Fallout from Alonso’s DRS failure in Bahrain
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Posted By: James Allen  |  01 May 2013   |  4:24 pm GMT  |  122 comments

Fernando Alonso goes into his home Grand Prix at Barcelona next weekend looking to bounce back from the disastrous Bahrain Grand Prix in which he lost a chance of victory due to a failure on the Drag Reduction System rear wing.

It means that after four rounds of 19, he now lies 30 points behind title rival Sebastian Vettel.

The fallout from the DRS failure is interesting. According to a statement from Ferrari, “Analysis revealed that the problem was caused by the breakage of a mechanical component within the system. It’s the first problem of its kind on this system seen in the three years during which it has been used.

“The failure is not something that causes concern for the long term.

“The disappointment at what happened is even greater when one looks at the usual analysis of performance over the race weekend, which shows that Alonso could definitely have been fighting with Sebastian Vettel for the win.”

In terms of its impact on Alonso’s race, he had already lost the initiative to Vettel on the opening lap, so was in chasing mode. But then the DRS jammed open he was forced to pit on lap seven. Experts suggest that with the DRS stuck open the loss of downforce would be around 70 to 80 points of downforce. Alonso lost three seconds on lap 7 and then a further four seconds with it stuck open again on lap 8.

Not only did the wing not close, it went back into an “over centre” position.

There have been isolated incidents where a wing failed to close, such as Mercedes in Montreal last year. But this was different due to its finishing position.


Interestingly, the problem in Bahrain showed that the Ferrari hydraulic system for the wing is apparently relatively simple; a single acting actuator relying on a spring or gas spring to close the flap and probably a solenoid to energise it. This is why the mechanics could close the flap manually and it remained so on track (unlike the Mercedes failure last year which was caused by trapped hydraulic pressure). There are other ways to plumb the system for example by using hydraulics to both open and close the flap via a double acting system.

After it failed the first time, it was obviously a mistake on Alonso’s part to use it a second time on lap 8, as this cost him another 21.5 seconds for a pit stop. It also put him back in traffic. But to try to do the rest of the race without DRS would have meant he would be uncompetitive anyway. Nevertheless, he did managed to come some way through the field to finish eighth.

One thing is for sure; the design of the DRS from now on should be such that in the even of a failure it stays closed, rather than the opposite. To prevent an ‘unsafe’ failure like this should preclude the mechanism being able to go over centre. This is encapsulated in article
3.18.1 of the Technical Regulations.

“The design is such that failure of the system will result in the uppermost
closed section returning to the normal high incidence position.”

The hydraulic system runs up the side of the rear wing endplate and then serves the torpedo shaped actuator on the rear wing. It is very aggressive on DRS wings, it has to be as it’s pushing flap up when loaded with air pressure. There is a stop to ensure that it sets in position quickly and clearly the Ferrari one went past its stop.

Teams design the profiles of the rear wing upper and lower elements to give the maximum possible reduction in drag when the flap is opened to the 50mm slot gap allowed. This affects the shape of the flap, usually forcing a less cambered (flatter) profile and therefore one that is more likely to go over centre.

The failure of the mechanism on Alonso’s wing, presumably caused by just a small amount more wear, free play or deflection in the mechanism than anticipated, could be an example of how much work has gone into the wing and how near to the limit they are pushing it.

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122 Comments
  1. Robert N says:

    James,

    interesting that you cite the FIA regulations. Could the stewards now ban Ferrari’s system on the grounds that it can fail being stuck open? Will the FIA also look at other teams’ DRS systems and check if they comply with the technical regulations to the letter?

    1. James Allen says:

      I don’t think you will see that type of failure again

      1. luqa says:

        James, could there still be a sanction against Ferrari or Fernando for Bahrain- given the fact the failure showed the car to be non compliant, and the fact the race Stewards deal with many issues after the race and apply sanctions retroactively?

      2. F458 says:

        Given nothing was mentioned in scrutineering hours after, then 11 days after the race i don’t think so.

      3. KRB says:

        JA, you said it stuck open on lap 7. I think if you watch the race again, you’ll see that it opened and remained open at the start of lap 5, on the pit straight. You could see how Alonso pulled away on the straight down to Turn 4 on that lap.

        Alonso did three complete laps with the DRS slot opened.

        Also, on lap 3, Alonso’s DRS was activated long before the activation point on the pit straight, which allowed him to pass Rosberg easily. Need to get to the bottom of what happened there.

        Also, would like to know if Race Control told Ferrari they could no longer use DRS. I would’ve thought they might’ve tested it on an in-lap, but they never did.

    2. iiro says:

      I understood that the stop broke. So the design is correct and according to the regulations.

      1. franed says:

        No, it broke ie it was a failure, the very purpose of including that paragraph!

        It should be designed so that if any part of the flap. it’s supports, pivots or mechanism should fail, the result is that the flap must default to a shut position.

        It’s a pretty basic FMEA oversight by Ferrari and is a definite rule breach. Someone deserves an “earbending”

        The design needs changing

        They had been lucky up to that point that Charlie had not examined it and said “Ok show me how this complies if this bit breaks, cracks, melts etc. Now this bit etc.

        No doubt the other teams have re-examined their own flap designs in since the last race.

      2. iiro says:

        Yeah, I agree with you that the setup is awful and an example of bad FMEA.

        But in F1 you need to abide by the technical regulations. So far I have only seen text clips saying that the operating mechanism needs to be so that in case of malfunction it positions the flap to a closed position.

        If the text really is as simple as I’m imagining, then the stop is not part of the active mechanism and it breaking and resulting in over the top movement of the flap would not be in breach of the technical regs.

        We would need to read the regs to check if just the spring and the flap are mentioned or if the rest (the static parts) are under the scope as well.

    3. OscarF1 says:

      I believe that’s why they claim/address “breakage of a mechanical component”.
      The system was faulty and it remained closed once manually set in the correct position.
      Had they failed to keep it closed, they might have considered wasting some more time changing the whole rear wing.

  2. Amritraj says:

    Hi James,

    A bit surpised on your potraying it as a mistake on Alonso’s part to use the DRS again.

    From Alonso’s perspective, the wing was fixed because the pitwall didnt give him specific instructions NOT to use the DRS.

    It was a Ferrai pitwal mistake, in my opinion.

    Rgs,
    Amritaj

  3. aveli says:

    very interesting james. is regulation 3.18.1 new or has it always been in place from the introduction of drs?
    if it was always in place then there should be sanctions against ferrari for failing to adhere to the regulation. if not, the rest of the field should be allowed enjoy the same, drs failure without sanctions.

  4. Seán Craddock says:

    What is “70 to 80 points of downforce”? Is a point a percent of the overall downforce or something completely different?

    Also I really don’t like what DRS has done to the sport. Now people are talking “without DRS would have meant he would be uncompetitive anyway”. If your car is faster, and you have the skill, you have a chance to get past other drivers. That’s what happened in the past…and it still happens today when drivers are passed without DRS

    1. "Martin" says:

      DRS is sticking plaster solution to self inflicted problem. The aero development in last ~15 years has stopped the F1 cars being able to overtake each other.
      Yet this is totally blind ally, it costs HUGE sums of money on wind tunnels and constant (24hrs a day) aero research. It adds nothing to car industry (if perhaps to aero research / industry).

      So, for 2014 drop the 1.6 V6 turbos into beefed up Formula Fords and lets go REAL racing !
      Regards,
      “Martin”
      one time F3 driver

      1. docjkm says:

        +1

        Why does this seem so brilliant, when to me it is so obvious?

      2. Lee says:

        And have f1 cars that are no longer the fastest series around this circuits? No thanks.

      3. With smaller wings they will go even faster in straight line, if not in the corners.
        Lot of the fast, even very fast corners are now flat out, where is the skill in that ?
        (Except for Webber overtaking into Eau Rouge )
        Regards,
        “Martin”

      4. Lee says:

        But I don’t think the increased straightline speed will gain back the time lost in the corners. F1 is already slow enough as it is imo.

    2. Thatsnotgonewell says:

      I believe points are in terms of coefficient of lift, 1 point of down force is equal to 0.01 Cl, so 70 to 80 points would be 0.70 to 0.80 and with a F1 car in the Cl range of 3 to 4 we’re talking around 20% of total down force. Not to mention its all lost at the rear so the car is imbalanced.

    3. Elie says:

      Yes his names Kimi Raikkonon he overtakes without any fuss whatsoever in places where most drivers don’t even dream of. That’s maybe why we have crazy Mexicans driving him off track first chance they get ..lol

      1. Randy_Torres says:

        Crazy Mexicans? You must be from the John Terry school of thought.

  5. Sebee says:

    I love it!

    If Alonso wants to beat Vettel in 2013, he will have to do what Vettel has done to him twice. Recover from a big points deficit.

    Also, am I to understand from this that the DRS wing on the Ferrari does not comply with the rules and that they will have to change it to comply so that this unsafe failure is not possible?

    1. Gabe says:

      Coming back from a big points deficit isn’t Alonso (and Ferrari’s) strength. He seems better at gathering some points and sitting on, or protecting his advantage. It’s so early in the season, though. A DNF for Vettel and it is game on. Here’s hoping for a string of pole to pole wins for Seb!

      1. Doobs says:

        Like 2010 you mean…?

    2. Mingojo says:

      If you have had the best car in 2010,2011 and 2012, it’s easy to win races, etc… And win the WDC. In my opinion, what Alonso did in 2010 and 2012 is more impressive than what Vettel did especially considering their machineries.

      1. Sebee says:

        There was back and forth, but I think we would require minimum 2-pints of discussion time on if Vettel had best car in 2010 and 2012.

        I don’t buy this whole thing about how Alonso was driving a dog in 2012 or 2010. When at the end of the season you count the points difference between WDC and non-WDC on one hand, it wasn’t a dog.

        And just look at Vettel last year – just 1 win from 11 first races. Then they lit it up at the right time.

        I already find the Ferrari/Alonso partnership to be a surprising failure. Simply put for this combo runner-up is not acceptable. It’s WDC or bust. And so at 3 years + it is a serious failure really. And by same token, big achievement for Vettel/RBR to beat that combo. I think a bit more time needs to pass for everyone to realize the achievement what Vettel with RBR did, who he did it against and how he did it – 4 points? 3 points? Amazing stuff.

      2. KRB says:

        2010?!! Really?!? That car was so much better than every other car that year. If RBR hadn’t won both championships that year, it would’ve been a galling failure.

        2012 was definitely closer, but over the entirety of the season, the RB8 was the best car. It was never markedly off the pace at any race, and when they stuck on their DDRS at Singapore, it was 2010/11 all over again, for the next four races.

        Agreed that the Ferrari as dog in both 2010 and 2012 was highly overblown. Maybe for the first four races in 2012 it was that way. 2010 was the same, they started slow, but in the 2nd half of the year, theirs was the 2nd best car. 2012 was a bad qualifying car, but a good racing car.

      3. justafan says:

        Gotta have some faith in Alonso. Remember it took the greatest 5 years to score for Ferrari, Alonso is only in his 4th, yet people call him a failure.

      4. Sebee says:

        justafan

        When Schumi went to Ferrari it was a disaster. They had few of the parts needed to become a WDC.

        When Alonso went to Ferrari they were very competitive just coming off a WDC and WCC in recent years.

        Alonso had nothing to build up in there. He came in, table was set.

      5. Nesto says:

        Very true. Look at it this way. Yes, Vettel has beaten Alonso (and everyone else 3 years in a row). Alonso has been the closest, even Button in 2011 was faaarrrrr behind. We all know what has happened and Alonso could easily have won twice in those 3 years if not for a stupid strategic decision in 2010 (that forced DRS on us) and 2 crashes at the first turn by both Renaults causing major points loss in a tight race last year (2012).

        I’m biased but the way I see it, Vettel has narrowly beat Alonso twice in a far superior car.

      6. Rockie says:

        “Vettel has narrowly beat Alonso twice in a far superior car.”
        I think when you look at failures you would understand why it was close in both years if the RB6 was reliable 2011 would have looked like a joke near 2010.

      7. justafan says:

        Although Alonso is lacking Vettel’s qualifying pace, he’s superior to Vettel regarding race pace. And race pace scores you points.

        However to blame a strategy mishap for Alonso’s 2010 failure doesn’t paint the whole picture. One has also to to consider Alonso crashing out of a race (Spa) and his modest overtaking skills (Abu)

  6. Alberto Martínez says:

    James you say that the DRS jammed open on lap 7 but that´s not true: Alonso DRS stays open since the beginning of lap5 (immediately after overtaking Rosberg), so he completes 3 laps with it jammed (lap5, lap6 and lap7). If you look the laptimes, Vettel on those laps does 1:41 and Alonso 1:42. Do you know how much loss in laptime are 70 or 80 points of downforce?

    On the other hand, I don´t think is fair to point that the second use of DRS was Alonso´s fault, because the Ferrari engineers are the ones who have all the data and can look the telemetry so it´s on their side to advice the driver what procedure to follow: in fact in the first laps Alonso thought that the problem was related to tyres and not to DRS opened.

    1. FerrariFan says:

      Agree on that. I saw the DRS open in Alonso’s car on lap 5. He was able to keep the rest behind him with the loss of downforce. I was wondering why he didn’t continue on with the open DRS and do his pit stop on schedule and then the mechanics could have closed it. I am beginning to think that Ferrari pit wall can’t make good decisions when under pressure and in the heat of the battle.

      1. Bruce Tran says:

        If he uses DRS the whole lap, he will get a penalty because of breaking the regulations. That’s simple.

      2. Justin Bieber says:

        Relax dude, why would he get a penalty?!?!?! He was 4sec a lap slower with DRS open!

        Giving a penalty for that would be like giving a penalty for a puncture.

      3. Scott says:

        That would be dangerous in the corners & he would have an unfair advantage on the straights that were not set for DRS use.

      4. Major Clod says:

        I don’t think they’d be able to continue on to scheduled pit stop. They’d risk being penalized due to illegally using DRS. I’d assume this would be a drive through or similar, where they wouldn’t be able to touch the car anyway and have to subsequently pit again to fix/change tyres.

      5. Doobs says:

        Not sure he’d be allowed to have it open full-time.

      6. Yak says:

        I saw it straight away as well, and I wonder if Rosberg was on the radio to his team telling them his rear wing was staying open. Surely he would have seen it, and wouldn’t have been too happy about being stuck behind a slow car through the corners that then had the advantage down all the straighter bits.

        Alonso managed to keep them behind, but he was clearly struggling to do so. He was pretty rough through the corners, but obviously had good straight line speed.

        I’m guessing Ferrari had no choice but to pit him. If the stewards hadn’t spotted the stuck wing before (the Sky commentators certainly hadn’t), the rear view shot from his car would have given it away. I imagine Ferrari would have known about it before that, and were hoping to stay out as long as possible (much like they tried staying out in Malaysia). Once they saw it, I don’t think the stewards would have just let him keep running like that, especially if you consider that one of the reasons the DRS has been limited in practice and quali is safety. Beyond that, as per the regulation JA quoted, if the DRS isn’t working, it should be in the closed position.

      7. David C says:

        The DRS did not get stuck until lap 7 as stated by James (even with the flap working vettel was gone). The reason he didn’t wait until his scheduled stop is because he surly would have been called in as an unsafe car. Hi James why was he not submitted to a drive through penalty for having his DRS open in a non DRS zone, surly this is against the rules? Also there is a lot of criticism for Fernando for trying it again, surly it was worth a try as maybe they thought it was a once off event. Also maybe Ferrari didn’t tell him not to use it as they presumed he would know not to use it again as it was broken.

      8. Alberto Martínez says:

        Please rewatch the GP as I´ve done tons of times and you´ll clearly see that after overtaking Rosberg at the beginning of lap5 the DRS is jammed.

        Alonso didn´t know the DRS got stuck until the team told him. Indeed he thought that the tyres had gone off because he didn´t have grip in the corners until the team clarify that was due to DRS.

      9. KRB says:

        It was at the start of lap 5 … 100% certain. He then did that lap, then laps 6 & 7 before being told by Stella to “box now”.

        It’d be interesting to hear the entire team radio through that period, and also the radio msg’s from Rosberg (who surely would have seen that it was open, and radioed his team), then Mercedes to Race Control, and Race Control to Ferrari, etc.

        It is a wonder it took three full laps to figure it out. Some might say that Ferrari could’ve been playing dumb just so they didn’t have to unduly compromise Alonso’s first stint.

      10. Yak says:

        It was definitely stuck open before lap 7, and there are plenty of shots where you can see it quite clearly.

  7. K says:

    The Ferrari is clearly the fastest package overall.

    They just haven’t benefitted from it yet. If Alonso can’t get the title with the current best package on the grid, I predict his early departure and Vettel coming in.

    1. Sven says:

      Pretty much this. Italian media will tear him apart.

    2. Carlo_Carrera says:

      I am not so sure the Ferrari is the best overall car. I think still lacks pace in qualifying.

    3. AR says:

      I’ll have some of what you’re smoking…

    4. Anon says:

      You make it sound as if Alonso has let the team down, he finished 2nd in Aus, DNFed in Malaysia after Vettel did an Alonso by braking mid-corner but Vettel overdid it, 1st in Shanghai, Competing for the victory in Bahrain until his DRS failed. I think it’s fair to say that the fastest race car is either the Red Bull, Lotus or Ferrari depending on the track temp and track type but since Pirelli have changed the compounds the fastest race car is probably the Red Bull now. Add to that Red Bull is the most efficient team from the outside at least.

      1. LL says:

        Ferrari is the best package, they just screwed up a few times.

    5. [MISTER] says:

      Completely disagree.
      Where would Alonso go if he leaves Ferrari? Alonso seems very happy at Ferrari and I actually see his contract renewed after 2016.

      1. kfzmeister says:

        Who better than Alonso to bring a title to Ferrari? Vettel? I, too, will have some of what you’re smoking.

      2. justafan says:

        Vettel would probably do better than Alonso, that’ true. But besides him I can’t see anyone. Hamilton is goo too, so is Raikkönen.

      3. Elie says:

        Yeah I agree- he won’t go anywhere. He’s contracted till 2015- he will be 34-35 then. Either Nico Hulkenberg or Jules Bianci would replace Massa either 2014 or 2015. Then the other one of these guys replacing Fernando in 2016 or later.

      4. LL says:

        Alonso is afraid of Vettel joining him, reports say he is blocking Vettel coming in 2014/2015.

        Because he knows, Vettel will take the title with the same car.

      5. MISTER says:

        That’s the funniest thing I read all day!

        Vettel barely got the title last year with a car which was better than Alonso’s, so I don’t buy into what you’re saying. But that’s just my opinion :)

        Also, if you would know Ferrari just a little bit, you would know they would never hire 2 of the fastest drivers on the grid at the same time. This alone falters your speculation :)

    6. KRB says:

      let’s drop the “clearly” … no one’s “clearly” fastest at the moment. Before Bahrain, I would’ve said that the Ferrari was the fastest. But in Bahrain the Red Bull was definitely the fastest, no question. Watch the first 3 laps of that race again, and see how Vettel has no problem placing the car where he wants, basically making it dance. It was like he had a MiG-28, while Rosberg and Alonso had a .

      We’ll see how it goes in the European races.

      1. KRB says:

        I had (insert not-very-maneuverable aircraft here) after the MiG-28 comment, but used html tag brackets, which I guess took out the whole bit.

      2. CYeo says:

        B-52?

      3. KRB says:

        My first thought was a Sopwith Camel, but those WWI fighter planes were pretty damn maneuverable … the best pilots of the time could get them to basically turn on a dime, relatively speaking.

        Yes, a B-52 would definitely apply.

      4. LL says:

        That was all Vettel, not the RBR. See Webber for proof. There is a reason why Newey said “Vettel flatters all my cars”.

      5. KRB says:

        Don’t be silly. Vettel is a very good driver, but he is still bound by the basic physics working on his car.

        It was the same with the Lotus’s … they were more able to turn in with grip into and out of Turn 4. A good example was when Perez and Grosjean were battling later in the Grand Prix. The McLaren was no match for the Lotus.

    7. Alberto Martínez says:

      Best package overall? How do you measure that? Looking at the performances of the ‘resurgence’ Massa?

      I think nobody can point out what car is the best one: one-lap pace seems between Mercedes/Red Bull, race pace with Lotus/Red Bull/ Ferrari but in my opinion Lotus has a big advantage with how they manage their tyres.

      1. KimiFan says:

        yeah but lotus have some major flaws aswell, tire warm up problems in quali(same problem Ferrari had last year),narrow setup window,struggles to get heat in tires on cooler temps and sucks in wet conditions. So yeah Ferrari has the best package overall

      2. justafan says:

        True, and if Alonso stops crashing into competitors he will deliver the title this year.

  8. Ryan G says:

    He had the choice to risk it and try the drs again as he did, or leave it alone… But with hindsight obviously there was a third choice to wait and try it again just before the next pitstop

    1. ctp says:

      great point – hadn’t considered that scenario, which obviously makes total sense.

    2. Tim says:

      You are right, in fact there was a fourth choice. Why not test the DRS while he was still in his pit box? There must be some sort of manual override to test the mechanism whilst the car is stationary.
      I am often surprised by how ‘flat-footed’ some of the teams appear when making these sort of calls.
      I know, it’s easy sitting on my sofa passing judgement on the team decisions of strategy etc.
      But for goodness sake, if I can see it and the commentary team can see it, how do the teams miss it?

      1. KRB says:

        I think their system relies on the wind pressure pushing the DRS wing back into place. Won’t have that in the pit box.

      2. Tim says:

        That may or may not be correct, but it still wouldn’t have prevented them testing the mechanism to see if it opened beyond centre. If it did, they could simply have closed it manually and sent him on his way with instructions to leave the DRS alone.

    3. Elie says:

      Yeah I couldn’t believe he tried it again straight after he stopped. I was thinking leave it till his in lap for his tyre change. Same with the next tyre change he would have saved himself a stop and least and several other seconds in speed.

  9. Zippy says:

    Since a DRS that can fail open is itself illegal, why weren’t both Ferraris black-flagged?

    1. Laurence H says:

      Yes, I would love to know the answer to this too.

    2. Doobs says:

      If a component fails due to damage that doesn’t make the system inherently illegal. It obviously closes when it’s working.

    3. knoxploration says:

      A better question would be why did Ferrari go unpenalized for driving past the pit entrance with a car that was clearly in a dangerous state in Malaysia?

      I am staggered that Whiting took no action to prevent a recurrence of this.

  10. Kingszito says:

    This is Alonso’s season to become a triple WC? He has the best car in the grid so far unlike the previous years when he lost to Vetel. If he doesn’t win it this season it’ll really hurt his ego and confidence.

    1. Mingojo says:

      I’m not sure you can prove Ferrari has got the best car this year. In my opinion Red Bull and Lotus are one step ahead.

      1. justafan says:

        Like you said it’s your opinion. You can’t prove it either, though.

  11. Random 79 says:

    @Tim

    Looks like you were right about the DRS being slower overall :)

    Let’s hope Ferrari and Alonso have met their quota for bad luck / mistakes for the year.

  12. Paul says:

    Interesting post as always James, when watching the race live, the UK commentators mentioned a large headwind on the start/finish straight/DRS Zone, I haven’t heard anyone mention this as a contributory factor but with the increased load/stresses I’m sure it had something to do with it.

    1. kfzmeister says:

      I’ve heard it mentioned from Vettel. It actually helped him reel in Rosberg and pass him.

      1. KRB says:

        But he passed him after Turn 4 … so it would’ve been a tailwind.

    2. JB says:

      Spot on!
      The headwind was significant which helped Vettel to overtake Rosberg.
      Alonso’s DRS thing was already designed at the borderline to be lightweight and small. The engineers most likely did not account for the strong headwind that added extra pressure to the DRS structure when it is opened.

      You can see that the failure forced the wing to move upward, which is why it was not able to close on its own.
      That failure is clearly caused by the frontal load. I’m sure if they run a FEA simulation, they would be able to repeat the failure.

      Interesting that it did not happen to Massa. Did Massa had a different wing?

  13. Val from montreal says:

    Vettel is finally getting some praise in the Italian national press lately …..

    Alonso knows damn well its make or break time in 2013 … no more excuses

    If he does’nt deliver the title with the car he’s got , expect Vettel to drive for Ferrari in 2015 …

    Vettel has been a blessing in disguise since 2009 …

    If Vettel would’nt be driving in F1 , Alonso would have maybe won those titles in 2010 and 2012 …

    And then , fans like ME , would have had to endure all the BS that Alonso is the “best driver Ferrari ever had” … Thank god for Vettel !!

    1. Scuderia McLaren says:

      +1

    2. Sri says:

      Your last comment is very valid. Especially true with BBC editor.

    3. Doobs says:

      Vettel won’t be anywhere near a Ferrari drive anytime soon. He’s shown he’s not a team player.

      1. justafan says:

        Luca said he’s top on his list, though, ahead of Hamilton and all the rest. Would be interesting to watch Alonso and Vettel fight it out for supremacy in a Ferrari, though. Alonso has shown some flaws when paired with a faster teammate.

    4. kfzmeister says:

      [mod]. Alonso has had two absolutely masterful drives/ seasons with Ferrari.
      To say anything different is just not dealing with a full deck.
      [mod]

      1. f1future says:

        Alonso threw way the 2010 titel by crashing in Spa. Alonso also threw away the 2012 title, this time by colliding with Kimi in Suzuka.

    5. Elie says:

      Love, the idea Val but really Mclaren were there or thereabouts in 2010 and 2012. Not all the races would have gone to Fernando had Vettel not been there and in fact like him or loathe him ( as you do) only Lewis had outright pace in those years and lost quite a few races to Vettel when no one else including the Scarlett cars were within sight of the bulls.

      So as much as you would love to say thank god for Seb you should also be saying thank god for Lewis- although I know you will never say that Val because he took your dear Michaels spot at Merc… Awwww ! :)

    6. Gabe says:

      Amen!! I will LOL when Vettel comes to Ferrari and actually delivers the titles that Alonso couldn’t.

  14. Tom says:

    “One thing is for sure; the design of the DRS from now on should be such that in the even of a failure it stays closed, rather than the opposite. To prevent an ‘unsafe’ failure like this should preclude the mechanism being able to go over centre.”

    Presumably it was designed not to ‘go over centre’, but did so anyway.

    You can never completely design out any possibility of failure in a system like this. There will always be anomalies.

    1. Yak says:

      Indeed. You can design in some kind of fail-safe mechanism that will mean the wing will close when the DRS fails, or so that it won’t go over centre, but what if the fail-safe also fails? What if a fail-safe for the fail-safe also fails? Doesn’t matter how over-engineered something is, strange things can still happen.

      I think he should have been black/orange flagged for it before Ferrari finally decided to bring him in, but I don’t think there needs to be any questioning of why both cars were allowed to stay out there with cars that supposedly breached the regulations. It was a freak incident that broke what normally would have worked as per the regulations.

      1. peruvian says:

        james Allen mentioned how simple the Ferrari DRS design is…. to me it seems that other teams are forced to design a more complex DRS mecanism, which in turn it is an unfair advantage to Ferrari… and again, no punishment for breaking the rules, and now I am thinking what other things are not legal in Fernandos car.
        In the last 4 races Fernadno’s car seems to be very fast, just not legal

      2. Hansb says:

        So the fastest car of the field can’t be legal in your opinion.
        Well this gives all Vettels/RBR’s championship wins a bitter taste doesnt it?

      3. peruvian says:

        Hansb, who is talking about Vettel’s car?.. I am talking about Ferrari and the unfair advantage, they break the rules and no panishment, not even a slap in the hand, then if I was a Ferrari designer I will then make the whole car to be ilegally faster, and hope nobody notices, and if the FIA does catch me, then not to worry, no punishment not even a slap…. now you see? I was talking about Ferrari, not RBR

  15. Trent says:

    Could the wing not have been changed completely?

    1. Zippy says:

      Rear wings aren’t as simple to change as front wings, and it would have put him several laps down in the time required – if they were required by the stewards to change it or retire, they might as well retire.

    2. Aaron says:

      Yes, but changing a rear wing takes about 10 minutes so his race would have been over.

  16. Jorge Gaviria says:

    James,
    Please give us facts, you have all the data to give us the difference between having DRS or not, I still believe that there is not major difference in a lap time, look the times at the beggining of the race when everybody are not allowed to use DRS. The reason to Alonso finished 8th is because is not difference, is only when you are so close to another car and you can pass. Why the faster lap was did it whitout DRS?

  17. Dux Mea Lux says:

    [mod]Vettel has been in the best car for years now with Alonso being in a sub par Ferrari yet still he manages to fight for the championship. This year he has a chance with a capable car but only if the Ferrari stays reliable which it did not in China. Vettel will have bad luck hit him as well don’t worry.

    1. Me says:

      Like in 2010?…

    2. bearforce1 says:

      Yes the RBR maybe faster but the mechanical/Kers failures take out huge chunks of points. Better to come second all year than first but DNF as few times.

    3. justafan says:

      I agree bad luck tends to even out between Alonso andVettel over a full season.

  18. tom in adelaide says:

    He shouldn’t have tried to use it again until he was due for another pitstop. That was poor thinking from Ferrari.

  19. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Alonso and Massa are now under pressure to deliver if Ferrari wants to have Red Bull in sight for the WCC.

  20. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    James – is there any scope in the regulations for the team to be getting an artifical benefit from their DRS system? ie. perhaps there is more to the story in that Ferrari are using their system to get some sort of additional speed elsewhere in the lap?

  21. kimifan says:

    I think Alonso had DRS Failure in Monza quali last year or year before.

    1. KRB says:

      That was anti-roll bar failure, in 2012. Can’t remember anything with DRS in previous years.

  22. Giorgio says:

    James,
    do you believe FA has been instructed from p.wall not to use DRS after 1st issue and he did anyway?
    What’s the matter of mistake there was considered?

  23. mhilgtx says:

    This whole thing confuses me.

    It sounds like the Ferrari wings were illegal and there should be some kind of action taken. I don’t know what, maybe fine the team or something. It’s not like it gives them an advantage, it just wasn’t safe. Or do I not understand?

    As I have said elsewhere I like Ferrari, but the team seams out of sorts. I do not like Alonso one bit. Crash gate, blocking Hamilton, and his everything is not his fault are starting to wear on me. It was bad luck I guess to have a failure (although it sounds like a design flaw) it was just dumb to open the thing again once it failed.

  24. Rob D says:

    I’ll have to try and check again but I’m sure I caught a glimpse of something flying up towards alonso’s rear wing – possibly a bit of rubber kicked up by the car in front – just before it failed. I’d assumed that was what broke the wing but nobody else seems to have mentioned it so maybe I imagined it!

  25. franed says:

    James, what do you mean by 70 to 80 points of downforce?
    Percent of total at rear (unlikely) or kg force or what?

    This is a little like when newsreaders start talking about percentage points when they mean percent or 0.xx of a percent.

  26. Chris says:

    All the comments asking why Ferrari were not disqualified or penalised for an illegal DRS, it’s the same as having a suspension failure and a wheel falling off and being penalised for not securing the wheels on properly. A part failed causing the DRS to go overcentre – Ferrari have not designed their DRS to go into an illegal position as it doesn’t go overcentre when normally operated.

    I agree Alonso’s DRS failed a few laps before he pitted, it had to have failed while in use meaning it must have happened when he was overtaking Rosberg a few laps before as this was the last time he was within a second to activate DRS. However, as soon as the camera shot was shown looking over the rear wing and the DRS stuck open, Alonso had to pit due to illegally having the DRS open. I presume his lap time dropped off when he was told so that they could claim it was not an advantage – quick thinking on Alonso’s part.

    1. David C says:

      HI Chris, I understand what you are saying but by staying out a few laps longer he 1. held up the cars behind him making them run in dirty air and slowing the pace of the pack keeping them bunched up and 2. got the advantage of a couple of laps less wear on his next set of tyres. These are both (all be it slight) advantages. If the red bull or McLaren fuel rigs fail they are booted to the back of the grid, the failure of these rigs didnt help them in Q1 or Q2 so in theory they could start 11th. I know its about having a fuel sample available for random testing after qualifing however if they always select the cars who stop in Q3 for random testing it dosent seem very random. The DRS is different from other mechanical damage as there are specific rules for when it can be operated and id bet my house he was going alot faster on the straights which helped him keep that mercedes behind.

      1. Chris says:

        I agree Alonso could, and perhaps should, have been given a drive-through penalty if he did indeed pass the pits with the DRS illegally in the open position.

        My point was the people saying both Ferrari cars should be disqualified for having a DRS capable of going overcentre, which they are not allowed to do as per the regulations. Perhaps a better simile would be saying a car which has a front wing failure should be DQF for having a front wing closer to the ground than the regulations allow. This is obviously a failure that has caused the Ferrari DRS to be illegal and not a design intention, therefore the notion of disqualifying both cars is ridiculous.

        To those saying DRS should be designed to be closed if it fails, it depends what physical mechanism breaks – the rear wing flap is an inanimate object that abides by the laws of physics, therefore if a particular part breaks while the flap is open, it may not be possible to have it close automatically.

  27. David C says:

    Then why was Alonso not given a drive through penalty for staying out, Ferrari international assistance to the rescue.

  28. Val from montreal says:

    Elie , good to hear from you ! Yesterday I had met a woman who came to my work , she was a customer … Pretty young mid 30′s lovely lady … She had an english accent … So I asked her if she was from England … She answered that she was Australian , from Sidney …then she said the Brits were a bunch of [mod] !! ( Why is that even Australians cant stand the british ? )

    Anyway we walked for 10 minutes about Australia …she was so cool !

    Then I asked her about F1 …

    Me: Have you ever been to the F1 GP in Melbourne ?

    Lady : Yes only once … My husband is a huge Webber fan , I personnaly don’t like Webber …

    Me : Why ? He’s Australian , no ?

    Lady : Yeah but he’s an ozzie ! I like Vettel more …

    Me : Well Emily , the driver that made me watch F1 was that german dude at Ferrari …

    Lady : Who Raikkkonen ? No wait , he’s finnish … Who then ??

    Me : Michael Schumacher !!

    Lady starts smiling : Yeah , he was a bit of a dirty driver but are’nt they all are? He was still the best though ! Australians loooove Schumacher , he’s huge down there …

  29. David C says:

    Hi James (or anyone) why was Alonso not penalised for illegal use of the DRS, surly as soon as it became stuck he should have been obliged to return to the pits that lap while staying off the racing line to allow legal cars pass. Even if he didn’t know I don’t think ignorance is an excuse, I doubt very much mark knew his car was underfuled in qualifying recently? It’s been bugging me all week.

  30. Interesting fact about the Ferrari DRS is that it is foot operated, rather than button operated like most teams.

    http://www.formula1.com/news/technical/2013/0/1062.html

  31. Dizzy says:

    I think something Alonso’s DRS failure highlighted was that the argument that there woudl be no overtaking without DRS is completely wrong.

    Alonso managed to overtake a lot of cars without using his DRS & every single one of those overtakes was far more entertaining to watch than any of the boringly easy DRS Highway passes!

    Ban it!

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