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Alonso expects to stay in title hunt ‘down to the wire’
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Posted By: James Allen  |  10 Oct 2012   |  4:11 pm GMT  |  105 comments

Fernando Alonso has today issued a pick-me-up to Ferrari by backing the team stay in the hunt for the world championship “right down to the wire” in Brazil, insisting that the hard work that has got him into the championship lead can also keep him there.

Having already had to swim against the tide for the majority of the season, Alonso is in danger of losing the lead of the drivers’ standings for the first time since Canada back in June by the end of this Sunday’s race in Korea after Sebastian Vettel cut his advantage to just four points with his second straight win at Suzuka. Alonso meanwhile was taken out at the first corner for the second time since the summer break.

The more worrying trend for Ferrari has however been the failure of recent upgrades to deliver significant performance improvements to the F2012, with wind tunnel correlation problems reoccurring. With Vettel and Red Bull coming on particularly strongly in recent races, Alonso’s bid for a long-awaited third title has been put in serious jeopardy – but the Spaniard is retaining faith in Ferrari’s engineers to respond to the challenge just as they did at the start of the season.

“I am sure we can be in the fight right down to the wire,” the Spaniard today told the Ferrari website.

“The people who are working on the car are the same who have done the job so far and there’s no reason to think they can’t do a good job again now.

“Let’s not forget that, if I am still leading the championship, it’s because we have been capable of improving the car significantly compared to the start of the season and also because we are capable of always getting the most out of what we have to work with.

“We have not been gifted anything, indeed Spa and Suzuka deprived us of places that were easily within our grasp. It’s not through some sort of divine miracle that we are in this position, it is down to the work of all us, from first to last.”

Analysing the F2012’s form since Monza, Alonso argued that, Singapore aside, the car’s competitiveness hasn’t actually been as bad as some have suggested and that the season for all the top runners has been up and down. He also said that problematic upgrades, such as the recent spate of rear wings, also gained more attention at Ferrari than at other teams.

“For sure, there are some teams who, in this final part of the season have made a significant step forward, while we have not matched that, especially in terms of how the car behaves on certain types of track,” Alonso admitted.

“However, it is equally true that, at Monza for example, we had a car that was good enough to take pole, while then at Singapore, we got a bit lost and to a certain extent, we also suffered at Suzuka, even if there, Felipe showed he was pretty competitive in the race: if we weren’t as quick as the Red Bulls, we were at least a match for all the others.

“Actually, these ups and downs seem to be the norm this season: in Japan, the McLaren seemed less strong than in the previous race while Red Bull stepped up significantly, as indeed did Sauber. A lot’s been said about us, because everyone is always focused on the Red team: here for example, if we try a wing once, then don’t use it, it becomes news, but these things happen regularly in all teams. Now, all we need to do is get back on the right track and I’m sure we can do it.”

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105 Comments
  1. azac21 says:

    Great inspiring speach from “Fenando the Great” but difficult to hide the fact that no upgrades have worked as expected since July.

    Hopefully he will be able to fight until the last race and give us the great “finalle” that this year’s championship deserves.

    Come on Fernando!

    1. No doubt Fernando will continue to fight

      And there is still a long way to go in this championship.

      After Belgium 2010 with 6 races to go and 41 points behind nobody gave Alonso a chance and he nearly won that year. We know he is going to be very close at the end of the year

      1. F1fan says:

        my gut feeling says, this time it will be Hamilton if he can keep his head right

      2. Bring Back Murray says:

        Yes but Hamilton has to rely on BOTH Alonso and Vettel now getting into trouble.

        Hamilton needed to finish higher up in Japan than he did.

        At the very least Hamilton needs to win the next two races and have Button take solid points out of Alonso AND Vettel. It’s a tall order.

      3. KGBVD says:

        You must have eaten something funny.

  2. Mitchel says:

    Classic comments from Fernando. He plays the game so astutely, deprecating the car when things are going well, rallying the team when things look grim.

    Contrast this to Lewis’ rash twitter comments……..especially the last mistaken one about Jenson.

    1. W Johnson says:

      I would too if Ferrari paid me his salary. That’s a “no brainer”.

      1. Justin Bieber says:

        You really cant give credit when credit is due.

        James Allen: Fernando Alonso just found a cure for cancer

        W Johnson: I would too if I had the money.. who cares about cancer anyway!

      2. hero_was_senna says:

        Abolute classic, might print it off and hang it on the wall.

      3. Wayne says:

        But it is a no brainer – that does not make it any less clever or important. It’s not an insult to say he’s basically doing as common sense dictates.

        Fernando has driven a brilliant season and, in my opinion, if he won the title it would be one of the greatest title wins in the history of the sport. Sure he’s ridden some luck, but every driver out there needs some luck so that’s irrelevant.

        I’m not sure I can face Vettel winning again this year and probably next year too. 4 wdc’s back to back? He is damn good but he’s not THAT good yet! McLaren and Ferrari are to blame – they got fat and complacent, comfortable with eachother’s development pace and capability and this allowed a new team with all the right ingrediants and a real ‘spark’ to come in and propel Vettel to potentially 4 wdc’s.

      4. W Johnson says:

        My point being that Alonso is only doing what many past and present drivers do but don’t get the same praise on this website as does Alonso.

        Don’t you think say Button for example shows leadership, praises the team and deprecates the car when necessary or is Alonso only capable of this….especially when Massa has flattered his performance through most of the year. And refuses a more equal competitor as a rival driver in the team from which to be more credibly benchmarked.

        If there was spoof report on 1st April that “Fernando Alonso just found a cure for cancer”, there would some who would be fooled by it, too willing to believe, having read some posts about Alonso that would have you believe in his ability to perform miracles.

        That said, your response made me chuckle so thank you for that!

      5. pargo says:

        I think it comes down to character rather than money.

      6. nino says:

        ‘that is a no brainer”
        except for hamilton…..

      7. double eyepatch says:

        Yeah. Cause he spoke so highly of his own employers in the business end of the 07 title race.

    2. Tripletg says:

      Does everything have to include Hamilton?Give it a rest.

      1. Peter C says:

        Well, they’re always talking about Ashley Cole.

        On Twitter.

      2. W Johnson says:

        And this is NOT football. Feel free to comment on Ashley Cole elsewhere.

      3. Peter C says:

        I am aware of that. Perhaps you don’t notice the twittering similarity between LH & AC?

      4. W Johnson says:

        Yes. I fully whole heartedly agree!

      5. Peter C says:

        Maybe you should apply for a job as a moderator on JA on F1.

  3. Peter says:

    A bit of an off-topic. Kimi is still 3rd in the WCH having stopped for two years and driving a Lotus. Very consistent, some amazing race craft, fair moves, no bull***. I think he worth some mentioning, too.

    1. Oly says:

      Yes you’re right- totally off topic.

      1. Peter says:

        Than why do you bother commenting it?

    2. Ahmed says:

      You just cant compare Alonso with Kimi, it is a bit of an insult to Kimi being dragged down to the same level as Alonso.

      1. PDiddly says:

        Exactly, Kimi is a likeable man who drives his heart out and does not make nasty snide remarks.

        Nor has he been tarnished with Cheating, multiple times in alonso’s case, nor Blackmail, petulance, deranged paranoias, you name it, Kimi is popular with everybody for good reason !

    3. Wayne says:

      He definitely is, Peter, I’m not sure the media has given him a fraction of the credit he is due this year. But then you reap what you sew – Kimi is not at all media freindly so they probably avoid him and stories about him.

  4. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    But Massa starting 10th and finishing in a strong 2nd shows different…

    The problem for Alonso is that he did not meet consistency lately, I’m not sure but I think it was HIS FAULT not giving enough room to Kimi in Suzuka when he needed to finish that race after his late DNF. So he has to pay the price.

    Vetten could not win all the remaining races, so consistency is still important.

    Kimi and Hamilton can do it also.

    1. Justin Bieber says:

      Kimi was in a bad mood all weekend. His statement after Q3 said it all: “I dont care about the other drivers”

      He started the race with that frame of mind..

    2. JF says:

      There was no room to give. He was already on the grass when they collided. Cars were packed all around and Grosjean was just starting the process of spearing Webber. There was no where to go for Alonso or Kimi, no ones fault really.

      1. Ahmed says:

        Alonso had a football field to his right, watch the replays, you can clearly see him looking into his left mirror and constantly steering left with the intention of pushing Kimi off the track. Alonso should have received a penalty for that move, to say the least.

      2. nino says:

        alonso had 1 meter at most at his right not a football field) and also that car at his right, was moving toward his line going on to the breaking zone.
        It was nobody fault, although kimi was almost always behind Alonso ( apart for a brief instant when he was half way alongside) and he was the one could have avoided contact more easily between the two since he had his front wing right on front of his eyes…

        Kimi did a similar move in 2004 or there about, at a start of a GP, he took out Barrichello and Ralf Schumacher and he smashed himself on the wall, at least he got what he deserved then.

      3. Veena says:

        nino, I think you need glasses.

    3. charlie says:

      Or he might?

    4. Kay says:

      Just one race resulting in a DNF doesn’t mean inconsistency…. o_O

    5. Wayne says:

      Massa starting 10th and finishing second was mostly due to circumstance – the first corner pile-up left him fourth and then he had clean air for most of the race (being unable to get anywhere near Vettel) to manage his tyres, The McLarens were way off song, one Sauber committed suicide at the hairpin etc etc.

      Massa is being given way to much credit for cruising around to second place, in my opinion – it’s a pity vote, nothing more.

      1. Simmo says:

        When he does badly you criticise, yet when he does well you criticise. Just accept it that he played well this race…

        If it were Hamilton or Alonso I’m not sure these sort of comments would be here. Fact is Massa drove a great race.

      2. Wayne says:

        It’s not a fact – it’s your opinion.

        I think massa drove an average race (for a top driver). I don’t think that Alonso or Hamilton would be considered for driver of the race if they benefited from a start-line incident and then cruised around to second place without ever challenging the leader.

        We just expect less from Massa.

      3. Pargo says:

        Well said Simmo.

  5. Wilma the Great says:

    Solely a motivational speech to his own party: “Hey, let’s not look at the trend here and fall into despair”.

    Because if they do, there won’t be a chance at all. If they are lucky and the others are not, there might be a slight chance, so let’s keep smiling.

    What else can he do.

  6. Paul D says:

    I really hope he does it this year. The driver most deserving of the title for sure.

  7. Val from montreal says:

    You media guys are all so depressing ! For cryin’ out loud , there is 5 grand prix’s left and Alonso supporters are making it sound as if its already a funeral ! Have some faith in your Alonso – he can do it !! Not – ))

    1. kfzmeister says:

      He who laughs in the end, laughs best!

    2. Asser says:

      We do have faith in Alonso, he is the best driver in the history of F1. It’s Ferrari who I don’t have faith in.

      1. Val from montreal says:

        Best in history ? Its only 6 years he’s not been crowned world champion ! 1 year with McLaren and 3 with Ferrari , 4 years in championship winning teams and still the “story” continues ….. At least Schumacher has the excuse of driving for Mercedes these last 3 years … Go Michael !!

      2. Mingojo says:

        Except when he drove for Mclaren, the second time in Renault and the last few years in Ferrari, Alonso didn’t have a car good enough to win another WDC. Even though he was close to do it in 2010.

    3. hero_was_senna says:

      James, is there anyway of ignoring certain posters?

      1. Val from montreal says:

        Thats Ok , hero -WAS- Senna. ,you only have 5 races left to endure me & MSC , after that , you wont have to put up with me any longer ….

    4. Wayne says:

      Hysterical, isn’t it? The sort of thing you are referring to does not happen much here, but sensationalist, tabloid claptrap (see SKY) see every race is ‘the cruical race’, every upset is ‘a catasthophy’ – no matter how many times the season twists and turns the media always react as though whatever happened at the last race is the defining point of the season and always try and convince us beofre the race that it will define the season.

      Give us some credit!

      The fact is that Hamilton or Kimi could win this title still, Alonsdo has an even greater chance still. Another retirement for Vettel and the media will hand the title back to Alonso for goodness sake! The emdia are up and down and all over the place like whore’s draws!

  8. sandy says:

    Wait wasn’t it Alonso who complained to the spanish press about his car being the same since 6 races? Looks like fernando had to toe the party line for this interview.

  9. Liam says:

    I think that Fernando is only leading the championship because of the wet races\qualifying we had earlier in the season. Unless Ferrari make a massive step or get some wet races they have no chance, it’ll be another title for Vettel.

  10. m57mxx says:

    I’m officially worried but not writing him off yet.

    https://dl.dropbox.com/u/70606528/F1%202012%20season.PNG

    When he said earlier in the season that Vettel was the biggest threat a lot of people were laughing. Seems he was right though.

  11. Bob B. says:

    “Alonso meanwhile was taken out at the first corner for the second time since the summer break.”

    James, I take exception with your statement that Alonso was “taken out” twice since the summer break.

    It is true that Alonso was taken out at Spa through no fault of his own but it was a different story at Suzuka. I have watched the start a few times and it’s pretty clear that Alonso has nobody to blame but himself for what happened in Japan. He clearly pushes Raikkonen wide to the point that Kimi’s car goes off track momentarily. As far as I see it Alonso caused the contact, not Kimi, in what was a straightforward, fairly typical racing incident. Any suggestion that he was taken out, as in implying it was someone else’s fault is wrong in this instance. Alonso took himself out which for him is a very rare mistake.

    I would like to see him win the title this year but the Red Bull is going to be tough to beat at this stage.

  12. F1fan4life says:

    Unbelievable loyalty from the best driver in Formula One. He hasn’t complained at Ferrari in all these years of having slow cars. I can name a couple of other supposedly great champions who have…

    James this is off topic but I hope you will be able to provide some information on Maria De Villota and how she is doing. I was quick to scoff at a woman being able to compete in F1 because of physical demands, but there is certainly admiration for trying. She his had to pay a stunning price so I hope you can get some conversation with her sometime :) Also there is a guy named Kubica I’ve been wondering about…

  13. Dino says:

    I just believe that things could change trend. Ferrari has got really bad luck lately, the accident in Spa, then the suspension problem in the qualy at Monza, then the accident in Suzuka…

    As Fernando said after Valencia, luck has somehow the quality to be the same for everyone along the season, he’s got his own dose by now, a victory and a retirement of Sebastien would mean 29 point lead and just four races to the end. Let’s wait a little more and we’ll see.

    Anyway any of the two Sebastien and Fernando deserves the title this year.

  14. W Johnson says:

    It looks the title will go down to the wire….who’s your next target Grosjean?

  15. Thompson says:

    The end of the season is all up in the air imo, but Vettle is going to win it..

    Alonso’s goose is cooked if the other teams can get a good run – no more failures incidents and accidents, he’ll need Massa to crash a few times for him.

    it hurts to say but Vettle looks like the man again, if he gets pole he’ll win. And Webber is nowhere.

    Hamilton currently drives for Mclaren and as no chance of winning, He is the only contender with a competitive team mate with equal equ who is finding form – could play a supporting role, but I don’t think he will – which I can understand.

    Kimi – strange one this but a couple of wins and podiums, overdue – and who knows a good outside bet.no worrys from his team mate.

    1. Don Farrell says:

      @ Thompson – I know I shouldn’t be laughing at your needing to crash comment… but your right lol

  16. Richard D says:

    Looking towards the season finale, it has occurred to me that perhaps the timing of the season should be changed so that it ends in Europe. After all, despite continually spreading to more distant countires, F1 is predominantly a European sport. It could work by starting the season in Europe late summer and go to the fly away locations through the European winter and return to Europe in the spring for the season finale. The close season would then emcompass the European summer where there is currently an enforced shut down and we are holidaying and often have to miss races. Radical idea but I think it could work.

    1. Justin Bieber says:

      You’re missing a very important fact.. F1 is a TV sport so its not about where the GP is held but at what time is the race starting.

      Why do you think the final 2 races are in the US/Brasil?? Its the perfect time for the european audience.

  17. Chromatic says:

    James, Maldonado has been hinting that he might jump ship for a better ride elsewhere. Would that be Sauber, Force Ind, or dare I say … Ferrari?
    Is it just prolonged silly season or could Luca di be taking poor Felipe for a ride?

    1. Bring Back Murray says:

      Considering his appalling driving at numerous times this season he should feel himself lucky if he stays in F1 at all!

  18. Nigel says:

    On the race calculator, much better running the option in the middle stint – even if used. Both faster, and gives you track position.

    Unless Korea’s a lot hotter than expected, most are going to be running the same strategy.

    I’ll stick my neck out and say Hamilton has a good chance of winning here – which of course is potentially good for Alonso.

    1. Marc says:

      … As long as Vettel remains behind Alonso in Korea and most of the remaining races.

  19. AlexD says:

    This is his biggest problem:
    “We have not been gifted anything, indeed Spa and Suzuka deprived us of places that were easily within our grasp. It’s not through some sort of divine miracle that we are in this position, it is down to the work of all us, from first to last.”

    I actually think it is and whether he is going to win the championship depends not on him, Ferrari, Vettel, Red Bull or McLaren…but on God’s will.

    1. Laurence H says:

      Really??? Can’t we just get God to tell us who he’s going to make World Champion this year and then we can all go and do something else with our Sundays? Or does he decide on a race by race basis? Or what are you saying??

      1. AlexD says:

        I am saying He is in control and it is up to Him:-)

      2. Craig in Manila says:

        Nah, I can’t imagine that Bernie will get involved by exerting his will to affect the WDC.

        I’ll go with the immortal words of Doris Day : Whatever will be, will be.

    2. wolf says:

      By “God” do you mean Grosjean or Maldonado?

    3. tom in adelaide says:

      I’m going to have to side with Alonso on this one champ. But good luck with that “devine” thing, it seems to be working out really well for the world.

      1. AlexD says:

        There are many opinions here at JAonF1.com. Mine is one of them. I do not expect anybody to believe the same way.

    4. Martin says:

      Hi Alex,

      I’ll start by stating that I’m an atheist.

      To state that it is God’s will then says that everything that has every happened is predetermined. Either we have free will or we don’t. You said in reply to Tom in Adelaide that you have an opinion. Seems like free will to me.

      Every event I’ve seen this season has been determined by human actions. The engineers in the design shops, the mechanics and drivers. Malaysia was a wet race because Bernie needs to have races that don’t force European audiences to get out of bed early.

      To me to suggest that Ferrari’s engineers are unable, through the application of their intellectual skills, to develop a better car is an extremely negative view on life. It says “you cannot make a difference”.

      If you consider a situation in your own life of doing a charitable deed or donating money, I’m sure you’ll a sense of free will and belief that it would make a difference. You might, through your upbringing or beliefs, feel a sense of obligation to do so, that is not compulsion – you are not forced to do it, you have choice. If you apply exactly the same logic to F1, it is clear that human free will is involved.

      If Vettel’s car is struck by lightning while leading the Brazilian GP, frying the electrics and handing Alonso the title, then you’ll get people talking about acts of god. If you want your god to be responsible for, and be able to prevent, natural disasters that kill many people, then it would be logical to accept that god might want to influence the result of an F1 race – which is so extremely important in the overall well being of the Earth and humans in particular…

      I’d like you to keep making positive contributions to the site. I know that logically that is completly contradictory to what you just posted. We all have free will, and feel free to use any tools you choose, such as bibles, to help you make the best decision.

      Regards,

      Martin

      1. AlexD says:

        Martin – thank you for the free opinion, coming from your free will:-) All I was trying to say that the fact that Alonso, Vettel, you or me breath and walk is a miracle. The fact that you have both eyes, hands and legs – it is a miracle. The fact that you have a talent and can use it – it is a miracle.

        I know it is not easy to understand how is it possible for us to be free (have a free will) and at the same time acknowledge the fact that nothing is going to happen without God’s full control.

        The only reason I expressed my opinion is because Alonso said that there is no divine miracle allowing him to be where he is. I think he is wrong because he has a talent when others don’t, he has both eyes and others don’t, he has hands and others don’t. It is a miracle to me. It is up to us what we believe in – we have a free will.

      2. AlexD says:

        This blog is the best available source of information about F1 and it is a miracle too:-)

        The comment from Alonso got me thinking…and I only expressed my view (fully respecting the rules of the forum) that he is one lucky guy to be where he is and many things that we take for granted are a miracle:-)

      3. Martin says:

        Hi Alex,

        yes you are right. I am going to find it impossible to understand how my free will is controlled by god (especially as I’m an atheist). Even if I believed in the right one, I’d still struggle with the logical concept of free will and full devine control.

        I agree with the general sentiment of your last paragraph. Alonso is fortunate to have the right physical attribute including small stature to be a top level racing driver and to be able to access the right financial support. If it wasn’t him it would be someone else in his place we’d never know about him, just as we rarely consider those without the opportunity.

        This is largely irrelevant semantics for me, but your post did lead me to learn that devince interventions are also reqarded as miracles.

        Cheers,

        Martin

      4. Chromatic says:

        James, I don’t think people should be taken to task for stating any opinion or belief, religious or otherwise, if it does not break the rules of your forum.
        Criticism of any post should only be down to you or the moderator…

      5. James Allen says:

        Yes, you are right

      6. Martin says:

        Noting James reply to you, Chromatic, I’ll attempt to explain why I replied in the way I did to Alex.

        To suggest that everything is god’s will is fundamentally dangerous. People who believe that everything is predetermined are unlikely to properly assess risk, bringing unnecessary harm to themselves and others through his or her action, or inaction such as refusing medical treatment.

        I feel that Alex does believe in free will, which isn’t what he wrote. While it is reasonable for him to promote a view of devine predetermination, I also think it is morally responsible for me to point out to him, more subtly, that what he is saying is wrong. I could have been more confrontataion in my response and said that the logical extension of what he wrote would lead to people killing themselves, but it would be unlikely to get the response I got.

        I’ll also note that criticism of posts occurs in most that don’t just say +1

      7. AlexD says:

        “I am going to find it impossible to understand how my free will is controlled by god (especially as I’m an atheist).”

        Martin, I might not believe in the law of gravity, but sooner or later I will realize that it exists, regardless of my belief.

      8. James Allen says:

        …and that looks like a good note on which to close that thread..

  20. Arshadhusain - India says:

    The only advantage Alonso’s had majority of the season “Mental strength”

    He is mentally very strong..starting every race knowing the car is slow and still being consistent displays his mental coolness..

    1. Brad says:

      Just imagine if he does’nt win the championship this year how it’s going to “break” him…

      1. arshadhusain says:

        completely agree bro

  21. Brendan says:

    There’s time for plenty of twists and turns yet. A lot can happen in five races. However, based on Suzuka, Red Bull seem to have found their mojo at just the right time. Ferrari seem to be going backwards and the in-fighting at McLaren is self-defeating. Kimi has done very well to get where he is in the WDC, but Renault have a lot of ground to cover if they want to get to the front.

    Sad to say, but if Red Bull can give Vettel a front row grid slot for the remaining races, we’ll have a new triple-champ.

  22. jj says:

    Seems the firm talk by Ferrari boss helped and Alonso changed his tune from ‘this car sucks, it is my amazing self that does it’ to ‘great work on the car guys, you all rock’.

    Haha.

  23. Nil says:

    The paradox of a ‘Golden Age’ is that those living in it realize it post facto. There was the age of the Auto Union and Mercedes dominance, Fangio and Moss, Clark and Stewart, Lauda and Piquet, Senna and Prost and then Schumacher. Each era had its greats who defined their age. The age we’re in right now is different in one respect though: arguably no prior age has had so many great competetors with different characters racing together in very similar racecraft.

    Even if you think of drivers from less than a decade ago, you have a handful of geniuses like Schumacher, Alonso, Raikkonen and more recently Hamilton with some flashes of brilliance in Montoya and sometimes Massa. The gap in talent between the top and the second tier of drivers was huge in both talent and racecraft. That is very different from today. The top tier in Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel racing in the prime of their careers is exemplary. The second tier of Raikkonen, Webber, Button and to some extent Rosberg and Schumacher is also extremely close to the top. The new age of drivers has shown some flashes of brilliance in Perez, Hulkenberg, DiResta, Kobayashi and at times also Maldonado and Grosjean, though most of them are highly inconsistent. It may be argued that the secondary and tertiary tiers were always present through the ages. That might be true but there is a vital difference now: those in the secondary AND tertiary tiers also have cars which can fight at the front. The consistency of the tires, technical regulations and qualifying formats plus the extended points system is giving us such competition as was never seen before.

    Lets look at the drivers in the top tier:

    Alonso: Extremely consistent, intelligent and ruthless competitor who gets the maximum out of his machinery. He may not be the outright fastest driver but extracts the best results in the given situation.

    Vettel: Very intelligent, meticulous in detail of learning the track characteristics and fastest if the car is right. It might be argued that he has had the fastest though not the most reliable car in the past four years. But even with the fastest car, you need an extremely fast driver with a very level head on strong shoulders to string through a whole season of success which Vettel displays amazingly at his young age.

    Hamilton: Arguably the fastest driver on the grid right now and given the right machinery and mental focus on race weekend, he is extremely hard to beat. The latter point is what has perhaps led to where he is and not where Vettel is, but this is a personal opinion.

    It is understandable that everyone wants their team and driver to win. But sometimes the discussion and comments on this site don’t fit the content it offers. Is it really that hard to take an objective and sporting view when another driver wins and disparage a spectacular achievement by reducing it to a play of fate, blaming, name calling, bad ruling or citing unevenly matched racecraft? How will you remember this Golden Age, as a fanatical fan or as a lover of the sport?

    1. Martin says:

      I think there are quite a few people who recognise this as a golden age. They tend to be people who regard Vettel as a high quality driver, rather than a lucky one. For them you have the three big stars and then the other three world champions. To that I’d add that the refueling era and the tightness of the rules have driven the refinement of driving capabilities to new levels.

      The Hamilton: arguably the fastest driver bit is an interesting one. I believe Hamilton himself puts great importance in believing it to be true. He believes he is the last of the late brakers, which isn’t necessarily the best way with aerodynamically pitch sensitive cars. Quite a few of his early pole positions don’t look quite so good after fuel adjustment. Also in lower classes his racing form was more impressive than qualifying. There isn’t a lot in it, but I’d take Vettel for one lap pace.

      Cheers,

      Martin

      1. Wayne says:

        Over a season, Vettel may average out on top in qualy (in my opinion) but I reckon that Hamilton has it in him to be faster at his very best than Vettel at his very best over a single lap – not that this is especially useful or relevant.

        Sad thing is we will never know.

      2. Martin says:

        Hi Wayne.

        I’ll have a go at putting some thoughts on this together. Í guess you’d have to reply my earlier comment if any of it interests you, or it doesn’t make sense to you.

        If we look at Q1, Hamilton is a driver who can usually go out and on his first flying lap do a time to get into Q2. Tyre warm up at some circuits prevents this, but he is generally the most likely to do this of anyone in the field. Vettel is generally rather better at this than Webber.

        This first up, unknown track conditions, speed that Hamilton has, and Montoya was renowned for, tends to come from a mixture feel for the grip levels. Fast reactions for high speed corners are helpful to if you overstep the mark.

        In Hamilton’s case, one of the things that he was known for in GP2 and F3 was his feel under braking. Being able to come off the brakes at the right rate as the weight transfer shifts and the aerodynamic load reduces is one of the most important areas to find speed in cars with lots of grip as throttle control is much less of a differentiator.

        All of the above is great for race pace. In Q1 and Q2 the drivers leave tiny margins to ensure they get through if the car is good enough. If the car is really good, engine modes are reduced too.

        In Q3 we have drivers closer to the theoretical maximum of the cars. Ignoring weight, for a given corner, Hamilton or Vettel’s maximum possible speed through a given corner is no different from ours. There is one one theoretically perfect line and the tyres can only generate so much grip with the downforce available.

        Therefore Q3 is a visualisation or planning and then execution exercise. Brake at the right point, follow the right line, peform all inputs in the right way. The track conditions are basically known. Feel is only really relevant on what you felt before, but it is more a case on anticipating the track conditions, as being last across the line is usually an advantage.

        So at this point, it is question of who is best able to estimate the grip levels and drive accurately and precisely to that that estimate without getting it wrong. That driver could say “I am the fastest”.

        There is one further factor to complicate it and that is the tyres. Knowing how to bring them up to the optimum temperature so that they aren’t slow at the start or giving up at the end is another key to modern F1 qualifying at many tracks.

        To me, what I perceive to be Hamilton’s great feel makes him great in races, with the exception of the few where he gets his tyre management more significantly wrong than most (Valencia in the last two years for example). In terms of accuracy and precision, Hamilton has more of a reputation form brushing walls than other drivers (Monaco, Singapore). With Vettel we see the occasional oversteeing slide (it didn’t matter at Monza last year).

        Finally, it might be my personal filter, but with Vettel, every so often he produces laps where no understands where the time came from. I don’t recall the same feeling with Hamilton. Sort of fast but believeable. It could be qualifying strategies, such as engine useage or Button blaiming set up more and Webber just looking sour.

        Cheers,

        Martin

    2. Gunner says:

      Excellent post, Nil.

  24. ed24f1 says:

    ‘Since Monza, Singapore aside’ – that’s only Suzuka!

  25. Scott says:

    The Ferrari has been pretty competitive in most of the races this year. I know it has not been a great qualifier, but in race trim, it has been quick. (Certainly better than 5 fastest car as I have heard claimed repeatedly).

    I find it interesting that everyone keeps saying that Vettel has had the best car. I think the best car has been the Maclaren. (on the balance of things) Although to be fair, it has changed around from race to race this year. Probably why it has been such a great year :)

  26. Kimi4WDC says:

    Ferrari are very boring. They had two or three races where they were on the ball. But other than that it is a divine miracle they were leading the Championship the way they did.

    I can’t say it’s sad if they not going to win this year. They have no one else to blame but them self. Obviously “Schumacher Ferrari” does not work with out Schumacher being there. Alonso is just not clinical enough and more importantly he seems to fail to transfer that attribute to the team. He does bring other qualities that are main reason why they got off so easy this year with regards to points.

    Personally I’m not sure how Ferrari fans put up with this after all the Championships in 2007-2008, why go back, unless it’s all about money of course.

    ps. 2009 Both Ferrari and McLaren failed to deliver, so I don’t think it would be fair to put the blame on drivers, especially with all the politics in Ferrari during that year.

  27. Elie says:

    ” the car’s competitiveness hasn’t actually been as bad as some have suggested” – this is what Ive been saying all season. Sure it ain’t the best but its always been thereabouts.

    It’s amusing that he’s in the lead and so many people are writing him off- because he & Ferrari come out so negative when they have a bad weekend . They certainly know how to play people. Reality is they are still in the best position and the remaining tracks are not like Suzuka. Most if them including Korea should be ok for the f2012.

    1. Chromatic says:

      well, they’ve met their match in the form of Seb, who can play all the same politico-PR games just as well. As triple Champ, he will really relish being the No 1 spokesman for all things formula one.

    2. F1fan4life says:

      It’s ridiculous how you try and slam Ferrari at any chance yuo get. The car has always been thereabouts you say… did you watch the first few races? Ferrari have set off each of the last 3 years with the target to win the world title. Only one of the last 3 years has seen them have a car capable of winning races. That was 2010, with arguably the 3rd fastest car. By every measurement they have failed to meet their targets. You expect them to post happy feelings so a slanted non-fan like yourself can try looking for other excuses to moan?

      1. Elie says:

        I watched the last 30 seasons not just the first few races. I understand the politics of the sport. Thing is I also watched RBR who I don’t even like and yet in the same time when they were struggling ;- whilst they did not hide the fact they also just went on about their business and made amends. Your right about them not meeting there expectations. But you don’t even hear Williams going on about not meeting expectations and yet they have won a race with not the fastest car and not the fastest driver or even the Silver Arrows.. I still don’t see them sulking like The people seeing Red- biggest pack of whingers on the planet!.

  28. James Clayton says:

    So, with 6 races to go and a 29 point lead, it will be a miracle if Ferrari win the championship? Yet one race later, and with just a 4 point lead, the championship is entirely possible?

    Mr consistent :)

  29. McHarg123 says:

    Kimi is still in with a shot.
    Hopefully if these upgrades on the Lotus work then it could boil down to a tree way fight. He’s done it before with Ferrari in 2007.
    If he’s going to do it though it needs to do it this weekend.

    1. Mac says:

      I agree. Kimi is still in fight. IMO Alonso is overrated driver, he isn’t so ultimate driver like Alonso fans seems to believe (and also media). That was proven when he was Hamilton’s teammate and both had equal opportunity to drive for WDC, Hamilton beat Alonso 100 – 0 as a rookie driver. Ferrari isn’t so poor car as some people seem to think and that Alonso’s brilliant driving is the only reason why he still has opportunity to be WDC. Bull**it. I have to add that, it’s very annoying when Alonso wins it’s always because he is so excellent driver and when he is not winning it’s because car is so bad, never ever it is Alonso’s fault (or the crashes like in Suzuka, always blame the other). That’s why I like Kimi, he is so straight forward and never blames other. Maybe that is one reason he got sacked from Ferrari?

      I also think Massa is very fast driver too, but IMO Alonso has some kind of contract with Ferrari that not allows Massa get same opportunity to be WDC. It is totally understandable, because it’s bad publicity for Ferrari (and Luca for hiring him) and bad for Ferrari’s sponsors like Santander if Massa would beat Alonso. But I have to say also that Alonso is a brilliant driver, nobody wins WDC just being lucky.

      It’s interesting to see who will be the next WDC, whoever it will be, deserve it, because He and his team have done better work than rest of the drivers and teams. I believe it will be Vettel, but we have to wait couple more races to see that, anything can happen. Maybe it’s Kimi or Hamilton?

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        So Alonso is a “brilliant”,”over-rated” driver???

      2. McHarg123 says:

        Kimi’s attitude to me is first class. He plays it straight and no bull. Absolute number 1 for me. 5 races to go and 25 points for each. Very much in the hunt

  30. leukocyte says:

    Well this is certainly one of the more feisty and varied discussions ever hosted on this venerable website!

    Is the moderator back from tea break yet? :)

    1. Peter C says:

      First class.

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