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Alonso: Mistakes, I’ve made a few…
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Alonso: Mistakes, I’ve made a few…
Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Sep 2010   |  4:06 pm GMT  |  104 comments

As Ferrari arrives in Monza for its home Grand Prix, there is an interview with Fernando Alonso in the Gazzetta dello Sport, which makes for interesting reading.

It’s a wide ranging discussion with Ferrari’s lead driver and in it he admits that he’s made mistakes this season, but that driving for Ferrari you are more under scrutiny. He says that he isn’t giving up on the championship, explains the key to being fast at Monza and touches on other interesting topics.

Photo: Darren Heath

Asked whether he agrees that he’s “made many mistakes” this year he says, “Yes. In the past I made maybe 2 or 3 mistakes a season, but in Ferrari everything you do is more scrutinised and mistakes count double, they show up more. Which one bothers me most? Monaco, the one in practice. We had the car to win the race, the place is special, Ferrari had been wanting a win there for many years, we were counting on it.”

Former Ferrari driver Eddie Irvine believes that the Alonso’s emotional nature was keot in balance by working with British teams like McLaren and Renault, but that without figures like Ross Brawn and Jean Todt at Ferrari, the combination of Alonso and Ferrari is creating an emotional maelstrom in which mistakes are being made.

With six races from the 13 he has started this season having yielded no points or fewer points than expected, this has been a messy season by Alonso’s standards. He always knows exactly what the points situation is at any given time and reveals that he analyses it in great detail. Although the picture isn’t rosy -and he has to score big this weekend and for every other weekend this year – he hasn’t given up yet and remains optimistic,

“The championship positions change quickly,” he said. “The championship isn’t closed and I’m still in the hunt. I’m not giving up. I always do calculations, work out average points scores. The championship plan I had at the start of the year, however, has gone out of the window.”

This weekend Ferrari should have a good chance of winning on home soil for the first time in four years. The key to winning Monza, Alonso says is, “The start – it’s 80% of the race. It’s a long way to the first corner, you can gain or lose a lot. The first chicane is a funnel. The two Lesmo corners are crucial. They are medium speed with a car which has little downforce. There are four or five braking zones where you go from 300km/h to 60km/h. If you brake five metres late you gain a couple of tenths, if you brake 6 metres late you run wide and lose time. It’s very hard to find the limit.”

Photo: Darren Heath


He also explained what it means to drive for Ferrari, “Ferrari has more heart, more passion, more familiarity. I hope it always stays that way. To win in a Ferrari means making millions of people happy all over the world, it’s a unique feeling.”

The atmosphere at Monza should be pretty special this weekend. The tifosi are always passionate about their team and as this is Alonso’s first Monza as a Ferrari driver it should be great theatre. The team doesn’t have a history of hiring in champions, preferring to make them itself. Rare exceptions include Schumacher, Fangio and now Alonso.

With the FIA’s hearing into team orders now behind them and with his role as Ferrari’s number one now clear, Alonso will attack Monza with some passion, but it will be a big test of whether he can keep the emotion in check and deliver the win he and Italy are hoping for.

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104 Comments
  1. Banjo says:

    He’s struggled with pressure all year, now driving for Ferrari at their home race I can see him crumbling again.

    1. Weenson says:

      The law of averages must surely work out at some point for Fernando Alonso and while it’s easy to say that writing on a Monday morning, I felt that the genius behind two consecutive world titles had much in his experience to draw on. Yesterday even though Jenson Button took the lead at the start, Fernando had the faster car so it was only a matter of time before he would get ahead of the Mclaren. I believe that only mechanical gremlins could get in the way of a victory for Fernandoat Monza yesterday. It should be an interesting run to the end of the season.

  2. Irish con says:

    I get the feeling with fernando in a Ferrari bernie is laughing all the way to the bank. Should be good for Ferrari this weekend as they have great traction and braking ability. Alonso also has a great record here too. Who can forget his lap in 06 minus the lost downforce and he destroyed Lewis here in 07 then 2 points finishes in rubbish renaults

  3. Morris Mao says:

    A good article on Alonso

  4. Rafael says:

    I think this is one of the things that Makes Fernando such a good driver: his ability to be self critical. He does acknowledge that he’s had his fair share of mistakes this year and that it has cost him. But honestly, I think it comes with anyone who is new to a team and it is probably just indeed magnified 10x over because it so happens to be Ferrari. I think – I hope – having been able to settle in a lot more next year, the Ferrari-Alonso combo would be more potent.

    Eddie Irvine brings up an interesting point however, and I think it’s quite valid. Given Fernando is pretty emotional he does need someone to temper his emotions. At the moment Ferrari doesn’t seem to be able to control their drivers; even Kimi looked more focus back in his McLaren days when Ron had a firm hand on his shoulders. But when he got to the Scuderia, they let him run amok and look how he went off the boil.

    It seems that when Fernando’s furious, Ferrari only aggravates the situation by being furious with him. How they handled the German GP (along with all the “Horse Whisperer” articles) is a good example of this. I think Domenicalli is finally coming good, but they’ll probably need a more headstrong figure to work with him, if not entirely replace him, to channel all that red passion and tame the likes of di Montezemolo.

  5. Jason C says:

    If he’s made mistakes this year because of being scrutinised and being under pressure as a Ferrari driver, I can hardly see that easing up at the Italian Grand Prix.

    1. Thalasa says:

      I don’t think he meant that. What he says is that any mistake driving for Ferrari is more notorious because they are more scrutinised.
      Alonso was famous to not crack under pressure, and my opinion is that people don’t change so easily. I think this year’s mistakes are only circumstantial. We all have better and worst years.
      It took Schumacher 5 years to win a championship with Ferrari, but we demand Alonso to win in his first one. I have the impression that changing teams is not that easy.

      1. Charlie B says:

        And changing teams has become even harder recently because there is no testing.

      2. Weenson says:

        I agree whole-heartedly and the management of the Ferrari team as well needed time to gel before they could become the well-oiled machine that could make the difference between good calls and disastrous decisions.

  6. Rob Jackson says:

    James, regarding Alonso’s comment that “The championship positions change quickly”, has anyone done an analysis of the championship as it would currently stand under the old points system? It’d be interesting to see if objectively we could show whether the new system has worked, rather than individual subjective assessments.

    1. Jason C says:

      While not answering your question, I’d like to point out what others have worked out: that the points for the top places this year (proportionally) are pretty much the same as last year, except now of course it’s the top ten that score rather than the top eight.

    2. Nilesh says:

      James,

      Why not have drivers and teams championship standing columns with both the old and the new points for comparison for the rest of this season? I’m sure there are a lot more fans out there who wonder after every race what the results might’ve been with last year’s system.

    3. steph says:

      I think Alonso is only 16 points from Hamilton in old money which isn’t much at all. In 2007 Kimi pulled a 17 point deficit back in two races although he had the benefit of mclaren imploding it does still show how open it is still.

      Great article James! I do love articles that look at the personality/mentality of a driver and you’ve done a wonderful job.

      1. stoikee says:

        I think it will be difficult for Alonso to win this year. In 2007 it was Kimi vs. McLaren, this year it’s a 5-way battle. Even if 3 drivers implode there is 1 more driver to worry about.

  7. Michael Grievson says:

    Not an Alonso fan but I think his mistakes shows the pressure that is on him from Ferrari and Santander.

    Makes you realise just how much Kimi could block out

    1. mawchi says:

      kimi could block out?
      just now i remember spa 08 and singapore 08 or 09 in which cases he put the car in wall with just a couple of laps to go

      1. Irish con says:

        Singapore he was pushing like hell to overtake glock I think. Spa Kimi had a right rear puncture. Kimi is the best under pressure I’ve seen

      2. FD says:

        Mate Spa 08 was while he was in an awesome battle with Hamilton with slicks on a wet track… could of been either way.
        Stafano has said he has been amazed by Kimi’s ability to block out everything around him. Something Alonso clearly lacks.

      3. mawchi says:

        Altough I agree that both crashes were in a battle pushing as hard as he can. However those are the moments that the highest risk is taken and a crash can easily occur. I am just saying that alonso, ham or kimi etc., when taking great risks, accidents can occur.

        also I do not remember kimi had a puncture in spa though

      4. peter says:

        why be so aggressive? Most people who post have reasonable, rational things to say – with a few notable exceptions. The problem seems to be when someone supports one team/driver, they can do no wrong but any other team/driver has to be bad in every respect. Please be more objective.

        Sorry,James,but I find the partizan attitudes spoil your excellent site.

      5. James Allen says:

        We try very hard to police this kind of thing

      6. mawchi says:

        Sorry if my comments seem aggressive. Maybe because of my lack of knowledge of the english language.

        I am a huge alonso fan, no doubt. But I am a even bigger F1 fan. Although alonso did not finish at spa the race itself was spectacular and I enjoyed my afternoon very much anyway.

        Because I am an alonso fan does that disqualify my comments? All I am saying is that anyone including alonso makes mistakes when the pressure is high. the monaco practice crash was however a silly mistake

        James, fantastic site. Always the first place for me when checking F1 news (which is every day)

  8. Andy C says:

    Its not like Eddie Irvine to have a throwaway comment about a driver is it ;-)

    I love the Monza race. That first corner is always an absolute bun fight isnt it.

    Come on McLaren! I think they’ll be fast this weekend.

  9. Shane says:

    I think Irvine’s thoughts are spot on. It seems like Ferrari have been trying too hard, perhaps they are letting their collective passion overwhelm their logic?

    Hopefully they will learn to work together better as a team. The constant strategic shuffles and gimmicks do not seem to be the stuff of champions. I believe they have the driver talent and engineering competence as evidenced by their rare flashes of brilliance this season, but they haven’t been able to get all the pieces together often enough so far this season. Perhaps they need a management change, either in philosophy or in personnel to get the most out of their current team.

  10. Galapago555 says:

    Yes, he’s made probably more mistakes since he is driving for Ferrari than in the three previous years. Please do not compare with his two WDC winning years in Renault, when he also made no mistakes.

    Maybe Eddie Irvine is right, and an emotional maelstrom that fosters mistakes has being created; I hope he is wrong, and it’s just a question of both parts (Ferrari and Alonso) needing to adapt to each other. Schummie needed a few years driving for Ferrari before winning his first WDC. And we all know the rest of the story.

    I believe that he will be at least fighting for the championship for the rest of the season, and that next year we should see Fernando at his best in Ferrari. If not, I’m afraid it could be his last year as a Scuderia driver.

    Now I keep my fingers crossed for a good performance in Monza, that brings him back into the fight.

    1. Galapago555 says:

      “his two WDC winning years in Renault, when he *ALMOST made no mistakes.” ;-)

    2. Andrew C. says:

      Basically, Fernando is driving the third fastest car…

      I can’t really blame him for having to over drive at moments.

      Also, don’t forget, Ferrari have blown too many engines already this season which says a lot about their reliability, or their having to run their cars too hot to stay in the hunt.

      regards,
      Andrew C.

      1. nick says:

        “Its the third fastest car” is an incorrect statement.

        There have been tracks when it has been behind the Red Bull and Mclaren, but there have been races when they have had a better car than Mclaren and possibly better than the Red Bull, but have thrown away the chance to maximise points.

        Alonso has made lots of mistakes this year, and admitted it himself.

        Why go to the trouble of trying to make excuses for him.

  11. jonrob says:

    “The team doesn’t have a history of hiring in champions, preferring to make them itself. Rare exceptions include Schumacher, Fangio and now Alonso.”
    Perhaps they should remember that as Shumi himself pointed out only recently in defence of his performance to date this season, he, (Schumi) took several years of close working with Ross and the team at Ferrari to drag them up from the depths they were in when he joined. Why should they expect miracles with Alonso? Obviously they are still missing the unemotional English in charge of development, with the German providing data input.

    1. Curro says:

      I agree. There is a sense of urgency by which anything other than a first year triumph is considered a failure.

      I can only imagine that Alonso, stirred by a will to win exacerbated by the miserable years he’s had since he left Renault in 2007, must be a really intense presence in the Ferrari box. Realistically the title is very difficult now, let’s just hope he and the team remain calm in defeat and bounce back next year.

      I’m pretty sure that, if and when he wins another title, he’ll consider it the best of the 3.

      On a side note, there was also Prost in 1990.

    2. Galapago555 says:

      Some prejudices here, if I have understood your comment – no offence, I will be happy if you correct me if I’m wrong.

      Do you mean that Alonso, not being English nor German, is not able to drive in an unemotional way? In other words, that he can not be cold enough given that he is from Spain?

      By the way, all the noise about the team orders came from an “unemotional English” called Rob Smedley, whose ridiculous behaviour seriously compromised his team – his employer.

      Today, the driver who most easily loses his temper seems to be Seb Vettel, a German. And we have a fantastic English driver, named Lewis, who does not act precisely “cold as ice”.

      But I bet that you mean that the Scuderia is missing just Ross and Michael, not an English and a German…

      1. SKWD says:

        I think it is reasonable to accept that there are stereotypes of behaviour in common currency. It is also reasonable to decide for yourself whether a given individual seems to fit such a stereotype.

        Just because not all Spaniards are emotional doesn’t detract from the fact that (a) many people think of Spaniards as emotional, and (b) Alonso seems to be one of them.

        By and large I’d have to say that the national stereotypes have quite a lot of truth in them – which is perhaps why they are stereotypes! The relative achievements in different fields of endeavour of the different countries also seem to bear this out!

      2. Galapago555 says:

        I accept that Alonso IS a Spaniard, not only seems to be.

        I do not accept stereotypes. We have lots of them here in Spain, and I myself have noticed that most of them are simply false.

        And I do not accept that Fernando is emotional as a driver. He is hot-blooded when he thinks he has suffered an unfair situation – like many of us – but I think that he is actually a cold driver.

        Of course, that is my personal opinion… ;-)

      3. jonrob says:

        Just to clear matters up here, I was not referring in any way to any national characteristics.
        Just making the point that it took 10 years before, why do they expect it immediately now?

        However since the Monza race they have certainly made a good step forward.

    3. Danny says:

      I think you’ll have to agree that Ferrari are in much better shape now than they were in 1996 when Schumacher joined, if it takes him (Alonso) 4 or 5 years to win a championship, then Ferrari and Alonso have gone backwards.

      I very much doubt Alonso can make the team out of his hand like Schumacher could. You felt that with Schumacher there was nothing they would not do for him because he instilled such confidence in the team.

      1. Damian Johnson says:

        Very difficult to compare as it has been reported that Schumacher (and credit to him) would spend a huge amount of his time driving round Maranello to get the car into a very competitive position. Alonso does not have that luxury with the ban on testing.

      2. jonrob says:

        Yes good points made there.
        One wonders if the new Merc to be designed around Schumacher will be drivable by Rosberg (if he is still there next year). So far Rosberg has given Schumacher a driving lesson, with Schumi starting now to say that he is not as young and things take longer, but next year he will have a proper car designed for him. In a way I rather hope that Rosberg continues to outshine next year when there is no doubt that the team will be entirely focused on Schumi.

  12. Werner says:

    There must be a lot of pressure on the shoulders of a Ferrari driver and it is a pitty Fernando made some mistakes this year. Also the team made mistakes and had quite some bad luck too.
    Still, the Ferrari is a very good car and I hope they can fight for the win, although I believe Lewis got more chances to win.
    If Alonso would win, I’ll open a good bottle of champagne but I am afraid it will be a coke…

  13. Oliver says:

    James,

    I have been reading up on a supposed veto that Ferrari have on the technical regulations.

    Also that they get paid extra money for just being there ( i also read that they get paid £55 million more than any other team for winning the wdc )

    Now how in any way is this right for the interests of the sport, its absolutely disgraceful. If Ferrari dont want to play ball then they need to leave the sport immediately, and i for one, would be glad to see the back of them!

    It does amaze me sometimes…

    Id be interested to hear your thoughts on this matter James, as it is never mentioned anywhere seemingly?

    1. James Allen says:

      That’s been around for a while now. They get the extra cash because of longevity in the sport – only team in since the start in 1950. As for the veto, that came to light last summer

      1. Nando says:

        Longevity in the sport is a bit of a simplification. Bernie shouldn’t bend over backwards to make sure Ferrari stay in F1 at the next negotiations. Ferrari and F1 are in a symbiotic relationship, both need each other.
        Didn’t know about the veto on technical regulations, as an F1 fan I’m quite devasted after learning this.
        Did you do a piece on it James?

      2. Charlie B says:

        I’m pretty sure that James did do a piece, and I think I’m also right in saying that Ferrari never used the veto, even in 2005 where they were struggling.

      3. Flintelli says:

        Ferrari is F1. F1 is Ferrari. Case closed.

  14. k v chinyere says:

    Hie james

    Completely out of topic, what happened to JA on F1 Tweets it has been updated in 9 days.
    thanx

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s a problem with the interface with Twitter. They have changed some things and we aren’t able to link with it as before. We’re trying to find a solution. I’m glad people miss it so much because it shows how important it has become to its followers, but I’m sorry we can’t bring it to you at the moment.

  15. Tom (London) says:

    Can we have some dedicated posts on Hamilton, Webber, Vettel and Button?

    I’m sure Alonso has more than his fair share of column inches this year!

    Given what a stonking year Mark has had I wouldn’t mind some personal observations about him. I feel that I know virtually nothing about him.

    Interesting stuff on Alonso though.

  16. Matt Devenish says:

    At lunchtime I was thinking about the outcome of yesterdays hearing and then Alonso’s departure from McLaren at the end of ’07. I can’t help but think Ferrari might possibly have something in store for themselves if they ever part on bad terms with Fernando or Massa.

    1. Steven says:

      Fernando screwed himself at McLaren by demanding #1 treatment, and there clearly was no #1, Hamilton was his equal in 07(I think Hami has suprapsed Alonso this year). Then he blackmailed RD with te Ferrari information and he made it worse for himself, I think he doesnt like competition, instead of proving he is better than Hamilton, he ran. If the team didnt comply with his “demands” in Germany, he was going to make some heads roll.

      1. Thalasa says:

        Alonso has always said he didn’t demand no 1 at McLaren. He says he demanded NOT to be no 2.
        Imagine you are a double world champion going to the team of your dreams. This genius rookie who happens to be British comes along, and the team see the opportunity to have (at last) a new British champion and the first in his rookie year (I believe). They couldn’t resist temptation.
        Imagine how frustrating it must have been for someone like Alonso or any of these self centred guys.
        Alonso was still adapting to a new team which turned against him (reciprocal), and adapting to new tyres and so on. And nonetheless they equalled in points and they lost the championship (which made me very happy).

      2. Nando says:

        Is this the same Alonso who said he doesn’t have no 1 driver status at Ferrari? Will look forward to finding out what really happened in 2007 in the coming years, and about the Mclaren designs Renault had when Alonso won his second world championship.

      3. Galapago555 says:

        Fernando had a #2 treatment at McLaren. You can check how many qualifying laps he was given – after Hungary – and compare with Lewis. Many times, Lewis had just 1 more lap (enough to get .2 secs more) Other times, they were given same laps. Can’t find any race when he was given that 1 extra lap.

        The problem with the spygate scandal is not Alonso blackmailing the team. The point, if I remember well, is that McLaren had been spying his rivals, isn’t it?

      4. Damian Johnson says:

        It is always inconvenient for most Ferrari fans to remember that “spygate” was about a disgruntled Ferrari employee. And where was FIA’s proof that McLaren were guilty of using the information? Yesterday FIA wanted 100% evidence before prosecuting Ferrari on using team orders!

        And you might wish to note that Ferrari are not angels as you might wish to believe. Dr Harvey Postlethwaite, Ferrari’s technical director, confessed to friends that he had led a break-in at the Williams team garage at Hockenheim in the summer of 1980.

  17. mike says:

    I read an article in a red bull magazine in which Bernie Ecclestone was passing comments on drivers in the paddock. He said of Alonso-”he has very high moral standards” I think that cuts to the heart of what Alonso is all about. If he feels he has been bilghted, cheated, witheld information or misinformed-everyone is going to know about it. People like this are somewhat oblivious to the political ramifications that are going on. That may not be a bad thing either. I admire Alonso in that he will call a spade a spade. He will hold a grudge if he feels cheated. Regarding Bernie’s comment, if there was a smartest guy in the room, he is it. I think its a good call and totally backs what Irvine is talking about with Latino cultures exacerbating the issues.

    1. Nando says:

      He must excuse those standards when he can personally benefit.

      1. mike says:

        I think that most people have always felt that the rule was stupid anyway. This is international sport where the goal is to win-within a team context AND an individual one. What happened here is the reason why alonso left Mcalaren. He went there thinking he was going to be the number 1, right or wrong with whatever info was given to him by the mclaren execs. When that was not the case and the goal posts changed-he was a very grumpy soul. You do not think that he went to Ferrari thinking likewise? It would be interesting to see the new contract Massa signed this year as I can imagine that there would have been explicit language regarding this circumstance. I think F1 has to have team orders. There is just too much money at stake for corporates. Jostling amongst teammates is great drama and good for joe public, but ultimately its about branding and finance, wishing otherwise is simply naive. Look at the mess Red Bull are in with Vettel and Webber. Horner is going to have to make a call. Its better to have one car finishing and getting a result than two taking one another out and getting no result! The people in Austria (red bull) will have the exces hides. That goes for the HQs in Woking (mclaren) and monza too (ferrari)if they were in similar postions.

    2. Steven says:

      If his moral standars are so high he wouldnt have gone pass Massa in Germany, or at least he would have tried to pass him, instead of waiting for the team to tell Felipe to let him by. High morals my you know what!! High morals when it suits him

    3. Peter Freeman says:

      I think you mean he has Bernie’s moral standard!

      Lets see:

      Requesting information from the mole at Ferrari via email in 2007, taking his ill-gotten information and went and ran tests on it in the McLaren simulator. Then he took is very own emails, proving therefore MCLAREN’S cheating to Ron Dennis to blackmail him into forcing Lewis Hamilton to slow down so he could win.

      Being the sole beneficiary of Crashgate;
      Renault had planned where and on what lap Nelson was to crash on, but it was pure chance Alonso went out with so little fuel and came in so early and fuelled so long. How fortunate for him to have so randomly decided on such a strategy that so innocently fitted his teams crash plans and yet benefited him so well!

      “This is ridiculous” “Alonso is faster than you” Nothing to see here!

      But yes you are right, what fine MORAL fellow, complimented on being so by another such fine MORAL fellow as Bernie!

      1. Stephen W says:

        Unfortunately you are wrong,Alonso did not request information from Pedro Del a Rosa,he was given it freely,and given the benefit of doubt mame one driver who would not use the information given by a test driver to his advantage?

  18. Mike says:

    Sad, but to answer an earlier question, I have been keeping an old points system and here it is:

    Hamilton 75
    Webber 71
    Vettel 61
    Button 59
    Alonso 57
    Massa 44
    Kubica 41
    Rosberg 39
    Schumacher 15
    Sutil 15
    Barrichello10
    Petrov 6
    Kobyashi 6
    Hulkenberg 3
    Luizzi 2
    De La Rosa 2
    Buemi 1

    1. Grabyrdy says:

      Thanks for the maths Mike.

      From it we see that, under the old system, if Ferrari hadn’t cooked the German GP, Felipe would now be exactly 5 points behind Fernando, 48 to 53.

      Hardly Number One and Number Two, is it ?

      1. Sebastian says:

        Err… no. In the post-2004 system it’d be Alonso 55, Massa 46. And everybody agrees that should Ferrari was in a more priviledge position in the championship/car performance pecking order they’d play their championship strategy differently. Or at least I like to think that way.

    2. racyboy says:

      The thing that stands out to me is that the top ten positions, with the exception of 9 and 10 are the same under both points systems.

      It begs the question, was there any need to change?

      thanks Mike.

      1. Neil says:

        When the new points system was announced, literally dozens of people pointed out the points ratio was nearly identical.

        This “unchanged” result is thus totally expected!

        It’s the ratio that matters to order, not the absolute points.

        Neil.

      2. Nando says:

        I think they were changed to make it look like something had been done. Anything to avoid Bernie’s medal idea!

  19. Roger Carballo AKA Archtrion says:

    How much of Alonso’s mistakes are because of him, and how much because of trying too hard to drive the car beyont its limits? I mean, If we consider the Ferrari is an average of 0.5 secs faster when driven by Alonso, it could be that he is so eager he goes where he shouldn’t….

    At the end, if car is overdriven is a driver’s error too, isn’t it?

    1. SKWD says:

      I thought Alonso claimed to bring 0.5 seconds a lap through development expertise, not superhuman driving!

      As to the thrust of your question, it rather depends. Giles Villeneuve was celebrated for his ability to massively over-drive his (rather canine) Ferrari. Alonso is no GV.

  20. PaulL says:

    I wonder if he’s as good today as he was with the Michelin tyres and having that understeery setup with the violent turn in.

  21. Ginger says:

    I think Fernando is just apologising for his mistakes whilst trying to excuse them. A balancing act.

    He had ‘the most complete driver tag’ but he hasn’t worn that unofficial crown well this year.

    Everyone knows who has been the best driver this year. Racing the third quickest car over the course of the season he had made the most of his package and driven his heart out.

    He has been the recipient of bad calls, bad pit stops and bad luck.

    I do hope he can call himself a double WDC at the end of the season.

    Forza Lewis!

    1. Eric says:

      I’d say the McLaren has been much more than the third quickest car at many of the races, even the quickest at two.

      Now, has Lewis been the driver of the year? It would be tough to argue otherwise, although an equal argument could be made for Kubica.

  22. Steve L says:

    Interesting points above, my views would be:

    1. Alonso is clearly a world beater when on form
    2. When not on form on his day he is still tremendous
    3. He seems to need to have everything his way in the team to succeed (mclaren & hamilton!)
    4. He appears to get very flustered/emotional/fiery & this has sidetracked him on and off track
    5. He does tend to be very inconsistent this year & making lots of mistakes whereas Hamilton just seems to get better and better – maybe that’s just the pressure of Ferrari & changing teams? (He has done Renault-Mclaren-Renault-Ferrari so a lot of change) do you think Alonso is at his peak whereas Lewis is just getting better & better with the stability of staying at Mclaren?

    It seems to me that even though Hamilton is already a world champion we still have even more to come from him yet while Alonso seems to have hit his peak?

    1. Grabyrdy says:

      No, I think it’s just as Archtrion says, he’s overdriving what is clearly only the 3rd best car on the grid. And Ferrari have had some really poor weekends when they weren’t even third best.

      I also believe that if he wins this w/e, he could still win the WC. But it ultimately depends on the development of the top teams to the end of the year, doesn’t it ?

    2. Tom (London) says:

      Alonso isn’t going to win this year’s championship.

      One of two things will happen in 2011 either he will bounce back stronger than before or he will continue his slide backwards down the field.

      I think if Hamilton wins he will slide backwards if Webber wins he will bounce back.

    3. BreadPuddingSux says:

      All drivers have streaks in form. At the beginning of this season (lest his fans forget) Lewis had his own round of troubles. Qualifying poorly and having to make it up in the races. Button winning whilst he was making up places etc. Now Lewis is form seems to be peaking. Alonso will hit a hot streak. It may not happen this year. It will happen sooner or later.

    4. Ragerod says:

      Alonso had two near perfect seasons in 2005 and 2006 that are very difficult to replicate. It’s not possible to perform like that every year. In my opinion if a driver is not happy and content off the track his performances will be affected on the track and it’ll take a year or so for him to feel at home at Ferrari. I also think that when Hamilton’s concerned it’s personal, on and off the track, where as Hamilton treats him like any other opponent.

      Personally I hope Ferrari and Alonso really get up to speed so we can have a proper Hamilton/McLaren vs Alonso/Ferrari showdown.

  23. Qiang says:

    Any fair-minded person will understand why Alonso made more mistakes this season. When the car is not fast enough you are on the limit more. Given him a RB car, he will make it a much easier task. Plus Ferrari’s race management has been spotty to say the least after the Todt/Brawn era, that contribute to more driver errors in a indirectly way I believe. I agree that Monaco 2010 will be one of the Alonso biggest mistake in his career.

    1. Tom (London) says:

      The McLaren is a slower car than the Ferrari and yet both McLaren drivers are ahead of Alonso in the Championship.

      I wonder what any fair minded person would make of that?

      1. Qiang says:

        “McLaren is slower than the Ferrari” Not sure about that. Maybe on in the hand of Button. McLaren is doing better in their race management, and they got lucky in number of important occasions while Ferrari/Alonso got extremely unlucky.

      2. BreadPuddingSux says:

        A fair minded person might say that the McLaren is far from a slower car and that your statement was far from fair minded?

      3. John says:

        A fair minded person would realize that the significant constructors points difference between Mclaren and Ferrari clearly reflect that if any car/team has been ‘faster’ between Ferrari and Mclaren, it would be the Mclaren, with its F-duct and Mercedes engine.

        I thought fair-minded meant impartiality. My unbiased opinion is that the Red Bull and Mclaren clearly have traits that put them up for the win, with the Ferraris occasionally demonstrating pace, and suffering from a serious lack of qualifying speed which is proving vital this year.

  24. Lilla My says:

    Good text on Alonso. It’s nice to see him admitting that he’s made some mistakes. Not all drivers seem capable of doing that. Though it must be admitted that Ferrari had some bad luck this season too, which doesn’t help Fernando.
    I think that the pressure on him is huge – everybody somehow expects him to become world champion straight away. It took Schumacher some time to become champion with Ferrari, why then is it different with Alonso? I think that any outcome different than championship this year will be considered a failure and I don’t really understand why. He’s been outscoring Massa most of the season, yet he’s still the one that’s been criticised more. He might have made more mistakes than his team mate, yet despite all this he still has more points than Felipe. So I think all the critique is a bit unfair and too severe.

    He seems happy in his new team and that’s great. I think they (Fernando and Ferrari) need to harmonise and once they do Fernando will be winning again. Meanwhile, I hope he will do well in Monza and will be fighting for the championship till the end of the season.

  25. TG says:

    Interesting comment from Irvine, but even as a Brit and a McLaren fan I am not going to agree with him.
    His views are bland generalisations based on nationality.
    Part of the background to the political schism in F1 which has stopped it growing and marketing itself to its true potential – as recently hit on by Whitmarsh – is, I believe, an Anglo/Latin divide.
    The 07 season was a flashpoint for many fans which polarised opinions on national lines.
    Then Mosley capped the entire fiasco with all the subtlety of a bull in a china shop, while respective selected media had a field day (and I don’t mean you, JA, I’m thinking of the UK and Italian and Spanish tabs).
    It’s a bit like the Hunt/Lauda years all over again.
    I don’t believe Ferrari have helped things by being so incendiary with the Horse Whisperer blog, but if Ron was still in charge at McLaren F1 I imagine they’d be just as sensitive.
    But my point is you show me a fiery Latin F1 participant, I’ll remind you of level-headed Fangio, Alesi or even better Barrichello (the nicest man in F1 TM).
    If you show me a cold and calculated German or Brit I’ll then remind you of Berger and Mansell! Hardly no emotions there.
    At the end of the day F1 needs to grow to include more nationalities as stakeholders – which is why having ForceIndia is a great thing and the Indian GP will be a bit of a watershed moment.
    It is also why having an American team should be a priority – F1 can’t thrive as just a European concern.
    As for Alonso, I actually think there is only one team manager who has his true respect and could help him focus in a constructive way.
    Unfortunately, he’s currently banned from participating in F1.

    PS – my two cents on team orders: Teams should not be allowed to pick their own #1 and #2 drivers.
    After summer break whichever driver is leading points is then cemented as the team’s official title challenger, and then teams can make orders as they see fit.
    First half of the season will satisfy fans supporting drivers and the second half will satisfy those supporting teams, while the teams themselves will also be able to satisfy their shareholders, sponsors and investors.
    Also means interfering corporate know-it-alls like Helmut Marko are kept in line.
    Which can’t be a bad thing.

  26. Sergio says:

    Not commented mistakes:

    - He didn´t overtake SC at Valencia and obeyed the rules – Big mistake. (At least 20 points)

    - He classified with fuel enough to finish in Canada and lost the chance to get advantage before being denied to the rest of drivers. (In the past that action didn’t counted as a valid lap)

    - He could avoided being overtaked in Canada making waves on the straight.

    Possibly without those “mistakes”, right now Alonso could be in the standings with 40 more points.

    But everything has it’s logical and the facts are that we have a court in every GP pushing to assign the “luck conveniently in the sport”. Read questions of press conference. What a shame to have a media – political lobby. Possibly one of them will apply for McLaren in the future as one did after 2007.

    Poor Fernando, the main actor of the English press one more time since they discovered he is the biggest menace of their golden and ultra favoured boy. He personally didn´t do any bad thing in Germany but you can read those called journalists like an English Inquisition.

    Everything said here could be demonstrated with evidences. A very shaming thing for the real sport, not the biased headlines.

    Charlie Whiting signed

    What a joke

    1. Galapago555 says:

      LOL… I’ve read the “press” (?) conference yesterday in Monza. It is hilarious the way the so-called journalists are treating a 2-times WDC who is risking his life every Sunday.

      James, I remember a previous post (during the after-Hockenheim rage), telling us that those journos had nothing against Fernando and it was their normal behaivour. Have you read the questions made yesterday? I am talking about Ian Gordon and Byron Young. I felt Spanish same for their questions…

      1. James Allen says:

        Mmm, they certainly warmed to their subject, didn’t they. But I would still argue that if that had been Schumacher or anyone else in Alonso’s position they would have given it to him like that. Would be interesting if it were Lewis or Jenson, but certainly they really upset Lewis in the early days on a number of occasions. It’s their job to ask hard questions. Where it crosses the line is hard to judge

      2. Galapago555 says:

        Thank you very much for your comment, James.

        I accept that they would make the same questions to Lewis or Jenson, my Asturian patisanism will not go so far to believe that they are doing this just because he’s a Spaniard… But I insist that, in my opinion, they have crossed the line in this case. Fernando, and all the others, are risking their lives every weekend (this is not a joke, they ACTUALLY risk their lives), and only for that reason they deserve some respect.

        I think they are trying hard to get an emotional answer from Fernando, just to sell more papers. Simply pathetic…

    2. santiago says:

      Totally agree, and your list of “errors” could be longer, much longer this year alone.

      We remove 40 points from one driver which is risking every single time for its team (and delivering so much better in terms of performance than his team mate) and then discuss about his failures. No real sense in that for me. The ratio of failures increases the close you come to the limit, it is easy to understand

      I really wonder how people don’t get a little annoyed with the aprox. 50 points “forgiven” to Hamilton this year and the aprox. 40 removed, without justification, to Alonso. And I’m not saying Hamilton is no performing well, but how do you expect a fair WDC with this kind of decisions? Lewis does what he is allowed to do, almost anything, and I’m not to blame him. On the contrary, when Kubica pushes Alonso out of the track the guilty is Alonso. Some decisions this year have been really unbearable, but Fernando wont’t blame the FIA for that if he looses the WDC

      Please enjoy with the F1 drivers independently of their country! They are amazing people

  27. AndoNeo says:

    Alonso is a great character. F1 is definitely a better spectacle with him and his fiery nature. People like him and Montoya made for great adrenaline filled racing.

    Although I was disappointed with the team orders fiasco I still have respect for him as a driver and a man of great passion and moral conviction.

  28. Peter Hermann says:

    Good article, but i doubt Alonso is such a ‘clear Nr 1′- yet. Things can change quickly.

  29. rfs says:

    I think, this year, Alonso should have just been allowed by Ferrari to relax and drive. He’s too desperate to prove that he’s still the best and that he can be Ferrari’s next Schumacher. As a result he’s trying too hard and making as many mistakes as a rookie. The inconsistent performance of his car (which IMO was faster in testing than the Mclaren) doesn’t help matters.

    Here’s another interesting article about him:
    http://www.grandprix.com/ft/ft22478.html

  30. JohnBt says:

    Another good article from James.

    If only Alonso can lift the throttle on his pressure zone he’s into now, and just be more relaxed I’d think he’d be back into his winning streak again.

    As for the WDC his focus has to be impeccable from now.

    4 hours to Monza’s FP1!

  31. Ron says:

    Digusting… sports are no longer about compeition… the results are meaningless in F1.

    I’m desperately seeking an alternative to the fakeness of F1… it’s such a shame that american motor racing is held on ovals… the only thing stopping me from making an immediate switch to one of their series.

    Competiton is dead, long live fakeness…

  32. mike says:

    Alonso is very good at making decisons when with the information that he has AT THE TIME. When things change, that is when it can go bad for him. He likes to have all the cards in his favour and it then becomes a probability read. Given his achievements, I would expect that he would expect that respect would be given, within a team context. If it isn’t, you better believe that there is going to be trouble. This is what happened at Mclaren when a low probability situation occurred in Lewis Hamilton-a driver who was going to push and be damned the status quo. When one considers the history with hamilton and Mclaren, it is probably not a surprise- but Alonso certainly screwed up there. (briatore was right in that he would come back to renault)Whilst I do not agree that the mgmt of ferrari is poor- its a whole world away from the old days of brawn byrne and todt- that is talent that comes along once every 100 years. I bet schumi would agree with his current issues. He got a lot of credit for other poeples work and it helped that theyu were not headline grabbers either. Their work is always seen in the context of hindsight. Smart operators though would have seen what was happening at the time though.

  33. Steve L says:

    Alonso is clearly a great driver I just think he has flaws that are being exposed more than usual by a change to a new team, not having tha fastest car etc. I know they all have flaws/lean spells but don’t forget this is a very experienced double world champion that has now worked in a number of teams. Mistakes will happen but surely not this many?

    His flaws are costing him…agree with the point made above that Ferrari mgmt does seem spotty & maybe Fernando needs that firm habd/guidance – he always seemed more rounded when Briatore was around him?

    He also had flaws in Mclaren when Hamilton went quick and we know how that ended up…

    I do not think he will win this year – it’s Webber’s to lose but I do feel that Alonso could have a storming 2011 once he has settled in to Ferrari.

    2011 is going to be a make or break year for a few drivers – if Alonso doesn’t do really well big questions will be asked, if Schumacher isn’t getting podiums/wins ditto, and if Hamilton still egdes Button out more often than not…

  34. Mr Anderson says:

    I think that Alonso’s description of making time in the Braking area sums up why we all love Formula 1 so much (“If you brake five metres late you gain a couple of tenths, if you brake 6 metres late you run wide and lose time. It’s very hard to find the limit.”).

    An F1 car travelling at 180mph (290kph) covers around 80 metres a second, and therefore 1 metre takes 0.0125 of a second. So in other words, he’s saying that F1 drivers are able to time their braking point to within 1 hundredth of a second – amazing……

    1. Steve L says:

      They are all a very talented bunch indeed especially when you consider they are also having to think about talking to pits, reading pit boards, pressing all those buttons on the wheel, and how some of the drivers manage to think about race strategy, who is where, tyre choices and all the extra stuff as well as trying to drive the car – maybe that’s where the drivers with that ‘spare mental capacity’ gain some edge?

    2. Tim. says:

      ……..and true, they are very good.

  35. G Hurt says:

    Alonso was hungry for success with Renault in 05 and 06. He was an up-and-comer, under-paid and had nothing to lose and everything to gain, a real under-dog. So he performed brilliantly winning back-to-back titles and finally breaking MS’s 5-year reign as F1′s King. Since then his salary has grown enormously, his race cars are the fastest on the grid and he’s raced with the best teams. Yet he can’t come close to his brilliance of 05 and 06, why??? is it the big $$$, the pressure of being favorite, pressure of racing with the best teams??? Alonso had a real hunger to be World Champion in 05 & 06 that he just doesn’t show now.

    1. James Allen says:

      I disagree with the last point, having observed him close up, he looks the most determined of any of the five contenders this year.

      1. G Hurt says:

        Maybe if he wins the next race or 2 and LH and MW collide and take each other out then Alonso will be back on top of the championship. Although it’s obvious he’s trying very hard with Ferrari, the sheer brilliance of Alonso like his 4 consecutive wins and withstanding enormous MS pressure in 06 , hasn’t been showing this year. It’s been 4 years since his last championship, maybe he’s already reached his peak….

  36. Justin says:

    Does anyone know what sort of negative effect (if any) the damage on the back of Button’s car might have caused him. Button never mentioned it in the main press conference (may have later during press questions, I didn’t see that though)?
    Also a word on Massa, I was watching his lap times on an app on my phone and they were very erratic, one minute setting fastest lap, next nearly a second off the pace. Alonso and Button during this phase (being the only other 2 on the same part of the track) were consistently within 2 or 3 tenths of each other every lap.

    1. James Allen says:

      Fernando asked him about it after the TV interview was over and he had no idea the Ferrari had hit him. They had a good bit of banter about it actually. He had no idea what the car would have felt like because it was the way it was the whole race.

      1. Justin says:

        I find the interaction between the different drivers fascinating and it’s great that Button and Alonso are able to have such banter after such an intense race with so much pressure on them. There are other drivers who would probably have been slating off the team for the pit stop timing and been in a general grump about having come second. I find Button’s attitude very refreshing. I noticed after quali that Vettel and Button gave each other what looked like fairly genuine congratulations even though after Spa you would half expect Jenson to have used Mark Webber’s best fountain pen to scrub Vettel’s name of his Christmas card list.
        As a fan I find it frustrating that I can only try and work out how the different drivers interact based on the snippets I see on the BBC show and trying to read between the lines of the partisan press. James it would be great if you could provide more insight into this area of the driver’s psych (I say more because you already go into this more than most and with less bias)

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