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Alonso: “We’re having a very bad year”
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Posted By: James Allen  |  24 Jun 2011   |  9:54 am GMT  |  49 comments

On the eve of the European Grand Prix at Valencia, Fernando Alonso said all is not lost in his and Ferrari’s quest to win the world championship this year, but admitted that the team was having “a very bad year.”

He also said that his own performance is as strong as at any time in his career and compared his performances to his team mate Felipe Massa, “These seven races.. I think I drove the best seven races of my career, with the best qualifying laps, compared to my teammate, compared to last year,” he said.

After a slow start where he qualified fifth in the first four races, Alonso had a chance to win both the last two races in Monaco and Canada, where he qualified second, but he wasn’t able to make it happen.

Speaking on Thursday he said, “I think we need to have the best car. If we have the best car we can win the title because there is plenty of time and plenty of races to recover. If we are fifth or sixth, as we are normally in qualifying etc, it’s very difficult because you cannot get the pace that everybody is doing.

“I think the championship is long. We need to concentrate, race by race. We will try to be on the podium, we will try to win every race we do. Obviously this is sometimes very difficult or impossible but this is our aim.

“This is also some pressure that you have when you are at Ferrari or when you are Ferrari. You need to win every race that you do, you need to win every championship that you do and despite these seven races when I think I drove the best seven races of my career, with the best qualifying laps, compared to my teammate, compared to last year, comparing different years, the starts etc.

“Even with that, it seems that the season has been a very bad season so far, which, in some ways I agree with, because we are Ferrari, we are obliged to win every race but in some other ways, I think we need to understand and respect our rivals and to work harder than them and to close that gap in the near future.”

Alonso didn’t want to raise hopes that the changes in the off throttle diffuser rules from Silverstone and the engine mapping changes this weekend in Valencia will put the Red Bulls behind the Ferraris. He sees it that Red Bull have the performance to be able to push when they want to and take it easy at other times.

“I don’t think it (the rule change) will massively change qualifying. I think Sebastian was quickest in qualifying (in Montreal). It’s true that it wasn’t one second, it was two tenths, but he was the quickest in wet conditions at the start of the race.

“We were following him and he was nearly eight tenths or nine tenths quicker than us on Sunday with race mapping. We saw a superior car at that moment, a dominant car, the Red Bull, in qualifying and in the race as well. It seems that sometimes they push a little bit more, sometimes a little bit less. Because of that, in races you seem a little bit closer.”

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49 Comments
  1. Galapago555 says:

    James, when do you think that Ferrari are going to give up and start to focus on 2012 car? Maybe after Silverstone?

    On a side note, this new Team Ferrari page looks as good as I expected it to be. Looking forward to the other Teams’ ones to be implemented soon.

    1. James Allen says:

      The rules are pretty stable this year to next so no need to do that. Developments this year will have a benefit for next year too

    2. Andy C says:

      “when do you think that Ferrari are going to give up and start to focus on 2012 car?”

      I think they did that after Australia Jose ;-)

    3. Wayne says:

      I think Ferrari are where they were last year relatively speaking. The difference is all Red Bull – RBR have eliminated the reliability worries and its drivers are not taking points off each other.

      Being where you were last year, even relatively, is a bad thing for both Ferrari and McLaren.

      I cannot believe that Lewis will finish the season behind Button in the points standings so Button’s win was probably the next best possible restult for RedBull in Canada!

      1. Frosty says:

        I agree. But obviously someone wasn’t happy with the design direction considering what Ferrari did in changing their personnel only part way into the season. It wouldn’t surprise me if they have a mid-to-end season surge again as per last year. F1 teams seems to have a way of shaking them-selves out half way into the year concerning design, mastery and exploitation of rules. The mid year break should bring about a closer field I believe.

  2. Kristiane says:

    GO FOR THE WIN ALONSO AND FERRARI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Adelaide says:

    I think Alonso is secretly hoping that this change in regulations will make Red Bull slower, and thinks that if Ferrari improves, he will be able to dominate the second part of the season, thus winning the championship. He said something in the Spanish press, something like: “When we get our luck, we will be able to win the championship in half a season”. Was he thinking about this one?

    Now his comment about driving his best season ever… I think he is clever enough to dose the right amount of praise and/or criticism on himself and the team, depending on the circuit/country he is racing in.

    If Vettel takes pole in Silverstone, I expect a very cool shrug of shoulders from Fer, and a “He won the championship, he had a better car, let’s at least win a race this season, and focus on the next” comment. But inside he will be fuming.

    PS
    A very bad circuit this Valencia. I wonder if Aragon would be any fun in F1. Anyway, I like the Aragon scenery better. It reminds me of the old F1 days (nothing but the race track, no bull – changing lights, etc – involved).

  4. Grayzee (Australia) says:

    Hah!…..it’s all about perpective, isn’t it? Ferrari are only challenging for 2nd, 3rd and 4th, so it’s “a very bad year”.
    If they are having a “very bad year” what must all the other teams be having (bar Redbull)

    1. Grayzee (Australia) says:

      Also, why is it “always” the “car’ and not the driver that makes the difference. Alonso is clearly quicker than massa and always has been in the same car. Same with Vettel, he has proven to be quicker than Webber.
      At his peak, Michael Schumacher has been quicker than EVERY teammates he has had.
      Are these people ever going to acknowledge that drivers, as well as cars, DO make a difference. Maybe Alonso is feeling a little insecure at the moment……….

      1. Lea says:

        I would say nothing in his body language has indicated that he is feeling insecure. In fact in his post race interviews he always seems rather up beat to me. I think Alonso is just playing his part in the Ferrari PR mechanism.

      2. Kristiane says:

        Vettel proven to be quicker than Webber? You seem to have forgotten 2010.

        As with previous years from Michelin to Bridgestone, even the likes of Alonso and Raikkonen took half a year to get up to speed with new tyres. Mark no different here, as evident in recent races of Silverstone and Germany.

  5. AlexD says:

    We all know this and it was said many-many times loud and clear. Ferrari is in trouble. But the answer I cannot find is what are they doing to win, say, in 2012?
    Is there any hope for Ferrari and if yes, does this hope have a name?

  6. F1 Fan says:

    Alonso is the man,
    if he can’t do it..
    Nobody can.

    But to be honest, this is a very poor start of the year for Ferrari and Alonso.
    They have to act quickly or otherwise have to change there focus to the 2012 car and make that car as fast as possible like in early 2000!!

  7. Nando says:

    Insight into why he didn’t get on with Hamilton. They’re just too similar.

    1. Jess says:

      No, complete opposite. You couldn’t be more wrong!

    2. Tim Parry says:

      I’ll buy into that. Likes repel just as opposites attract. Maybe that’s why LH and JB can get along – even after Canada.

  8. DaveF says:

    Sadly Ferrari seem to be lacking proper leadership and focus. I think the restrictions on testing have highlighted what were existing weaknesses. Since the glory days of Todt, Brawn, Byrne and Schumacher (where they were also able to test extensively) they have been slowly going downwards (despite Kimi’s title and Massa’s almost title) due to a lack of leadership.

    They need to have people who can inspire and innovate rather than play politics, blame each other and make constant personnel changes.

    They have somebody who can lead on the track in Alonso. But he is missing the backroom leadership and stability that enabled Schumacher to dominate. Without this although they may be able to be finish 2nd or 3rd in the championship they could well be looking at 21 years between titles again.

    1. tom says:

      you seem to have forgotten who finished 2nd last year, although i think you’re right about the infrastructure at ferrari at the moment.

    2. Andy C says:

      It could be worse though, they could go and hire Briatore and Symonds (as I’ve been hearing about rumours recently)….

    3. GP says:

      I agree with your description. Given Ferrari’s resources you would think that they could have better leadership. The kind of team they had in Michael’s days is evidently difficult to replace.

      Although, I sometimes wonder if all they need is one individual who would take the team to another dynasty. Adrian Newey?

      1. Frosty says:

        I think the big question will be, who’s going to find the next big design guru/aerodynamics wizard? The point on leadership is a good one, where Red Bull clearly have a leader who makes or overseas all the design decisions on the car, rather than being led by committee…

      2. James Allen says:

        Great question!

  9. F1Fan4Life says:

    James, I was wondering what your opinion was on Ferrari needing to ‘win every race’ just because they are Ferrari? Alonso isn’t the only one who has said this, I’ve heard it mentioned many times. Is this a mantra employees are indoctrinated in? PR?

    I mean apart from the successful stretch with Brawn, Byrne, Todt and Schumacher, they haven’t really been winners that often. Clearly, they don’t win every race…so why are they saying that as Ferrari they are expected to? I’ve been a fan for 20+ years, and when they say it is sounds almost like a joke, just don’t understand it. It would make sense if it were true, but if I’m not mistaken, they are the most successful historically simply because they have been in F1 longest…Williams and Mclaren might actually have better win records when paired against races competed?

    1. Luca says:

      clearly you don’t understand that Ferrari is as good a national team for Italy. when Ferrari race its like the national football team playing a match at the world cup… the pressure from the home fans is unlike anything any other team has to deal with.
      at the end of last year members of parliament were seeking the resignation of SD…. you think if McLaren loose out in a season anyone in westminster will care….

      Also, ferrari effectively use the F1 racing is their global marketing strategy – they don’t spend a penny on adverts.

      Tie that all in with the history and you have a very unique situation for the team

    2. Alex W says:

      They have always been there or thereabouts, for any given race, they have a realistic chance, no reason why they shouldn’t go into every race thinking they can win, same for Mclaren…

  10. PaulL says:

    The title is a little misleading. I think Alonso’s done his utmost to remain optimistic and to harness what has been positive about this difficult season so far.

    1. Nando says:

      The title conveys the tone of the quotes perfectly.

  11. Matt Wil. says:

    I think he feels insecure each time he does an excelent quali lap, each time he does a good start and reach first positions, but then…. each time he is called to pit for the first time in the race he should ask himself “Well, Fernando, let’s see what my team does now”. I’m pretty sure Ferrari enjoys problems and bad strategies to make a boring and conservative race into a desesperate game.

  12. Mao Xiaogang says:

    Fighting back! a victorious stance or a hopeless illusion, I hope it will be the first, as it makes me so exciting!

  13. adam H says:

    “compared to your team mate?!”errrm yes! thats because you get preferrential treatment! Massa’s always 2nd, we the masses dont know what happens behind close doors! If he was so good he would have stayed at Renault and created a dream team, rather than jump into a leading one!

    1. mtb says:

      I was under the impression that Alonso signed for McLaren because Renault was reassessing its long-term commitment to the sport.

      1. Carl says:

        Yes, I believed that too, plus the fact that he’d been a McLaren fan since he was a young boy.

      2. adam h says:

        I meant after his second stint at Renault

      3. mtb says:

        “Renault” does not want to be competing in F1 as a constructor, and has not for quite some time. This is what led to the events in Singapore in 2008. When Alonso signed for Ferrari, Renault’s commitment to the sport was not clear. The team was operating on a smaller budget than that of its rivals, hence major success was always going to be unlikely.

    2. Luca says:

      hahaha – of course you do know what happens behind close doors

  14. mo kahn says:

    Yes Fernando… You are Ferrari… You have an obligation to win… So blaze your guns away :)

  15. Patrick McLaughlin says:

    James,

    Any info/idea on who Ferrari are looking at on engineering side for coming years ?

    I don’t think Alonso would have signed on for a long term deal without some movement/promises on that front.

    Maybe some of the aerodynamics deptartment at Renault, who were particularly good until Flavio slashed the budget ?
    Sam Michael or James Key at Sauber ?

    Ps loving version 2.0

    1. AlexD says:

      Very good point and I am interested in this too. Do you, James, know what is happening in the paddock and whether Ferrari is taking serious steps to come back to winning ways?

  16. ACB says:

    A bad year in that Ferrari looked very good in testing but that didn’t translate into poles and podiums. A bad year struggling with new tyres, DRS, and the fact that Adrian Newey has the RB7 dialed in to perfection and Mclaren are compettive. Don’t forget the windtunnel issues, as well as some personnel changes. Ferrari have also been trying to hire as many Red Bull people as possible. I’m a long time Ferrari fan but not so much of a fan of Alonso, but I think what he says is true. He has driven well and gotten as much out of the 150 as can be expected.

  17. eric weinraub says:

    I think Alonso is ringing every bit of performance out of the Ferrari. The team need to give him a better car, period.

  18. Greg says:

    Its not looking good for Alonso this year and hat off to the guy for his honest opinion, he said around this time last year the tittle was still on, but there is non of that talk now.

    One thing we know is he will still drive the wheels off the car this weekend & every weekend.

  19. Nickjay says:

    Alonso! ” If we have the best car, we can win the Championship”

    Well I never.

  20. vettelfan says:

    Alonso is a driver in the Schumacher mold, maybe even better. I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes quite some time for him to succeed by sharing the right people around him in Schumacher style and steamrole the opposition again in a way like Schumacher did.

    I’m still disappointed that Ferrari sacked Kimi, though. He came to Ferrari and ran away with the title in his first season. How many seasons did Schumacher need? Five? And how many will Alonso need? 2? 3? 4? or even 5? Well is is a matter of fact that Kimi tops them both, winning in his inaugural Ferrari season.

    Nevertheless I can still see the benefit of Alonso and the Santander money he brings to Ferrari. We will see if I’m right. I’m just so emotionally shafted that Ferrari de facto destroyed Kimi’s career, or better said brought it to a premature end.

    How I wish Red Bull would bring back Kimi to partner Vettel somewhen in the future. Any chance of this happening, James?

      1. vettelfan says:

        That’s a pity. He should return to F1. He won’t make it to the top in WRC I’m afraid. Even Schumi is back to speed after three years off, and Kimi is 10 years younger than Michael. I’m sure he can win another title if they give him a Red Bull race car. He’s the only team mate who can stop Vettel. Schumacher is too old, Button is too slow, Alonso goes nuts when his team mate beats him and Hamilton, the only driver with sufficient speed, isn’t smart enough.

  21. Dan Orsino says:

    Ferrari will never do it. Post Todt they are a shambles. It isn’t enough to be a good team. They have to be champions or they have failed. These are the people who got rid of Kimi and kept Massa and … [who's that chap who left Force India then found the Ferrari too hard to drive?]
    They prefer politics to winning. Alonso may be right about the last races being his best, but there won’t be a title for him or Ferrari.
    A dispassionate team leader would set about getting Vettel at any price.

  22. John Ferdinand says:

    So when does Ferrari start cheating for Alonso! Just like Flavio did and McLaren was forced to do. He must be well liked by the Ferrari people working on the car after his comments about how he is driving the “best of his career”, but somehow it’s the cars fault that he is not winning. With Alonso it always someone or something else’s fault for the lack of his success instead of his arrogance. Remember it’s a bad carpenter whom blames his tools!

    1. Ray says:

      John, your comments are incorrect. Alonso is only asking for a competitive car. This is F1 and he is a Ferrari driver. You should listen to what Mark Webber said last year. “Alonso did his best to lead till the last races even with a slower car”. These words from a guy (Mark) who was challenging for the Driver’s title.

      1. John Ferdinand says:

        Part of what makes a driver “great” is his ability to help the team develop a race winning car; this is why Schumacher is the best. Alonso has always looked for the easiest path, that is why he joined McLaren and then Ferrari because he thought he was stepping into a race winning package without having to do the hard work it takes to develop the program. And it’s great he fought to the end with the car last year, (by the way this is what a driver is supposed to do) but if he was doing his best then he still came up short regardless of the excuses or the thoughts of the other drivers. [mod]

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