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Alonso integrated into Ferrari and ready to go
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Alonso integrated into Ferrari and ready to go
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Jan 2011   |  4:06 pm GMT  |  85 comments

Fernando Alonso always looks determined, that’s part of his make up. Now with his Zorro moustache and beard and the intense look in his eye, he looks like he should have a cutlass in his hand, rather than a steering wheel. But you can see he is focussed on winning this year’s world championship with Ferrari and expunging the awful memories of last November.

Photo: Ferrari


To say that last year’s campaign ended badly would be an understatement; the bad pit call in Abu Dhabi turned an eight point championship lead into a heavy defeat, probably the heaviest he has suffered in his career.

“To spend one more minute thinking about it would be an advantage for our opponents,” he told the media today at the Ferrari “Wroom” event in Madonna di Campiglio.

And so it would. Changes have been made since then with a new structure on the engineering and particularly the strategy side. Former McLaren designer Pat Fry heads the operation at the race track, using a sophisticated strategy tool run from Maranello by ex Red Bull and McLaren head of strategy Neil Martin.

Alonso worked with Fry during his one year stay at the team in 2007, and I asked him on Tuesday if he had worked with Martin, but he said he had not. Nevertheless he and the team seem to set great store by this new combination and both will find that the pressure at Ferrari is different from any other team.

Alonso dominated his team mate last year and to most observers the hierachy was established in Germany when the team invoked team orders to move Massa aside to give Alonso the win. It’s hard to see how Massa can force his way back in, despite his optimism that the Pirelli tyres will allow him to express himself much better than last year’s Bridgestones. But today Alonso was careful to avoid suggestions that he is now de facto team leader.

“I feel like a leader, not the leader, he said. Time will tell on that

I’ve been saying for a while now that Sebastian Vettel is likely to step up a gear now that he has won the world title. I’d expect him to lose the impetuousness from his driving. Alonso knows the changes a driver goes through once he has realised that ambition of winning the first world title and he feels the same about Vettel,

“No doubt Sebastian will be a contender. He will have experience and will be calm in certain moments. He will drive better than last year and that makes him dangerous to us.”

Unless Red Bull has lost ground technically to the others, or is slow to adapt to the Pirelli, Vettel has to start the season as favourite, but we will know more once we get to the Barcelona test at the end of February.

However Alonso also surprised many by suggesting that his old nemesis Michael Schumacher is the favourite,

“If I had to choose the most dangerous rival I would say Schumacher. He’s a driver who has won the most, he has nothing to prove and he certainly has every capacity to be the strongest. He had a difficult season (last year) but he is still a champion. He is still super class and if the car is right he will be a contender.””

Mmmm. One wonders how much of this is putting the pressure on his old rival. There is no love lost between Alonso and Schumacher and by raising the expectations on Schumacher, knowing his words today will echo in every corner of the F1 following world, Alonso is upping the ante, making life a little more uncomfortable for the seven times champion. That’s F1, as the saying goes, you’re either taking pain or giving it.

This surely is one of the most competitive fields in F1 history. Alonso is one of five world champions in the field this year, making it a real classic year – it’s like the late 1960s all over again, when Clark, Hill, Brabham and Surtees were around.

Photo: Darren Heath


One detail point worth making is that Alonso has had a chance to make changes to the driveability and user friendliness of the car for this season. When he went to McLaren in 2007 he had signed a year in advance which mean he had plenty of input to the car and changed the wing mirrors to a place he could see them, regardless of aero penalty. He also insisted that the cooling be able to allow the car to stand at the pit exit for a minute, because he felt that would be an important advantage in getting clear track in qualifying.

There are no specifics yet of what he’s asked for on the new Ferrari, but he made it clear that he’s been at work,

“When I arrived at the team in 2010 the car was already prepared whereas this year, thanks to the reciprocal relationship between me and the engineers, we’ve been able to try to introduce everything that can be influenced by the driver. That includes the cockpit, the controls, the behaviour of the car based on driving style – that will be much more adapted to me compared with last year.”

That’s an echo of McLaren, which has an engineer whose sole job is to oversee everything the driver touches and comes into contact with. It makes a bigger difference than you might think.

It’s early days and the cars haven’t even been seen yet. There’s a chance one team will have found something special, a legal way of using an F Duct, for example, which gives them the competitive advantage, but Alonso believes that nowadays its hard for one team to dominate and if the cards are fairly evenly stacked he has a great chance of winning races and the title this year.

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85 Comments
  1. CarlitosF1 says:

    Picture Alonso in his new look and Maldonado dressed in white suits, hopping out of a chopper somewhere in the middle of the colombian jungle… I say ditch moving rear wings and have at least 20% of the grid looking like the extras in ‘Scarface’: now that’s adding spice to the show!

    1. onyx says:

      My favourite film…!

    2. Hughbert says:

      Well, every time I see Alonso with that thing on his face I get the Super Mario music in my head…

  2. jmv says:

    You’ve got to admit (like him or not) that currently on the grid there are only two drivers of which is 100% known that their input has value: Alonso and Schumacher

    When Alonso arrived at Mclaren they had a dog of a car in 2006, yet he brought 0.6ths of input. I seriously believe he brought a lot in developing the car from when he arrived to where they were at the first race of 2007.

    Also Ferrari’s development in 2010 I think was largely helped by Alonso’s input.

    And as I say this I am 100% a Hamilton fan (but like Alonso’s fierceness too)

    1. Nando says:

      Alonso helped develop the Mclaren car utilising Ferrari data, so you can’t say he specifically brought them upto speed.

      1. PaulL says:

        So Alonso used Dela Rosa’s mid-season email back in January to assist with technical input?
        I heard that Marilyn Monroe died a virgin..

      2. Nando says:

        He obviously had access to the Ferrari data long before that.

    2. I have long believed that one of Alonso’s greatest strengths is his ability to communicate his needs the engineers.

      He has been influential in the creation of Championship winning cars in every team he has driven for thus far. At Renault he was the benefactor of that work twice. At McLaren, Lewis Hamilton’s title winning car was designed after working with Alonso the previous year. I am not taking anything away from Hamilton or McLaren, the win is completely theirs, but Alonso surely had a part to play in the development of that car.

      I think that their are many drivers on the grid who have the talent and skill to drive a fast car fast. There are a few that can drive a slow car fast, and fewer still that can make a slow car faster. Alonso is one of these rare drivers in my opinion, and his statement about Schumacher is right on because Schumacher is the living embodiment of this.

      Time will tell about the newly minted super heros in F1, will they be able build upon their success?

      1. Andy says:

        Renault went from bad to worse during Alonso’s second tenure there. I wonder why he didn’t put his skills at work then…

        Alonso is a great driver, but the myth about him being a master car developer has been taken way too far.

      2. Galapago555 says:

        Maybe the lack of developement during 2009 had something to do with the lack of money.

        I agree that the myth, as you say, has been taken too far, no matter it looks clear that he is able to give excellent feedback to the engineers – i.e., the ones that actually develop the car!!

      3. Renault – Good car taken to champhionship
        McLaren – Good care taken to championship
        Renault – Crap car, no money, no championship
        Ferrari 2010 – Good car, 1 pit stop from championship
        Ferrari 2011 – We shall see, I could be completely wrong

        Of course it isn’t all Alonso, just like it wasn’t all Schumacher and it isn’t all Vettel or Hamilton. From what I have witnessed of Alonso’s career, he seems to have the ability to elevate a car’s performance, and then drive it like hell. I doubt that his stock would be so high (not counting British F1 fans) amongst those in the know if I was completely off base here. And I don’t think it is a myth.

        Obviously this requires massive engineering talent and development money to pull off, not to mention a bit of luck and ingenuity.

    3. Kent Paul says:

      Hamilton brought McLaren 1.0+ development in 2009 :)

    4. Andy says:

      Driver’s input on car development is always greatly overestimated, certainly it is nowhere near to the infamous “0.6s”. If it was, how come Renault was so bad in 2008-2009 when Alonso was there? The most important skill the driver can have in developing the car is the ability to consistently drive the car in its limits so that the engineers get reliable data to their computers. The “feeling” driver has of the car is a secondary issue.

      1. Renault had no money… No matter the talent and skill of the engineers and driver, money rules all in F1.

      2. David Ryan says:

        Renault had plenty of money – what they lacked was a properly calibrated wind tunnel or CFD facilities which could compensate. By the time they worked that out and got it back on track they had quite a bit of catching up to do and that ultimately was the problem. The 2009 rule changes didn’t help either in that regard. In any event, a lack of resources certainly wasn’t evident when I went on a fans’ day in 2009, especially not at the CFD facility they’d just built and commissioned.

    5. Paul says:

      The 2007 McLaren (MP4-22) also benefited from the switch back to Bridgestone tyres, having used Michelin in ’06. I can only presume the data from the ‘spygate’ affair ensured the the team could maximise the potential of the tyres.

      I thought Fernando claimed that he brought his legendary 6 tenths of a second to McLaren, I would take this claim with the pinch of salt it deserves. Even a driver as talented as Fernando needs a quick car to win titles.

    6. Paul says:

      If Alonso did help develope the car to suite his style of driving, then the developments would not have helped Lewis and he still beat him.
      I notice that Alonso negleted to mention Lewis by name as a threat, just the team. He know’s the real threat this year will come from the best racer out their Lewis.
      Vettal still needs to prove he can come from behind and dice with the best of them?

      1. Joe says:

        I have yet to see Michael Schumacher blowing a Championship with dumb mistakes while having a top car in a season. Alonso knows this and is the only driver that has gone mano-a-mano with all of them. He knows which of them is less likely to waste a championship contending car with bonehead moves.

      2. Nando says:

        Schumacher did nearly blow one championship but then rectified that by taking out Hill. Alonso has also thrown away two world championships.

  3. John M says:

    This probably doesn’t bode well for Massa. It sure sounds like Alonso has become, if he wasn’t already, the driving force in the team. His input will get the car that he wants. Whether or not that works for Massa as well, remains to be seen.

    If Ferrari are at their typical expected level with the car, I suspect this could be a dominating year for Alonso.

    1. TheLegend says:

      As I understood last year, Fernando and Felipe have diferent driving styles, but they use the same car configuration.

  4. Danny says:

    Schumacher does not care what people think, least of all Alonso. He(Schumacher) will do his talking on the track. Schumacher will only have to walk into the Ferrari motor home to needle Alonso.

    1. GP says:

      Yeah, but my father is stronger than yours… ;-)

    2. For Sure says:

      I agree, we are talking about a man who managed to win on a day when his mom passed away.
      That guy mentality is just too tough.
      He is his biggest critic and he knows what he needs to do. I don’t think he gives a flying ____
      about what people think about his reputation his form etc..

  5. Madrilian says:

    James, what do you think will happen if Massa believes once more he’s been ousted by the team??? Ferrari would be stupid to repeat Germany 2010, but there are other subtle ways… mmm… I am not sure but it looks as though Massa and Ferrari are going to have a tough year….

    1. Hisham Akhtar says:

      If it’s appropriate why not? This year it’s LEGAL to pull another Germany if the need arises

    2. Tealeaf says:

      Well if Massa starts underperforming and not care whats going on then there’s 1 simple option, drop him! He’s clearly no match for Alonso on any level with any car we could see that way back in 2003 and 2006.

  6. James W says:

    I dont want to draw paralells here, but it almost seems like Schumacher is back in Ferrari. If I were a betting man I would put a fairly large sum of cash on Alonso winning the title this year.

    1. GP says:

      Yes, two freaks of nature.

    2. Xman says:

      I agree!

      their similarities are everywhere! From their leadership qualities, their consistency when racing, thier extra capacity to think about strategy and points situations while driving and of course my favourite, their habit of creating controversy werever they go! It is no coinscidence that multiple champions through the F1 history have almost always been involved in controversy.

    3. AlexD says:

      The problem is….90% will depend on the car. Ferrari did not do so good recent years in developing the car. They were somewhere there, but never dominated recently…like Brawn, RBR…

  7. Galapago555 says:

    “I feel like a leader, not the leader,…”

    Sounds like the guy finally has a PR Dept working for him… but totally false, IMO.

    Fernando, at the Scuderia nobody wants you to be “one” leader – well, maybe nobody but certain Brazilian driver. They want you to be “the” leader they have been lacking since Schuey departed.

    1. Zobra Wambleska says:

      Galapago, I think you’re absolutely right about this. Alonso may say he feels like he is “a” leader, but his actions really point to his feeling like he is “the” leader, so his PR team must be working on his public persona. Ferrari also want him to be “the” leader, a leader that doesn’t lead isn’t worth much. Like the old saying goes: “Lead, follow or get out of the way.” With four other champions on the grid this year, Alonso will have to be at his best. He can’t afford the mistakes of last season, but then nobody can.

      1. Galapago555 says:

        Once again we agree, my friend.

        Just 8 weeks to go!! Positively, I CANT WAIT!!

    2. Mario says:

      Yeah, that and “reciprocal relationship”. There is little chance he came up with this on his own.

  8. PaulL says:

    James, how do you think the passionate Ferrari fans have warmed to Alonso? Are they behind him? The Tifosi were outraged at Austria 2002 even though they loved Schumi so I wondered how they felt about Germany.
    I think he’d otherwise be a good fit for the fans. He has the passionate and aggressive approach to winning (similar to Il Leone), he is at one with the team seemingly, and he is (I think) refreshingly honest with his media comments.
    But he was involved in that ferocious battle against Schumi in 2006 where harsh words were sometimes said (“the most unsporting driver in the history of Formula 1″) so I don’t know if that counted against him now.

    What do you think?

    1. Isotope9 says:

      Tifosi are limited to seeing red…they often don’t notice what the colour of the helmet is…they just care that their car is in front.

    2. Lilla My says:

      You know how it is with human memory… it’s very short. So if I were a tifosi, I would forget all the arcimony from the past and be happy to have such a good driver in that red car, especially that he’s apparently a good match for the team. He might have been the “enemy” a few years ago, but now he’s a “convert” ;-). However, that’s just theory ;-).

    3. Richard M says:

      I heard that Alonso is the most popular Ferrari driver since Gilles Villeneuve, I think The Tifosi like his Latin spirit and the fact that he speaks Italian, also that he is a born winner.

      1. Galapago555 says:

        Fully agree, mate. Probably the average Italian tifoso must be happy with this “hot blooded” Spaniard that is able to talk to them in Italian and seems to personify the agressiveness and passion that they expect from a Ferrari driver.

        And last, but not least, that is able to win on his 1st Italian GP driving a Ferrari.

        But I’m affraid everything can change if he is not delivering a title this year… as The Pretenders sang, “There’s a little thin line beteen love and hate”

      2. GP says:

        And yet, Villeneuve never even got as close to winning a championship as Alonso did in his very first season with the team.

    4. Ago says:

      If I may…as a Ferrari fan I am very pleased to have Alonso on board. He might not bring 0.6s to a car but for sure he knows how to optimise it for the driver… He’s got everything Ferrari wants and I believe he’s learnt a lot from his mistakes at McLaren…
      Alonso is a leader, a fighter, and he will never give up when there is still a chance to win.

      1. PaulL says:

        Thanks for that, good to hear

  9. David Ryan says:

    Massa was similarly written off after being beaten by Kimi in 2007, if I recall correctly, only to then come within 1 point of the title the following year. I’ll be reserving judgement until a few races are out of the way, particularly if the Pirellis retain their tendency towards oversteer which was reported after the first test and indicates a stronger front tyre than the Bridgestone. It’s certainly a crucial year for Massa and a few other drivers though.

    1. Galapago555 says:

      “I’ll be reserving judgement until a few races are out of the way”

      So you’ll probably be right then.

      I will predict who’s to win the WDC on 27 November, by midnite.

      1. Galapago555 says:

        Btw, I put my money on Alonso to outqulify and outscore consistently Felipe.

        Fingers crossed not to stand corrected “until a few races are out of the way…” :lol:

      2. David Ryan says:

        Nothing wrong with holding an informed opinion over speculative guessing in my book. With the number of changes being brought in for this season it’s going to take at least the flyaway races to determine who has got to grips with them best, hence why I intend to wait until the start of the European season before making any claims of superiority for one driver or another. Alonso may well carry on as he left off in 2010; at the same time he may not. If the front tyre is considerably stronger than last season and therefore harder to induce understeer with – as per his driving style – then that could complicate things for him. As I said, however, this is purely speculation and I would rather wait until I’ve seen them race. That’s just me however.

      3. GP says:

        It’s the first time I hear that Alonso needs an understeering car.

        In ’05 and ’06, the Renault was known as having a much more rear-biased weight distribution than all the other cars on the grid. That gave them a clear advantage off the line. However, it made the car understeer like crazy in slow and medium speed corners. Unlike Massa, who is unable to adapt his style to suit a car’s characteristics, Alonso changed his driving style to overcome this massive understeer. You could easily see it from the cockpit shots. In those slow and medium speed corners, about half-way between the turn-in point and the apex, he would violently jerk the wheel. Martin Brundle would regularly comment on this strange and never seen before way of driving.

        When he went to McLaren, the team was concerned that his driving style would be wholly ineffective with their car. That’s why they were so eager to get him testing sooner rather than later. Renault was kind enough to release him before the year was out which allowed him to test the McLaren in December. And lo an behold he changed his style to suit the McLaren right there and then. And we haven’t seen him turning the wheel the Renault ’05/’06 way since.

        Alonso brought two championships to a small team like Renault (budget wise), won his first race with McLaren AND Ferrari. This is a genius who can drive anything. His career is far from over and I suspect that when all is said and done, the’s a reasonable probability that he may be at the very top. Let’s enjoy the ride…

      4. David Ryan says:

        Alonso’s cornering technique relies upon induced understeer, which requires oversteer on braking/entry and understeer thereafter to maximise exit speed and acceleration. That by definition means an understeering car is preferable for optimum performance, as the oversteer can be induced under braking without triggering further oversteer thereafter and compromising corner speed. As a result, a stronger front tyre will make inducing understeer harder as it will maintain traction longer and thus make the rear tyres breaking traction under acceleration more likely. Alonso can and most certainly will drive around it, as he did in 2007, but it could mean the car is less in sync with his driving style than the Renaults (which is why he could get away with such dramatic steering inputs – the car reacted exactly as expected) and as was the case with the McLaren. He was still very fast, but not as dominant over the field as he had been in 2005 and 2006. His driving style still uses this technique, albeit in a toned-down manner – it’s why he has very little oversteer on exit compared with other drivers – but as with all the field there is a limit to how far he can modify his style before it starts to hamper his pace. For comparison, Massa is best suited to a neutral car but can adapt to medium understeer or oversteer as required (as 2009 demonstrated, with the F60 understeering more than the F2008). However, strong understeer or oversteer are beyond his range. Alonso in comparsion copes very well with strong or medium understeer, and can make a neutral car work as well. However, he is not comparatively as good with oversteering cars. It’s all a matter of fractions and degrees, but in F1 that is quite important. To illustrate the point, compare Alonso and Kubica’s relative form in 2009 and 2010 – leaving aside the strengths or weaknesses of the cars at their disposal, both drivers were much better suited to their cars and performed at a higher level in 2010 where the front tyre was narrower and weaker. As I said it is a matter of fractions and degrees and is not going to render them incapable of challenging for the title simply because the tyres have changed, but that wasn’t what I suggested. My point was more that there is the potential that if the front tyre remains strong compared with the rear, that could reduce Alonso’s advantage over Massa and thus bring about a situation more akin to 2007. At the same time, it may not. It is however a variable which should be considered.

        On another subject, it is worth noting that Alonso finished 2nd in his first race for McLaren and not 1st. He did win his second race however.

  10. Lilla My says:

    I don’t know if Alonso feels like “a” or “the” leader, but he does act like the leader IMO. He seems a right man on the right place in Ferrari. That doesn’t look too good for Massa, but I refuse to rule him out ;-).
    Re comment about Schumacher – is it putting pressure on MSC or speaking nicely of him because it’s Ferrari?
    And the moustache reminds me of Dick Dastardly, which suits Alonso’s villain image ;-).
    Next season can be really good, I simply can’t wait :).

    1. Lilla My says:

      I thought that not mentioning Hamilton by his name would be a kind of a mind game as well – making an impression that Hamilton won’t be that dangerous.
      All the mind games always make me wonder – do they work? I know they work in general, but do they work in sports? Everybody’s doing it and so they should be also quite prepared for that, especially people as experienced as Schuey. It might perhaps (only a supposition) work with Vettel as he’s the least experienced driver, but generally I would expect drivers not to be too vulnerable to such games. It’s always some fun for the fans, but I have some doubts whether it really hits the target drivers ;-).

    2. Galapago555 says:

      Lyla, I’m sure he feels he is THE leader. That’s what Ferrari was buying when they signed him. And that’s what we all Ferrari & Fernando fans (or tifosi or simply “hinchas” in Spanish) expect from him: strong leadership, driving the car to win, and getting both titles by the end of November.

      Re Hamilton: I think they both respect each other. They positively know that they are the two top drivers on the grid. But probably this “my first worry is Michael” sounds like a mind game, as you say.

      Can’t wait for the Season to start. Still 8 weeks to go for FP1 in Bahrain!!

      1. Galapago555 says:

        “Lyla, I’m sure …”

        Sorry, I meant Lilla!

  11. Chris says:

    “If I had to choose the most dangerous rival I would say Schumacher.”

    Politeness, The most acceptable hypocrisy.

  12. Stone the Crows says:

    Paul, as a long time Ferrari fan I always thought Alonso was destined for the Scuderia. But the unpleasantness at Mclaren, and then the mess at Renault soured me a bit, controversy has a bad habit of following him.

    I think the praise Alonso gave Schumacher is also an attempt to take the edge off of the Vettelmania. I don’t think anyone can mess with Michael’s head except Michael-and maybe his wife. His praise will end in short order if it turns out to be true and Michael is spoiling Fernando’s chances at a win or a championship, then it’ll be back to the same old same old.

  13. AJIndy says:

    “a legal way of using an F Duct”? What if you attached a tab to the steering wheel that redirected airflow when the wheel was held straight ahead but not in a corner? The driver would not be using part of his body then…

    1. pete says:

      wouldn’t that be a moveable aerodynamic device then? (or did I understand your reasoning wrong?)

    2. Ajay says:

      That would be pointless. If I remember correctly, the new regulations say that bodywork cannot extend onto the main plane of the rear wing. Stalling the rear wing without moving it is not going to be easy in 2011.

      1. unoc says:

        Much biggere problem than that even. Imagine your driving the car… sweet nice ride…. Anyway, You start to turn in and in the split second you start to turn in the rear wheels loose traction and you have to correct missing the corner and losing time. That is every corner.

        Even if you get around that problems you hit anohter. When you straigten up a car from a corner you are slowly adding power (especially in powerful cars like f1 cars). As you are still feeding in the throttle slowly you will eventually straighten up and while trying to feel for traction you will lose it on the power wheels.

        And finally, chicanes would be nightmares. You turn in oversteering, and then as you get to the 2nd part you have to turn the other way kicking the tail out again.

        It would require now that I think of it, some kind of device that takes time to tick over, allowing say 2 seconds of straight lock before you get it working.

        And finally. Braking. It’s common to brake in a straight line, in fact for many corners it is required. Why would you brake without traction? Big lockup with a big braking zone.

  14. Ron Grable says:

    We’ll obviously never see the days of F1 teams having a “Numero Uno” again, but Alonso is clearly the man at Ferrari, regardless of how it’s portrayed. And I don’t think Schumi or Vettel can get in Fernando’s head. Just remember Spa, where Schumi nipped at Alonso’s heels for the final couple laps.

  15. The most fascinating thing about the 2011 season is that there are at least five drivers and a similar number of teams that could win the championships and at this state nobody in the world has any idea who it will be.

    As we saw last season, laptimes amongst the top ten in qualifying were so close that it took the most miniscule problem or mistake for a driver to drop down the order. For 2011, the changes in car design will also introduce a new wildcard into the equation.

    I’m sure we all have a driver and team we would like to see win but at this stage all predictions must be pure guesswork – or wishful thinking !

    1. Ajay says:

      I think it’s more than 5 drivers. I wouldn’t write off anybody in cars 1 to 9. New tyres and new weight distribution rules might end up favouring some drivers over their teammates.

      1. I’m sure you’re right, Ajay, but at Ferrari the 2011 car seems to have been designed more around their World Champion driver and to a lesser extent the same will probably be the case at Mercedes and Red Bull. That will inevitably give those drivers an edge over their teammates.

        The exception will be McLaren who I’m sure will be doing their upmost to ensure that both their former Champions have a car they feel extremely comfortable with.
        Ironically this may mean doing a litle more to accomodate Jenson Button as Lewis seems to be able to get 110% out of the car however it’s set up.

  16. Nulla says:

    Alonso came to Ferrari with 2 world drivers championships already which is the same a Schumacher did. He now hopes to emulate the next half of Schumacher’s career with a few more world championships. So the pressure is now on Alonso to perform as the tifosi would never forgive him if Schumacher came out and started beating him in a Mercedes.

  17. C Lin says:

    Alonso, King of mind games. LOL.
    He will be surprised who will be his greatest rival, not Schumy…

  18. For Sure says:

    James, you mentioned that Alonso was trying to put pressure on Schumacher. But why would he do that when he has to worry about Lewis and Vettle who are the biggest threats to him at the moment?

    And Schumacher loves that sort of pressure. He never plays down the expectations. He always like to raise the expectations even when he was under-performing, going for the championship etc..

    If anything, he probably think there is a realistic chance that the old Schumacher will be back, considering the performance trend lately.

    1. James Allen says:

      I think he’s just throwing the spotlight on MS, raising expectations. Ross B was trying to lower expectations the other day by saying the Pirelli tyres wouldn’t help MS as much as people imagine etc etc. It may be that Alonso is right and MS is at the front from the start. Certainly if the Mercedes car is any good, he’ll be there. But there were signs last year that he couldn’t do the things he used to do – he even acknowledged that himself, so it will be interesting to see where he ends up. I think he’ll be more evenly matched with Rosberg on these Pirelli tyres.

      1. unoc says:

        May I ask why people are so certian that Schumacher will be at the front if the Mercedes is good enough? We saw him smashed by Rosberg. Unless it’s a red bull rb6 then schumacher owont be at the front. If it is equivelant to the mclaren or ferrari (i.e. the car is good enough) then we may see bits of rosberg but not schumacher.

        Hamilton is clearly faster than Rosberg, Hamilton was at the front MOST of the time. Why would someone slower than someone slower than Hamilton be at the front unless the car is clearly much faster?

        Schumacher for a win if he gets really lucky. Mabye a couple of podiums but doubt it. Probably best will be 1 podium if the mercedes is good at one track much more than others but doubt he will make it.

      2. Dave C says:

        Yes Hamilton is faster than Rosberg but it wasn’t the real MS so we’ll see this year, but if you want to talk about who’s fastest then it probably goes like this: Vettel > Alonso > Hamilton > Webber > Kubica > Button > Rosberg > Kobayashi > Massa. MS is the Joker in the pack.

      3. Lilla My says:

        “why people are so certian that Schumacher will be at the front if the Mercedes is good enough?”

        Because it’s Schumacher perhaps? As easy as that. I know he’s older now and last year wasn’t as good as many had expected (in fact he was bearly visible on the track), but it’s still Schumacher. Look at all his achievments and his records, the sole number of WDCs speak for themselves. You may like him or not and he may be over 40, but it would be foolish not to recon him as a threat.

        Anyway, no matter how good he’ll be in 2011 we may be sure that people will pay attention to him – for various reasons.

  19. Thebe says:

    I think Alonso has done very well on getting himself established within the Team , he has certainly proven himself to be worthy of a seat in Ferrari . As for his comments on Schumacher, like you James I wonder if this aimed at putting pressure on MS. I am one of the people that believe that Michael will bounce back this year, I cant imagine Michael to be happy about his performance last year , he is also not happy about the critisism he got last year, the pressure is more on a man like Michael because of his accomplishments and what he represents to the sport, when people cricise a man like Michael people always pay attention. He will want to do better than last year that is for sure, maybe what Alonso is saying about him could be true, maybe this is the year we really see the return of Schumacher to F1.One thing Schumacher has proved to us all, over and over again is that he is a kind of man that follows his own advise and not other people’s and that it is very difficult to stop racing for three years and win races straight from retirement not most people would dare do this, very few people actually. Maybe Alonso’s comments are not that far off from the truth.Is like you say James in F1 you are either accepting pain or giving it, he has been in this competitive world for over 16 years and no one understands what it takes to return to winning ways like him. If Alonso’s comments are aimed at derailing Schumacher this will most probably have the opposite effect or no effect at all.

  20. Arri says:

    Personally I think the Schumi comment is meant more to get under Vettel’s skin than anything else.

  21. Amarena says:

    In the last interview to MARCA Alonso said that his main rival is Lewis, I think this is what he really thinks.

  22. Lalit says:

    I think of all the people, FA knows that it is only MS that can really go out of way to win, while others may be a little soft, or even not that desperate. Like MS saw himself in FA back in 2003 when he first won at Hungary, FA is probably now seeing why MS saw it that way..
    and so quite simply, he could be spot on, irrespective of whether MS is back up to speed or not.

  23. Vic says:

    My personal opinion:

    I think Alonso is a very talented driver, i think he has not done enough to cement his status with the same regard as Schumacher/Senna and so forth.

    Also nothing seems to stand out performance wise when he was in a poor Renault for a couple of years, compared to how Schumacher done when he first moved to Ferrari.

    Maybe i’m being a wee bit biased because there are elements of his personality that i don’t like, but this is how i feel.

    What would impress me is if a couple teams any of Mclaren/Redbull/Mercedes were better than the Ferrari and Alonso still won the WDC. Forget 2010, Redbull made far too many mistakes, that is how Alonso took it to the last race.

    Vic

    1. TheLegend says:

      Fernando was chosen as 2008 best driver, so he outperformed everyone that year, and in 2009 he was chosen 4 best driver of the year while driving THE WORST car of the year and beeing the driver who passed to Q2 more times (only out at Brazil, when the Renault was between 0.5 and 1 sec. slower than others).

      1. Vic says:

        Interesting, he got one race win and one podium place in 2008 not including the Singapore victory, and in 2009 he only got one podium and finished with 26 points for the season. I’m not denying he is a great driver, i was just saying off the top of my head none of his performances stood out as being great for they two years when he was in a poor car.

        But i suppose we could discuss this forever, it’s very difficult not to be biased, James seems to do a good job of that which is one of the reasons i enjoy reading his articles.

        Vic

  24. Mr j says:

    I have never been that impressed with Alonso. One of his major strenghts has been said to be his car developing. But its the not the drivers who develop the cars. He won the -05 and -06 championships with the best car and he is a great driver but he is not as fast as Hamilton, Kubica and probably not even as fast as Rosberg or Vettel. I’d put him equal to Button who is technically a better driver but who probably hasn’t his adaptability. If he has the fastest car he will do the job but if Hamilton has a car that is only 2 tenths slower and doesn’t make the mistakes he usually makes he will not beat him. I’m not even sure he will beat Massa if Massa is on equal terms, as ferrari says. I predict that this season will show, what I have always belived that alonso is no faster than for Button, who will be beaten quite fairly by Hamilton.

    1. James Allen says:

      I think if you gathered at random a dozen experts from the F1 paddock, engineers, team principals etc they would all disabuse you of that belief in less than ten minutes. He is very highly regarded as a driver by pretty much everyone in F1. Some don’t like his character, but his character isn’t in question here.

      1. Vic says:

        Hi James

        What would the general feeling on Lewis Hamilton’s measure against him in his rookie year be considered then? I mean if Alonso is considered the most complete driver on the grid by many then that just makes Lewis Hamilton seem even more impressive.

        Vic

      2. James Allen says:

        Oh please! Let’s not open that can of worms again…!!! We’ve had threads lasting days on that with lots of biased posts. Not going there this time, thanks

      3. Nesto says:

        Hamilton and Alonso, to myself and many I’d assume, are head of the class. They share many same qualities that put them ahead of the others. Alonso has several years on Hamilton and is battle tested against Shumacher and Raikkonen. Character issues aside, Alonso wins out on the racetrack especially late in the season and that to me is the difference between them. I share James’ feelings that we shouldn’t go too deeply into this but if you compare ’07 & ’10, in direct battles ontrack, it was Alonso who typically came out on top. Lewis faltered at the end of both seasons while Alonso finished strongly. Lewis’ best season IMO was when Alonso was his teammate. If not for his disastrous finish, he beats Alonso but instead they tied. Lewis is the absolute racer and Fernando the calculated one. They are becoming more and more like Senna & Prost. It’s a pity we didn’t get to see a second season of their pairing.

    2. Nesto says:

      I may not like certain drivers but my bias doesn’t blind me from their talent. Alonso is a 2x WDC and 2x Runner-up to the WDC. 4 times in 6 years with 3 different teams hes been in the championship hunt. Both times he lost, he was in contention in the last race. I believe his overdriving and uncaring mindset during ’08-’09 is what led to the string of mistakes in 2010 before finding his old form. And what an impeccable form it is. And as James pointed out, people who are actually in the sport think highly of him, so how do you argue with that ?

      All F1 drivers are fast but a few are special. Alonso is special without a doubt. The rest of the grid we don’t know yet. Hamilton and Vettel are probably next but what if they don’t win another WDC. Remeber JV in ’97, what of him now ? Raikkonen’s legacy is also a single WDC. Kubica and Rosberg haven’t been given the chance yet and while showing good speed and consistency, I’ve not seen either do something extraordinary yet. The special ones always shine early on at some point. Time will tell but its too early for them. Alonso is a proven commodity and has cemented his place among the greats to me, its just a matter of how much can he add to it.

    3. Joe says:

      Many Hamilton fans seem will forever live in 2007. There has been two seasons both Hamilton and Alonso have had championship contending cars. If Hamilton “beat” Alonso in 2007 with an equal point tie broken by a second place. Then you can say Alonso crushed Hamilton in 2010 with 12 points and two spots ahead on the Championship. And please don’t tell me Hamilton did not have a good car in 2010, he would have been champion and ahead of Alonso if he did not screw himself over in Monza and Singapore.

  25. Peter C says:

    James
    I just noticed in the press how critical Luca de Montezemolo has been, saying that ‘some World Champions don’t know how to behave’ & ‘when they have won as many W.C.C as us,then I’ll listen to them’.
    This can only mean Red Bull & I think arises from the departure of Neil Martin from RB to Ferrari. Did RB make any comments about ‘poaching’, or is this LdiMs usual arrogance hitting the fan of Press Releases?

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