stop.

    Its a shame that we couldnt hear the radio feed at that time.

    I received a Ferrari tweet saying atht he had passed before the stop which is true I guess. Now he says that he is looking forward to the end of the ‘wacky’ races.

    Sounds like he is trying to justify what he did as being just a bit, well, ‘wacky!’

    See you in Barca.

  56. bob says:

    Alonso & Hamilton, the most exciting drivers in F1. Pity they couldn’t get along.

  57. Andrew says:

    “Alonso had no intentio” of queueing up and losing more time.

    Esta bella typo! Perfectio et espiroto Ferrari!!

  58. Steve says:

    I read elsewhere that Alonso has to fly back from Shanghai in economy class… Karma? ;)

  59. gn23 says:

    The reason Alonso is saying this is simple. He knows that a few racers can beat him in a “normal” race. The only one who can can challenge him on pace is Hamilton. The past few races these two have shown that they are very good racers, probably the best right now. I expect that these two will get stronger and stronger as the season progresses. It will be interesting to see how J.B will do when there is no rain and hence nothing to gamble on.

  60. John Snow says:

    Alonso did do very well today and did a lot of overtaking, but you did miss out that he was very very lucky with the timing of both safety cars. Without those he’d have been about 50 seconds off the lead, probably about 9th place. He was also lucky not to do a “Hamilton” in the pit lane gravel trap.

  61. Jorge says:

    FERNANDO-MASSA incident: thoughts:

    - Why will Ferrari pit both drivers at the same time? I don’t get it… and within the race.
    - Ok, let’s say they call in MASSA first, that means ALONSO will wait 6-7 seconds behind MASSA?
    - If I remember, it is in WACKY races that FERRARI brain pit does not work… it happen before, to MASSA twice during 2008. Actually MASSA lost that championship in the pits.
    - MCLAREN great to take advantage of the confusion and WACKY race.

    1. mvi says:

      “Why will Ferrari pit both drivers at the same time? I don’t get it… and within the race.”

      I was wondering about that too. I’d say Ferrari has some work to do in their post-race strategy debriefing! The drivers certainly need some intense discussions with the “Ferrari brain pit” as some of the wacky is coming from there.

      Hmm. Maybe Ferrari could give Pat Symonds a call now that he is allowed to work as a consultant.

    2. M__E says:

      just look what happened when red bull pitted a lap later in one of the races (australia?) being on the right tyres AT THE RIGHT TIME is critical, and if both drivers want to be in on the same lap they have to queue up :)

      1. Jorge says:

        I spoke to a guy here in Montreal that knows a bit more than me on F1.. he says that the Ferrari engineers figure out that a lap on the current tires was worst that having Alonso or Massa wait the extra time in the pits. So:

        Lap on new tires + extra waiting time on pits less than an extra Lap on current tires.

        So, the Ferrari brain is fully operational.

  62. bonni b says:

    I hope things will work out for Fernando,
    The big problem I have is with Mercedes GP
    with this Micheal Schumacher issue,Stop making
    this man out to be GOD,He is not GOD,He is a
    human being,No athlete around the world at 41
    is going to be great and that include him.Nico
    Rosberg is in better car than the under performing Williams, so his results is no surprise,Drivers are passing him with ease,If
    Mercedes GP Petronas are smart they will focus
    on Nico because he is only 10 points back not
    50 points, it is basic math. Micheal ego got
    the best of him this time, A 41 year old athlete is not going to get better,move on
    Mercedes GP and support Nico,Because no driver
    is going to kiss his ring.
    is

    making this man out to be GOD,He is a human being and at 41 he is not the same driver

  63. Scuderia@China says:

    I truly enjoyed the various posts here. It would be great if James can comment on or answer some of the questions here. One thing, however, I have observed in the past is that just when everyone discounted Massa, he always bounced back stronger. So let’s just not write him off in the battle with Alonso, who is nonetheless my favorite amongst current drivers on the grid.

  64. D. says:

    James, your analysis is right on.

    Far and away the most impressive drive in Shanghai was Alonso’s, who made 1 more pitstop than the podium winners and still only finished 12-13 seconds behind. Had he done only 4 stops he would have won … from 17th !

    I give Button credit for his good judgement, but still rate him as a mediocre driver in terms of pure driving ability. I think as we get more normal races, Lewis will emerge the dominant driver at McLaren. I think the WDC will be between Lewis, Vettel and Alonso. Button should cherrish his lead now, because it won’t last long. There are much better drivers than him on the grid and one of them will win the WDC.

  65. john g says:

    do you not think that alonso wanting less wacky races has been taken a bit out of context. i think all he’s saying is that on the normal race he’s had, he won. and he wants to win more. as drivers, i’m sure they all like the races where their decisions are important factors in the race.

    as for the tyre calls, that’s all down to the driver. he can ask on the radio which tyre is quicker, what the weather is going to be like, what other drivers are on etc. but he is the only one that knows the grip level of the track and his tyre wear – only he decides if he’s coming in or not. i’m sure a few drivers at shanghai surprised their engineers at some point by appearing in the pitlane

  66. Pass0 says:

    I think the problem for Ferrari is that their early season advantage might well be gone. They had their chance to win a few races before Barcelona, and now they have no idea where they’ll be after all the car upgrades take effect on the other teams. They knew they had the pace for this part of the season but didn’t take full advantage.

    1. JR says:

      Exactly the same is true for Red Bull

  67. Peter says:

    Why should Alonso complain? To be an f1 driver you have to be good in challenging conditions and to be fair on him he’s not won one race which lasts in the memory of people. Perhaps he can only win races which you can’t overtake. He can only wion boring races because he’s a boring driver.

    1. Alberto Dietz says:

      Game, set, match: Peter.

    2. Rick J says:

      I don’t think anyone should forget Alonso’s massively ballsy pass around the outside of Schumacher in 130R. Definitley not an un-memorable race that one.

      1. Peter says:

        Yes but he didn’t win that one did he. Like everyone else he was well outperformed by the exceptional Kimi Raikonnen that day.

      2. Rick J says:

        The point is he made an exceptional pass – perhaps a contender for THE pass in recent F1 history. You obviously can’t say a driver who executes a move like that is boring and never passes.

  68. Peter says:

    Alonso wasn’t great in the race. He was massively helped by the two safety car carriers. If we look at the fastest lap times compared to someone everyone seems to be critising, Michael Schumacher, he was only two tenths faster than Schumacher and 2 seconds slower than Hamiltons fastest. Lucky or what?

    1. jv says:

      Isn’t that amazing Peter that Alonso was able to overtake so many cars that were faster or on par than his? What that’s tell you? come on, don’t be shy. Let me help you…race pace..relentless race pace… no matter it is wet or dry.

    2. Alberto Dietz says:

      Boring driver indeed.

  69. Vannman says:

    Alonso prefers races where team mates crash on purpose.

    1. Alberto Dietz says:

      … and legislated perversions of the Law like ‘plea bargain’ in an industrial espionage case. Those two super licenses should have gone for good in a true free market. Instead, the victim later hired the aggressor who then invaded Felipe’s path which of course pleases moral relativists who would like to think of themselves as “F1″ fans yet remain utterly ignorant of a hundred plus better drivers in over a century of Grand Prix Motor Racing.

    2. M__E says:

      and some people prefer just stirring it rather than being funny, clever or witty – go figure :D

      1. Alberto Dietz says:

        Right you are. You will surely have noticed, for instance, LaSexta’s pathetic adulation of their passing ‘fad’ targetted at ‘lobatomized’ zombies. Comfy on denial mode, no need to make an effort to refute the unrefutable.

    3. Tifozi says:

      Alonso has been involved in most of all polemic there has been in F1 the last few years.
      I’m also stunned that people who has been involved in Industrial espionage has not been handed over to the police.
      How is it that the FIA somehow are above the law and can judge in cases like this. Or why did no one involve the law.

  70. M Harries says:

    To make up well over a minute under the safety cars seems like a very lucky race for Alonso really

  71. Sharp_Saw says:

    Actually, if one would look at his overtake of Massa in a positive way this is what we get:

    WCC points = 14
    ALO 12
    MAS 2

    Now had their been “team-orders” and Alonso didn’t overtake Massa and stayed behind him and finished in 10th place.

    WCC points = 3
    ALO 1
    MAS 2

    Looks like a WIN-WIN situation from Alonso’s perspective.

  72. Steve Rogers says:

    Sounds just like Schumacher, he called a race “normal” when he won. Where I come from we call that being a bighead. Who cares about what Alonso says he wants, he needs to go out and actually get it or be forgotten. I agree the hype about him being a team player looks pretty empty after stealing the pitstop from Massa.

  73. Larcxy says:

    Fernando Alonso = racing driver. I watch F1 to see racing. Signor Alonso does race rather well. The end.

  74. Fausto Cunha says:

    James, Fernado couldn´t fight for the win because he pitted for inters like many others and by the time he switched to sliks even without the drive through he would be some 50 seconds behind Rosberg, Button and Kubica.

    At Renault Alonso was always praying for wet and wacky races.

    He´s great race was also helped by the safety car.

    By the way that was a Nascar safety-car style!!

    I feel sorry for the stewards on this kind race, there´s always so much going on and so many accidents that it´s very dificult to be fair.

  75. tamzed ashraf says:

    Maybe teh great Alonso is not great and a complete racer afterall.

    He might be fast but not smart enough as say Button . I remember a certain hungarian GP in 2006 where button overtook a struggling alonso to win the race.

    All this singing and dancing by alonso just goes to show that if things dont go his then fingers are pointed .. either at maclaren or moter nature

    1. JR says:

      “a certain hungarian GP in 2006 where button overtook a struggling alonso to win the race.”

      Oh dear!, Alonso lost a wheel after climbing from 15th to the lead, you don’t want him to win races on 3 wheels, do you?

      1. tamzed ashraf says:

        exactly my point … watch the race again and you’ll see that Alonso is the one who lost it and hit the barriers . One can safely say that Alonso is no better than Button .

  76. Tifozi says:

    I’m just getting tired of hearing Alonso and all his opinions. He will by half season have destroyed the team work at Ferrari.
    The season has been good and we can thank the weather for that. I’m starting to think Ferrari made a huge mistake signing this guy.

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