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Consistency no longer enough for Ferrari – they need speed
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Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Oct 2012   |  8:44 am GMT  |  175 comments

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso saw his championship lead cut from 29 points to just four points on Sunday and for the second time in three seasons is confronted with the prospect of losing a title he had in his grasp.

And the signs are that, with Red Bull on the up, with technical development hitting its peak and more to come in Korea, Ferrari has to find a way to win at least another race this season or the title will be gone. It is going to be very hard as the Red Bull is now approaching the level of superiority it enjoyed last season.

Vettel set the fastest lap on the penultimate lap on Sunday, a second faster than the opposition, leaving a psychological message to them that he had been cruising all afternoon and that Red Bull had something in hand.

Consistency is what has got Alonso to where he is, not raw pace, but now it is a battle of raw pace. The contenders have thinned out and its Alonso versus Vettel for the title, Red Bull riding a wave of confidence, Ferrari’s Pat Fry rushing back to Maranello for a 24 hour mission to encourage, cajole and push his back room team to find an extra few tenths in qualifying.

Alonso spoke on Sunday of driving essentially the same car for the last six or seven races; new parts have come but in many cases they have not worked. Ferrari has already announced that it is going to shut down its newly enlarged wind tunnel for correlation checks, indicating that all is not well.

Nevertheless, although it was a second slower than the Red Bull in Japan, on race day the Ferrari was the second fastest car, with Massa able to outpace the McLarens of Button and Hamilton. The main problem is qualifying, that’s where others have made bigger gains and where Ferrari risks losing out, as the pattern of this season is that the front row is the place to start if you want to win races.

Nine of the 15 races this year have been won from pole position and all of them, bar Singapore, since Germany in July. Of the rest, three have been won from second on the grid and one from third – so just two races have been won from further back, by guess who? They were Alonso’s wins in the chaotic races of Malaysia and Valencia.

Alonso’s retirement at the first corner of the race on Sunday, was down to him not finding the trouble-free way around a first corner which is just 9 metres wide with cars either side of him. Most of the modern tracks are twice as wide as that, so Suzuka is known to be a Bermuda Triangle at the start for the unlucky or unwary. In Spa he was a victim of Grosjean’s flying Lotus.

Vettel has also had two retirements due to alternator failures, which will remain a niggling doubt until the end of the season, even if there is confidence at Renault that the problem is solved.

Before Japan Ferrari could count on Alonso scoring podiums and Vettel and the McLarens taking wins off each other to the end of the season. Now they need a silver bullet of raw pace – and fast,

“From here on we have to win at least one more race, or the championship is gone,”said team boss Stefano Domenicali on Sunday. “Now consistency isn’t enough, the situation is very different, we have to finish ahead of Vettel one way or another.

“The key point is to understand why we are struggling so much in qualifying because the difference between that and the race pace is marked. We have to solve this not just for the remaining five races but for 2013 too, otherwise we’ll find ourselves following again.”

From Alonso’s point of view, he has to shoulder some responsibility for Sunday’s retirement, in an other wise blame free season. If Vettel is indeed headed to Ferrari from 2014, as some commentators in Italy still insist, then the plan surely was for Alonso to clinch the all important third world title before then, ideally this year.

Next year now looks quite different with Hamilton at Mercedes, which is unlikely to challenge for the title in year one from the base they are starting from. McLaren will be led by Button with Perez alongside and being consistent will be a challenge for them.

So the likelihood is that 2013 will also be Alonso vs Vettel – the Spaniard looking for that third title which equals his hero Senna and Vettel looking at possibly challenging for his fourth in a row….

..Unless Ferrari gives Alonso some speed in the next eight weeks.

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175 Comments
  1. B Grylls says:

    Both the F150 and the F2012 have been weak in comparison with the competition. As for Mercedes, these are symptoms of some underlying problem and it’s not cash…

    Could the answer lie in organization?

    BG

    1. Wayne says:

      If it does lie in Organisation – they have done everything they can to solve that for next year as far as I can tell. I expect to see two race wins and a few podiums from Merc next year – I don’t think this is too much to ask for with their backing, investment in personnel and driver line up. I hope that if Merc even have a sniff if the title they back whichever driver is leading the way at half season – and, even though I am a Hamilton fan, you won’t find me complaining if it’s Nico. Whoever gets the early lead will have earnt the shot at the title.

      The idea of Vettel winning four titles in a row is depressing when Aonso and Hamilton are at least as good.

      I cannot see who Vettel moving to Ferrari benefits (other than giving someone else a go in that bloody supercar). Ferrari will dilute their title chances (although I suspect Vettel is an investment for when ALonso retires and Ferrari want him signed up early). Vettel will be leaving a dominant (over the bgalance of the last four years) car – much more so than the McLaren that Hamilton is leaving.

      Signs this week that Hamilton is not as grown up as I had hoped – over the bloody stupid Twitter thing. Seriosuly, Lewis, when will you learn? Button came off again lkooking super cool and mature and you…well….didn’t. Still, he is better than ever in the car and that’s what counts right? Let’s hope he maintains his focus into next year and is not unsettled by having more commercial freedom with Merc. F1 needs an on song Lewis Hamilton.

      1. Miha Bevc says:

        Was there another Twitter affair I don’t know about?

      2. AndyK says:

        He pretty much slated JB for unfollowing him on twitter since his departure from Mclaren was announced, then was forced to apologise upon discovering that Jenson had in fact never followed him to begin with

      3. abashrawi says:

        Hamilton talking about Button and his attitude towards him.

      4. Steve says:

        Hamilton had a go at Jensen for “unfollowing” him on Twitter. As it turned out Jensen has never followed Hamilton on twitter, nor has Hamilton ever followed him. All of this was aired publicly, via twitter, hilarity ensued.

      5. Charles says:

        Well if Vettel joins Ferrari it will be to join history… as the iconic italian marque is the ultimate destination of any F1 champion. Just as Alonso did, Ferrari is Ferrari (maybe they are not winning races nowadays but the beautiful cars they have in store…wow)

      6. Kimi4WDC says:

        Vettel will join if Alonso fails to deliver the title by 2014 – yes, I know it sounds weird (Alonso fails to deliver, while car not good enough), but that is how it is from Ferrari’s stand point.

      7. Peter C says:

        The Ashley Cole of F1.

    2. Optimaximal says:

      It’s like they need to 100% scrap development and build a car from the floor up to remove any of the old Brawn/Honda DNA that remains, something that’s probably not financially & technically possible before 2014, when all the changes are enforced anyway.

    3. Pete says:

      as for Mercedes: no, it’s not cash; Lauda already visited the facilities and said that everything seemed to be in place, so it was either the structure of the operation or the people

      he called Mercedes’ qualifying performance “catastrophic”

      German-SKY commentator Danner now says that the people who built this Mercedes should all get the sack

      Sauber could still overtake them in the Team ranking and at Suzuka Schumi was stuck behind a Toro Rosso and could not overtake him because the Merc did not have the speed

      @James

      how much time do you think Lauda will give the current Mercedes team before heads are going to roll ?

      and any word on Hamilton complaining about Button on twitter ?

      Hamilton also chose the wrong set-up for Suzuka, as he admitted himself, which is why Button outperformed him

      do you REALLY believe Hamilton is the X-factor Mercedes were missing to reach the next level ?

      as for Alonso: of course Vettel is now the favourite to win the title; BUT irrespective of the Red Bull speed, what are the odds the car is not going to break down ONE more time ? whoever has to retire again, Vettel or Alonso, for whatever reason, will probably lose the title; and Vettel pushing for FASTEST laps towards the end of his races could indeed end up in disaster ; Horner was certainly NOT amused after the race

      1. Adam says:

        If Lauda could run an F1 team he would be at Red Bull and it would still be called Jaguar. He cant, he only upsets people, so one has to assume the board at Mercedes really wants out and Lauda is the tool to achieve that! I am sure Lauda assumes he brings something to the table, history suggests different. Laudas comments are fun to print, but poor incentive to motivate a team!

        As for Danner sacking the team who developed the car, where are you getting a whole new team from? Again fun headlines, poor policy!

      2. Pete says:

        Danner and all the Mercedes fans are just massively disappointed, that’s all

        Haug points out though that they are on target; apparently Red Bull needed 5 years to be competitive; Mercedes figure they have two more years and WILL reach their goal of contending by then

        Red Bull’s Marko now confirms that Lauda is already getting busy: he asked them when Adrian Newey’s contract was running out ; apparently MANY Red Bull employees have already been contacted by MErcedes; Marko also says that Mercedes wanted to get Vettel in the past

        http://www.sport1.de/de/formel1/formel1_teams/newspage_623270.html

        who knows, if they top Newey’s already massive salary , the new challenge of writing history with the Silver Arrows could be very tempting for Newey in 2014

        although, some of those many technical chiefs would almost certainly have to go

      3. olivier says:

        Lauda* + Hamilton + the Dream Team of Engineers = clash of Egos, fed by Mercedes money.

        I can’t see Hamilton leading the Mercedes team. His tweets about Button are worrisome … Not at all the mindset of someone who is challenging for both the Constructor’s and the Driver’s Championship. He’d better change his attitude and make the most of this year. It might be a long time before he will find himself in such a privileged position …

        (*) Wasn’t Lauda involved in the troubled Jaguar team as well?

      4. hero_was_senna says:

        Yes and was special advisor to Ferrari before LdM saw sense and brought in Todt..

  2. AlexD says:

    Spot on article, James, very accurate and deep insights, good understanding.

    This is really the highlight:
    “So the likelihood is that 2013 will also be Alonso vs Vettel – the Spaniard looking for that third title which equals his hero Senna and Vettel looking at possibly challenging for his fourth in a row….

    ..Unless Ferrari gives Alonso some speed in the next eight weeks.”

    I really hope it will be Alonso with 3 titles this year. Really-really hope so.

    1. Wayne says:

      I really hope so too. I have so much more time for Alonso than I did four years ago. Now I look back I can totally understand his frustration with McLaren.

      I’ve hammered Whitmarsh in these comments over the last few months but hearing Lewis’ latest interview on the BBC he seems totally genuine in his admiration for Whitmarsh and I don’t think he’s a great liar.

      Any insights into just how Lewis’ relationship with McLaren will be left James? It might make a nice piece to review Lewis’ time with Mclaren and comment on how the relationship came to an end and how it has been left….

      1. W Johnson says:

        Alonso’s frustration at McLaren came from an assumed expectation that he would be given no #1 driver priviledge within the team.

        As we saw at Suzuka with the bizarre comments Alonso made about Massa’s podium finish being lucky, he cracks when under pressure as he did when at McLaren.

      2. nino says:

        It was clear that saying Massa was lucky, he was referring that with that Ferrari, he needed quite a few favorable circumstances to finish that high. which was indeed true.
        he also elaborated on which elements were favorable.
        it was not a dig at Massa.

      3. Matt says:

        Alonso cracks when under pressure? lol.

      4. Elie says:

        Yep ! The real Fernando Alonso stepped forward at Suzuka

      5. hero_was_senna says:

        To all who believe Alonso cracks under pressure, you have all obviously forgotten that he won his WDC under the most incredible pressure.
        Racing a faster Mclaren in 2005 which he couldn’t compete against, and then against MSC in a faster Ferrari after Ferrari and The FIA had banned the mass damper Renault had been using for 18 months legally…

        On different occasions, he won the 2005 San Marino GP, driving a much slower Renault against MSC’s Ferrari. (If you’re in the Uk, this is the infamous race where ITV went to adverts during thelast lap!!)

        Mclaren wasn’t pressure of the racing kind, it was nepotism at it’s worse.
        You want an example of someone who cracks under pressure, let me put forward MSC.
        1994 Australian GP
        1997 Jerez GP
        1998 Japanese GP
        1999 British GP
        2003 Japanese GP
        2006 Monaco GP

        From 2000 onwards he done everything in his power to win before the last race of the season.

    2. KAlan says:

      James, i obviously know very little compared to you but a few things baffle me.
      We heard this talk after Bahrain, after Valencia, after Singapore and now after Japan; that Red Bull is the class of the field and 1 second a lap faster, Newey had found the silver bullet etc etc.

      It’s quite clear that this year the championship has been influenced more by Pirelli tyres than anything else. Red Bull likes hot conditions, hence the win in Bahrain and the one that got away at Valencia.

      In Singapore, was it not Hamilton who was cruising to victory before Vettel inherited the lead? That on the back of 4 straight Mclaren poles and having won at Hungaroring, Spa, Monza and on course to winning at Singapore.

      I believe Suzuka was a one off, something of a Vettel specialty. He has always gone well at this track and for some reason Mclaren never got to grips with the circuit which made me think of something i found rather interesting.

      Suzuka to me is the closest thing that you have to Silverstone. Mclaren struggled at Silverstone, and the pace shown by Massa at Suzuka was very impressive. If we forget all the talk about how Ferrari have nothing to do except sabotage Massa, then the past 2 odd years have shown Alonso to be around 3/10ths quicker than Massa over a lap. Going by that, and if he had qualified in what would have been a normal grid slot, around p4 or maybe P3 for a change, he would have chased Vettel quite well. He would not have won the race but the margin would not have been 19 seconds or whatever it was. Massa, as much as he pushed and would have pushed more under different circumstances, was/is driving for his career and could not afford to make even a small mistake.

      I feel the Mclaren will be back on it starting from the next race. The long straights might help Red Bull in qualifying but their double DRS is not going to help in the race.

      The last factor, which could throw a spanner in the works is a wet race. Alonso will make his Ferrari dance on a damp track as we have seen in the two wet qualifying sessions this year and the one dry/wet/dry race.

      For me it’s only fair that in a year where we have had such close competition, that the best driver on the grid should win the WDC, Fernando Alonso.

      Lastly, i think no matter what happens, as long as Alonso does not make a glaring mistake in the last 5 races, I and many like me will remember this year for what he did in that Ferrari.

      Would appreciate if you’d take the time to read and perhaps comment.

      1. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

        Good synopsis.

      2. Martin says:

        I think you’re pretty close in what you are saying. I feel the hot track part is probably irrelevant at this point in the season as the teams understand the 2012 much better than they did in fourth race.

        There are two parts to car performance. Aerodynamic development and race engineering. The Melbourne spec McLaren had the most downforce, and possibly still does, but at times during the year the aero development combined with the race engineering has not worked. Silverstone was a particularly bad case, and I believe on a dry race track the McLaren would not have been slower than the Williams.

        I don’t think your view on Suzuka and McLaren is accurate. It is a track where lap time is very downforce sensitive, like Barcelona. Last year McLaren would have been on pole but for Lewis missing his final run. Lewis would have won if not for a puncture and then Button did. When you consider the Red Bull DRS effect, revised parts giving more downforce and Vettel putting a high quality lap together, Button was only 0.5 behind. Historically, Brazil to me is a worse track since 2007 – against comparable cars, e.g. Ferrari, the McLarens tended to be worse there. I think the bumps may be part of it.

        Button’s race pace was probably compromised a bit by trying to beat a Sauber, so it probably looked a bit worse than it did. Hamilton had something wrong with his car that cured itself after 24 laps – he said he felt a jolt in the rear and the understeer disappeared.

        As to how all this translates to other tracks. I think for qualifying McLaren and Ferrari may need a Red Bull-style secondary DRS system and more downforce to fight for pole. The race involves tyre management and more downforce brings increased load on the tyres and therefore increased thermal degradation, so there is a levelling effect.

        I agree that Alonso has had a remarkable season, but Vettel and Hamilton have both done excellent jobs in faster cars too.

        Cheers,
        Martin

  3. Joshua says:

    I don’t like to say it i don’t think Alonso will finish 2nd in the Championship this year unless they find some qualifying pace. Kimi and Hamilton can still out score him and it could be a disappointing end to what has been Alonso’s greatest season from a driving point of view.

    He really deserves the title this year and I hope Ferrari can find some speed and fast!

    1. Kimi4WDC says:

      I too think he will finish lower than 2nd. But I don’t think he deserves a 3rd Championship due to his drive this season. Personally I think he should send a “Thank you” card to Montoya for being a double champ.

      He definitely should put more pressure on Ferrari as they failing to deliver a car, which we know they can judging by the first stint of development this season. Unless they are 100% behind Alonso for 2014, we might witness a 2008-2009 repeat with Kimi.

      1. DanWilliams from Aust says:

        I don’t understand… Montoya double champ? witness a 2008-2009 repeat with Kimi?

      2. hero_was_senna says:

        Kimi lost interest throughout 08 and 09.

        One of the reasons I hated him being signed to Ferrari was the fact that for all his qualities, he is not a leader of a team.

        Ferrari was dominated by Enzo Ferrari understandably, but Niki Lauda and LdM in the mid 70′s harnessed what Ferrari was all about.

        LdM realised in the early 90′s that Ferrari need someone who leads the team and doesn’t care who they upset.
        Schumacher, Todt and Brawn epitomized this perfectly. As will Alonso.

        Kimi is a different animal. Forgetting the corporate obligations, he just wants a car to drive fast. That’s it. Great if you are driving a fast car, but absolutely useless if the team need direction.

  4. Anil says:

    Alonso has undoubtedly been the better of the two drivers this season; his performances since Australia have been simply amazing at times and very consistent. I can’t help but feel Vettel should’ve taken more points earlier in the year but since Spa he’s had the car and a bit of luck with alonso’s retirements and now he’s most likely about to clinch the title.

    James, what do you think is Ferrari’s problem in qualifying? Ineffective DRS? Poor heat generation into tyres?

    1. James Allen says:

      Aero, DDRS effect not available, traction out of slow corners.

      All of these are at a premium in Korea, where I think Vettel will walk it.

      1. CarlH says:

        Any hope of torrential rain doing Alonso a favour, a la 2010?

      2. Rufus Matthews says:

        At Korea 2010 its true that there was torrential rain. However, what you forget is that Vettel was leading in the rain before his car broke down.

      3. CarlH says:

        @Rufus

        Sorry, I didn’t make my point clearly. What I meant to ask was if there was any heavy rain on the way (like 2010) which may help him this time around, not that it helped him in 2010.

      4. Anil says:

        Yeah I have a feeling that Korea and Abu Dhabi are wins in the bag for Seb.

        The title is definitely his barring a alternator issue or a blown issue. Only India and maybe Brazil are tracks I think Alonso might be able to win at. I’ve got a huge amount of respect for Seb but can’t help but feel frustrated that Alonso could go another season without a title.

      5. Dave C says:

        Well James I think you’re being hasty in that prediction, Korea is more of a power circuit like Spa compared to Suzuka, also I dont think Mclaren will be as bad as they were at Suzuka either, yes Vettel is on top form now and like this with a competitive car he is untouchable but Alonso and Hamilton wont let him walk it in Korea, but what i cant wait for is when Vettel joins Alonso at Ferrari and that titanic scrap is what F1 is all about

      6. Optimaximal says:

        Assuming his engine doesn’t give on the long straight..?

      7. Ryan Eckford says:

        I wouldn’t rule out McLaren and Lewis just yet.

  5. Raikko says:

    I find it interesting when it comes to the retirement: who decides which incidents merit investigation? The stewards were very quick to jump on Grosjean but seemed indifferent when Alonso had an accident. For the record I think it was a racing incident, but surely they would need to ‘investigate’ it first before deciding either way? In recent years the over use of penalties really has stifled the racing, since many racing accidents have ended with drive-throughs. What’s their interpretation of ‘avoidable’ anyway? ‘You should not have tried to overtake massa, hamilton!’

  6. Jason Jackson says:

    Just a hypothetical thought: Let’s say Vettel wins this yr & Ferrari pip RB next yr. 2014 arrives, Ferrari is hailing it’s 2 triple world champs who are to race each other to that illustrious 4th title first……Maybe, just maybe this is when Lewis’ decision pays off big time. For once, he’ll have the whole of a factory team backing his push for dominance while the red cars so famous for their tram orders shoot each other in the foot! Just a thought ;-)

    1. . says:

      Lol, I will have some of that coffee you had.

      Hamilton joining Mercedes is one of the dumbest moves an F1 driver ever made.

  7. Tim says:

    Very well written, James. BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson wrote a piece about the RedBull front wing & DDRS wing. There was a poem about 2 famous pitchers for the Boston Braves. Teams needed 4 good starting pitchers but the Braves had just 2, Warren Spahn & Johnny Sain.

    First we’ll use Spahn
    then we’ll use Sain
    Then an off day
    followed by rain
    Back will come Spahn
    followed by Sain
    And followed
    we hope
    by two days of rain.

    Ferrari and Alonso could be praying for some inclement weather over these next 2 months.

    Tim

  8. CarlH says:

    Unfortunately I can’t see anybody but Vettel winning it now and I think he’ll probably have it wrapped up before Brazil. It’s sad because there is no doubt Alonso deserves this Championship, although Ferrari probably don’t.

    James, are we to read from the article that you don’t think McLaren can challenge for the Championship next year? If so I’m inclined to agree as they are probably going to struggle in qualifying. If Ferrari can’t start quickly and match Red Bull in the first half of the season I can see 2013 being a repeat of 2011.

    1. James Allen says:

      I’m not saying that. I’m saying that both drivers have shown in their history that, although Button is a proven winner and Perez looks exciting, they find it tough to be consistently at the top for a whole season – especially in qualifying.

      So my sense is that McLaren will need a car advantage next year to win the championship, it’s more likely that Alonso will fight Vettel again.

      With rules not changing and Pirelli still providing the tyres, I think the racing will be like what we are seeing now.

      1. Grabyrdy says:

        But is the problem of inconsistency at McL the drivers or the team ? From the outside one really gets the impression that they’ve not been on top of the car for much of the season, which is surprising for a team like that. How can it be ?

        Equally Ferrari : we were told that Pat Fry had fixed the wind-tunnel correlation problems ages ago and here they are again. It’s all very puzzling when the “privateer” (if rich) Red Bull is doing so much better than the “manufacturers”. And don’t even menton Mercedes.

        What’s going on ?

      2. zombie says:

        Goes to show what Ferrari was up against during the Schumacher years. Mclaren had the Illmor-Mercedes power, Neweys’s engineering team, Mclaren’s experience and funds and Mika Hakkinen/Kimi’s speed. Yet Ferrari and Schumacher scored 11 back to back titles right under Mclaren’s rug!

      3. Warren Groenewald says:

        @ zombie – you make a good point but you’ve left out that Ferrari engines have never been weak, especially the V10′s, they had Byrne’s engineering team, Brawn’s tactical genius (which we don’t see much of anymore sadly) and Todt’s exceptional team management PLUS Marlboro funds.

        It was more like Goliath vs Goliath with David in the grandstands.

      4. Dave C says:

        You’re right James on Vettel fighting Alonso again for the title next season, then it’ll set it up nicely for 2014 when Vettel joins Ferrari, watching the 2 best drivers in the world fighting it out in a Ferrari will only be a good thing for F1, just hope they’ll both be on 3 world titles by then and both have over 30 wins, cant wait.

      5. Darren says:

        Exactly. McLaren will miss Hamilton. Perez can’t be expected to perform at Hamilton’s level in his first season at Mac.

        As for Korea, McLaren got it wrong in Suzuka nd they’ll be better able to challenge Red Bull at Korea if they get the set up right. We might see McLaren taking points away from Alonso with Vettel in the lead.

      6. Wayne says:

        RBR seem to explode whenever their is a revolution in the rules – Newey is great at pushing the boundaries of the rules and sometimes outright breaking them in my opinion.

        McLaren are great at remaining competitive once they get into a pattern over a couple of years. It takes them a while to get to the top but once they are there they seem able to maintain their competitiveness.

        With this in mind I reckon that the RBR and McLaren will start relativly even next year. If this is the case they I’d put my money on RBR.

        Come 2014 I feel that McLAren will be left behind again as Ferrari and Mercedes rise to prominence due to engines and RBR will be right there because Newey will come up some magical way of channelling the pressure from the turbo through the drivers’ digestive system via the drinking straw which will be connected a strategically and intimately placed valve and hose system to the planes of the rear wing and can bhe activated by ‘internal clenching’. This will be found to not contravene the letter of the rules because the driver will claim to have no control over his internal systems and the whole set-up is, therefore, not driver activated.

      7. DJ says:

        Awesomeeeeee!!! hahahahah

      8. JohnBt says:

        Bernie’s fighting for the delay of the turbos for at least 3 to 5 years. Too costly is the reason. V8 will stay, fantastic. And they didn’t like the sound at all. Could Lewis have made the wrong move.

      9. Nathan says:

        What about webber James do you think he will ever seriously challenge Vettel for the title would like to hear your opinion

      10. Nathan says:

        I meant to say vettyl not betty

      11. Adam says:

        McLarens challenge depends on some factors you have not considered. The car being developed towards Button rather than the different styles of Hamilton and Button. Also if Perez can be consistant out of the box, then a constructors and drivers challenge is on the cards.

        James my question is the driving style of Perez closer to Button than Hamilton? If so then McLaren has an easier development programe and gains in free practice.

      12. ReviLO says:

        Frustrating…. Paddy Lowe has stated on a number of occasions the they aim for a neutrally balanced car. In addition how many times have the drivers themselves stared that there setup is similar. He’ll M Whitmarsh effectively said the at the weekend.

      13. AuraF1 says:

        They’re both easy on the tyres but I don’t think Perez has the smooth input style of button, he seems to really rag the sauber coming out of corners. But I guess he hasn’t been in a mclaren yet so his style may adjust to suit button who the car will be aimed at for 2013 at least.

        Button actually has a very odd style. It’s not typical of many F1 drivers. He really does barely any correctional inputs – he moves the wheel about 10 times less than most others. Clearly this does help with certain tyres but it’s not had much benefit on 2012 rubber…

    2. Craig D says:

      McLaren could certainly have a strong enough car to win the Championship next year (and hopefully the team won’t continue to make the operational mistakes) but if the field is fairly even, it is hard to see Button out racing Vettel or Alonso across a whole season. You can tend to count on Button winning 2 or 3 races a season but he needs to qualify on the front row consistently, which he can’t do.

      Perez could be a revelation and will likely win races but he’s still to develop I feel.

      However, I remember hearing some journalists thinking Button would have had a strong chance this year, considering how strong and consistent the second half of 2011 was for him. If he’d had that level of podium consistency this year, a la Alonso, he’d be have been right up there in the standings as well.

    3. Andrew says:

      I don’t think Alonso deserves it any more than Vettel or Hamilton deserve it, they have all had good seasons. The only reason that Alonso is even in the running is through the missfortune of his competitors.

      1. db4tim says:

        No because he has rung everything out of the car he can

      2. CarlH says:

        Vettel and Hamilton have undoubtedly had better cars than Alonso for the majority of the season, and yet they still trail him in the standings 75% of the way through. THAT is why Fernando deserves this.

        They have all had misfortune; Alonso hasn’t got past the first corner in two of the last four races. Not to mention the fact that he started the year with an absolutely useless car and yet still managed to win the 2nd race of the season.

      3. KRB says:

        Fact remains that both Vettel and Alonso have finished two more races than Hamilton. Hamilton hasn’t finished in consecutive races since Canada! Maldonado in EUR, puncture at GER, Grosjean in BEL, and gearbox in SIN.

        So they both owe Hammy at least another DNF each! :-)

        Fast Fact: Alonso and Hamilton are the only drivers to score points in every race they’ve finished (Schumacher amazingly only just dropped out of this club in Japan!).

      4. chaplinez says:

        Alonso has done the better job considering the fact that the car he is driving is slower than his competitors.

      5. Rockie says:

        Well said man its ridiculous to hear fans just follow what journalist or pundits say had Alonso done what Massa did at the weekend we wont have heard the last of it people saying oh its Alonso and not the car now Massa comes from the back and does same as Alonso so I find it odd the amount of praises being hauled towards him saying he deserves the title as far as am concerned only the person with the most points at the end of the season deserves the title.

      6. JR says:

        The difference being that Alonso has done it consistently over the entire season while massa has scored his first podium in 3 YEARS.
        Also, did you notice that Vettel won the race with a gap of more than 20 seconds over Massa and he still had to be told to slow down?, he was just cruising.

      7. CarlH says:

        Oh yeah yeah, it’s just people following journalists and pundits isn’t it? It has nothing to do with reasonable conclusions about an obviously talented athlete.

        In other news, Barcelona are a rubbish football team, Cheryl Cole isn’t that much of a looker and Usain Bolt is slower than Flavio Britore in the 100m sprint.

  9. Richie Hezz says:

    Hi James! Of the remaining circuits remaining in the championship countdown, is there any consensus on which circuits will suit which cars?

  10. Bryan says:

    As the article fully implies, this is now Vettel’s championship to lose. In fact, I believe Alonso should be considered a complete non-factor for the championship. As noted by Joshua, it will be hard for Alonso to even finish 2nd, based on the pace of the Ferrari. One could argue that this result will be representative though, with Ferrari never once having the fastest car throughout an entire weekend. Quite clearly, Alonso’s championship lead has been very misleading all along.

    For the time being, the pundits will write about the battle between Alonso and Vettel for the title. But, let’s be realistic: This is now a battle between Vettel and his nearest challenger – Hamilton. If McLaren can find their pre-Japan pace again, a 38 point deficit will be difficult, but not impossible to overcome.

    As an Alonso fan, I sincerely hope this will be the case. Much better to have Hamilton win a second title than Vettel a third.

    1. AlexD says:

      Alonso can still do it, anything can happen

  11. phil says:

    Re: Red Bulls car advantage would you not have said the same thing after Valencia, that they had reached last years level of superiority and will now dominate, that didn’t materialise then so there must be a chance the same is not sure now, and with Massa coming second surely things look better for Ferrari that things can turn round.

    It will be interesting to see if Alonso can manage the WDC this year, many had already made him champion elect and as you say he has already been in this position with Ferrari before, if he fails to become a 3 time winner (when he could have been going for his 4th) will his star fade somewhat or will the Alonso myth perpetuate.

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      I doubt him not winning the WDC will have any factor on his star’s brightness.
      The man is in the place he’s in because of his incredible ability. Something that has been more apparent this year than at any time.
      What will happen, if the title is lost, is Ferrari will take most of the blame.

  12. Vivek says:

    Hi James,

    Is it possible to throw some light on the engine situation with the leading title contenders?

    If there is a silver lining in Alonso’s retirements at Spa and Suzuka, it surely has to be the fact that since both were first corner retirements, no significant mileage were clocked on those engines. So he has engines that have done about 600 kms less than the competetion.

    With this season being the longest (20 races) and the engines restricted to 8 per driver, may be this will work to Alonso’s advantage in the last 2-3 races?

  13. Tom in adelaide says:

    It’s a real shame that Webber seems incapable of challenging Vettel. Very few people want to see the same WDC 3 times in a row, let alone 4.

  14. Craig D says:

    Things are definitely in Vettel’s favour but this season has had so many ups and downs that I wouldn’t expect further twists. Japan has always played to Red Bull’s and Vettel’s strengths so it’s unlikely he’ll be that dominant in the remaining races. Also, the Ferrari is still strong on race pace, so Alonso should still be able to compete at the sharp end, but whether he can out race Vettel is another question.

    I’d imagine there’ll still be more rain in some of the remaining races, so that could mix things up.

    If the form persists, Vettel could win it with two races to go, but form has never stayed consistent throughout this season, so I think there’s still some twists to be had.

    Having said all that, I still think Vettel will win it now (though Alonso has been the best driver). I just think it’s not so transparent as things suggest after Japan. After all, a couple of races ago, it looked liked Hamilton had the team had all the form and were going to come back.

    1. Craig D says:

      *would expect further twists!

  15. Koka says:

    James, do you think Vettel at Ferrari will be uncomfortable for Alonso? If VET arrives at Maranello as 4 times world champion it looks like ALO psychological confidence can disappear?

    1. James Allen says:

      I don’t get it at all – there’s plenty of evidence that you don’t get the best out of Alonso by matching him up with a team mate who can be quicker

      1. madmax says:

        What if Ferrari’s idea is to take their main competitor from the last few years out of an opposing car.

        Ferrari know they can’t beat the Vettel Newey combination but feel a lot better about beating a Newey and most other drivers combination.

        On Vettel’s side I am sure he is fed up of people saying Alonso is the better driver in the slower car, rather like Button wanted to prove himself against Hamilton.

      2. Rafa says:

        I think that is a quite sharp interpretation. Furthermore, I’d argue that Alonso probably feels more comfortable with vettel in his same car than in RBr. I think that contrary to what James says here it does make sense for Ferrari and to an extent for Alonso… I can’t figure what vettel sees in this move. Is it simply to prove that he can take on Alonso on equal machinery? As bold as that might seem, it could well backfire badly. By the way… James says that you don’t get the best of Alonso with a competitive teammate… I guess that twitter gate and several episodes in the mark and seb show prove the same of the other two alpha’s in the sport

    2. Rich C says:

      I think Vettel would be insane to do that unless Newey goes to Ferrari.

      If half the drivers on the grid would quit without notice just to drive the red sleds, then the *other half would probably do so just to drive a car by Adrian Newey!

  16. Ahmed says:

    James, Lotus will be bringing their new Coanda exhaust to Korea, do you think it will revitalize Kimi’s chances or is Red Bull untouchable now, like we saw in Suzuka?

    Ahmed

    1. Kimi4WDC says:

      Sadly, it seems like Lotuses Marketing budged at least equalling their development budget and what they say often does not translate into performance.

  17. Rich in Norway says:

    James! Whatwillkimidonext??

    1. Rich C says:

      My advisor, El Predicto the Psychic Armadillo, says thats all a PR laugh Kimi is having.

  18. Vivek says:

    Dear James,

    Do you have any idea on the engine situation of the drivers in title contention?

    This is the longest F1 season ever at 20 races, and the restriction remains at 8 engines per driver.

    Surely, the mileage saved by Alonso due to 2 first corner retirements (One of them at Spa which is an engine intensive race) may yet prove beneficial to him in the last couple of races.

    Vivek …

  19. IP says:

    I think Alonso is the class driver of this field and has been since 2006. He was really unlucky at mclaren in 2007, probably lost out there switching from michelin tyres, and he was let down by strategy in the last race in 2010. To be taken out twice this season thru no fault of his own and possibly lose the championship again will be a great injustice to his talent. I can only imagine how many titles he’d have now if he’d had the sort of car superiority seen by some of the more recent champions.

    1. Rockie says:

      This notion needs to be corrected Alonso was only back into the championship race in 2010 because of Vettel’s DNF in Korea.
      Also strategy or not he could not overtake the renault

      1. F1fan4life says:

        What a load of bull Rockie. You forget Alonso had his fair share of bad luck that year also. All I can say is Alonso has not had the fastest car in the last six years but he is always up there. In fact I don’t recall even one year when Vettel or Hamilton have had a slower car than him and outscored him.

      2. Rockie says:

        you call what I say bull so Vettel didn’t have his own share? its funny really whose business is it if Alonso brings a knife to a gun fight Vettel wasn’t using 2 engines to win at the time if I can remember well. Winning is king and the rest is about fan perception.

      3. F1fan4life says:

        You said it. If a man brings a knife to a gun fight its not a fair fight at all. Anyone with common sense can see that. I’m only talking about the best driver… not the best car.

      4. Bart says:

        I also don’t recall a completed season where Alonso has outscored Vettel in a slower car.

        All Rockie pointed out was that the notion that Alonso only lost the title in 2010 because of bad luck at Abu Dhabi is invalid because Vettel had his own share of bad luck, losing 25 points (and giving Alonso 7) in Korea. I would like to add car failures at Bahrain and Australia that cost SV a further 40 points.

        I do however think Alonso has been top quality as well.

      5. IP says:

        oh yeah… it’s not to take away from the other champions but given equal equipment i think it would be close at the top but alonso would come out as the best.

        in the end, it’s important that a driver/team like kimi doesn’t come on top having won nothing all year!! :-)

      6. hero_was_senna says:

        You also forget to mention, that Alonso left Britain 47points behind the championship leader.

        LH 145pts
        JB 133pts
        MW 128pts
        SV 121pts
        FA 98pts

        Yet after the Brazilian GP,
        FA 246,
        MW 238
        SV 231

        15 points behind, only a catastrophic misjudgement would win Vettel the WDC.

      7. KRB says:

        That 2010 Ferrari, from Valencia on, was a very good car, and probably the best Ferrari that Alonso has had. The Ferrari was the 2nd fastest car in the second half of the 2010 season, eclipsing the McLaren.

        He only had the one mechanical breakdown that year, at Malaysia. His DNF at Spa was down to him. Both Vettel and Hamilton had two mechanical failures that year. Yeah, the last race turned on a bad strategy call, but that didn’t tell the story of the season.

    2. KRB says:

      Alonso had a big car advantage (speed and reliability) with Renault in 2005 and 2006. Especially given the “no tire changes” rule in 2005, that benefitted the Michelin-clad Renault the most and hampered the Bridgestone-booted Ferrari.

      So he’s benefitted from having a class-above car before.

      1. DanielS says:

        Agreed he did – in fact I think Schumacher certainly deserved the 2006 title as he probably had the better of it out of the two of them when the cars were more even (i.e. after the first half dozen races or so).

        However – Alonso has spent the past 4 and 3/4 seasons dragging cars that range from total dogs to average, to results well above what the machinery deserves. He certainly would not have been an undeserving 2010 champion, and unless something significant happens he can certainly already be crowned the “moral champion” of 2012.

  20. David Smith says:

    James,

    Regardless of whether Alonso wins the WDC or not, it seems as though he has managed to maximise the potential of the car he has. I don’t know what extent it’s him, or him + Ferrari, but it seems that McLaren simply haven’t managed to do the same. Better car – underperformed. And my question is this. Why? I’d love to read your thoughts on why some teams seem able to maximise whatever they have got for the season, and others don’t. I’m tempted to suggest that RBR and Ferrari both have the approach that one driver gets the majority of the resource, the other gets what’s needed to support the first; that’s actually a more complex set of calculations than one might think at first. I’m thinking mostly about the method of calculating the optimum points haul for a race and a season. We know teams simulate the cars. Do they do the same for the drivers?

  21. Chris says:

    I would say Vettel will surely win this year title.
    Sad but its a truth that, in F1 whoever has the best car will win the title unless miracle happens.

    If Vettel qualify pole for the remaining races, he will lead the race from start till end. That’s just plain boring.

    1. Bring Back Murray says:

      But has Vettel had the best car up until the last couple of races? The McClaren has generally been the best car, hasn’t it over the course of the season, but the driver(s) / team (delete as appropriate) have, in technical terms, been screwing it up all far too often

      1. KRB says:

        The McLaren hasn’t been the best car this season.

        The RB8 was still the best overall car this season up to the Japanese GP. They’ve always had good race pace. They’ve never really struggled for race pace in any race, like the McLaren has (Bahrain, Britain). Their worst race race-pase wise was Monza, and Vettel was on course to finish 6th there.

        If you go by best-car-finish (i.e. take the best finish for each team at each race), or by how many GP weekends RBR has won on points, it’s clear the RB8 has been the best car this year.

    2. . says:

      Fangio won almost all his races and championships the way Vettel is now.

      Difference was that Fangio was driving in a car that was 3-5 seconds a lap faster than the others.

      In your book, he is a not worthy but boring champ?

  22. Mingojo says:

    Red Bull must be really happy with Lotus drivers!!! James, I can’t see how Fernando was responsible for the incident on Sunday, Kimi should have lifted off.
    Ferrari have to find something really quick, but I have my doubts they will.

    1. Thisisanirban says:

      Though it was more or less a racing incident, being a championship contender Alonso should have been more careful as he had much more to lose than Kimi.
      Kimi did not get bullied by Alonso’s tactics and was right not to lift off.

    2. snailtrail says:

      Have a look at Fernando’s on board camera at the start – he is clearly looking at Kimi in his side mirror a few times and has made the call/risk to try and muscle Kimi – just didnt work this time.

    3. TitanRacer says:

      too simplified of a response IMHO (Kimi should have lifted off.).
      Maybe he coulda’ / woulda / shoulda… but

      1. he was not obligated to – either ethically, or, by the rules.
      2. ever put 2 wheels off the pavement and make a big change to throttle, or brakes, or steering? most likely result is a big spin by any driver in any class of racing. and then we maybe see something like at ‘Dega or Las Vegas.
      3. sudden slowing even a wee bit on the straight may possibly have seen another driver run into the back of Kimi or another and result in mayhem or worse.

      we will never truly know whether Alonso’s move was a deliberate aggressive move of intimidation, a mistake of speed or spacial judgement, or simply a racing incident. nor will we ever know what would have happened if Kimi had been a wee bit less aggressive in his quest (or a bit MORE aggressive in his response to “the” move)…

      we all like heros. we all want to see perfection. with the incredible decades-long hard work and salaries and consistent high results these 2 guys get, I think Alonso & Kimi have proven themselves to rank in the top few in F1 AND other big racing series as all-around great racers of this generation…
      but, they are not digital-perfect super computer robots.

      I tend to see this as a racing incident with Alonso unfortunately losing everything and Kimi VERY lucky to losing only a bit of pace to a damaged wing. my mind will likely shift should we see more of these actions over the remaining season…

      B4 any of very few [mod] jump in… I DO have a lot of respect for most all the grid and their reserves and the very highest regard for these two racers and a few others both in F1 and other series (but I NEVER compared them to past or present heros, never denegraded anybody, nor have I been a cheer leader for anybody…). let’s watch the boys go race. with a bit of luck, it could be epic!!! enjoy!

    4. lav208001 says:

      I disagree. Alonso did the same to Kimi what Grosjean did to Hamilton at Spa. Alonso knew Kimi was there, still he pushed right. There was always a car width difference between him and button. I think it was Alonso’s plan all along to drive Kimi off the road as he was contender no.2 for him.

      1. lav208001 says:

        Just to clarify as I couldnt edit. I didn’t mean Alonso wanted to crash Kimi, what I meant was Alonso wanted to squeeze Kimi so that he would have slow down.

    5. Kimi4WDC says:

      Watch on-board from Alonso, he was glued to the mirror watching Kimi when he pushed him off on the grass. He got no one but him self to blame. Especially considering how he cries every single time he ends up in the same situation.

      1. Mingojo says:

        The car in front was Alonso’s. Alonso knew where Kimi was (good drivers use their mirrors). Kimi decided not to lift off. It’s a racing incident, but Kimi could have avoided it. It seems Fernando is a very fair racer, however we can’t say the same about others.

  23. Loti Irwin says:

    Its not as straight forward as a fight between Sebastian and Fernando, you have to factor in sometimes quick McLarens and sometimes up for it Saubers and they only have to get in the way a little, and Fernando only has to stay one place behind Sebastian [not counting winning of course] for the show to run to the end, which is of course what Mr E would prefer. Who is to say if it will rain in Korea, when it did that was a whole different ball game, it has rained at Interlagos too, remember when Lewis won the title, it was basically down to the intermediate tyres.
    I wish I could say that it was thrilling but it isn’t, it seems to be more about luck and cars with tyres which work in some places and not in others. Which for an old F1 fan is really depressing, oh, and I will miss Michael too although not that excuse for a formula one car Mercedes have given him for the last three years. What a pity we couldn’t see him race just once more.

  24. Raymond Yu says:

    James, if you were to give one word answers right now, then…

    1. Who will be the 2012 WDC?

    2. Is Ferrari going to be fielding An Alonso-Vettel superteam in 2014?

    1. James Allen says:

      1. Vettel
      2. That’s what I’m told, but it makes no sense

      1. Erik says:

        2. Especially for Red Bull, who will potentially have 2 new drivers in 2014 then…

      2. arvin s says:

        Alonso-Vettel Superteam 2014??
        More like Alonso (if he fails to win wdc 2012) will be told by Ferrari that Vettel is coming, whether he likes it or not. Something like what Schumi was told when Kimi came onboard. No more No.2 stuff costing WCC to Ferrari just to please Alonso.

        Kimi-3 Years, 3 Championships for Ferrari.
        Alo- 3 Years, 0 Championships for Ferrari.
        (that’s if he again fails this year)

        Everything else is invalid as Driver Alonso currently is the most expensive investment Ferrari have ever made (includes $25 million paid to Kimi), with zero result to show for it.

        JAonF1 recently quoted Luca as saying “First Alonso needs to win Championship, then Ferrari won’t give him a team-mate that bothers him”
        Read it as you like, but to me it looks like Ferrari are fed up of losing WCC’s just because Alonso cannot handle a strong team mate.

      3. Benalf says:

        I just can’t understand the tag people puts on Alonso regarding his teammates. ALonso can cope with any other driver on the team as long as the treatment is fair. McLaren made a mess out of Alonso’s hiring and spoiled a seasons where the team had the best car and the current WC, just gambling for PR and the wonderkid. Massa is (was) a strong contender (he basically lost the ’08 DWC thanks to the team) and he can be fast in most situations. I Felipe puts everything back to ’08 levels, Ferrari would be able to score lots of points….well, if they finally design a fast, car from the very beginning.

      4. F1fan4life says:

        This arvin guy is a genius. One question… if Kimi brought them 3 championships why did they dump him for Alonso? Sometimes ppl look past the obvious to justify their absurd notions.

      5. Oly says:

        I’m sorry but you are totally unable to process reality.

      6. Kimi4WDC says:

        This guy knows it. Unless Alonso wins this season, Ferrari might start being not as comfy place even with all the Santander money.

      7. Kimi4WDC says:

        @F1fan4life because Alonso brings more money to Ferrari than Maldonado!!! But after three years without Championship, money loose their value. That is if Ferrari still care about being a Champion of course.

      8. AENG says:

        Very FAIR!

      9. Dutch johnny says:

        To benalf:I can remember 2004 when jarno trulli had the measure of fernando in the first half of the season. And mysteriously jarno couldnt repeat those results in the second half of the saeson. He complained that his car wasnt the same anymore strange isnt it? And dont get me even started about singapore 2008….. i agree fernando is a great diver but not unbeatable.

      10. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

        James – do you think there is something in Seb’s post race interview about the move? Seb has been very complimentary of Fernando recently. Almost like he is trying to maintain a good relationship knowing they will be future teammates?

      11. hero_was_senna says:

        After Monza you mean?

        If I was Seb, I’d be brushing up my Italian.
        I wonder if that why Ascanelli is rumoured to be going to Ferrari…

    2. Ryan Eckford says:

      1. Lewis Hamilton I feel will somehow win the 2012 WDC.
      2. Can’t see it, and when a man like Alonso does his best and cannot win the championship, you know it is the car which is not up to scratch.

  25. azac21 says:

    Alonso can be blamed only for not been quick of the line in Japan. This put him under pressure from the guys behind him and led to the racing incident. A similar start I think to Singapore.

    Ferrari have indeed been innefective in bringing speed to the car, especially for qualifying but it will be great to see what the MAN himshelf can pull out of the bag. He did at the start of the season, he can do it again.

  26. Miha Bevc says:

    This championship is not over yet.

    Yes, Vettel is favorite now, but…
    - his alternator may fail againo
    - he may run out of engines (Alonso for sure won’t)
    - Hamilton is 10 points closer to the lead than he was before Suzuka
    - McLaren was the fastest car in Singapore, despite Red Bull already having double DRS
    - Ferrari F2012 likes rain, and in october and november we can surely expect some wet races.
    I’m just saying Red Bull won’t have it easy at all.

    1. Brad says:

      This speaks more of hope than anything else..

    2. Anil says:

      I don’t really agree with the ‘we can surely expect some rain’ comment as it depends on where in the world we are. India for example will likely be pretty warm and I’m willing to bet my right hand that we won’t have a wet race in Abu Dhabi.

      Brazil on the other hand.

      1. KRB says:

        Korea seems to get rain a fair bit, where they stuck the track.

  27. Matthew Cheshire says:

    It’s hard to argue against the conclusion that Vettel has both hands on the championship. But-

    Anything can happen in F1
    If Red Bull can do it, so can the rest
    Massa may actually be able to help in the final races
    Webber can take points off Vettel – has he thrown in the towel?
    Lotus must deliver something. It’s a matter of time now they can see the Red Bull package.
    Tyres are still a big leveler. Does Red Bull really have a package that works with Perellis in all conditions?

    It seems a little premature to forget Maclaren. A few weeks ago they were the biggest threat to Alonso. Hamilton may be off his game until he calms down, but he will want to win. One good update and the right conditions both Maclarens can push Vettel.

    Lastly, if Vettel does get too far ahead, he will still need to lap the cucumber. Who needs an achilles heel when they can be knocked out by a vegetable?!

  28. Matthew Cheshire says:

    A super team possibly, but Red Bull will probably be the strongest car. Could Webber hang around another year just to nail Vettel with his old car? 2014 could be hilarious.

    1. Wade Parmino says:

      That would be good however, I have a feeling that Mercedes will have the best of the new engines. Renault and Ferrari could struggle with the new specs at first. It will certainly be very interesting to see how these new engines go in 2014.

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        I’m fascinated by your reasoning why.
        Mercedes had the best engines when they were V10′s and designed by Mario Illien. Even then only really from mid 97 to about 2000.
        Since he left Ilmor, Mercedes had alot of reliability issues until the FIA implemented the 18,000 rpm rule.

        Renault have proven time and again to be brilliant engine developers. Certainly in the 80′s with Lotus, then from 1991 through to 1997 with Williams and Benetton. They also won 2 championships in 2005 and 6. They may not have the outright power of Mercedes, but they have different torque characteristics, and are more fuel efficient.

        Ferrari? Fundamentally an engine company before chassis, if you listened to Enzo talking.
        “Aerodynamics are for people who can’t build engines”

        Whatever part of their history you look at, they have been at the fore front of engine development.
        But lets cover the last 15 years.

        An engine which was as powerful as the BMW V10, it was more reliable than anybody else and as fuel efficient.
        In 2008 when Vettel was in the Toro Rosso, ie same chassis as Red Bull, the TR used Ferrari engines and RBR Renault. Yet TR was quicker generally. Vettel won his first race with Ferrari power.

        Ferrari’s ex engine designer, Martinelli, works for the parent company, FIAT, developing the multi air technology etc.

        I don’t think either Renault or Ferrari are worried about Mercedes out-developing them.

      2. Wade Parmino says:

        I don’t know for certain. I’m simply saying that Ferrari usually make normally aspirated V8-V12 engines; they may or may not be able to produce a decent V6 turbo. Renault will probably produce a good V6 turbo however, successfully and reliably integrating it with KERS seems to be something Renault struggle with (both Lotus and Red Bull have had continuing problems with this, along with the alternator issue).

        Mercedes make a very powerful engine with arguably the best KERS unit. The KERS and hybrid element of the new engines could become even more important than KERS currently is. Mercedes various gearbox failures this year have been concerning though.

        This is of course just my opinion, with the relatively minimal amount of information available. Time will tell.

      3. hero_was_senna says:

        Bear in mind that Ferrari used v6 engines between 1981 and 1988. They have also raced 6 cylinder engines in the 60′s too. This isn’t new territory for them.
        In fact from the last 50 years, Mercedes has experience of 8 & 10 cylinder engines for racing. Iirc indycars used v8 turbos when they competed.

  29. BlueRacer says:

    I have a question: why did Alonso stop in Japan?
    It looked like he only had a puncture, so he could have come back into the pits and continued to get some points like Webber.
    Was there some other damage or did he let his engine switch off?

    1. MikeyB says:

      Alonso’s engine stalled.

  30. Mojo says:

    It wasn’t long ago that the credo was that grid position isn’t that important for the race. Is it because tires are better understood nowadays?

    1. Oly says:

      haha true.. strange how last few races tires lasted longer than expected. Pirelli is a joke.

  31. Cole says:

    Hi James.

    Is there any list of how many engines does anyone have left? I think Ferrari used one less than rivals, and may be in good benefit come the last couple of races…

    1. MikeyB says:

      Alonso and Massa are both on engine #6; Vettel and Webber are on #7. (Source, http://www.vivaf1.com/reliability.php)

    2. Wild Man says:

      Much was said in 2010 about Webber having an extra engine over the main competition.

      In the end, it didn’t make any difference.

  32. Jeremiah says:

    I think what happened is that the plans for the wind tunnel were made in inches, and when the papers arrived in Maranello, they thought the numbers meant centimeters.

  33. Sri says:

    James,

    I think it is a bit premature to talk about who will fight for WDC in 2014. Ferrari could produce a car as bad as in 2009. Someone can come up with some cool trick and run away ahead in the beginning of the season (like in 2009 or 2011). Did anyone expect a dominant BrawnGP in 2009 or RedBull in 2011? So the chances that someone is very dominant in 2013 is also very high (2 out of 4 last years). This someone could be Alonso or Vettel or any one else (relaistically in the field only Hamilton, Button and Raikkonen can be seen that way for a full season).

  34. Sri says:

    Sorry I meant 2013 in the first line of my previous post.

  35. Val from montreal says:

    This is not nostalga , this is the real world !! What was Alonso and his group of cheerleaders expecting ? A repeat of 2005-2006 in 2012 ? The only reason Alonso had so much points advantage was DNFs thrown at him since 2012 began ..he’s no messiah …..

    1. Benalf says:

      you can say the same for Vettel at the moment. He’s capitalizing lots of points from Alonso thanks to Lotus drivers, not because Vettel is outdriving Alonso. . . at the end of the day everyone is cheering for their driver, isn’t it?

      1. Kimi4WDC says:

        No? Because in any of those scenarios Vettel would be on top and he IS out-driving him. It’s a different matter what cars they driving though, that’s something we will never know.

    2. hero_was_senna says:

      I have missed your ramblings Val, always nice to know hatred isn’t far from your thoughts.

  36. Jey says:

    James,I seriously believe,the most important factor deciding this year’s WDC would be who Grosjean picks on the race day to bump into.

    He qualifies within the top5 and if what happened to Alonso,happens to Vettel at Korea,then it evens things out :-)

    1. Rich C says:

      Yes, its become important to know where Rocket Romain is at all times!

  37. Kris says:

    “Nine of the 15 races this year have been won from pole position and all of them since Germany in July.”

    Singapore wasn’t won from pole.

  38. Rafael says:

    Due to Fernando’s relentlessness and high level of consistency, Ferrari seem to have been complacent — content with the fact that w/ no other driver as consistent as Alonso, they can perhaps continue to get by even if not producing the quickest car. This is probably a case of the team relying too much on a driver’s talent(s), hoping it’s more than enough to pull them out of the deep end.

    Fernando’s been nothing but great since joining the team, and Felipe just probably needs a better car. It’s really Ferrari’s management that needs to get its act together.

    1. Kimi4WDC says:

      Not to be a racist(lost for words, this one bit over kill), but this is a Ferrari culture. They do get complacent, very quick. Unless there are very competent managers or a driver that makes sure day in and day out that things are being looked at and improved, things quickly slide down. Ferrari’s top management is a “family” and as a result many of their decisions are emotions, it is great when it goes their way, but when it doesn’t it becomes ugly very quickly.

      LDM might be a charismatic leader (personally I find his speeches and gestures too obvious and embarrassing), but he is not as capable as Ferrari leader should be. And frankly all the smart people that work under him are compromised by his “fair”.

      ps. This came out very negative, but it’s not. This is also just a speculation on the subject!!

  39. Oly says:

    +1
    Very true.

  40. Val from montreal says:

    +100 , Zombie …. If people wiki “Michael Schumacher” , its written very clear : ” Newey VS Schuey ” … History will always be on Michael’s side …Go Michael !!

    1. MANish says:

      Yeah Michael is going to retirement….

  41. Robert Gunning says:

    From what I understood, Ferrari raced with an updated version of the discarded Singapore rear wing, and it showed good race pace in Massa’s hands. Does anyone know what upgrades are due on the Ferrari in the forthcoming weeks? If they work that is!

    1. Mocho_Pikuain says:

      Four little updates to Korea and some big things to India is what I know.

  42. Rich C says:

    EVERYbody talks about Vettel going to Ferrari… do they think the man is *stupid??

    If his IQ is bigger than his shoe size he’ll glue himself to Newey’s backside and follow *him wherever he goes (or doesn’t)!

    1. Kimi4WDC says:

      Why dont you think this is what is going to happen? Newey not exactly know for his total commitment to one team :)

    2. hero_was_senna says:

      I see 2 reasons.
      1) Vettel is very focused on the history of F1 and wants to claim his place in it. He wants to take the title more than 7 times, he wants more than 91 victories and every other record possible.
      He grew up watching MSC and will want to add his history to the F1 legend that is Ferrari. Also proving that he can win in a non Newey designed car.
      After all, MSC won 5 in a row without Newey onside.

      2) He’ll want to prove he’s better than Alonso.

      Throughout his championship winning seasons, apart from Brundle’s idiotic comments last year regarding Vettel being the greatest, anybody else has been saying 2010 was lucky because Ferrari screwed up their strategy.
      Last year he had a car with EBD which allowed him to dominate.
      This year, Alonso has driven amazingly.

      That’s why Vettel needs Ferrari

  43. Craig in Manila says:

    I don’t get this stuff about Alonso and his “consistency”. Vettel’s performance so far in 2012 is VERY comparable across multiple aspects.

    Podiums (including wins) :
    FA : 8
    SV : 6

    Wins :
    FA : 3
    SV : 3

    ZeroPoint finishes :
    FA : 2
    SV : 3

    Average Points Per Race (all races for 2012):
    FA : 12.9
    SV : 12.7

    Average Points Per Race (only where the driver finished in the points) :
    FA : 13 points-finishes at ave of 14.9pts
    SV : 12 points-finishes at ave of 15.8pts

    I think we’re seeing a GREAT championship and, whether FA wins or SV wins, I’ll be happy to call him “deserving”.

    1. Liam in Sydney says:

      Yes but Fernando is unquestionably driving an inferior car as compared to Seb. Yes their results are roughly even, and yes the points difference is all but neck-and-neck. There can be no question that Seb at times this season has had an unbeatable car. Moreoer, you would be hard pressed to nominate any track this season where the Ferrari package has been the best.

      1. Craig in Manila says:

        Yep, agreed.

    2. KRB says:

      Zero Point Finishes should read:

      FA: 0
      SV: 1

      Only Vettel’s 11th in Malaysia is a no-score finish between the two of them.

      I get that you were going for Zero Point Races.

      1. Craig in Manila says:

        Correct. My bad.

  44. Steve says:

    Vettel had the best car last two races. Alonzo never had the best car for the last 15 races. They both DNF twice. Alonzo is now leading by 4 points. Who would you think is the better driver?

    1. Oly says:

      Yes but here, unfortunately, hate and animosity will always win against common sense.

    2. Bart says:

      Nevertheless, Ferrari have been up there (probably the fastest in Germany as well), like RB and Mclaren.

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