How did Ferrari make that strategy mistake with Alonso?
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How did Ferrari make that strategy mistake with Alonso?
Strategy Briefing
Posted By: James Allen  |  14 Nov 2010   |  9:06 pm GMT  |  272 comments

The championship is over, the title is decided in Sebastian Vettel’s favour but the nagging question everyone is wrestling with tonight is, how did Ferrari get its tactics so wrong?

We have seen often this season how strategy can win races, but today we saw it lose a championship. Of course no championship is won or lost on one race, but when a driver has an eight point lead and needs only a top four finish, it can cost a championship if you get it wrong.

Fernando Alonso started the race in third position, needed only to finish fourth and yet the team contrived to lose him positions so he ended up seventh. It meant that Vettel beat him to the championship by four points.

Alonso: Strategy cost him the title today (Darren Heath)


Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali tonight declined to go into details of how the decision to pit Alonso on lap 15 was arrived at. He did however give us an inkling of the considerations.

“We made a wrong decision in terms of strategy for three reasons: we marked a rival with two cars (Alonso and Massa), we were unduly concerned about the wear rate of the soft tyres and we did not take into consideration the difficulty of getting past other cars on the track.”

The reason they made the mistake was because they were too concerned with what Mark Webber was doing and failed to see the bigger picture.

Webber radioed in to say that his tyres were losing performance and on lap 12 he pitted for new hard tyres. He rejoined behind the Toro Rosso of Jaime Alguersuari, who held him up for two laps losing him almost two seconds.

Before the race, there was concern about how long the soft tyres would last before they started to degrade. Based in data from Friday and Saturday practice, there were concerns that they might start to go off quite quickly.

Seeing Webber in difficulty as early as lap 11/12 clearly made Ferrari worry about how long Alonso’s tyres would go. But it was the same for everyone and Alonso was arguably in the best shape at this point, lapping in the high 1m 45s range, which was the fastest of the leading cars.

At this stage he had a lead of just 10 seconds over Robert Kubica in the Renault, who had started the race on hard tyres and would therefore clearly be running long. Right behind him was Adrian Sutil, likewise on a hard tyre strategy. But more significantly Alonso had a lead of just 16 seconds over Nico Rosberg, who had pitted under the Lap 1 safety car and 19 seconds lead over Renault’s Vitaly Petrov, who had done the same.

A pit stop at Yas Marina Circuit takes around 22 seconds, so by coming in on lap 15 as Alonso did, he was inevitably going to drop behind these cars. And in the case of Rosberg and Petrov, they were not going to stop again.

Now to the point about underestimating how hard it would be to overtake the Renault in particular. In qualifying, Petrov was the third fastest car through the speed trap at 316km/h. Alonso was able to do just 312km/h on the straight. So it was always going to be difficult, The Renault F Duct is among the most efficient in the field. In addition, last season proved how hard it is to overtake on this circuit.

To be fair to Ferrari, Red Bull has put Webber on strategies which require him to pass cars, such as Singapore, which is hardly the easiest place to overtake, but they really underestimated Petrov and his Renault’s speed.

Much has been made of the fact that Renault supplies engines to Red Bull so he would be particularly obstructive, but I think Petrov was driving for himself and for his own career tonight. He will have done his prospects no harm at all with this drive.

Alonso could afford to have only three cars finish in front of him, which is what he had on lap 14 and with this move he invited another four to move ahead, two of whom would not be stopping.

It’s surely not possible that Ferrari could simply have failed to realise Rosberg and Petrov’s positions. Like all teams they have a highly paid strategy person, who has a sophisticated computer to give advice. He would then propose a strategy to Andrea Stell, Alonso’s engineer and to Chris Dyer, who is in charge of operations.

The tyres were going through a graining phase at this time; Vettel’s pace had dropped off into the 1m 46s. But then the tyres came back in and the pace picked up again.

Perhaps as they thought about whether to stop Alonso they were concerned that if the tyres should start to go off they would be vulnerable to Webber and the cars that had stopped and therefore must have reasoned that Vettel, Hamilton and Button would face the same threat, so they too would be behind the cars who had stopped.

But they pulled the trigger too soon. Massa pitted on lap 13 and failed to contain Webber, he rejoined two seconds behind. So they called in Alonso to cover Webber and his world championship went up in smoke. It didn’t help that his in lap and out lap were 1.5 seconds slower than his rivals.

Had they left him out, he would have stayed behind Button, who went on to do 39 laps on his soft tyres. Alonso would probably not have been able to do that many laps, but he would have been able to pit around the time Hamilton stopped on lap 22/23 and rejoin ahead of Rosberg (just), in a net fourth place once the hard tyre runners stopped. Instead, stuck behind Petrov for 39 laps he lost time and track positions.

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  1. Nando says:

    Ferrari tried to play the safe route, Alonso has been talking this way for two races and it came back to bite him.
    Even behind Petrov Alonso was playing conservative and hoping, he had to send one down the inside and try to win the championship rather than hoping for the Red Bull to blow-up.

    1. Stefanos says:

      Absolutely, he should have taken a few more risks to overtake Petrov. He was never going to do it in the main straight. It was, however, very surprising that the hard tyres of Petrov and Rosberg lasted that long.

      Alonso and Hamilton were let down by their teams, neither of which delivered today (it was usually Schumacher’s race strategist that got it wrong every time it was 50-50 this year). All credit to Red Bull and Vettel.

      1. HowardHughes says:

        Huh? Schumacher’s race strategist who got it usually wrong? MS was reknowned for being given the most audacious strategies which almost always paid off!

      2. Wayne says:

        Why is everyone (pundits included) ignoring the fact that the race was another dull procession? I spent 20 minutes listening to EJ and other singing the circuit’s praises because of the flashy lights and great facilities before the race. Is this what modern F1 is about – all style over substance? Money over Sporting achievement and thrill? Why am I even asking when I know the answer to this – a huge resounding yes! If Alonso cannot pass Petrov for 30 laps then the circuit is utter garbage, period. I’d rather watch a GP and a decrepit, crime-ridden hell hole like Brazil any day! Brundle was even saying that this GP is second only to Singapore – which quite clearly highlights how separated the sport and it’s pundits are becoming from the fans reality. A title showdown that was utterly spoilt by the track. We could and would have had Hamilton pushing Vetell all the way, Alonso carving his way through the traffic with the tension building all the time were it nor for this awful circuit! Complete let down on all fronts for me regardless of who won.

      3. Wayne says:

        James, all the teams were let down by the circuit – another modern day playing field with acres of run off. Alonso could not make up the places and Hamilton could not push Vetell because F1 is more interested in colour chaging lights on hotels than racing. But hey Tilke has another few million in the bank, CVC’s debt is paid by the Crown prince and oooh those lights are pretty. Just a shame that this dull circuit decided the championship in the end!

      4. Stefanos says:

        Not this year, mate. You are talking about Shumacher’s Ferrari days.

      5. JR says:

        I agree about this circuit — that is the layout of the actual race track — being relatively boring (though not as boring as Singapore). I suspect that the pundits — because they have passes to go everywhere, and invites to all the parties — are overly impressed by ‘the facilities’ at these new circuits.

        I suspect Korea will be equally as boring when we see the first race without rain.

      6. Aey says:

        He never going to do it on main straight becasue Ferrari is slower on the straight, so there is no chance of attack. The same for Hamilton and Kubica, Hamiton can do nothing on straight, just get close on Sector 1 and the same in the straight sector 2.

        Who said Renault is much down on the power compare to Ferrari and Mercedes, now I believe it just a bit down but not much. Not only on this track that Renault is on of the fastest car on the straight but also shown their speed on the other tracks too.

        I am not too surprise that the Hard tyre last that long, but I was surprise that why Soft on Jenson last that long, longer than Hard on some car.

      7. Ashwin S says:

        All said and done in retrospect if you look @ the bigger picture you can say “Schumi gifted Baby Schumi the championship”. If not for him slipping in Lap 1 Rosberg & Petrov would not have pitted and who knows we would have had a totally different race…and maybe a different champion. But to be fair though I am a die hard Ferrari fan & an Alonso fan Vettel deserves to be a champion for the way he has matured as a driver over last season and this.

    2. Nesto says:

      I actually think they took the riskier strategy. Staying out and in touch with the leaders (the ones they needed to care about the most) was the safest bet. As they said, they were too focused on Webber. When the viewers and commentators (or least me and Speed Channel here in America) question the strategy as its happening, something is wrong. The way they lost hurts more than anything. He was trapped and it was due to the team’s panicked reaction.

      Thats the one part of this season I didn’t like. A front runner pits and everyone follows because they feel they need to. Its all too reactionary to me and I dislike it immensely. Clearly, there have been times when that has backfired this year so it pains me to ask why Ferrari didn’t realize this. They have now learned but at the worst possible time. And now comes 2011 with new tires and new strats (maybe). Hopefully RBR or anyone for that matter doesn’t have a huge advantage again and we get treated to another stellar season.

      1. Nick F says:

        the tyres are supposed to go off. pitting for new tyres is supposed to make your car faster.

        it’s very hard to know what the tyres are actually going to do though. I watched most of the practice sessions this year. they do a long run heavy on fuel at the end of the session, but it most be really hard to work out what the tyres will do from that. the runs are quite short and don’t approach the distance they will do in the race, and the circuit is always totally different on race day. On Sunday they had the added problem of it being a day/night race and the temperature of everything changing.

    3. Marybeth says:

      I read in a comment today that this was RB’s strategy. That they purposely pitted Mark early to draw Alonso in & Vettel could win the race and the championship. That Mark was sacrificed for their goal of the championship for Vettel. It worked. I think that after qualifying yesterday that Mark realized something was afoot & his championship hopes were over.

      1. Marybeth says:

        October 21, 2007, Ferrari’s finest hour! Kimi won the WDC with Todt. :)

      2. James Allen says:

        THey say they didn’t and remember Mark radioed in to say his tyres were shot

      3. giorgio0078 says:

        Right, but fishily SV’s pace dropped at this moment up to ~1.46s (and then again increased on the same softs). may it was a ploy? but if so and it worked out then again tribute to RBR’s strategists..

      4. Jorge says:

        Many web sites and forums talk about the bad decision by Ferrari… but Ferrari employs some of the smartest resources in F1. So, I was thinking what kind of questions went thru the mind of Domenicali when faced with this situation?

        1- What-if Nico catch up the front runners (i.e. Alonso was 4th place), Nico has pitted already then Alonso will be 5th place?

        2- Alonso is at a good pace, even 2 laps earlier very similar to the top3, what if he can’t maintain the pace with the softs?

        3- Nico & Petrov are making fastest laps than the top3… oh my god the computer simulations predict that they will indeed catch up Alonso?

        4- Mark had a problem… and he is pitting!.. he is out, doing as fast laps as Nico & Petrov… within a few laps more Mark will pass Petrov and then Nico …. and then we are doom!

        5- Massa is struggling for pace… let’s bring him in otherwise he won’t be able to contain Mark. Ouch Massa came out behing Alguaseri.

        6- Alonso follows Button, Lewis and Vettel. But Nico and Petrov are really catching up! if we don’t pit now, we will loose more time.

        7- What-if we keep Alonso out… on the softs? are you crazy… they will last for 5 to 10 more laps, and then what?

        8- Mark is doing faster laps than any of the top3…. let’s bring Alonso in!

        And this is the result we have today. Too bad, I wanted Alonso to become triple-world champ.

        My humble conclusion is that Ferrari is a proper team, by proper I mean: they read the data, perform computer simulations and take decisions. Unfortunately the computer simulations don’t take into account (at that time) that:

        1- between Alonso and Nico/Petrov there was a train of other cars (that had not pitted) and will cause Nico/Petrov/Mark to slowdown

        2- you can not pass on this circuit! It was funny to hear the message: Alonso we need your best skills today to pass Petrov!

        Teams sometimes should allow drivers to drive with their hearts. I think Ferrari relies too much on computer data, so they will blame the bad results on computers. They missed one important point during the race: No one asked Alonso how he was feeling with the car before the pitstop… Or at least I didn’t hear any such communication.

        In 2008, Massa lost his champ hopes because Ferrari installed an electronic pitstop system that failed in 2 consecutives races.

        Ultimately, RedBull left Vettel race his heart out… and he did WIN!

      5. Marybeth says:

        James, Since after Monaco, Andrea Stella was blaming Kimi because they didn’t win, I would suppose that he is blaming Kimi for not winning the WDC this year, also. :)

      6. Allan says:

        I know that that theory has been thrown out there, but I have (as of yet) read no credible support that supports that it was the case.

        At any rate, it woiuld have been a long shot to assume that Alonso would cover Webber like that.

      7. Levan says:

        Webber hit the wall with his right back tyre while trying to stay close to Alonso, and in a few laps told to the team that he was loosing that tyre and needed pit. pit was caused by that hit and Webbers it was not vulentural.

        Ferrari continues poor race strategies, this is their weakest side for the last years.
        Unfortunatly I amn’t sure yeasterdays race will be lesson to learn for them :(

        I will be accept that job at Ferrari, I’m sure I will have better strategies with only F1.com’s livetiming and calculator, than they does for the last few season :D

    4. Luca says:

      I’d say that the main problem was that Massa wasn’t able to jump Webber and contain him – that is why they decided to pit Alonso in order to stay ahead of Webber… not because they were trying to be conservative.

      If Massa had jumped Webber, then chances are they may have kept Alonso out for a few more laps to make the gap to Nico big enough for a pitstop. But in the heat of the moment as the softs grained up, the gap to Nico may have been reducing (i’m not sure as don’t have the figures)… but then you’d think keep him out and then give him fresh tires when the others have old tires…

      Ultimately, the F10 just didn’t have the out right pace to really challenge and that is why they were caught between a rock and a hard place, and although its been a good season, Ferrari are gona be under a lot of pressure to deliver next season – to be up staged for a third season will be too much.

      Roll on 2011 and congrats to RBR and Seb…

      1. Baghetti says:

        fully agree, the key in all this was the fact that Massa wasn’t able to jump Webber despite the time lost by Webber behind Alguesuari, to me it felt as if Massa wasn’t pushing as hard as he could have while pitting, if Massa were to come out in front of Webber I guess that Ferrari would have been sufficiently comfortable to keep Alonso out as Massa could then ‘slow down’ Webber at any given time they wanted, would be good to see Massa’s ‘time in pitline’ to compare it to others, might give an indication about Massa’s motivation to help the team

      2. Nick F says:

        Alonso didn’t need to beat Webber. He didn’t actually need to be in front of him on the track. He just had to finish closeish to him. that was the case as long as Webber didn’t win the race.

    5. Wayne says:

      James, all the teams were let down by the circuit – another modern day playing field with acres of run off. Alonso could not make up the places and Hamilton could not push Vetell because F1 is more interested in colour chaging lights on hotels than racing. But hey Tilke has another few million in the bank, CVC’s debt is paid by the Crown prince and oooh those lights are pretty. Just a shame that this dull circuit decided the championship in the end!

    6. kiriti says:

      the stetegy was flawed, Ferari lost it , Red bull had their luck and went on to win both the championships. one small note …have to seen vettel ocertakeing, i have not seen him overtake any front runners etc in the last 18 races, maybe he did …it was insignificant, howver Alonsa and Hamilton are racers and people come to see them in action, not vettel..even mark is quite good, it was luck and destiny which got him the title, i do not think he can hold on.

    7. paul says:

      CONSPIRACY THEORY ALERT!

      Alonso/Ferrari were ‘told’ by those shadowy figures at FIA/FOM that they were NOT to win the race. Alonso winning WDC after the Hockenheim shimmy would have created all merry hell for F1.

      Max mosely said it; Bernie said he wanted/tipped Vettel to win(funny bit of foresight there)and Jean Todt ignoring MB on his grid walk confirms it for me-he knew who was winning the championship before the race started!

      And not to mention the FIA stewards ‘overlooking/missing’ Vettels completely illegal re-start behind the safety car.

      Ive personally joked with my mates that Bernie pops into Bridgestone and mixes up his own compound of tyre for whoever is needed to win that weekend to keep the championship close to the wire!(A joke Bernie, please no law suits!)

  2. d.h. says:

    It seems that ferrari were being a bit too conservative. I bet that they wish they had waited another 5 laps with both massa and alonso.

    James, do you know if alonso apoligised to petrov for his temper tantrum on the in lap. Just because his team mate jumps out of his way, shouldnt mean that everyone else does the same. He has talent, but he mad himself look pretty stupid with that show of petulance.

    1. LouJ says:

      he has apologised to Petrov on Twitter in 2 languages… for ‘when i acted without thinking’.

      he was just frustrated.

      1. Mark says:

        Dont think Fernando has a twitter page….

      2. LouJ says:

        James – am I allowed to put a link up?

        i think it’s genuine.

      3. G says:

        Cut him some slack. I agree, it was petulant but in the heat of the moment many would have done the same. I’m glad he apologised, he did the right thing.

      4. Ayron says:

        Good to hear, I was quite disappointed by that display, Petrov had a great race and at no stage did he do anything wrong, let alone to warrant that kind of carry on.

      5. Peter C says:

        Oh, on Twitter. So that’s all right then.

      6. KimiFAn says:

        i cant belive my eyes what i sow on ferrari twtter page ! they wrote ” … is there to say that you are a bunch of idiots. The true fans are not like this, they support and cheer in the bad and in the good times ” :O

        they are right that tue fans are not like this but its not right to call them idiots!!

      7. LouJ says:

        they didn’t – if you read the whole thing it says….

        What is annoying is that there are people who is ready to be close to you when you win and all of a sudden …. is there to say that you are a bunch of idiots. The true fans are not like this, they support and cheer in the bad and in the good times

    2. For Sure says:

      Surely everybody has temper but even UFC fighters manage to congratulate their opponents who knock them out.
      He showed his famous fist to his team in Canada 2007 when Lewis didn’t let him pass. Now he did it again. Unbelievable.

      1. chantelle says:

        did you watch the interview with alonso??? afterwards he congratulated Petrov and he had calmed down, for goodness sakes he just lost a championship and seriously bringing up 2007, let it go let it go…

      2. Damian J says:

        Please also remember that Hamilton also attracts a large amount of unfair comments from anti English F1 fans presumably because Hamilton’s crime is that he does not drive for Ferrari.

    3. Fuchsia says:

      He probably forgot that it wasn’t Piquet Jr in that Renault.

      1. CHRISK5 says:

        Fuchsia – And he forgot it wasn’t Massa or Fisichella ahead fo him ! LOL

    4. kiriti says:

      i want to ask Jmaes one question why did Ferari go for a same strtegy for both the drivers, typically it should have been one stretegy for massa and one for Alonso, why same for both….we always saw ealier , specially ros Brawn used to have 2 steregy for the 2 drivers, dont you see the new team in ferari has a rule book approach, like tyres going down..dont wait, dont let the graining to go over, lets chnage the tyres for both when they were doing 1.45 sec, i am arfaid this will have some effect in the team managment…another person whome i had a lot of respectwas Chris Dayer, what was he doing …you win chapionships when you think out of the box, ferari seems ot have lost it gone are the days when you could see 2 cars in 15-16 position in Monza ..i dont remember the year, that too aftre 1 lap and then winning.

  3. Andy C says:

    I think it was a case of just jumping when webber came in. They must have reasoned that all of the front runners would follow suit.

    Bridgestone apparently expected the softs to run to 20 laps only, which was a bit of a miscalc if Jenson managed nearly twice that.

    Fair play to seb today, and redbull as Jenson had nothing to lose by going further, but Seb could have blown his lead if he’d dropped back.

    Comment of the weekend from Martin Brundle today on Jenson and looking after tires and machinery > “He’d make a good taxi driver wouldnt he ;-)”

    It was good to hear Petrov with a bit of fighting spirit about the Alonso fist waving. He just said I’m here to race. Good on him. I’m sure fernando will see it differently in the morning.

    1. Aey says:

      Ferrari just to much worried about Webber to go in front of Alonso . . . Let not talk about Rosberg and Petrov who has not to stop anymore. . . If Webber go in front and Alonso 5th then Alonso still lose to Vettel . . . that why Ferrari concerned abuot Webber posiiton . . . and before Webber get close to Petrov on clear Air, at that time Webber was much Faster than alonso about 1 sec/lap. that make Ferrari afraid.

      but Ferrari forget to think that Webber must get to Petrov with another few lap and get slower. If they wait for a few more lap to make enough gap to Petrov and Rosberg, they should win easily.

      My analysis is easier after the race, but for me I saw the Live Timing for Formula1.com and I said to my friend immediately when Alonso make a stop ‘Shit happened’ . . as there is not enough gap to Rosberg for sure, for Petrov the gap is close to be either in front or behind.

      Even for me who just F1 fan,not the expert, still can see from the Live Timing that they were going to fail immediately, I curious why Ferrari strategist with much more information didn’t see it.

    2. iceman says:

      It seems everyone who has based their strategy on the assumption that the soft tyres won’t last has lost out this year.

  4. Andy says:

    Yet another instance of a team following what someone else has done rather than thinking for themselves, and they have paid the ultimate price.

  5. azac21 says:

    Webber was 5th and needed to win to beat Fernando for the WDC. Fernando was 4th so he just needed to chase after Vettel. It would definately be easier to chase after the guys in front, even with not optimum tyres, rather than fighting to overtake mid-fielders!!!

    Cant believe Ferrari made such mistake! My heart sank when Fernando pited. Big dissapointement but they need to look what they achieved this year and take heart. Fernando is man to put them back at the top.

    P.S even Massa stayed behind Algesuari all race long. Total disaster!!

    1. Ayron says:

      The problem they had, though was Webber possibly jumping ahead of them and pushing Alonso into fifth. Webber managed to gain back some lost time on Massa and put in a fastest lap at which point Ferrari jumped.

      It was certainly a viable move at the time, albeit proven wrong after the tyres came back into their own and the traffic proved too hard to get past.

      The problem for Ferrai was that they had three people to cover off and they would have been damned if they did and damned if they didn’t. Webber may have gotten past Petrov where Alonso couldn’t and made up the time anyway. As well, graining tyres could create an “off” in an instant if the performance doesn’t come back in.

      In the end, it was a great race with a lot going on and a fitting finale to a great season.

  6. Harvey yates says:

    I have to confess that I called RBR’s tactics in Brazil and I have been proved spectacularly wrong.

    I’m not sure you can suggest that the one decision cost Alonso. Wasn’t that down to Schuemacher? Or, of course, Alguersuari. Lots and lots of ifs, all of which did not occur. If he had stayed out would his tyres have allowed him to continue at the required speed?

    But well done to Vettel and to RBR. A brilliant effort all round.

    It was an exciting season.

    I’m not sure I agree with the accepted wisdom that the more there are in the frame for the WDC at the final race of the season the better that year’s racing has been. The race itself was pretty dull in all honesty and the nature of the cars, depending so much on aero, has damaged the sport as a spectator event. An overtake every now and again might have been a good idea.

    That said, the lack of flexibility, so to speak, in the design regs has meant that the cars are much more equal than in many previous seasons. This has got to be good I believe despite being a firm supporter of innovation. This has led to just one feature on a car, be it F-duct, floppy floors or wobbly wings, giving distinct advantages.

    Memory fades but I seem to remember that the last time one manufacturer had so many poles in a season the WCC was sewn up by just a bit after Silverstone. The fact that it took the penultimate race for RBR to secure it says a lot about how close the cars are.

    The odd thing is that I found the ’88 season more thrilling despite there being only two drivers in the WDC. That is up until the first corner in Japan.

    The overall impression I take away from this season is that something must be done about the aero. Alonso didn’t seem capable of having a go at the Renault and it ruined what could have been an exciting race. The design of some of the modern tracks comes in for heavy criticism, and not without justification, but the real problem is the fact that cars cannot follow one another. Having little levers to pull is not a sensible solution. Or a solution at all come to that.

    But a season to remember. Having four drivers in with a shout in the final race does tend to support those who suggest the WDC is a bit of fluff that proves little. Well done Vettel for capturing it. It is just reward for his efforts over the season. But then it would have been just reward for Alonso, Webber and Hamilton as well.

    And thanks to all four, and the others, for such riveting entertainment.

    Thanks to the teams as well, especially ‘mine’, but the others did quite well as well.

    It is a shame the final race did not live up to the hype. Reminds me of my youth and Janet Board, but that’s another story.

    My sincere thanks to you, James, for your excellent blog. A thoroughly entertaining and informative read every time. It must be difficult maintaining such a high standard. I hope your readers’ appreciation helps with the effort.

    And thanks to Eddie Jordan. Without his efforts today I would have missed an interview where the interviewee doesn’t say a word. The word genius springs to mind. As does antonym.

    1. mtb says:

      Great stuff!

    2. Les says:

      Agree that it is farcical to not have a quicker car able to kepp up with a slower one through corners. I think aero should be reconsidered, and maybe a standard package introduced.

      At the beginning of the 2009 season we had new wings that were supposed to be simple, single plane, no barge boards and trick turning vanes and all that rubbish scattered all over the car that consumed tons of effort and made the situation so bad they had to change the rules. Now, look again at the cars; multiple end plates and mini wings, bits and bobs appearing all over the car… Pardon me for believing for an instant that the rules were supposed to avoid this type of thing

      1. Harvey yates says:

        Thanks for your reply.

        I assume, although have no evidence to support this assumption, that the aero engineers ensure that the wake of their cars destroys any chance of a following car having any downforce if it is following closely.

        Like you, I think there should be a ‘standard’ aero package although it should require a certain stability of airflow behind the cars.

        And I have to say I agree about all the little aero bits that appear stuck on. They look awful.

    3. malcolm.strachan says:

      You left out that the only “overtaking” zones designed into today’s circuits are draft-out-brake, with almost all braking done in a straight line. That’s it. No compound corners, no tricky braking zones, no situation where the overtaking driver has an advantage in terms of the racing line. Everyone is a master of the brakes these days, so Tilke’s tracks make it impossible because you are pitting drivers against each other at something that all do very well at.

      Like I said in a post above, more design needs to go into circuits to allow more drivers to do what Kobayashi did at Suzuka, etc. Braking into medium-speed corners, curved braking zones where the overtaking driver has a shorter distance to the apex, carefully-designed S-curves, etc, etc.

      Overtaking by out-braking is just ONE type of overtaking, and it is by far the most difficult given the current cars. Why not design circuits to encourage other methods of passing?

      Aside from that, if they include ground effects in 2013, that will help, as it will lower the turbulence from steep diffusers. Moving to single-element wings would help there too. Mandating flat end-plates would also help reduce vorticies. Still, even with all of these changes, going off-line to out-brake someone in a straight line will always be ridiculously difficult… so why not try to design a circuit that doesn’t solely rely on that one aspect?

  7. Not a fan of Alonso, so was more than pleased to see Vettel win (as Hamilton was out of the picture really).

    Suppose Ferrari are guilty of worrying more about what everyone else was doing and not concentrating on themselves.

    Serves them right really and at least with Alonso blowing it we shouldn’t have to listen to the team orders debate reopening.

  8. Joao says:

    Since Ross Brawn left Ferrari, and Domenicali took charge, Ferrari has failed to excel many times. Just because they played all their cards for this championship and failed once again doesn’t erase their recent past of many unsuccesses.

    Should they continue to pursue a strategy for just one driver to be at the top to the detriment of the other (second) driver, they’ll continue to risk losing the Constructors title and as the Drivers title has shown this year, you should let fate decide matters.

    Ultimately the Ferrari’s greater success has been in attracting the Santander sponsorship Euros for many seasons. Perhaps for the coming seasons they would do better by not focusing on just one driver so much, unless they want to launch the careers of young second drivers ala Briatori.

    Double loss to Briatori huh? No Webber, no Alonso!

    1. Olivier says:

      Totally agree with you. It is very telling that Ferrari is way behind McLaren in the Constructor’s Championship.

      If anything we’ve learned this season, it will be that F1 is a team sport.

      Massa was mentally destroyed at Hockenheim. What could’ve been his resurgence since his freak accident, has turned out to be his fading point. Team orders will always be at the detriment of the disadvantaged driver. I hope Ferrari wil remember next season.

      It is why I am so happy Vettel won the Championship this year. It would’ve been so wrong if Alonso got it.

      It’s a shame Hamilton lost out this year. I think he was the best all round driver in 2010 … with lots of great overtaking manoeuvres (unlike Vettel).

  9. Sebee says:

    Can someone is F1 statistics land check how many safety cars we’ve had since that Singapore incident, and how many have gone against Alonso? I mean where a safety car has caused Alonso to loose out. You want to do one better do it for his entire carrier and let’s see if there is anything to read into here. Bad luck, conspiracy, karma let’s see. Put it on three categories, helped, unchanged, lost out.

    Seems to me like he hasn’t had many safety car periods help him out.

    1. Ben says:

      Of course, Liuzzi ending up on top of Schumacher was part of a grand conspiracy that forced poor Alonso, having already dropped a place at the start (and behind Vettel in the virtual championship race), to then pit a few laps later and end up in a procession behind the Renaults and Rosberg.

      The safety car’s fault???

      1. Sebee says:

        Take it easy. I’m not using it as an excuse. I’m just pointing out that Alonso does not seem to get it right when a race involves a safety car. More often than nit this year it seems safety car caused him to loose out. Unlike Singapore in the good ol days.

      2. William Wilgus says:

        The safety car sure threw a monkey wrench into the race. Not only did it almost undoubtedly alter the finishing order of the race, it probably did the same thing to the championship results. They really need to change the rule so that if you pit under the safety car, you get the position you actually re-joined the race in—not the one you had when you pitted.

    2. Drapz says:

      I think it is ironic that you are using the safety car effects as an excuse for Alonso. I don’t think that there were many safety cars this year that were questionable in either timing or reason, I can’t think of any in fact. The intention of safety cars is not to help or hinder drivers but the last time that a safety car was 100% manipulated Alonso won the race.

      1. Sebee says:

        Gentlemen anyone care to remind us the two or three races where safety car came out and Alonso has gone backwards in order thus year?

        It’s season over, we have nothing to do for next three months buy to talk about history. Can’t I just stir up some chatter about Alonso being nervous around safety cars since that “magical” win he knew nothing about from 17th in Singapore a few years back? :-)

      2. Damian J says:

        Absolutely. LOL!

      3. For Sure says:

        Ha ha spot on.

  10. Vettel says:

    Once Jenson got past with that sensational start they were really in an awful position – having to fight two drivers with one car. If they don’t pit, there’s a chance they lose the spot to Webber and end up 5th – which gives Seb the title anyway.

    The way it worked out, they should’ve taken their chances to run longer on the options. They certainly went the wrong way, but Jenson getting past and that early safety car really compromised their day.

  11. Thalasa says:

    There is something I can’t understand, how is possible that teams get it wrong on how long the soft tyres should last?
    Mark Gené (I mean Ferrari really) has got it wrong several times on Spanish TV. How is that possible?
    Any plausible explanation anyone?

    By the way Schumacher wasn’t touched by anyone and he gave an unbelievable explanation when he was questioned. Any non-Spaniard fan think he could have ‘parked’ on purpose, or am I the only one? I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m the only one, because I never get it right. And I don’t mean Vettel is not a worthy champion because he is. Pitty, I supported Webber.

    1. Ayron says:

      The problem is that there isn’t a lot of testing done and the conditions for each race are different, the tracks are different and they actually change throughout the weekend.

      Historically the grip levels tend to mature throughout the weekend, except when there is rain which washes away much of the rubber. This track isn’t used a lot and so it isn’t as “rubbered in” as some of the European tracks. Therefore the conditions change dramatically throughout the weekend.

      Also, the practices aren’t always done at the same time of day and at the same temperature that the race is – particularly here with the twilight finish. It doesn’t take much to throw tyres off balance either, a locked brake or going wide can affect the tyre wear.

      Another factor is the allocation of tyres. Most of the running during the practice sessions will be done on the harder compounds as it lasts longer – you get more laps – and also the softer compound tends to be faster and therefore the preferred tyre for the latter qualifying sessions.

      So, the teams make the best guesses they can and then listen to their drivers and watch the telemetry to make these judgements.

      Don’t forget that Alonso and Webber were following a number of cars and sitting in their disturbed air which doesn’t make the handling any better and the tyres will degrade a bit quicker and feel worse as they do so.

      1. Les says:

        Look at Canada this year for how tyre issues made a great race, and where aero was less important. Hope next years tyres are more prone to degradation

      2. iceman says:

        Canada was really the exception this year; the soft tyres have lasted well everywhere else. I too am surprised that the teams are still surprised about this :) Especially after Vettel completed almost the entire race on the softer tyres at Monza.

  12. Paul Mc says:

    Shocking call I couldn’t believe it when they called Alonso in. They effectively handed Vettel the championship. Petrov showed a strong head to keep Alonso behind him although I don’t think it’s enough to save his sear next year.

  13. JimmiC says:

    There seemed to be so many little theories being banded around during this race, what with the Ferrari’s, the Red Bull Renaults, the Renaults, the Toro-Rosso Ferrari’s – which way do they swing? – and the Sauber Ferrari. I think most of the guys out there seemed to get on with their own race.

    I was a little disappointed with Alonso’s reaction to Petrov, but then I can also understand his frustration. I think Ferrari took it for granted that they were going to coast to the title and didn’t expect Vettel to sneak it from under their noses. To be honest, I think you would’ve got long odds on Vettel winning the title, so a few bookies are going to be paying out tomorrow morning.

  14. JW1980 says:

    James,
    Here is an interesting statistic for you. Five different constrictors have won the driver’s world championship in the last five years. This has never happened before. There have been occasions when four different contstructors have won in a row before the cycle has been broken.
    What do you put this outstanding variety down to? It’s brilliant for my die cast collection. It’s unlikely that we will get a new winner next year. Possibly Mercedes or Williams?
    With regards to drivers it’s a fantastic statistic that we have had five different winners in the last five years. What price a sixth winner next year? Schumacher, Rosberg, Webber, Massa?
    The record by the way was the 70s/80s when seven different drivers won on the trot:- Hunt, Lauda, Andretti, Scheckter, Jones, Piquet and Rosberg. It happened again in the 60s/70s with Surtees, Clark, Brabham, Hulme, Hill, Stewart and Rindt.
    Indeed F1 is going through a golden age at the moment with so much talent.

    1. Les says:

      There have only been four winning constructors in the last five years, Ferrari won twice in 2007 and 2008

      1. JW1980 says:

        I am referring to the cars that the drivers have won the championship in as opposed to the constrictors.

      2. Fluebroggle says:

        Wrong Ferrari have not won twice, only once in last 5 years.

        2006, Renault, Alonso
        2007, Ferrari, Raikkonen
        2008, McLaren, Hamilton
        2009, Brawn, Button
        2010, Red Bull, Vettel

  15. Chancey Gardener says:

    James,

    Good article as ever. Interesting to note that the last time there were 3 drivers in the title hunt in the last race the third one got the title. (realise tere were actually 4 this time). I suppose you would always focus on the biggest rival.

  16. Bevan says:

    Hearty congratulations to a worthy champ Seb Vettel,”awesome”.Although I personally would have preferred a Hamilton win I can’t help but feel its a good result karma wise,Ferrari stole 7 points some time back & Webber punted one of his rivals off with no penalty so good job Alonso,good job Webber,a more worthy new WDC has prevailed.Also Abu Dhabi might be a beautiful setting but its the most boring race of the year,all the conditions were perfect for an exciting race but the Tilke effect smothered it,oh well next year the dreamers at the FIA might be able to dream up another knee jerk artificial method of rectifying their errors,a la KERS & rear wing adjustments.Thank gawd for NASCAR,”real racing,no blocking”.

    1. DJ says:

      “Webber punted one of his rivals off with no penalty”

      I recall Vettel doing the same without penalty, however you conveniently forgot to mention that.

  17. PMK says:

    Great analysis. I’ve been waiting for in-depth explaianton since the end of the race. You’ve just sold another book.

  18. Rich_M says:

    James, great site, I check it on a daily basis and look forward to your updates over long F1 free winter we are facing!

    I think Ferrari & Alonso can’t be blamed for the decision they made in the heat of the moment with the information they had to hand. I imagine they were thinking, surely on fresher tyres Alonso will be able to pass Petrov & Rosberg etc down the two long straights.

    The problem is the track, I don’t think the Tilke formula of tight hairpin into long straight into tight corner at this track is particularly good for overtaking. Two great corners in F1 for overtaking are the Senna S in Brazil and Turn 12 in Turkey, both involve a challenging medium speed corner on to a long straight. Those with more talent/speed can carry more momentum on to the straight, slip stream and make a pass.

    Anyway my point is, I wonder if Abu Dhabi should consider using the same track layout as the Australian V8 touring cars, check out this map,

    http://www.speedcafe.com.au/2009/11/18/v8s-to-kick-off-2010-series-under-lights/

    and this video,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YptPFDSXvyo

    It is a bit of a shame that this great championship was, in a way decided by the “you can’t overtake in F1″ effect. If the decider was held at a track like Interlargos, I think we may have a different world champion! However I have to admit that Vettel did deserve the title, he has been the fastest driver.

    119 days to go!

  19. Mario says:

    Bad for Alonso, good for Vettel whom I’d like to take the opportunity to congratulate.

    The champion’s crown is given every year so it is not a big issue to lose. We will be seeing it all again soon.

  20. Daffron says:

    I thought it was immediately obvious as soon as Mark came in that the strategy would not work, it was ridiculous to pit knowing he would come out behind Petrov and Rosberg who had already stopped.

    That Ferrari computer should be replaced with a tv!

    At least Mark had nothing to lose at that point, Alonso though…

    1. Andy Fov says:

      Alonso needed to come fourth, he already had Two McLarens and Vettel ahead of him, with Webber faster on hard tyres it looked like he’d wind-up ahead of him too.

      With hindsight Alonso’s stop looks like a duff call, but 4th wasn’t in the bag from where he was.

      Ultimately I think it was McLaren’s late return to form that cost him the WDC more than anything else.

  21. HR says:

    This race is effectively a day/night one and yet two of the practice sessions are held whilst the track is at its hottest. Perhaps the long run/high fuel data led the teams in the wrong direction regarding tyre degradation

    As mentioned previously, it’s a shame that such an important race was held on such a poorly designed (for overtaking) track.

    In the end though, the fastest car/driver combination won, and who can really argue with that?

  22. David Smith says:

    To be honest from reading the report above I think it was a question of dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t. Problem I think is Ferrari needed Massa in a stronger position to take points from Hamilton/Vettel/Webber and it did not happen today! On the other hand had it not been for Massa (Germany) Alonson would not have had the cushion of points going into Abu Dhabi. I actually recorded the race and just finished watching it – I’m glad i went out and did something better with my Sunday afternoon than watching a car procession for 45 odd laps. I’m a ferrari fan so that says something lets hope kers and adj wings sort the no pass situation sorted.

  23. Lee Sharp says:

    I was gutted when Alonso pitted, it was clearly the wrong decision. Anyone with the live timing screens up could see where he was going to come out, and over taking at that track is near to impossible.

    As soon as he came in for that stop I said there goes the championship, as im sure a lot of others did. It was a terrible strategy decision and I think Fernando knew it too.

    Fair play to Seb, both him and Fernando drove by far the best throughout the year. We have a worthy world champion in my opinion, just a shame it wasnt a Ferrari driver.

    1. Jorge Hevia says:

      Fernando Alonso: “we did not count with Rosberg and Petrov having stopped already”
      (http://www.as.com/motor/articulo/alonso-salio-todo-reves/dasmot/20101114dasdasmot_6/Tes)

      It is obvious that his own team hided that live timing information from Alonso(info that all fans had, which made it even more incomprehensible for us).
      And they made that same “error” twice, first with Massa and then with Alonso. Too stupid of an error to make it credible.
      Looks like the title was decided in the circus’ offices rather than on track.
      A $hame and an in$ult for the intelligence of millions of fans worldwide.

      1. Damian J says:

        “Looks like the title was decided in the circus’ offices rather than on track.
        “.

        It’s not the first time that Ferrari has been equated with being a circus operation consisting mainly of clowns!

  24. James says:

    I agree with Rich.

    It’s a great spectacle but should the championship decider really be held at a track where it’s not possibile to overtake?

    I’d rather have a track that looks like a dump that brings exciting racing than a spectacle that provides a procession.

    Ferrari made a total hash of the strategy, did they really expect Alonso to just breeze past Petrov, let alone Rosberg?

    Hamilton played it conservative in 2007 and lost it, played it conservative in 2008 and almost lost it, same happend here with Alonso.

    He made a rash gesture at the end that i’m sure he regrets but passions are passions and hopefully he’ll put that passion into another title challenge next year.

    Brilliant championship for Vettel, deserved it in the end.

    1. Gemma says:

      what a shame that Bernie thinks of money before racing. I’m glad Brazil is last track of the season in 2011

      1. JohnBt says:

        Actually I thought Interlagos was the final race last weekend.
        The celebrations gave the impression of a grand finale.

        Abu Dhabi’s closure was very embarrassing. It was like “k, race over, let’s pack up and get out of here right now!.

  25. Matt W says:

    I think for once Ferrari were caught out by their one driver policy. By demotivating Massa Ferrari have been weak for much of the second half of the season and it left them exposed today. I also wonder whether they forgot Red Bull operate a two driver team, it seemed they didn’t realise their mistake until the mid point.

    Hopefully Ferrari will learn from this and move with the times and run both drivers more aggressively next year.

  26. Russell says:

    Why does everyone keep saying “with hindsight” and similar. It was clearly a bad call at the time!

    ‘we did not take into consideration the difficulty of getting past other cars on the track’

    unbelievable – what is Ferrari’s budget again?

  27. Malcom says:

    Alonso’s fist waving at Petrov, because he couldn’t out race and pass him at the end of the race, show’s not only Fernando’s arrogance, but the sense of entitlement that he feels that he has. Absolute disgraceful display today on Alonso’s part.

    1. mvi says:

      Or perhaps simple frustration, rather understandable as the Renault had the speed to always pull away on the straight.

    2. Roger Carballo AKA Architrion says:

      and his apologies what show about him???

    3. G says:

      Possibly, but there is the slight chance that in the heat of the moment, in the wake of having completely obliterated his world championship chances, he was a little frustrated? And he apologised to Petrov afterwards for the way he acted on twitter, in two languages. Doesn’t justify the way he acted, but hey, it’s no news that he can get emotional.

    4. Panya says:

      i think if you were him you will be very annoyed too !!

      Annoyance and arrogance are 2 very different things !!

      I think there is nothing disgraceful about what Fernando did

    5. For Sure says:

      It looks as if he thinks everyone must move over for him just like his team mate.
      I thought he is starting get mature and I was starting to like him, but nothing change.
      “Wah did you see what Michael did to me”.
      “This is ridiculous”

      Martin said “Get real, son” LOL

      1. rossetto says:

        Yes right.
        You mean Martin. The Martin, the multi world champion of all the times.

    6. Peter C says:

      Here’s a man who we keep being reminded is a double World Champion, apparently shaking his fist or anyway making gestures, to a rookie driver who successfuly held him off to the finish.

      Great ambassador for the sport?

  28. JC Agoglia says:

    It was Alonso’s championship to lose, and Ferrari actually did it. Hard to understand while running 4th with very good pace, worried to cover the off-form Weber they forgot that Vettel was winning…
    In the end, the quickest driver of 2010 deservedly got his first World Championship.
    Kudos to Seb and the fantastic Adrian Newey !

    1. Mario says:

      Exactly! Vettel proved to be unstoppable and won it all with his magic supported by some bunch of genius minds. It is not that Ferrari lost it, RBR simply won it.

  29. James B says:

    I must admit at the time I was so caught up in the lap time and sector times of Webber that I totally forgot about Rosberg and Petrov. Once Webber passed Alguersauri he had clean air and I was convinced he had to pit.

    Ferrari like me clearly misjudged that a) the soft tyres would get through there graining b) Petrov and Rosberg were one stopping. My excuse though is I had friends around to watch the race and I hadn’t studied any of the data from FP’s and qually. Ferrari therefore with hindsight look to have made quite a basic error.

    James – thanks for the year and look forward to continuing to follow your site etc

  30. James says:

    Who would have honestly thought that Alonso and Ferrari wouldn’t have been able to manage 4th? The stronger McLarens came at the wrong time for Alonso too. It was a shocking mistake on a circuit where it’s so hard to overtake. To be fair to Ferrari, they were fighting both Red Bulls with just one driver.

    On a side note, please FIA, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE can we have a point for fastest lap and pole position?

    1. Martin P says:

      I agree, it’s incredulous that Alonso and Ferrari couldn’t convert grid position into a fourth place at the line, but I beg to differ with your other points:

      1. The stronger McLarens had little to do with it if you crunch the numbers as Vettel in 1st plus 2 McLarens still left 4th place there for the taking.

      2. Ferrari weren’t fighting both Red Bulls, they were only fighting one. Their mistake was fighting any. If they’d focused on their own race like Vettel did then things might have been different. If they’d been racing Vettel it might have been different. But they made the mistake of fighting one Red Bull and then compounded that mistake by choosing the wrong one to fight.

    2. nickname101 says:

      the fastest pitstop should also be awarded like 10 points towards the WCC,this would spice things up especially for the midfield and backend runners whom ordinarily would not be in contention for points.

    3. For Sure says:

      I don’t think thats a good idea because at the end of the race, a mid field car can come into the pit, get a set of fresh tyres and set the fastest lap and it doesn’t mean anything really.

  31. Lexus says:

    From the time qualifying was over ferrari strategist should have been concentrating on Vettel. Qualifying proved that Webber was not going to be their greatest threat.

    They should have focused on what the drivers in front were doing and not what the driver behind was doing.

    I guess the McLaren upgrade actually working this time around was something Ferrari did not expect for the weekend.

    Additionally this brilliant Alonso who leads the team should have told them that he wished to stay out for a bit longer and let the team know that the tyres were relatively OK.

    I think Alonso will have to take over as the strategist because Ferrari cannot get it right.

    1. Mark m says:

      The biggest change for mclaren was a billiard table smooth race track. They have run the car very stiff this season and the car has been twitchy on bumpy circuits.

    2. Damian J says:

      “I think Alonso will have to take over as the strategist because Ferrari cannot get it right.”

      Alonso and Ferrari have failed to show clarity of thought with strategy at some races such as when Alonso failed to give back position to Kubica at Silverstone for the chicane cut resulting in Alonso’s penalty.

  32. Don Farrell says:

    Well the end of a another season eh…. Well done Vettel…. a well deserved win… I’m a Ferrari fan for 20+ years and very disappointed with the strategy blunder today – but still happy Webber didn’t win!

    Oh and James thanks for a fab website – my second year getting all the gossip from you!

  33. Marc Coltelli says:

    James, Ferrari got it well wrong. But do you think they were fooled into it by RedBull. Did Webber have tyre issues or did RedBull know that by pitting him early Alonso would follow suit and create problems for themselves. Let’s be honest despite what they say RB always wanted Vettle to win it and was the writing on the wall all weekend from Webbers perspective given his body language. Maybe a conspiracy theory too far but sounds feasible to me!

    1. Mark Campbell says:

      Totally agree Marc – A Red Bull marketed/packaged/promoted/pampered driver wins the championship….for the team and the “organisation”,as a whole.

      Red Bull are a marketing-first, sport second company (regardless of what they preach in their marketing campaigns). So, why wouldn’t they put all their eggs in the Vettel basket? Shame, being an Australia, I was obviously hoping Mark would win the championship, but at least Alonso didn’t either!

      Roll on next year…..

    2. RickeeBoy says:

      I thought the same Mark – and I wouldn’t put it past the RBR wanting Seb to win – if they did – they deserve the championship as strategy is also all part of it.

    3. Don Farrell says:

      I can’t help thinking this as well…. hmmmm I wonder! ;)

    4. Llanie says:

      Hi Marc

      I had exactly the same thoughts too but hadn’t got around to expressing it.

    5. Paul says:

      Red Bull splitting the strategy was certainly a good idea for making Alonso’s job less straight forward.

      However bringing Webber in when they did was as obviously boneheaded for his chances as Ferrari bringing Alonso in was.

      If Red Bull were on the ball I think they should have brought Webber in as soon as the safety car came out. That would probably have given Alonso just as much to think about while not compromising Webber so heavily in terms of track position.

      1. omg says:

        I mean really? Are you all conspiracy theorists forgetting that not only did Webber qualify poorly when it mattered the most, but he clipped a wall chasing Alonso and radioed that he needed a new tire as he was losing the one he clipped? Seriously get real, I really like Webber, but his childish tantrums about not getting any support from his team is really annoying me. He wouldn’t be where he is if it wasn’t for his team.

  34. Doug says:

    I need to watch it again, but they appeared to make two mistakes – not getting Massa out in front of Webber, and then having Alonso now shadow Vettel. Probably the Massa mistake triggered the Alonso pit, but they should have looked at the bigger picture.

    Congratulations to Seb – he deserves it. Just trying to remember who he actually overtook for a significant position this season!

    1. Michael Prestia says:

      I think they had to pit Alonso to cover off Webber. If Alonso doesn’t cover Webber than the sister redbull moves over which it clearly did and then Renault moves over. The RedBull is running a Renault engine so more likely Petrov doesn’t put up the same fight for Mark that he does for Alonso. Good move on RedBull to force Ferrari’s hand and benefit their lead driver.

      Things could have been different if Alonso wasn’t so cautious on the start.

      Can’t wait for next year… I already have my ticket for Montreal. :)

    2. Gate 21 says:

      Webber in Turkey and Button in Belgium ;>

      When you start from pole 10 times, that means there are 10 times you can win without needing to pass anyone.

    3. Aussie Fan says:

      Probably Webber at the start of the Bahrain GP, although it was more of a drag race that he won than an overtake as such :-)

  35. Ivan Julian says:

    James, that was a very professional “live cross” with Greg Rust prior to the race. Enjoyed wathing that on “ONE HD”. It was a live cross which really built the sense of foreboding and tension before the race itself.

    I’m a former raod racing cyclist. I was pretty good, I raced in Europe for 6 years.

    Today’s strategy by Ferrari reminded me of what happens on certain stages in the Tour de France. Sometimes, threat Number One is behind you. But Threat Number Two is going off up the road. Which threat do you chase? How is your own condition? Are you having a good day in the mountains yourself, or are you suffering? Should you concentrate more on Threat Number One because he’s closest to you on time, or should you focus more on Threat Number Two because he’s theoretically now in the Yellow Jersey, and you no longer are?

    That was essentially Ferrari’s dillemna, it seems to me. Fernando was having a bad day in the mountains, as Tour de France cyclists would say. So was Webber. But young Vettel was flying up the Alps like he had wings!

    Well, his car did have wings! Red Bull Wings!

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks for the insight

  36. David says:

    Ferrari’s mistake gifted Vettel the WDC and in effect covered up RBR’s poor handling of the Vettel/Webber relationship this year. The WDC was Alonso’s to lose (which he did) but it should never have come to this. RBR (read Webber) should have had the WDC wrapped up much earlier. It seems that RBR’s failure to genuinely support Webber finally effected his confidenece and he lost that edge he had in qualifying in the early/mid part of the season.RBR have too much invested in Vettel and it’s basically unfortunate for Webber. That said he was still all over the WDC until the mistake in Korea.

  37. monktonnik says:

    At the start of the year I remember someone(Brundle maybe) saying that the received wisdom from the strategists was that track position is everything. I think it has generally worked out that way, which makes Ferrari’s decision pretty poor. Saying that, I imagine that they didn’t count on Petrov being so strong in terms of pace and mindset, and Kubica staying out and jumping so many cars.

    I think they played a defensive game, and unless the tyres were really going off, they should have been more aggressive with Alonso.

  38. Rafael says:

    This must be extremely frustrating for Fernando: He’s done everything right from mid-season onwards (bar Spa), maximizing every single opportunity, only for the team to shoot itself in the foot when it mattered most. Still, I think their job wasn’t made easier by the fact that they just weren’t quick enough in Abu Dhabi. As Pat Symonds once said, the best strategy to win a race is to simply have the faster car. Plus if in the previous races they were fighting to win, in this one they looked like they were fighting not to lose and so looked timid.

    Still, kudos to Fernando and the Scuderia for making it this far. They were nowhere mid-season and yet they took the (Drivers’) Championship battle down to the wire. I’ve no doubt Alonso will bounce back and only get better – I mean, he hasn’t fought for the world title in 2 years, and yet he still managed to put in a stellar sort of performance this season! I can only imagine how much stronger he will – he can – get next season now that he’s been reacquainted to fighting at the front.

    Hopefully, Ferrari as a team can carry over their strong mid-season form through next year. Still, I think they really need to make some changes in management. A driver can only do so much, and at the end of the day he’s only as good as his team would allow him.

    1. LT says:

      Massa would agree with your last comment….. ;)

  39. Marco says:

    In every sport, the quality of a sport director is judged by the ability to make informed decisions based upon the different variables of the game. Just the fact that mr Domenicali made a critical decision without considering critical data such as: (1) that Webber hit a wall before pitting for new tires (2) that by pitting he was bumped to 12th position and finally that (3) Massa’s previous pit stop did not allowed him to gain positions with the new tires

    Despite all the evidence a decision was made to call Alonso to pit. Ferrari did not deserve to win with such a blind sport direction and neither Alonso nor Ferrari engineering could have make the difference. At the end the best package wins..

  40. James H. says:

    I think Massa’s mechanical or fuel issue on Friday was a factor in Ferrari’s poor race strategy. They needed two long runs on the option tire, and only got one. Massa should have been the “test” driver for the session. Red Bull, on the other hand, had the data to believe that the tires would have a bad spell, but come back. Better team discipline, and a deserving title for Vettel, despite mistakes at Spa and Turkey. Alonso and Hamilton in 2010 were not mistake-free either, and Button’s consistency needed a bit more qualifying pace to challenge, IMO. Webber is an enigma however.

  41. earnst says:

    First of all congratulations to RBR and Vettel.

    There is not much to say about Ferrari, this is not the first time they completely go wrong with race strategy.

    it is just funny those ppl who are responsible of team strategy, are still keeping their jobs in such a big team after so many fails in recent years.

  42. Baart says:

    1. Congrats for Vettel, and better luck next time for Webber and Alonso. I was so sad, when Alonso had so many problems with passing Petrov, no wonder he was furious.

    2. This end of the season had so many similarities to 2007 when Raikkonen won the Title. It was just like Deja vu for me.

    3. I think Vettel deserved it, but I have a strange feeling, that we can see team orders next year from Red Bull, when they will built this team around Sebastian.

    Anyway, i`am curious how things would turn around, with KERS in the action ?

    But biggest question for me is why they thought, that Alonso soft tyres was in the bad shape ???? They have hundreds of sensors….

  43. Joakim says:

    Great analysis! Thanks!

  44. zombie says:

    Yet again we see the ‘Achilles heel’ of Ferrari. I have lost the count of the number of strategic blunders they have made since 2007. Ironically, Schumi might not have made a huge impact this season,but his crash certainly helped deciding the closest and grittiest F1 season we have seen in decades!

    Now we look forward to 2011 and hopefully Mercedes and Renault can join the ‘big boys’ next season.

    Btw, any rumors if Mark Webber will stick on with RBR or will he call it a day? If i was in Mr.Horner’s shoes,i would replace him with ‘quick Nick’ or Hulkenberg.

  45. PW Rocket S says:

    I am a Ferrari/Alonso fan. IMHO the Ferrari pit didn’t play it safe and lost. They got too excited and totally messed it up. Didn’t anybody in Ferrari remembered that all they need was to **follow** Webber home and NOT ahead of him. They can easily pit Massa first and use him to test the medium tires/track position, and let Fernando do 3 to 4 more laps, and then even if his tires are really falling off, he would still come out just behind Alguersauri…..still more than enough to cover Webber. My jaw dropped when Ferrari tried to pit Alonso :(

    BTW did RBR use TEAM ORDER to have Alguersauri give way to Webber? I think if that’s the case that is 100x worse than what Ferrari did in Germany. And wasn’t it ironic that STR used Ferrari power! I think RBR is lucky that the right driver won the Championship and everybody forgot about that piece of dark history….

    At the end I am very happy for Vettel because a true Champion wins under pressure (similar to Massa in ’08, even he ended up losing to Hamilton, his win in Brazil ’08 when nothing else will do makes him a true champion in my heart). Webber got carried away by his own mind games towards Vettel and lost. He probably won’t be driving for RBR next year, or worst yet he will have to eat his own word and be the real #2 driver.

    Finally James can you tell us what/how did Bridgestone communicate to the teams about the expected wear of the super-softs. I think somehow all the teams were told by Bridgestone that ~20 laps was the number. How can Bridgestone go it so wrong after 19 races with the same tires? Was this information really communicated to the teams, or was this just communicated to journalists/fans as a rule-of-thumb? Also how come nobody (including even Brundle / Kratviz / Couthard) seems to know that the after the graining phase the tire would last another 20 laps? Thanks!

    1. James Allen says:

      Well Webber lost 1.5 secs behind Alguersuari before getting past, which meant he didn’t jump Alonso

  46. Mendocino says:

    Only few words James.. Ferrari has lost this championship with its strongest weapon: tyre management. That’s my greatest sadness and my thought.. They lost time choosing the best setup for Q3 and race, they had strange degradation on Practice2 when they were on low rear wing.. Then they choosed the higher one. So they weren’t aware on the cicle of life of the supersoft in THAT setup condition. Fears and concerns came from that. They only had to make – as Domenicali always says – Their race. OUR race is when we manage tyres better than others, that’s our great weapon and now our death.
    A very sad tifoso.

  47. Allan B says:

    Am I the only person who hates to see the Safety Car deployed.?

    OK, I know it has its’ place later in a race but if an incident occurs within say, the first 5 laps, the race should be Red Flagged.

    Driving round for 5 or 6 laps is just plain crazy, they should stop on the grid and re-start after the problem is removed and the track is clear.

    Something also has to be done to increase overtaking as this procession of cars is not going to increase the number of fans.

    Having said all that, I was pleased for Vettel, very cool calm drive, flag to flag. Good showings from Hamilton and Button and a very good drive from Kubica and Petrov.

    Did Webber have another overheating engine, as he was way off the pace.

    1. James Allen says:

      We need to improve the safety car rules, it so often leads to controversies

      1. Damian J says:

        Same with rules with use of team orders….the rules with the deployment of the Safety Car and use of team orders are both characterised by the annoying phrase coined with regular monotony by by some posts, “It’s always been a part of the sport” but that does n’t make it right!

    2. iceman says:

      It always used to be thus didn’t it – an incident near the start meant a red flag and a restart. That idea was discarded under the tyranny of television. A restart often resulted in the race overrunning its expected time slot.

    3. Nesto says:

      the SC period should not allow for any jumping or changing of the grid. A driver(s) had an accident, hold positions, clear the area and resume as it was before.

      Instead and not unexpectedly, teams try to use it to their advantage but that needs to be banned (as Singapore showed). Theres no reason to dive in the pits as theres no refueling anymore. You should not get a free pit stop w/o the time loss as the field runs in slow unison together. Its wrong but I doubt anything will be done. The SC rules are terribly complex when they can be simple and unobtrusive.

    4. Jingjing says:

      I think the pitstop must be banned under SC, except the cars who have a failure.

  48. HowardHughes says:

    I’m not an Alonso fan. In fact I’ve only this season downgraded my dislike of the man from ‘extreme’ to ‘mild’. Therefore what I’m about to say doesn’t come at all from a place of fan worship.

    I recall in the 2000 season’s deciding race Murray Walker telling us that various teams other than Ferrari and McLaren had declared beforehand that their drivers would play no part in holding up either Schumacher or Hakkinen, as no-one wanted to hinder or influence the thrilling WDC battle. It was effectively a gentleman’s agreement and we saw it in the race when a few drivers were mature enough to let the main protagonists pass before resuming their own race. Sure they lost a point but contributed to a far better sporting ideal.

    Therefore I truly believe that Petrov was utterly in the wrong today to have blocked Alonso for the duration of the race. Now you may say that if a driver is supposed to be good enough to become World Champion then he should be good enough to pass another car on the track, and I have sympathy with that view.

    But we all know that given the bland nature of so many TilkeDromes, and the wholly negative effect of the current aero packages upon overtaking that to simply pass a car just isn’t always possible. But why should a rookie driver in a car that happens to be quick on the straights but which has nothing whatsoever to do with the championship get to 100% influence who wins it?

    In the end we were told the championship might be decided by the tyres, the engine situation, team orders or an accident between teammates…

    It wasn’t. It was decided by a mid-field peddler who rookie performances have been dubious enough to warrant extreme speculation about his F1 future.

    This should not be.

    1. Anders says:

      “Therefore I truly believe that Petrov was utterly in the wrong today to have blocked Alonso for the duration of the race.”

      I disagree completely.

      If someone wants to let others by, that’s fine with me. But don’t expect it to happen. They have absolutely no obligation to do so and you cannot impose it on them and Alonso can’t either.

      Petrov may have been in his last F1 GP and you would ask him to give up a hard-earned position easy just to please a competitor from another team? No, no and no. It was a great opportunity for Petrov and he did absolutely great to grab it with both hands.

    2. Toby says:

      You seemed to have answered your own question here. If Alonso is better, then he should have passed. Through happenstance or error of judgment, Alonso and his team made the wrong call as to the pit stop and lost race position. Why should Renault and Petrov cover that ultimately poor decision? Even if Petrov had done what you suggest, does Rosberg and Team Mercedes satisfy your criteria for who is permitted to race for position in this circumstance? I am not offended by team orders but what you suggest is beyond the pale. Alonso is a phenomenal racer. He simply wasn’t good enough on race day to win the championship.

      1. Carlos says:

        I agree with you that Petrov shouldn’t have let Alonso pass him, but I don’t agree with, “If Alonso is better, then he should have passed.” I’m sure you know better than that too – on tracks like this one, being better isn’t enough to pass. You need to be 1-2 seconds better.

    3. Andy says:

      If Petrov had simply let Alonso pass, then he would’ve directly influenced the championship, the very thing that, I believe, we all, including you, think should -not- happen. If Ferrari and/or Alonso makes a mistake, then there is a price to pay for that, and it’s not for the other teams to pay.

      I, for one, am glad that the days of such agreements like you described are over.

      1. Nesto says:

        Do you think Alonso or Hamilton or the legends of sport, Senna, Prost, Lauda, etc…. if they were fighting for nothing and they were hindering a guy fighting for the world championship in the last race, do they let the guy through eventually or fight him to the very end ? I believe they would treat others the way they would like to be treated if the roles were reversed. The person behind stands to lose so much. Do you not think Senna would be incensed if something similar happened to him ? You can say he would have overtaken but put him in today’s machinery against the current grid and I don’t think so. The generations are different and can’t be compared but each one does their very best with what is at their disposal.

        I don’t NEED overtaking for this sport to be exciting. My main beef now that politics seem to have disappeared is that a faster car is unable to get past a slower car due to aero, dirty air, late breaking points, track layout etc. Its not about driver skill, its just impossible at certain venues. I abhor the fact that a car will catch another rapidly and then get stuck there. When talking of Alonso and Hamilton, you are basically talking about the 2 best drivers currently on the grid who aggressively overtake. Both in superior cars and they are unable to get past a midfield team on a track w/no walls. Something is fundamentally wrong. I don’t blame Renault but I do wish their drivers hadn’t played such a part in the outcome. They gained nothing but directly affected the championship. I want to see the title rivals battling each other not what I saw yesterday (and in Brazil after the SC restart). Theres a lot wrong with the sport not in our control but certain drivers should understand and act accordingly.

  49. CHRISK5 says:

    Quite simply,Renault incorporated outsmarted Alonso.

    Vettel as champion is great.
    The contributions of Kubica and Petrov were incredibly immense and very important to the overall plan.

    The race was average for ontrack racing,
    but the insiders chess battle was much more intiguing.

    The whole thing gave me goosebumps !

    Next up,the LotusRenault soapopera continues…

  50. Thomas in Australia says:

    How is it that Tilke keeps getting the design job? He is universally condemned by F1 fans as being awful. We here, most who have never raced a car, could do a far better job of designing a track.

    A lot of non F1 fans in Australia tuned in to F1 last night for the first time. I have a feeling that most wont be doing so again.

    1. Anders says:

      Thomas, I agree that the track is sh*t. The same as Valencia.

      If you go back to read what many of the F1 drivers and Bernie Ecclestone said about this particular track in Abu Dhabi, they praised it. One driver did not praise it – Kimi Räikkönen. He immediately recognised it for what it is and he was not afraid to say it. Some other drivers were praising the track but I have to ask – did Bernie ask them to do so to promote F1 in a new market or something like that? Because as racing drivers they must have realised the same as Kimi did but for some reason some of them were saying pretty much the complete opposite.

      Bernie… he praised the facilities! The facilities are more important to him it seems. Also see his constant nagging about Silverstone. A circuit loved by many but Bernie sounded like he hated the place.

      1. Gemma says:

        Does Bernie not realise that the millions of Tv viewers do not give a *$%? about the facilities of a track, thats not why we watch F1 racing!

      2. JohnBt says:

        Totally agree with your post. Who cares about how lovely the grandstands are and the disneyland twinkling lights.

        All we want is just RACING!!!

  51. Aey says:

    Poor Alonso for your gesture.

    let assume that you have a chance to pass Petrov. What you think about Rosberg?

    Why Ferrari Team don’t radio to Petrove to let him know that “Fernando is faster than you, do you understand the message?”

    If you want to pass someone,do it yourself, Alonso, not just waiting for helping from People around you. . . Alonso might forget that the car in front is Petrov, not Massa.

    1. Anders says:

      I have been reading about Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Fernando Alonso may well have it.

      Those kind of people feel very ‘entitled’ and they don’t think you are worth much if nothing at all. They display a serious lack of empathy and they use other people as tools to get you what they want, and if they don’t get what they want they will act like… Fernando Alonso on more than one occasion in F1.

      To them, you are not a person, you are an object, which can be used.

      I would not be surprised if Fernando Alonso has such a personality disorder.

      1. Anders says:

        Oh, and most professionals researching this seem to agree that such a disorder may well have been caused either by negligence or “over-praise” targeted at them when they were children. They see this is a pattern often repeated with people with NPD.

        Did Fernando have negligent parents or did they tell him he is the best when he in fact wasn’t? Something like that could have been going on.

        I’m just speculating, of course I don’t know.

      2. For Sure says:

        You made very good points.
        Generally, a lot of that reflects how parents treated their child.

      3. Carlos says:

        I follow the Spanish media and his parents don’t get (nor ask for) a lot of publicity but they seem perfectly normal. All that success at an early age probably had an impact though, there’s no denying that.

        But really, it’s the Spanish media that coddles him like crazy. To them, it’s never his fault. He’s perfect, and everyone’s always conspiring against him. It didn’t become a problem until 2007. That year, even before the Hungary blow-up, the more prominent F1 journalists seemed to convince Alonso that everyone else hated him and they were his only friends. I’m exaggerating a little, but not much. It was pretty bad.

        Sometimes the English press didn’t help. After Bahrain that year, a Spanish interviewer asked Alonso, “Hey, we heard a light fell on your car before the race. Couldn’t that have affected how well it worked?”
        Alonso: “Nah, it was nothing.”
        Reporter: “Are you sure?”
        Alonso: “Yeah, pretty sure.”
        Reporter: “Really? These are such precise, such millimetric machines… isn’t it at all possible that the impact could have knocked something around?”
        Alonso: “Well… okay, I suppose…”

        Next day in the English press: “ALONSO BLAMES FALLEN LIGHT FOR POOR PERFORMANCE!”

        And that was just the beginning.

  52. jack says:

    I was confused when Ferrari brought Massa in after Webber, but when they brought Alonso in I was shocked and disappointed.

    Webber had not looked good all weekend. Even if he was faster on the hard tyres he was no doubt going to get held up in traffic as well has having to pass the cars that pitted during the safety car.

    The only way Ferrari’s strategy was going to work, was if Red Bull were going to pit Vettel right after Alonso. But Red Bull were never going to that as they’d give away track position?

    A huge mistake by Ferrari that more than likely cost themselves and Alonso a WDC. But Vettel has had his share of bad luck this season, and has been really driving well in the last few races.

    Really disappointed for Alonso. He’s driven great in car that’s never been as good as the Red Bull, or McLaren at times.

    But Vettel is a worthy world champion. He’s obviously very fast and hard to catch when leading from the front. Needs to improve his overtaking but in the end he got the job done. So congratulations to Vettel and Red Bull.

  53. Kevin says:

    Ferrari’s mistake was not merely in this race. They got the whole season wrong (well, they got it wrong before the season began by hiring blowhard Alonso in the first place, but that’s another story).
    This season’s outcome proves that team orders don’t work, because that undermines the team. Red Bull let its drivers race all the way, and the drivers and the team did better for it. Ferrari made the mistake of telling an F1 driver – Massa – that he could only race for 2nd place, but still to go ahead and give his all and risk his life for the benefit of other people. He’s not that stupid. Who is? Telling a driver to aim only for 2nd guarantees that driver will finish consistently less than 4th, simply because the instruction diminishes motivation, possibly even only unconsciously, but that’s enough to alter that driver’s performance dramatically when compared with other highly motivated racers whose only aim is to win.
    Alonso can’t be so stupid that he didn’t know this would happen (or is he that stupid?), so in effect he persuaded Ferrari to trust that he could do it all alone. He was proven completely wrong, and Ferrari was mistaken to fall for his nonsense. By putting their faith in just one driver, and in that driver’s wrong-headed approach to racing, Ferrari cost Ferrari both titles.
    By the way, Alonso’s reaction to Petrov was revolting, as disgusting as his inability to overtake a rookie driving a slower car, and even more disgusting than his admission that he tried to overtake Petrov only ONCE. This season most accurately defines what Alonso is (if his spygate season doesn’t) and confirms that he is a driver to be avoided by all teams. For now, he’s Ferrari’s albatross.

    1. James H. says:

      I think that is a bit strong. Alonso is a superb driver, latin in nature which rubs some people the wrong way and accounts for his gesture at Petrov, who may have driven his way into a decent drive next year. Ferrari seem to have 100% faith in Alonso’s ability and devotion to the team. Yet, Team Ferrari screwed up. I guess that is what makes us human.

      1. Kevin says:

        I think 100% might be putting it a bit strong. If Team Ferrari screwed up, Alonso is part of that team and in some way screwed up too. Ferrari must surely be looking at how Alonso in some way also contributed to the team’s failure to win anything this season.

    2. Arri says:

      You make it sound like Fernando runs Scuderia Ferrari?. [mod] You seem to forget that Ferrari has been in F1 since race 1 and they have had drivers come and so, some greats and some not and if you for even one moment think that Fernando controls that team i.e he ordered that Massa move over in Germany and that he ‘persuaded’ Ferrari to back only him for the season then you are not only blind to all the facts but you also give Fernando way to much credit. Just like the whole “Fernando is only there because of Santanders money” rubbish, Ferrari does not need Sandanders money, they are financial giants on their own and I wish people would at least think things through and clearly before ranting about Fernando, I must admit though that he does tend to get people wound up..lol

      1. Kevin says:

        Of course Alonso and his clique within the team persuaded Ferrari on strategy. There’s a constant power-play going on betweeen drivers and their associates within teams. Anyone who watches Formula One long enough realises that. Competition doesn’t only occur on tracks on Saturdays and Sundays. Michael Schumacher didn’t only win on the track on weekends – he won in all facets of the sport, including in the boardrooms, paddocks, garages, etc. Lacking Schumacher’s skill or personality, Alonso has had to resort to spying when he was with McLaren and cheating in Singapore (only the very naive would believe that Alonso wasn’t in on forcing a team-mate to deliberately crash his car). Let’s hope he doesn’t do the same at his current team, because Ferrari will need all of Santander’s money if he costs Ferrari what he cost McLaren.

  54. Marco B says:

    A thought on Webber: again a nice guy not making it…remind me of Eddie Irvine in 1999…About the winner and its car, no doubts, best pair of the league at the moment. Maybe a better strategy from Ferrari would have proven their point that teamwork can win on “skills”? Jas Marina looks great but better for games than real action. I enjoy the blog throughout the year, thank you and see you later everyone!

    1. Anders says:

      Mark Webber is not a nice guy. You only need to look at what he has said about other F1 drivers over the years.

      He is a blunt, rude man, rough around the edges.

  55. Niall O'Connell says:

    I agree with @Rich_M above, I find Abu Dhabi to be another terribly dull Tilke track. If this race was held at proper drivers circuit like Interlagos or Spa where overtaking is actually possible we would certainly have have seen a different result today.

  56. DK says:

    Don’t forget at that point Lewis was closing into Seb, so I am not surprise if Ferrari believed Lewis would take the lead from Seb therefore focus only on Mark’s position.

  57. Steve JR says:

    Alonso taking the ‘safe’ strategy of covering Webber reminds me a little bit of the safe strategy of simply aiming to come in 5th place for Lewis in Brazil 2008. In the latter case, however, lady luck was on Lewis’s side

    I wonder if there’s a strategy lesson to be learned from this and that’s to be a bit more balls out even up to the chequered flag of the final race of the season.

  58. Matt says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that this is the first time in F1 history that five different teams have won the driver’s title in five years:

    2006: Renault
    2007: Ferrari
    2008: McLaren
    2009: Brawn
    2010: Red Bull

    Just goes to show how even and competitve things are these days.

    1. Hakka says:

      2008 was Ferrari, but your point remains, and it is a good one.

      1. Andy says:

        Note that he talks about teams for which the driver who won the drivers championship drove for.

      2. Fluebroggle says:

        Lewis Hamilton was 2008 champion with McLaren

  59. ClarkL says:

    Any chance of a house cleaning at Ferrari? This is twice now after the Brawn/Todt era that Ferrari has missed a chance at the title. Hate to say it, but I can’t picture this happening with them running the show.

    1. Anders says:

      After they smeared Kimi for a year and eventually got him to leave the team I said “next to go must be Domenicali and Montezemolo”.

      They can’t blame the driver now for the defeat because they praised him so much when they brought him in and said the other guy had all these faults why he is not good for them.

      So now that they have “fixed the problem” with their driver situation, they can’t blame the driver.

      I maintain my stance that it was wrong to fire Kimi (well, to get him to agree to leave, as technically he was not fired) and it would be wrong to fire Alonso. Someone else must go.

  60. Heather says:

    There are a lot of women who watch formula 1 in The States, and who read their formula 1 news here FIRST (myself included). I happen to be one of the ones who are BESIDE THEMSELVES WITH GLEE that Alonso lost. Red Bull pulled the bait & switch/rope-a-dope on Ferrari, and I loved it.

    That’s all.

    1. Fuchsia says:

      Very satsifying to see Fernando unable to pass a rookie. Good job by Petrov.

  61. Douglas says:

    What happened the powerhouse Ferrari were in the early 2000′s? Here they are throwing it away on a call influenced by rivals. Ferrari back then were the team every other team looked to for direction and pace. What has changed?

    1. Anders says:

      Montezemolo re-arranged the team.

      Ross Brawn would have wanted to be Team Principal but that was not given to him. Instead, they chose Stefano Domenicali. Brawn drew his conclusions and decided to leave the team as there was no other position he could go up to at that team.

      Jean Todt was a very good manager, keeping the staff in control. The Italians don’t seem like a very disciplined and organised group of people and they need someone like Todt to keep them in control.

      Now when Todt left and Domenicali came in to the position, the team is not any more under such strict control.

      And one thing Domenicali did as his first job, was to get rid of Kimi. This is disgusting political shit and poor Kimi got in the middle of it. Domenicali had wanted Alonso but Todt chose Kimi. Now it was Domenicali’s turn to call the shots so he ‘corrected’ what Todt had done ‘wrong’ earlier years ago.

      It was ‘corrected’ by Domenicali despite of all being well in 2007 when Todt lead the team and Kimi to win. Things went dramatically downhill for Kimi after Todt left – it took only a couple of months for serious problems to appear. I have to say now that I have seen what transpired, I am not surprised – Domenicali had reasons and he got what he wanted.

      I despise him for what he did. He even encouraged the media to smear Kimi. Yes I can prove this, he really did it. Unbelievable behaviour from a F1 Team Principal! Totally unacceptable but hey at Ferrari this seemed to be fine.

      1. Heather says:

        Kimi needed to go, in my humble opinion.

        His attitude-and, indeed, his performance-had gone down the proverbial “tubes” by the end of last season. They would’ve needed to IMPROVE a few notches in order to be considered “piss poor”.

        When I saw his interview with Steve Matchett at the Ferrari factory, Steve asked both Kimi and Felipe what it was like for them to the able to race for the famed Ferrari team. Felipe said with any sane and savvy person with half a brain would have said: “I always dreamed of driving for this incredible and prestigious team.” Kimi merely said, “I want to drive a fast car, and right now Ferrari has a fast car, so that’s why I want to drive here.”

        What a TOOL.

        This spoiled little brat was given the dream job of driving for the most famed, storied and prestigious team in the history of Formula 1, and he couldn’t even offer a respectful answer when being interviewed at the teams headquarters? The second half of this season last year saw him giving the most half-hearted performances, even prompting remarks from the commentators concerning how blatant Kimi was about the fact that he JUST DIDN’T CARE. He was getting paid around USD $3 MILLION PER RACE, and he was dispiritedly putting around in the middle of the top 10 each week because he couldn’t be bothered to actually TRY. PLEASE. Even someone as odious, repugnant, and reprehensible as Alonso still goes out there and gives it 110 percent every week. Kimi had simply lost the will to even try and go fast. Add to that the fact that he refused to do promotional duties for the sponsors, and you’ve got the makings of a driver that needs to be somewhere else, ANYWHERE else than on your team.

        Good riddance.

    2. Peter Hermann says:

      A lot. Different management, different strategy team. Not to the better, unfortunately.

      First, congrats to RB and Vettel, they had an unreliable car but played their cards well in the end.

      And second, Chris Dyer and Andrea Stella already admitted they made the wrong decision. Chris Dyer acknowledged his responsibility on the Ferrari website. He should probably have a different job next year.

      Alonso didn’t know Petrov and Rosberg already pitted, for him they were of no concern. But the pitwall must have known.

      Ferrari blew it, thats all. Not the first time. It seems Domenicali is not the right man for the job, though he seems to be a nice guy. But for me he lacks the right ‘bite’ and his authority seems to hang in the air most of the time.

      Ferrari behaved unprofessional for such a great team not only once this season. I would have liked to see Alonso win his third title but in the end they didn’t deserve it. Not with the car and not with the way the team has been organized.

      They can’t rely on Alonso alone putting the car where it actually doesn’t belong all the time. He can do that, no doubt, but its impossible to put this weight on his shoulders.

      Maybe his reaction after the race, which has been heavily criticised, has been a sign of that, aside from a good part of frustration and adrenaline.

      Ferrari needs to re-group. I want to see a professional Ferrari- team, not a headless horde of sheep. And they deefinitely need to rethink their driver management. Todt- times are gone and they are gone for good.

    3. Kedar says:

      No more Rory Byrne to design cars and No Ross Brawn to make those inspired pit calls (remember 3 pit stop strategy in Hungary?!!)

      1. Peter Hermann says:

        Oh yes i do. And it hurts me to see the Ferrari team in such a sad state.

        It seems they are still reluctant to acknowledge times have changed. They can’t say anymore ‘oh but we are Ferrari everything has to go our way or else’.

        Now the Ferrari team, while having a long history with F1, is one team of many. McLaren understood that but Ferrari did not.

        If this has not been a wake-up call for them, i don’t know what else they need.

      2. Damian J says:

        Good points. F1 is now so much more than any one team! We need healthy competition amongst teams to make F1 an interesting sport so congratulations to Redbull for their achievements this year.

  62. Wombat says:

    What is the real reason that requires all new F1 tracks to provide orderly processions and no overtaking? So the TV audience can see the adverts more clearly? Sure this year has been fun because of (a) wet races and (b) mixed strategies following incidents on the track. But otherwise on the new tracks it like model car racing with only one track. Now there’s an idea, put barriers down the centre of all the tilke tracks and have one half of the field on one side and the rest on the other……………?

  63. Matas says:

    The biggest mistake Ferrari made is that they were trying to guess what happens next and modify their strategy in advance, instead of just reacting to track conditions. This “we were trying to cover Webber” excuse really sound lame – why would they have to cover driver what is ruining his race? So they in fact weren’t covering Webber, but were predicting that soft tyres will soon go off for everyone – in this case the one what stops early is the winner. Yet the cost of mistake if the prediction turns out to be wrong is very high. I still remember last year when they put wet tires on Raikkonen predicting that it will start raining soon and then looked like idiots when track remained dry. So the general rule is – you can try to predict only when you have nothing to lose because wrong prediction will hurt you badly. And when you have much to lose it’s better to do what everyone is doing and simply to react to track conditions instead of trying to predict. But it seems that Ferrari haven’t learned from their mistakes and did it again on the most important race. They really need some changes to the strategy department.

  64. Robert Powers says:

    Massa gave points to Alonso,true.Even so I have the utmost respect for the Spaniard.Won the first race.Bad move on Button at the first corner in Australia,though.OK,DNF.

    But if you have smoke coming from your car,as in Sepang,and you make the decision to throw caution to the wind as Alonso did trying to pass Button you might just blow up-KABOOM!

    Don’t know how pivotal those DNF’s were,but when you are scratching for points later(scratching to get around PETROV!)it’s interesting.

    I knew he couldn’t hear me way down in Malaysia.But I tried to warn him.

  65. Robert Powers says:

    Excuse me,Fernando finished fourth in Australia.

  66. david emlyn says:

    Hi James
    I think this was a great ending to a great season. One thing stood out for me in the end – team orders. Now I wouldn’t begrudge Alonso the title due to the team orders given in Germany, but as has been reported – it happens all the time. Ironically, it is the lack of team orders that won the championship for Vettel, not only would giving Webber the race victory last weekend have given us just a 3 horse race but Ferrari wouldn’t have had to decide which Red Bull to cover off.
    I remember Ferrari stating that Mclaren and Red Bull having no clear no 1 could harm them and that they were concentrating on one driver. It’s ironice therefore that the lack of team orders and having 2 drivers capable of winning the title helped win the title for Red Bull as once Massa came out behind Webber, Ferrari had one car to cover 2 drivers.
    I think this is one of the greatest victories for F1, and long may it continue. I’m not a particular fan of either Red Bull or Mclaren, but I do believe the way they go racing is the the way to go.
    I just hope we have as many competitive cars next year, with maybe Mercedez and Renault up there as well…it could be even better.

  67. Hello James.

    I know this is off topic but the very close call Michael Schumacher had yesterday surely merits some discussion :

    Even before Massa’s accident and the tragic death of Henry Surtees in F2 last year I’ve thought for some time that we are going to lose a F1 driver through a horrendous head injury caused by a flying wheel or car. There have been too many near misses in F1 this year alone.

    Little short of an F16 style enclosed cockpit would prevent a small piece of flying debris injuring a driver such as happened to Massa.

    But it has to be possible for the towering intellects such as Adrian Newey to devise an active driver protection system capable of deflecting a flying wheel or errant car away from a driver’s head.

    As a mere fan I can think of two systems that might dramatically reduce the risk :

    A horizontal, retractable, U shaped hoop could be sprung-loaded and mounted in the airbox. During the race it would project forward and above the driver’s head. Just before the formation lap it could be pulled forward into position by the pit crew using a pair of detachable levers, acting against strong springs.

    The driver could easily retract it to get out by releasing a simple mechanical catch, as could track marshalls should they need to extract the driver following an accident.

    As we are talking about F1 here, another option would be to devise a hi tech folding
    U-shaped hoop rather like the electrically-activated roll bar on a Mercedes SL.

    In a F1 car it could be hinged outboard of the driver’s shoulders and rise in front of his head, driven by upgraded airbag-style pyrotechnics, ( if they are considered safe). It could be activated by close proximity radar.

    As I said, this is something I’ve been concerned about for the last couple of years at least. It’s not a knee-jerk reaction to Michael’s near miss yesterday.

    I can’t be the first person who has thought this through, has there been any done work on it ?

    If not, yesterday’s incident should prompt some action.

    1. Robert Powers says:

      I think Nico’s wheel just barely touched Michael’s sidepod,sending him around.

      1. Michael confirmed himself that he simply spun and that his car wasn’t touched.

        Yes, this was another example of Michael Schumacher admitting to a mistake !!

        It’s all the more worrying that this was an example of the tiniest of mistakes almost causing a fatal accident.

      2. Peter C says:

        Rosberg did not touch Schumacher at all, Schu confirmed that after the race.

        He said that he got on a dirty part of the track (on the left) while accelerating, & it just spun.

      3. Robert Powers says:

        OK.I hate that chicane,they need to remove it.

  68. Madhu says:

    My 2 cents

    Firstly i think Ferrari are on defintely a downward curve in their management style due to the number of reasons.

    1. First big sign has been their defensive approach to this whole last race. Alonso was EIGHT points ahead and was already 4th placed. Had their intention been offensive rather than defensive, Alonso/Ferrari should have tried to pick of the guy in front of him and hence win it in style rather than go for the bare minimum of finishing 4th. Thats not the sign of a champion team. The same mistake was done by Mclaren for 2 years and they managed to lose both spectacularly(almost). Ironical Ferrari would repeat that mistake, having been on the offensive both those times against Mclaren.

    2. This season proved two things wrong that ferrari have been projecting over the last year. One – Kimi was incapable of motivating the team and not good in improving the car technically. Both of them proved wrong. This year was just a repeat of 2007 (only difference being kimi won it that year under Jean todt and ferrari did not this year). They won the first race and after that there was a slump and then great form at the end of the year. But in 2010, even when Ferrari improved, it was not good enough to be the best car. So all this BS going around that Alonso develops car technically was nothing but a farce. And strategically, the TEAM has to make decisions, the driver cannot do stuff out of the cockpit which the team has to do form the pit wall. So this looking for a driver who will lead the team also proved to be BS. A leader whatever he might be doing, leading a small team of 5 people giving IT solutions or leading an army or leading a F1 Team, if you are looking for that some one else to lead/motivate your team. I am sorry but you don’t CUT it domenicalli. Watch out for Alonso whining about the team management sooner or later.

    But you know what, I am glad that Kimi was not driving a Ferrari. I would have been so gutted/heart broken and what not.

    Kimi would have been sitting in his living room and laughing his A*SE off at Ferrari having been paid 10mil $ for not driving. LOL. Btw, the man he bet on at the start of the year won the championship!

    1. Arri says:

      I’m also glad Kimi wasn’t driving…..Ferrari would never have been in the fight till the last race had he been ;-)

  69. zombie says:

    @ Douglas : The ‘Horsemen’ have left the stable,that’s what has changed! Schumi,Brawn,Todt,Byrne,Stepney super team is now history. From leaving cars on intermediates when the entire grid was on full wets to cocking it up on simple strategic calls, the current Ferrari pales in comparison to its past glory.

    Folks have spoken enough about Alonso here,does anyone here think Alonso has the stomach to go through this 5 years and still be loyal to the team? I don’t think so and that’s the reason why Schumacher was such an asset to Ferrari.If Ferrari cannot come up with a championship contender of a car next season,then i don’t see Alonso being patiently toiling away..i think he’ll start hooking towards RBR or Lotus-Renault for 2013.

  70. S2K says:

    To answer your question, James… Because they have an Italian culture and can’t keep their cool. This is what Todt was there for. Domenicali is just a joke compared with Todt. Better ask Schumacher to retire and bring him in as team principal.

    1. James Allen says:

      Chief operations engineer is Australian…

      1. S2K says:

        Unfortunately he is absorbed by this Italian culture. I’ve been a Ferrari fan for 26 years and I can probably name tens of races where they made silly mistakes. Remember Singapore 2008? Or that race in 1999 when Irvine pitted and only three tyres were ready (although this was during Todt’s years).

  71. Kedar says:

    Its amazing that they were trying to cover for Webber and forgot all about Vettel in the front. I was also surprised that since Alonso has shown to manage his tyres quite well in the race they would pit him first.
    Also another disappointing aspect of the race was the lack of overtaking oppurtunities, track design, Aero or whatever. It would have been so much better if Vettel would overtake Alonso or Alonso and Webber swapped positions a couple of times but unfortunately we had to look at F1 Live timing to see who is going to win the race!
    On another topic James I was following you on twitter when you thought that the ideal pit stop was lap 11 but would be stretched to lap 16-17 I guess Ferrari took your advise :-)

  72. StallionGP F1 says:

    Funny statistics Alonso is first driver to lose the title after winning the season opener in the last 5 years well he got what he deserved as they say he who laughs last laughs best after that unsporting attitude by both Alonso and ferrari at Korea after the red bull misery came back to bite them.

  73. Jingjing says:

    Ferrari expected Vettel would be first but they absolutely didn’t expect(though they should) Rosberg and Petrov (or maybe some other people who have more or less the same speed as these two) to pit so early before Fernando and Webbber did when they were working on their strategy before the race. These people were not in their plan, they just focus on themselves.

    Thus, they didn’t compare the straight speed to other drivers and not waste their time thinking about the difficulties to overtake.

    1. S2K says:

      I wonder what would have happened is Alonso was to be called in during the Safety-Car period.

      1. Robert Powers says:

        He would been stuck either way.On that particular day it was better to “pit with the leaders”as they say in NASCAR.

        In rare cases a dramatic pit strategy can snooker you a win.But usually it is a gamble that does NOT pay off.

  74. KM. Gondo says:

    Well done to Petrov, he drove a good race and was a true sports man.

    Back markers and midfield runners should never move over for another driver just because he is fighting for the title (unless they are being lapped). To do so is like asking Petrov to choose who he favours for the title between Alonso and Vettel. We might as well just toss a coin.

    Alonso needs to get past Petrov to win the championship but Vettel needs Petrov to beat Alonso for him to win. What should Petrov do? True sportsmanship and fairness to all title contenders requires that Petrov should race his own race and get the best result he can for himself and his team. Anything else effectively amounts to interfering with or tampering with the result.

    I am a Hamilton fan and I remember the same thing happened at Inter Lagos in 2008. Vettel was behind Hamilton and lapping faster. If Vettel overtakes Hamilton, Massa would be champion. If Vettel does not overtake then Hamilton wins the championship. What should Vettel do? At first I was angry with Vettel until I asked myself this question. In the true spirit of sport, Vettel should overtake if he can (and he did) because it is not fair to Massa and would be bad for the sport if Vettel had refused to overtake Hamilton when he was clearly faster, thereby choosing who he wants to be champion.

    Yesterday if Alonso had managed to get through on Petrov (and Rosberg and Kubica) he would be a deserving Champion. If he fails to overtake (as he did), then Vettel deserves to be Champion because he has done what he needs to do (i.e. win) and Alonso has not.

    What Alguersuari did, allowing Mark Webber through like that should be condemned. Webber should have worked for that position. Imagine if Webber had been running second with Alonso in third and Alguersuari was in the lead. Would it have been fair on Alonso for Alguersuari to let Webber through like he did yesterday and then block Alosno? Alguersuari should just race his own race like Petrov did and stop trying to be kingmaker.

    The title contenders should overtake if the must and loose the title if the fail.

  75. Koby fan says:

    Some observations:

    1. Alonso & Ferrari fans must be feeling a little miserable after the race…with Webber qualifying 5th and a 1st lap safety car, the goal should have been to cover off P4 (Button). Alonso & Webber seemed to be too cautious in the last third of the race…I expected Alonso to throw a few more moves on Petrov (who probably has more to lose than Alonso…) Ditto for Mark…

    2. Vettel as WDC is probably the fairest result, its a shame he didn’t have to pass anyone on track to win…like most of his over victories this year.

    3. At least around laps 20-25, I think we got a glimpse into the future …Vettel, Hamilton, Button, Kubica, Koby battling it out at the front.

    4. Seems like the racing at Yas Marina was a lot closer last year..This year was like Bahrain earlier in the year…

    5. Safety car rules need changing – unlike other unpredictable factors like wet weather – the benefits and disadvantages are not uniform. They need to change the pitting rules…like adding time penalties to anyone who wants to pit during safety car period…

  76. C Lin says:

    Everybody is talking about Ferrari mistake in strategy.

    Also how did the great Alonso lost one position to Button at the start, pfftt.

  77. TimeShift says:

    In my opinion, the Ferrari’s mistake could be healed if they had a real strong car. Alonso could not overtake Petrov for 40 laps. Perhaps, the F10 was not too old on its duty. I heard RB told Webber pushes harder to overtake Alonso due to Alonso’s engine life (correct me if I am wrong). So it is the time for the Ferrari to consider their car’s weaknesses.

  78. Raymond Petersson says:

    Looks like a brilliant strategy from RBR just to bring Webber in and hope that Ferrari should do exactly what they did, that was to get Alonso behind Rosberg and Petrov. Congratulations to RBR!

    Congratulations also to James Allen for great analysis. Your “Friday form guides” have been among the quite best there is on the websites. Please go on with them next year!

    1. James Allen says:

      Webber needed to stop, remember. But it certainly suckered Ferrari

      1. Raymond Petersson says:

        Did Webber need new tyre or did he just think he needed new tyres because of some grainig or something? Could someone at RBR have got the brilliant idea to bring him in just as Webber was talking about tyre problems even if he didn´t need new tyres, in order to get Alonso in the trap?

    2. Frankie says:

      Webber and RBR made the only call to get past Alonso, nothing more. The fact they had no handle on how long the tyres would last and looking like Webber would over take Alonso at the pit stops the way things were going was the crux.

      Vettel and Hamilton just never had enough of a lead to use a tyre change as a competitive strategy. The leading drivers were just staying out there, watching the splits until they had an advantage or were forced to react. As it was it all came to them and they stayed out, mainly because they were never forced into a position of having to react rather than a known plan. Ferrari no longer had that option and were forced into a very difficult decision.

  79. Suresh says:

    James, do you think Alonso made that final effort ever to pass Petrov ? By the 40th lap, it was clear the championship was gone if he did not pass. Normally, he is aggressive but yesterday I felt he was more willing 1 or 2 cars ahead of him to just drop out maybe rather than risk the overtake move ? Would Schumi or Hamilton been so passive ? With a championship at stake why not press that dying button. Or am I being harsh on Alonso ?

    1. James Allen says:

      He had more than Petrov to pass. After him would have been Rosberg.

      1. seifenkistler says:

        Alonso lost the moment the gap to Kubica was at 22 seconds.

        Reading some austrian newspaper headlines:
        Webber ‘kissing’ the wall in round 10 forced the early pit stop in round 12 which confused Ferrari’s strategy?

        Would a bit explain why Webber was driving not aggressive against Alonso, damaged car? Or was it fear that a failed overtake and Alonso rammed out made give bad press?

      2. TimeShift says:

        Definitively, Rosberg was much more faster than Petrov so it was impossible for Alonso to pass either.

    2. Igor K says:

      He did try but never had a speed to pull it. He was all over the place, couple of times he almost lost it. He went for it really hard in last 2 laps, it wasn’t cought by cameras and Petrov was defending hard. That’s why Alonso gesticulate at Petrov after a finish.

    3. Lilla My says:

      The way I see it is that Alonso couldn’t have done much more yesterday. His championship was lost the moment he was called to the pit lane. Of course we may argue whether he should have tried harder to force Petrov into a mistake or something, but we must remember that Hamilton couldn’t pass Kubica, so I guess the Renaults were just that quick on the straights. Also Alonso’s engine wasn’t brand new any more and that didn’t help either.

      What is more, Alonso had Webber right behind him. And if you press your car to the limits, there’s always a bigger risk of making a mistake yourself. It looked as if he was actually all over Petrov a few times. I think he was trying really hard and as a result he went off the track a few times. So basically pushing even harder could have paid off but it also could have backfired – maybe Petrov would have let him through eventually, but at the same time there was the possibility of pushing too hard, making a mistake and letting Webber pass as a result. Having said that – I think he was trying hard, so I don’t know if he had anything left to try it even harder.

      All in all – we must remember that Alonso wasn’t safe (I mean his back), so he had to take care not only of attacking but also of defending from somebody who was considered his greatest threat (at least at the beginning). And then – even if he had passed Petrov in time to make Kubica emerged from the pit stop behind him, there was still Rosberg, who would have been even harder. It was the strategy that made him lose the title in this race unfortunatelly, not his driving and efforts.

      Right now, it’s easy for us to say “he had nothing to lose, he should have tried harder, crashing wouldn’t change a thing as the championship was lost so he should have attacked Petrov more agressively no matter what”, but if he really tried harder and crashed, everybody would start saying how hopeless he was and how he lost the championship with disgrace. I basically, you can’t point your finger to one attempt saying that this was the most agressive one (at least I didn’t see it on TV), but I think overall he did try as hard as his car let him.

      Apart from all the “ifs” I’m quite sure Alonso really wanted that championship and I’m absolutely convinced he did his best to get it.

  80. Igor K says:

    As an Alonso fan, I have to admit that once again the disaster was triggered by his poor start. Allowing Button to pass, he put his pitwall into an awkward position …to gamble.
    With all the cards in their hand Ferrari took a right decision which turned out to be wrong.

    Staying behind Button and losing time behind him would allow Webber to emerge in front and leave Alonso 5th.
    Button showed throughout this season that he is couple of tenths behind Lewis and Alonso would loose a lot of time behind him.
    But it wasn’t to be…
    Alonso, probably a best driver on the grid but his bad starts are no coincidence any more. It’s a serius flow in his game.

    1. earnst says:

      i agree alonso is still the best driver of this season. Ferrari were very unlucky with SC in recent years and of course they did some very big mistakes as well.

  81. For Sure says:

    Before the start of the race, I thought Alonso had it in the bag.
    Can you imagine? Alonso starts from 3rd and he only needed to finish 4th. We are talking about Alonso,a guy who always get the job done, who never screw up under pressure.
    You have to do a huge mistake to lose the title at that point.

    On a side note, James, is there such a thing call gentlemen agreement where other drivers shouldn’t interfere the contenders?

  82. Luca says:

    If you are a Webber fan the most provocative interpretation of yesterday’s dramatic race would be that Red Bull — familiar with the Italian penchant for man-to-man catenaccio — used Webber as bait to trap Ferrari at the back.

    If true it would be the most elegant case of “team orders” in the history of F1 and duly deserving of an honourary degree in cunning from the University of Cunning. For in one move, they demoted the dissident Oz, buried Alonso and ensured the crowning of a new golden child.

    Of course even the Reddest of Bulls could not have dreamt that Domenicali, having used Massa as kindling, would then double up like some crazed US General in Helmand and set his whole season alight in a bonfire of groupthink. Indefensible!

    Still … What fabulous insanity! What a finish! What a season! Perhaps you can ask Uncle Bernie if in 2011 we can have another season just one like thatone. It is Christmas, after all.

    Thanks for a great site.

  83. Frankie says:

    This analysis has over looked two vital points that forced the Ferrari strategy into a corner, from which it never escaped.

    First Alonso lost his cushion by allowing Button to pass. Now the threat from Webber passing him was a major concern.

    Second, they screwed up Massa’a pit stop to get him out in front of Webber and hold him back on the track to give Alonso breathing space.

    You are then in the position of Webbers times having shown improvement of being jumped by Webber at the pit stop if you left things too long. Bearing in mind the tyre conditions at that point it became a very difficult call. When you look at Webbers times there must have been panic in the Ferrari garage, so it’s not totally implausable the action they took at that specific time.

    There were three errors here that caused Ferrari to lose the WDC. Of which, the decision to pit did not look the worst at the time, only with the benefit of hindsight.

  84. Vic says:

    Looking at it from a final race of the season point of view, the WDC was for ferrari to throw away. But looking at it from a full season point of view, with the car advantage Red Bull had, it was for them to throw away, so i think the right team won the WDC, although i would have liked it to be Webber, because i have a feeling Vettel is gonna win a few more.

    James Red Bull keep going on and on about no team orders, but i can’t seem to understand what happened with the front wing in Silverstone, one of the red bull guys was talking about weight-related car setup, i.e. Webber having a lighter car, and saying that the situation was mis-handled, but that explanation is not good enough for me, Webber’s radio at the end of the race “Not bad for a number 2 driver” seems a bit contradictory. Would appreciate if you could shed some light on this because Red bulls no team orders remarks just seem like a front to a certain degree.

    Vic

  85. Marc says:

    The obligation to use two tyre compounds, and therefore compulsory pit stops, lead to better or worse strategy decisions affecting, in a subjective way, the outcome of the race. This means the two most important parameters – the quality of the driver and of the car – can be enhanced or hampered. I find it pointless. Because at the end of the day, take the example of a driver who might have driven exceptionnally throughout a race and that he would lose the positions he gained by racing and overtaking due to a strategic error from the pits, this basically annihalates the merit of the driver and of the car… which are the only two parameters that shold count during a race. I think people want to see racing – and not strategy – deciding the outcome. So my question is: why is there an obligation to use prime and option tyres? Can’t the teams just use the tyres that suit the track, or their car, best? is this an FIA strategy to attemp spicing up the races? And another thing: wouldn’t it be better to freeze positions during a safety car, meaning no pit stops allowed unless to repair mechanical or bodywork damage? Because this too, as we saw, allows the lesser car to maybe earn position by being “craftier”, or whilst current rules apply – “smarter – than those who fight for position on the race track?

  86. Jeremiah says:

    I think that “Flavor” Flav Briatore should be the next leader at Ferrari and he would take the team to a new Golden Age.
    When he was in charge of Alonso at Renault, he outsmarted the Ferrari team with Shumi, Todt, and company.

  87. Matt Wil. says:

    The Button position gained to Alonso at start isn’t a mistake by Alonso. Of course he said, before the race, Ferrari had made a race plan based on this hypothesis, because Ferrari’s car doesn’t starts as well as rivals, and Button had the highest straight speed, even more than Hamilton, as he decided to go with less wing charge (312 km/h Alonso versus 319 Button). Also I think the Ferrari problem with getting tires hot enough has to do with this problem at the start. Start has more to do with car than with driver, at least before the first corner.

    Alonso had very impressive starts years ago, I remember him and Schumacher at a very very wet Nurburgring in 2006, leaving from the last positions and reaching the top in a few laps, as one of the best races of the century.

  88. Matt Wil. says:

    Sorry, I should say Hungaroring 2006!

  89. Pilli says:

    i side belive my eyes what i sow on ferrari twtter industrialist ! they wrote ” … is there to say that you are a clustering of idiots. The honest fans are not same this, they reason and joy in the bad and in the smashing nowadays ” :O

    they are opportune that true fans are not same this but its not honourable to disposition them idiots!!.

  90. Nilesh says:

    James, can you do a piece on why Webber was so listless over the weekend? He said after Qualifying that he had pretty much the same setup as Seb. Alonso ran wide a few times in at least trying to pass Petrov and the gap between Petrov and Alonso was around 0.5 seconds for most of the race. But it fluctuated between 0.9 and 2 seconds between Alonso and Webber. Why wasn’t Webber trying to pass? Was it his car or his mind?

    On a similar note, the faster Ferrari of Massa couldn’t pass Jaime for 40 laps!

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, it’s worth looking into. I know a bit about that

    2. JohnBt says:

      Lewis couldn’t pass Kubica too, why?

      IT”S THE TRACK! and that’s the truth, everyone knows that.

    3. Peter Hermann says:

      I suspect that Webber was not in RBs ‘plan’ to win the title. He probably knew he would be sacrificed for Vettel to win the title and to make a trap for Ferrari they promptly fell into.

      He was only following Alonso on track after this, why should he have tried something? he knew they both had been screwed.

      Don’t think this is far-fetched. Its quite common to lead other teams on that way. Ferrari tried that too, in a very clumsy way. Bringing out the mechanics to make it look they would pit and then pull them in again. I have seen that before.

      Ferrari was outplayed, simple as that.

      And Webber’s face over the weekend was a poem. As far as i know, he did not celebrate with the team after the win.

      1. Peter C says:

        Mark Webber sat for a full hour talking with Vettel, very friendly apparently. They also sat next to each other on the plane home, chatting & snoozing!

        Source? David Coulthard, Daily Telegraph.

  91. Lalit says:

    James,

    Excellent analysis, as usual.

    You always try to go behind the scenes of usually the biggest question mark coming out of any race weekend (or going into one a lot of times too).

    However, despite reading through muultiple times, I simply cannot believe a team that knows how to win championships can get such a simple calculation wrong.
    It almost looks to me that through your column you are in the exact same position of trying to find some answer that that makes sense behind this bizarre decision.

    When making a pitstop, Ferrari engineers surely would have known the exact gap on track where Alonso would re-join. So to put your driver on a strategy that requires him to overtake two fast cars, inorder to make it work, when all you need is to not finish in the position that you are already running in, I think that’s suicidal and un-excusable.

    I mean, even if they say they did this to cover for Webber, they should have known that they can still afford to finish behind Webber, and yet win the championship. Why give up position to do that..

    I am just at loss to explain this bizarre decisoin.

    We saw at the end of the race, they showed a shot of FA being consoled by a couple of mechanics back stage. I thought at that very instant that the only thing going on in FA’s mind is why didn’t he put in a simple question as ‘Are you sure you want to give up position on track?’ I mean, for sure that would have caused some re-think.

    Can you imagine Micahel and Ross doing that when in the last race?
    Everybody criticises them for pushing the boundaries on track and behind the scenes. But then the only reason for that is they leave nothing to chance.
    I believe, this was one of those moments, yet again as in the past couple of years, when Ferrari showed they are still a little soft, strategically, and simply being a little street-smart.

    1. James Allen says:

      As I said in the post Red Bull have done it with Webber this year and he has pulled it off. But that Renault was so fast on the straights and Petrov drove brilliantly

      1. Lalit says:

        Exactly – and it required him to pass cars, which he was able to do quite a few times.

        So i can actually understand why Red Bull did this on Webber, because he has nothing to lose.

        But to do this to Alonso, who has to play a percentage game to win the title, I still don’t see the odds favoring this decision….

        Albeit, I am as happy for Vettel, as I think he has taken all the bad luck, (and some pretty tough talk from Webber, cue Brazil) in his stride, and simply ‘done a Kimi’.

        He let his driving do the talking for him all year, and I think that should be celebrated.

        Either ways James, now I wait for your book on 2010. So long.

  92. Lalit says:

    In my previous post, I meant NOT being street-smart.

  93. Carlos Marques says:

    If Ross Brawn (and Jean Todt) was still calling the shots at Ferrari Alonso would have never pitted on lap 11. Never.

    In fact, I can see Ross calling Massa (and possibly Alonso) on lap 1 behind the safety car just to give the others something to think about.

    I think Ferrari needs a mgmt shakedown- forget the “we’re family” line- they need someone clever with total authority to make wise, check-mate race-winning decisions- like Brawn did in his days at Ferrari.

    Ferrair cannot even explain why they took a decision. Ross always had a proper explanation on hand, with the bottom line always being his driver winning the race. “We pitted x times so that he could win the race- my call.” Simple. Now they’re too “Italian”/bureaucratic in their decision process.

    1. earnst says:

      At the end Alonso lost it due to Ferrari (he was still the champion before the wrong pit stop call) and Vettel won it thanks to RBR which they came with an exactly dominant car.

      Congratulations to Vettel he is the wdc of 2010 season and of course he deserved it.

      Also congratulations to Alonso he showed why he is the best package nowadays.

  94. Chris says:

    The worst strategy error I have ever seen because of its implications. I was screaming at the TV when I saw the Ferrari mechanics in the pitlane, it was total madness. The needed a fourth place, once Webber pitted he was no longer the person they needed to cover, Rosberg became the threat to their fourth place since he was the first car to have pitted, but for some reason they didn’t see that Rosberg and Petrov where the threat and not Webber. Total total madness, I can’t believe I am so angry at the team I support!

  95. I wouldn’t want to see the old regime back at Ferrari. Remember all the old arguments, conflicts and difficulties ?

    I could never see Ferrari joining with the other FOTA members to sort out the way forward for the sport under Jean Todt.

    All we would see would be a regular display of naked self interest which does nothing to resolve the current problems.

  96. Steve W says:

    I have to admit it was very frustrating to see Alonso,s possible 3rd WDC go down the pan,and all to do with a SC period along with a dire pit stop strategy.
    Jorge mentioned earlier did anyone ask Alonso how his tyres were? His lap times were good.
    To a point i can see the logic in covering Webber,but the question should have been asked,do we have to at this stage.
    Getting back to the safety car,i think no team should be allowed to pit during the time its out,unless the car,or tyres are damaged,by that i mean ripped or flat,how often do we see and it seems more this year,teams pitting to change tyres under the SC,Kubica a prime example,missed Q3 and yet was able to finish in front of 2 title contenders,you might as well start 10th gamble on a SC and finish 5th.
    I used to be in favour of no fuel stops,but frankly you may as well bring it back,because virtually every race we have the SC come out and it gives teams who fail to qualify well,unfair advantages.

    I hope next year Alonso does claim his 3rd title,without team orders,because he has driven faultlessly in the past few races,and in qualifying,and on a final note Petrov drove wonderfully and Alonso acknowledged it after the race,a feather in the cap for Petrov i think!

    1. Arri says:

      I think “wonderfully” is an understatement. If you think back a few races you will remember that Fernando managed to push Hamilton into a mistake twice allowing him to pass yet Petrov held his nerve for 40 laps knowing full well that Fernando was racing for the WDC…I would say Brilliant!! However I fear it will not be enough to secure a seat for next year considering all his blunders throughout the season.

  97. rafael says:

    When Webber stopped and changed tyres he imediately made a lap record that was almost .5 seconds faster than Alonso, So that might have scared Ferrari that gaining that diference in 8 more laps would have prevented Alonso for exiting infront of Webber.

    They just didn´t see Petrov or Rosberg and underestimated Vettel and focused on Webber

  98. Andrewshould be working says:

    Like many previous posts, I’d like to add my congraulations and thanks for your superb insights an observations throughout the season. May I ask an off topic question that has been bugging me since I read DC’s article in last week’s Telegraph. He refers to the incident where Alonso blocked Hamilton in the pit lane back when they were team mates. He went on to say thatit was bad but understandable as Hamilton had broken an agreement with him. My quesion is, do you or any of your readers know what this was?

    Thanks again for your hard work

    Andrew

    1. JR says:

      The agreement was that Alonso would have an extra lap on Q3 that weekend. Hamilton prevented this but not letting Alonso pass him durig the warming up lap. Check how many times Hamilton had that extra lap on Q3 during that season compared to Alonso and you will understand much better what happened in McLaren in 2007.

      1. JR says:

        I meant “by not letting Alonso pass”

      2. Damian J says:

        But ironic that Alonso is happy to champion team orders at Ferrari because it favours him BUT would he ever accept a Ferrari team order that he receives fewer Q3 laps than his team mate?

      3. JR says:

        Well, he did in McLaren in 2007 and still managed to tie Hamilton, so why not? The difference is that Ferrari, according to a certain situation of its two drivers on the Championship, openly applies a team strategy to maximize their options to the title, while at McLaren in 2007 all we heard along the year was that the two drivers were treated equally. That is what I call hypocrisy.

      4. Arri says:

        Well I would say that Massa is no Hamilton and has held Alonso back many times this season. Did anyone ever think that Ferrari did what they did in Germany cause they knew that Alonso would eventually try overtake Massa (as he did at the start) and that Massa’s aggressive defending (as he showed at the start) would cause a collision and that it had nothing to do with Alonso “ordering” the team to order Massa to move over? Just maybe Ferrari took the decision to protect their own interests?

  99. Ian Blackwell says:

    A fine season finale for F1 even if the circuit was a tad underinspiring. I’m going to step away from all the Alonso post mortems and say that in my view, the fastest car and driver won this year. You just cant argue with 10 pole positions.

    Thank you James Allen for some excellent coverage and insight this year and I look forward to following this blog again next season.

  100. JohnBt says:

    A tale of over concentration and playing too safe cost Alonso the WDC.

    Take it as a blessing for not being crowned because the Germany win will creep in continuously and haunt Alonso.

    Petrov:
    “But maybe I should have asked on my team radio, please ask Vettel how much he wants to pay me to help, and then we go to Ferrari and ask them the same too. Then whoever gives the most, we see!”

    Hilarious comment but Petrov did nothing wrong except race for his position. The Russian might not be in F1 next year but he drove a faultless race in Abu Dhabi.

    I have to admit watching Alonso and Webber getting stucked behind Petrov was painful though.

    A note of appreciation to Mr.James Allen for all the news and for allowing us to post how we felt sincerely.

  101. cj says:

    What’s good for the sport… A battle between the driver who could have won the championship would have been ‘better’ for the sport!!!

    Who, on Sunday, wanted to watch webber held up behind a junior Redbull? Or alonso and webber stuck behind Redbulls engine supplier.

    I hate conspiracies, but I think Redbulls decision was decided after webber qualified 5th. Alonso coming in after webber was just icing on the cake.

    Torro Rosso blocking, Renault blocking, it’s all just a different take on ‘Team Orders’

  102. Darren says:

    Hi James,

    As an Aussie I’m gutted for Mark Webber, talent wise within the drivers as they currently stand I think you can group him alongside Button & Schumi behind the big five of Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton, Kubica & Rosberg. Therefore I doubt he will get another chance like this again.

    I’m curious about one thing strategy-wise: in Webber’s comments after the race he said that they had to take a big gamble on strategy – why then didn’t they bring him in with Rosberg etc at the first safety car? Seemed to me that Webber/Red Bull’s tactics were more a reaction to the tyre situation rather than a big gamble. Hindsight is a wonderful thing I guess…

  103. bry says:

    Great to see you on oneHD James, hope it continues next season.

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks. Yes I’ll be there next year.

  104. rossetto says:

    Yes they did a bad mistake.
    The pit stop seemed very wrong, after Massa pitted, it was unnecessary pitting Alonso.
    I cannot believe that Ferrari did not think of covering Vettel who was on the right spot for winning the title, especially with Alonso being on the edgy 4th position.
    Ferrari should have cheered that Webber pitted and dropped to 12th position instead of worrying too much about him.
    With Vettel on the lead, Webber 12 position down from where he should be to win the title, ferrari should have waited to see what Vettel was going to do.
    On a track like Abu Dabi, where was Webber going to go from 12th position…? No matter how fast his car was, he still needed to climb 11 or 12 spots, nearly mission impossible.
    Vettel instead was right were he needed to be to become WC, and Alonso 4th, not quite were he should have been with vettel leading the race. One little mistake or one more position lost and he was out of the title.
    Ferrari dropped Alonso 6 spots down, to make it even more difficult…..

    After the rant…. As a Ferrari supporter, I can always be happy that this team for the past 14 years has been able to fight for victory most of the times.
    The good thing is that from next week the new quest will start all over again.

  105. KM. Gondo says:

    Let us be fair to Ferrari. Once Massa emerged behind Webber who at that point was now lapping faster than Alonso, Ferrari had to make a choice and they had two options, namely;

    1) Do not cover off Webber and take the chance of loosing 4th place to him knowing fully well that it’s unlikely that they will be able to overtake Webber on track and that in taking this option they just might hand over the title to Vettel (or Webber if those Mclarens do not finish and Vettel has to let Webber through), or

    2) Cover off Webber and take your chances with Petrov and Rosberg (who on paper would be considered easier to pass than Webber or the two Mclarens).

    We know now, as it turned out, that Alonso was not going to be able to overtake Webber just as he failed to overtake Petrov and would also have a similar result against Rosberg.

    As such, from the moment Webber went in for fresh tires, with Rosberg and Petrov as close as they were, with the expectations for tire degradation as they were based on their own data and feedback from Bridgestone, and overtaking being next to impossible on track, Ferrari were screwed regardless of which option they took.

    Webber’s small talk with the wall which I believe led to him loosing the rear tires and needing that early pit stop is what actually won the championship for Red Bull and cost Alonso. If this was not Red Bull strategy, then one has to just accept that it was not meant to be for Ferrari.

  106. seifenkistler says:

    I am from Hessen/germany. I have to admit that even i was pro Vettel in formula 1 i am pro Alonso at a local italian restaurant( not at Heppenheim, where the Vettel Teller started). The cook is a big Ferrai fan and we often do some talks.

    In Heppenheim (birthtown of Vettel) they did a Vettel-Teller (Vettel plate) with a Schnitzel formed like a car chassis, slices of Bratwurst as wheels, french fries as street and added Redbull as drink.

    Picture here:
    http://www.abendblatt.de/multimedia/archive/00605/heppenheim6_HA_Wirt_605971c.jpg

    And they had a paella called “Alonso Panne”. Panne is hessian slang for a frying pan and has the second meaning of mishap, malfunction.

    I like Bratwurst as Currywurst. I like Schnitzel if it is covered with cooked Handkäse (local sour cream cheese) covering it, but the mixed Vettel Teller is not real my taste. If i would have to choose between Vettel Teller and Alonso Panne- paella wins.

    1. Peter C says:

      Sounds brilliant! The Chef has a fertile mind &

      is a true enthusiast. I would find it close

      between the curry & the paella. Almost a dead

      heat!

  107. mo kahn says:

    Phew I feel gutted about Alonso. Man thoroughly deserves third world title after a scintillating late season faultless charge. But, Ferrari seems to getting things wrong on strategy front on a number of occasions since John Todt and Ross Brawn left and Stephano took over. The are under utilizing their resources as far as race execution is concerned. The have really developed the car beyond anyone’s expectation this year, but have been constantly coming short on the strategy front which is an integral part of winning a championship. They lack nothing.. They possess superior ability to deliver and develop race winning machinery and also possess the most complete driver in Alonso. But the strategics have been their Achilles Heal. I hope they get it together next year. However, I feel the Mercedes will be the dominating force with Michael leading the charge. So its a Golden Opportunity Lost for Ferrari. For if Schuey gets what he wants from Pirelli then he’ll wrap up the next year Championship by Spa or Monza.

    Yet, I’d like to congratulate Vettel for winning the championship this year. Its good for F1 was getting to Hamilton-ish and on a few occasions and fronts undeservedly so. So, its good to see a rivalry between Vettel and Hamilton. For, Alonso has shown the chink in Hamilton’s Armour.. All Alonso needs is to come up behind Hamilton and he’ll conveniently hand over the position to Alonso… Seems like he is intimidated by Alonso, for he knows he can’t copy his set-ups no more.

    Yet, Hang Tough Alonso.. Its Ferrari that was the cause and not you :)

  108. Jon says:

    Has Vettel thanked Webber yet? If Webber DNF’d on lap 1, Alonso most likely wins the title.

  109. Mr Squiggle says:

    Very late for a comment, but I’ve had one overwhelming thought since the race ended.

    Ferrari’s decision shows they thought more of Webber’s chances of comming 2nd than they did of Vettel’s chances of comming home 1st.

    Respect of your peers…..

  110. Born 1950 says:

    Strikes me that Alonso and Ferrari said to themselves, “play it safe; we need to make sure we finish and we only need a fourth place”. So they did play it safe and they did finish — four places behind where they started.

  111. Roland says:

    Surely people are forgetting that Ferrari had to cover Webber at some point? With him having passed Alguersuari he would have had more pace than Alonso on fresh rubber so the Ferrari could not have built up a suitable gap to stay out. I think people are being too harsh on ferrari’s strategy – they were caught between a rock and a hard place. Remember that Button had passed Alonso, and if Webber had done the same during the pitstops, Fernando wouldn’t have won the title anyway..

  112. phil says:

    It surprised me that RB didn’t pit Webber at the first SC, simply because that would immediately split their cars for either outcome. That probably would’ve given Alonso the championship as he wouldn’t have been able to cover off Webber. Watching it live, it could have gone the other way, but it seemed like if you had to guess, it would be 80/20 – Vettel/Webber as to who you should cover. I think Ferrari thought they got it wrong about 5 laps after the call… Anyway, as much as I’d have liked MW to win the WC, SV totally deserved it!

  113. Anthony says:

    I haven’t read all these comments, so I don’t know whether others have come to the same conclusion, but my analysis of the lap times suggests that Ferrari took the correct decision.

    Alonso would probably not have stayed ahead of Rosberg, even if he had pitted later. Had Webber overtaken Petrov, which Ferrari must have expected him to, Alonso might well have come out behind Webber as well as Rosberg. That would have been worse than what did happen, so it appears that Ferrari took the less disadvantageous option of the two available to them.

    If this appears to be a pro-Ferrari view, I am not a Ferrari fan, just an analyst.

    The real failing was the stupid circuit. If Alonso in a faster car can’t get anywhere near overtaking Petrov, then the so-called racing becomes pointless.

  114. Damian J says:

    James,

    Mubadala Development Company, an Abu Dhabi company, has an investment stake in Ferrari and Ferrari World is also based at this location near the Yas Marina circuit. But hell will freeze over before we hear Luca Di Montezemolo as the voice of Ferrari criticize the Abu Dhabi circuit for ending Alonso’s WDC’s bid in 2010 because of the apparent lack of overtaking at the circuit.

    1. mtb says:

      I believe that stake has been sold back to Fiat.

  115. Jack says:

    I see that their strategy planning has had it’s fair share of moments since that calamity still.

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