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Ferrari’s dilemma – how to improve qualifying without wrecking race pace
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Posted By: James Allen  |  15 May 2013   |  5:25 pm GMT  |  155 comments

Ferrari won the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday without the majority of the new parts that the technicians had brought to Barcelona to update the car and only some of them were tried on Friday in practice.

Alonso and Massa found a good balance on Friday and felt that they had a good chance for the race and didn’t want to upset that.

According to Gazzetta dello Sport, the issue wasn’t that the new pieces failed to match expectations, it was rather that the rain in the morning limited the opportunities to evaluate them properly and the priority was to find a good balance on the delicate Pirelli tyres.

The updates used in Spain consisted of a new package of exhausts, diffuser and front brake ducts, to better control the temperature of the front tyres.

The work on the exhausts and diffuser was in order to improve the low speed mid-corner to corner exit downforce levels, which are important as they make up around 25% of the lap time. This is a big area for all teams at the moment, as is work to control the temperature of the front and rear tyres.

The new engine cover didn’t even get tried on Friday and stayed in the garage all weekend, while other parts will need to be tested further at future races, most likely Canada.

Alonso won the race, despite qualifying only 5th. He was able to use a great start, clever strategy and a fast race pace to claw his way to the front and drive away from the others. But he won’t always be able to do that – particularly not in Monaco so the first order priority is to improve their single lap pace for better grid slots.

This task is all the more pressing as it appears that not only are Red Bull superior in this area, but Mercedes have now taken three consecutive pole positions while Raikkonen’s Lotus outqualified Alonso for the second time in five races. As last year, fifth threatens to be the Ferrari’s default grid slot, unless something is done.

Ferrari’s dilemma now is how to improve the qualifying performance of the car Speaking after the victory in the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday Stefano Domenicali said, “The situation is quite clear; we don’t have to unbalance our car at the moment, but we need to do something about qualifying. We will have races where it will be much more difficult to overtake. Without unbalancing the fact that we have decent performance in the race, we need to improve the qualifying so that we have cleaner air in front of us.


“For me this weekend was important to understand what was the jump in terms of performance you could expect from the other teams (updates) because from now to the end of July you may see one or two big steps of development, no more. And then I would say some teams will be forced to try to start work on the new car because of the big challenge that it is.”

And of course the big unknown is how the Ferrari will fare on the revised Pirelli tyres from Canada onwards. JA on F1 technical adviser Mark Gillan believes that there is no reason to suspect that Ferrari’s good work in thermal management will go to waste when on the new tyres, but that it is likely that their advantage will be reduced over rival cars with less good thermal management, due to the larger operating window of the tyres and the increased durability.

On another note, Alonso said in the FIA press conference that he wouldn’t care if he finished second in every race for the rest of the season as long as he won the championship. Domenicali agreed with this sentiment, giving an indication of the team’s priorities.

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155 Comments
  1. Hannah says:

    Actually, Fernando didn’t had a good lap in China and Spain. He should’ve outqualified kimi in both occasion, especially in Spain when he failed to improve his Q2 time.

    1. Hannah says:

      Correction:

      Q3′s 1st attempt

    2. Die Scuderia says:

      I agree as well. I have pointed out this before that our Q3 lap was, somehow, fouled up. Waiting for too long in a pit for one timed lap always carry a big risk. The flag fell before Alonso crossed the line, now add a bit of traffic (even though it wasn’t too bad but a complete clear track is often better). Maybe we should have tugged in immediately when Vettel went out for his Q3 lap.

      DS

      1. j says:

        What’s up with the crazy username?

      2. Ben says:

        “Dai” in Italian means “come on”, but less enthusiastically than “forza”. Not sure if that is what is meant.

        Think it also means “the” in german so it could just be “the scuderia”.

      3. sergiu says:

        +1

    3. Alberto Martínez says:

      Mark Gene said in the Spanish TV channel that Alonso did a set-up to have top speed in the straights and that decicision would be a disadvantage in qualifying but an advantage in race pace.

      It seems he was in the right

      1. KRB says:

        Well, it helped them in the 3rd sector as well in the race, as ALO and MAS had the best and 3rd-best sector times through there in the race.

        Whereas the Merc’s were 3-tenths faster thru through there during qualifying, they were 5-tenths slower than the Ferrari’s through there in the race.

        So I don’t buy for a second that the Merc’s are favoured for Monaco, as Alonso suggested (a pretty thinly veiled attempt to keep the spotlight off Ferrari). Even if they qualify 1-2 again, they’ll still be vulnerable in the race, through the pit stops.

      2. Indeed, pit stops are the key in Monaco, Ferrari were the fastest over there + overtakes are possible – we’ve seen Alonso starting from the pits and finishing 6th in the race, that was 2010.

      3. **Paul** says:

        I think you’re right, Alonso likes to always suggest his car isn’t any good, as it takes the pressure off. Taking into account both cars/drivers this season it’s looking roughly like:

        Qually Pace:
        1.) Merc
        =2.) RBR/Ferrari
        4.) Lotus

        Race Pace (greater importance):
        1.) Ferrari
        2.) Lotus
        3.) RBR
        4.) Merc

        Thus overall looks something like so:
        1.) Ferrari
        2.) RBR
        3.) Lotus
        4.) Merc

        My take on driver performance thus far? The above would suggest it looks roughly like:
        Over achieving:
        - Kimi (by some margin!)
        - Seb

        Par:
        - Lewis (initially did really well, now back on par)
        - Fernando (having made a significant error in Malasyia)
        - Rosberg

        Under achieveing:
        - Massa (improving though)
        - Webber (std)
        - Grojean (hard to judge as his car keeps failing apart!)

        It’s for this reason that I think we saw Nikolas Tombazis say the team deserved 6/10 for the first 4 races, he knows they should have a lead at the top of the standings.

    4. Tealeaf says:

      Well the best way to improve their quali is to hire Vettel, there’s no doubt Alonso is a great driver and a brilliant all rounder but his achilles heel is that his raw pace is not freakishly fast, he’s even slightly slower than Hamilton over 1 lap.

      1. KRB says:

        If he’s only slightly slower than Hamilton, then you’re saying he’s the 2nd fastest out there. Personally I’d rank them HAM, VET, ALO on pure speed over one lap, which I assume would be the accepted order through most of the paddock.

        Planet-F1 is calling …

      2. Sid says:

        I’ve always questioned people who say they think Hamilton is faster than Vettel; and they’ve never come back with a convincing reply.

        Vettel has produced some stunning laps over the years and so has Hamilton. With no direct comparison, it’s hard to say who’s quicker on absolute raw pace. As yardstick to Vettel, there’s his teammate Webber who’s considered pretty quick over a single lap and Vettel has devoured him over their 4 year partnership convincingly outqualifying him many times by about half a second.

        So I am still to be convinced that Hamilton is faster than Vettel. As Hamilton’s yardstick, I’d discount Jenson but consider Alonso who Hamilton did beat when the two paired together in ’07. However he got beaten in Monaco, Italy, Spa and probably a few others. But it was his first year and what he achieved was legendary. But on days when he was ahead of Alonso, it could be argued that Alonso opted for heavier fuel load, harder tyres as in Hungary(while he doesn’t usually have warmup issues, wonder why he took that route in Budapest)

        To sum it all up, the man himself James Allen has talked highly about Vettel’s pace and would love to hear from you why many of you think that Hamilton’s got one over Vettel on Saturdays.

      3. glennb says:

        If my life depended on pole I would have Seb make the run. If he were unavailable Lewis would be my only other choice.

      4. Bring Back Murray says:

        Pure speed over 1 lap:
        1: Hamilton
        2: Vettel
        3: Alonso

        Race management & tactical driving:
        1: Alonso
        2: Vettel
        3: Hamilton

        I’ll also add consistant high speed over a number of laps:
        1: Vettel
        2: Alonso
        3: Hamilton*

        *Would be higher than Alonso and possibly Vettel too in seasons where the tyres were more suitable to his driving style

      5. Yago says:

        @Sid,
        In Budapest 2007 ALO was destroying the soft tyres before they even completed a lap. He had no chance other than going for the harder compound. He did beat HAM time in his second run with USED hards by a tenth or so, if I remember well. When he was blocking HAM in the pits, part of the time he was asking why did they fit him an used set. Maybe Ron Dennis thought he was not going to notice lol. I guess this part of the story is new for you?
        By the end of the year they ended HAM 9-ALO 8 in qualifying (HAM ahead of alo 9 times of the 17 quali sessions). It is not that ALO just beat HAM a few ocassions.

      6. Tealeaf says:

        At Sid:

        I agree with you there’s been no evidence Hamilton is faster than Vettel over 1 lap and in actual fact I overestimated Hamilton and Alonso’s 1 lap pace in recent years, it seems if Massa is comfortable with a car he’s every bit as fast as Fernando and maybe even slightly faster on a quali run but I do stress its only when Massa has a good car underneath him.
        The next point is when Kimi is on form he blows Massa away and on raw pace he is faster than Alonso almost guaranteed, then you look at Hamilton well this guy is so overrated its unbelievable and we saw the true form at Barcelona, out qualified and out raced comprehensively by Rosberg, Nico hasn’t hooked up a weekend until Spain BUT he has shown consistently over winter testing and most practice sessions that he has the edge on Hamilton in terms of speed, even in Q1 and Q2′s normally he easily has the measure of Hamilton whether its dry or wet but he does choke under pressure like many times last year when pole was there for the taking but it seems like he’s got over that now and starting to show his natural speed which I stress is faster than Hamilton’s so just comparing Hamilton to Nico shows Lewis is not the fastest on the grid, then when you consider Webber beat Rosberg with Nico admitting Mark was faster and the hardest team mate he’s had suggest Hamilton wouldn’t stand a chance with Seb, most of the english speaking fans will discredit Vettel’s abilities and achievements but the facts are there, I know its early days but Hamilton can’t handle Rosberg and Vettel will wipe the floor with Webber over 5 years I bet even the die hard Hamilton fans knows deep down Hamilton is overrated and not a match for Vettel I’d love for Hamilton to join RBR or Ferrari but the teams know his true abilities and they don’t want him.

      7. KRB says:

        Sid, 2007 is hard to gauge, b/c of fuel levels in Q3, as you say. But HAM won 6 poles to ALO’s 2 over the season, beating the Ferrari’s as well.

        In 2006, when in the same team, in the same car, Di Resta beat Vettel in poles 5-1. I don’t particularly rate Di Resta as a speed merchant. Having said that, in 2011 he was 9-9 against Sutil. So fairly even.

        In 2005, when in the same team, in the same car, Hamilton beat Sutil in poles 13-1!

        I’m going to say it here, that I think Webber is past it. I think 2010 was his last decent year.

        In 2007, VET was 0-1 to Heidfeld, and 3-4 to Liuzzi. Ok, he’s a rookie, and coming into a team mid-season. But of course HAM was a rookie in 2007, with the 2xDWC as his teammate.

        In 2008, BOU beat VET 5x in qualifying (13-5 for VET over the year). It was 14-4 for HAM over KOV. I think we can all agree that KOV is a better driver, and definitely faster, than BOU ever was and ever will be.

        Some fun facts:

        Who’s the only driver to qualify in the top two rows in each race so far this year?

        Last year, who was the only driver to participate in every Q3 session in the season?

        A great case in point was Austin last year. The Red Bulls were running rampant in free practice, and in the early qualifying sessions (always 0.5 secs ahead of the rest). Then in Q3, HAM betters his Q2 time by over a second, and just misses out on pole by a tenth. LH’s Q3 lap was pretty much perfection, while SV’s had at least two mistakes in it.

        Watching Speed’s coverage of the race the next day, they did their Mother’s Pole Lap review, and I had to laugh as David Hobbs (former F1 driver) commentated on it. He was saying “this kid hits all the apexes [then VET blows it in T15] … ohp, missed that one there!” They should’ve showed Lewis’ lap instead.

        Or Singapore last year … VET just needed to put in his same time as Q2 to get P2. But he put in a worse time, the only driver other than GRO to do that in Q3.

        Or Monaco last year … why didn’t VET run in Q3? Monaco’s the most driver-dependant track of the year, yet he didn’t fancy himself. And it’s not like the car wasn’t competitive, as Webber qualified 2nd (pole after MSC’s penalty).

        Of course, we can’t judge VET directly against HAM or ALO b/c we haven’t seen them in the same team (either of the latter two with VET, I mean). I doubt it will ever happen. I would love it if the Merc is a monster next year, and HAM subsquently cleans up. Then VET will have to come. Of course, if HAM is cleaning up, then why would Merc want to upset that, just as RBR do not want to upset the winning combo they have right now. But I would love to see two top drivers in the same team once again (last time was HAM-ALO). I think we all would.

        I believe you’ll also find that our host considers LH as the fastest driver over one lap.

      8. James Allen says:

        At this moment in everyone’s careers, yes, probably, but it’s so hard to say between him and Vettel. When Rosberg gets it together he’s pretty fast as well it seems!

      9. Jeff says:

        I’d argue that Hamilton is faster than Vettel, just not as consistent as Vettel.

      10. RGS says:

        kimi is the fastest driver out there today, but he has a Lotus and tire management and he shows not only to be faster but a true racer, complete in every aspect, something we dont see much these days…

      11. Tim says:

        he’s even slightly slower than Hamilton over 1 lap….

        Even though I suspect you are fishing with this comment, I will oblige you with a reply!

        That doesn’t put Alonso in a very exclusive club really, most of the grid is sower than Hamilton over 1 lap :-)

      12. Mani says:

        really?? his teammate got more poles than him so far…..

      13. Tim says:

        Maybe so, but NR has still been out qualified by LH so far this season, 3-2 I believe is the ‘score’ :-)

      14. Equin0x says:

        Actually ‘even’ Rosberg is faster than Hamilton which makes Alonso look really slow now. I agree Ferrari sign Vettel and gain 4-5 titles in a Schumacher like ‘era’ it’d only serve their best interest, Alonso doesn’t cut it nor does Hamilton, the biggest threat to Seb at the moment is Kimi in a Lotus thats says it all.

      15. KARTRACE says:

        I honestly wonder if we are watching the same F1 coverage. FA showed, in MS heydays, how one could beat the legend. On the other hand if it wasn’t for a sloppy Ferraris Alo would be a 5x WC driver before the end of 2012. The only reason why Seb got 3 titles is because of a very weak team mate who could not mount his own challenge to the WCD title. The fact that McL “sabotaged” Alonso mounting the challenge thus letting Raikkonen squeeze past both McL drivers to the Championship title. If they did what they were suppose to Alonso would be an easy WC driver in 2007 with Hamilton coming 2nd or 3rd which for the rookie wouldn’t be such a shabby result.

      16. Equin0x says:

        Weak team mate? Webber has beaten all his team mates up until Vettel, and those include Rosberg and Heidfeld 2 of the drivers that admits Mark is 1 of the fastest, and even Rosberg is showing that he is faster than Hamilton, no wonder Alonso is scared of Seb going to Ferrari and blocked the move, if Ferrari had any sense they’d replace Alonso with Vettel then they will win the title, I doubt Alonso is any faster than Webber to be honest, he’s slower than Hamilton so probably slower than Rosberg too, even drivers like Trulli often out qualifies Fernando, consistency is no good against Seb when you’re consistently SLOW.

      17. clyde says:

        When it rains the playing field is evened out and the true measure of a drivers greatness is witnessed …..and when that happens more often than not it is Alonso on pole not Vettel.
        SV only wins because he has the best car designed by Newley and a strangulated teammate

      18. Mani says:

        rain even out the playing field?? don’t make me laugh.

        The car with most downforce will thrive on wet condition.

      19. Mingojo says:

        Well, I wonder what you think are the Achilles heels of Vettel and Hamilton.

    5. Veena says:

      Even Kimi didn’t have good qualifying lap in most of the races but he is consistent which Alonso lacks.

      1. Mani says:

        most of the races?? apart from bahrain, Kimi has been awesome so far in 1 lap. Particularly in China and Spain when two scrappy laps from ferrari duo ended up behind the slower Lotus of Kimi.

  2. Dinesh says:

    Actually when Kimi qualifies on the clean side of the grid.. It’s impossible to stop him

    1. glennb says:

      Stop him from what?

      1. Veena says:

        from eating ice cream.

    2. Veena says:

      Well said. I think he will be in top four in the coming races but If its clean side, he will rock. The block Vettel make on Kimi, made him vulnerable and helped Alonso to over take.

  3. Cyberorio says:

    I totally agree with Hannah. Till S2 Alonso´s lap was worth P2 or P3 but he failed in S3 so he couldn´t improve his time and then he was P5.
    In Monaco stopping earlier won´t pay off as did in Barcelona due to traffic, so Ferrari would need to start at least P3 to try to win the race.

  4. jmv says:

    How to improve quali times without compromising on race pace?

    Get Sebastian Vettel!

    1. Nate says:

      LOL

      But joking aside, Vettel is clearly superior in Q. I’m not sure that Red Bulls are that better than Ferrari in Q this year, but even if they are, Vettel rarely fails to deliver in Q, unlike Alonso. This season, Alonso isn’t doing a good job in Q, to put it lightly. But then, Alonso has never been a great qualifier, and he admitted it himself that he’s not the fastest driver out there. I consider it a huge weakness, because qualifying shows how a driver can perform under pressure, and the fact that Alonso isn’t good at it, says a lot.

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        Fina his qualifying lap from Monza 2006. He’d lost his rear bodywork and the team done some calculations afterwards to see what it had lost. Iirc, somewhere in the region of 40% downforce. The time he set was impossible they reckoned.
        He has acknowledged himself he isn’t the fastest over 1 lap, but in a race, there is no better and as we all know, points are paid out on a Sunday

      2. Yago says:

        I don’t think you can be the fastest over a race distance (by quite a margin) and not be the fastest over one lap, in today F1 (well maybe with Pirelli tyres it is possible in some way), unless your oponents have problems to mantain focus through the race (Jarno Trulli as an example).
        FA is fastest in the race because he is fastest in the majority of the different situations that occur (low grip worn tyres, high fuel, low fuel, new tyres, different weather conditions, clean track, rubbered track, different car balance situations, etc) all of them with the same car set up. And when one is faster in some situation one is faster over 1, 10 or 15 laps. This is, if you make them all qualify in all the different situations, FA would come up on top more often than any other. That for me is to be fastest over a single lap, and is what it should mean anyway!
        Of course it could be that a driver could crack under the preassure of putting together a good lap in Q3, but if someone thinks that’s the case with FA then he is making a bad analisys on his capabilities!

      3. KRB says:

        When did Alonso say that he wasn’t the fastest driver out there? Link please.

      4. Yago says:

        Right! He never said that! Actually in an interview to Spanish tv few years ago he sais something like this: “Give all drivers the same car and ask us to do the fastest possible lap. I would be the fastest one”.
        I already got used to people thinking he is not a good qualifyer, and they are free to think so. The thing is that they are wrong. Probably if one day ferrari put together a good quali package, if SV goes to ferrari (hopefully) or if FM goes to another top team they will be shocked.

      5. Sven says:

        He really said that in 2009. “I might not be the fastest or most talented driver but I am consistent.” I completely agree with him. Though this year, he’s not even the most consistent out there: Kimi and Vet are.

      6. Yago says:

        Sorry Guys, but Alonso words are misinterpreted. He said once that MAYBE he was not the best in the rain, nor on street circuits, nor on qualifying, nor on… but that he tried to be a 9 out of 10 on everything. That’s being humble and nothing else. But as I already said, talking friendly to spanish tv he made it clear that he thought he could do the fastest lap on the grid with equal cars.
        When Nadal says that Federer is much better than him, and afterwards he beats him, what do you think? That is called being humble guys, and nothing else.

      7. j says:

        I always look at the opposite example when people use this type of “logic” making Jarno Trulli the greatest grand prix driver of his era.

      8. clyde says:

        With all due respect Vettel puts it on P1 only when he has the fastest car on the grid ….The only drivers who could do it without the fastest car were Senna,Villeneuve and maybe Mansell and Hakinnen to a lesser extent …..Alonso on the other hand has rarely had the fastest car and has always had to compromise on his setup for the race :-)

      9. Veena says:

        You are talking like Alonso.

      10. clyde says:

        Probably But its still a fact :-)

      11. Sam says:

        Not quite true, check back 2006, when he was test driver with BMW, i recall he was fastest on Fri practice when he did not have the fastest car (beating the then reigning and former WDC champions).

      12. Tim says:

        I consider it a huge weakness, because qualifying shows how a driver can perform under pressure, and the fact that Alonso isn’t good at it, says a lot…

        Suggesting that Alonso cannot perform under pressure is without foundation. In my opinion there is only one other driver from recent times who can perform under pressure better, and that is Schumacher.
        None of the other drivers are in the same league. I am no fan of Alonso, but credit where credit is due.

      13. Yago says:

        Interestingly Flavio Briatore has said several times that the reason FA is better than Schumacher is that he is better under pressure.

      14. James Allen says:

        I think there is something in that. However Schumacher was definitely faster over a single lap than ALO. Not much to choose between them in race pace and race craft. ALO by far the better starter.

      15. Yago says:

        James, I find it interesting that you say that Schumacher was definitely faster over a single lap than Alonso. There is an article from Andrew Benson in 2010 just before Monaco I think where he says that insiders from ferrari told him they thought FA was faster than MS at his best.
        The comparison of both MS and FA with Felipe Massa makes it difficult to belive MS was clearly faster than FA.
        Andrea Stella said the following in an interview: Kimi needed the car to be in a narrow window to be quick. MS had a flaw, he needed to play with the rear of the car a bit too much. That in certain conditions could be counterproductive. But Alonso, he sayd, is unique because he basically has no flaws.

      16. David C says:

        Hey Yago, im pretty sure if Andrea Stella is still there when Fernando retires he will say Hulkenberg is better than Alonso (or whoever else ferrari get in). I know the English speaking world tend to focus on Schumachers more illustrious moments but when he was at his best 1995-2003 he was clearly the best driver out there, getting wins out of very uncompetitative ferrariesb in 1996 -1997. Villeneuve and hill may have won the 1996 and 1997 championships but they were by no means the best driver those years, maybe if Schumacher had taken out Jacques and won the title that would have been the more juste thing …….. ok i dont believe that last thing about jerez but Schumacher was the best driver that year. JV was spunky nice guy whos father was a great F1 driver.

      17. Tim says:

        @Yago
        Interestingly Flavio Briatore has said several times that the reason FA is better than Schumacher is that he is better under pressure…..

        Which one of his many ‘hats’ was Flav wearing at the time he said that?
        Was it the conviction for fraud hat, the banned from F1 for cheating hat, or just the manager of Fernando Alonso hat?
        I am not saying that Flav does not know a thing or two, but you will forgive me if I take his word with a pinch of salt :-)

      18. Yago says:

        @David C,
        Sorry if my words could be misinterpreted. I agree completely with you. MS was the best driver of his era without any shadow of doubt. He was an amazing racing driver. On the other hand, however, it is not just Stella, Montezemolo said more than once tha FA was the strongest driver Ferrari has had (that includes Prost and MS). Of course you are free to not take his words seriously.
        @Tim,
        It’s a shame you don’t take Briatore seriously, he is the guy who best knows both MS and FA!! xD

      19. Honkhonk says:

        James I don’t think you can categorically say Schumacher was better than Alonso over a single lap simply because qualifying went from an all out single lap to what it is now, a preparatory out lap before a race. In my opinion since this change qualifying records no longer can be compared to the past. Senna and Schumacher built their records on laps where the car would be set up for the race after. I feel comparing when Alonso had one of the two fastest cars on the grid, his qualifying record was exceptional. But the majority of the last five years he has not had a fast car and often qualifying was a plan to climb the grid during the race.

        We saw that when testing was unlimited Alonso and Schumacher were in a class of their own leading the charge and a young Alonso often beat Schumacher. I think for this reason it’s impossible to judge who was faster. Additionally we could compare their performance against Massa. Some may say he isn’t what he used to be but others could say he was inexperienced against Schumacher and better experienced now. Comparing Schumacher to Rosberg doesn’t show much favor to Schumacher either. I wish they’d let teams qualify as it was meant to be… Set your car up for qualifying as fast as you can. Nowadays all we get is a prelude to the story of the weekend…. We can’t really see the drivers truly all going flat out over a lap!

      20. David C says:

        hey Yago while I think current employers/workmates can be biased ive no real other reason to say they are definatly lieing, I guess we will never know conclusivly, even if we put them in the same car it could come down to as little as what point in their relative carear each was at. I guess comparing them is pointless in a way …… but a fun and interesting kind of pointless, both great drivers and world champions (hopefully both one day ferrari world champions).

        Hey HonkHonk, I couldnt agree more with you man, i would love if they brought back the sunday morning session with cars primmed for qualifying on saturday. I used to love the lads starting on the dirty side of the grid despiratly trying to put some rubber down off the racing line. Would be handy for if it rained overnight to get some rubber on the track

      21. shortsighted says:

        I think Alonso is one of the best drivers under pressure. But his start (and that of Massa) is so exceptional that makes me wonder whether Ferrari still has some form of launch control which has since been banned.

      22. Sam says:

        Well Yago, i have no more trust in Andrew Benson and no longer bother to read his column cos he is extremely bias — against Vettel and Hamilton and pro Alonso. So his evaluation of Alonso has no merits IMHO.

      23. Mingojo says:

        In the last five years Alonso didn’t have a fast car in qualy, but I guess let’s look somewhere else.

      24. JohnBt says:

        Quali carries zero points and Sunday is the day you make money.

        If Alonso wasn’t 5th in Spain we wouldn’t have witness the overtaking moves he made on the first lap which I thought was one of the best for a long time, precious moments in F1.

    2. Lewis says:

      No, get Adrian Newey

      1. clyde says:

        +1

      2. RGS says:

        that is a more realistic comment, it is not that Vettel is the fastest but his car is…

      3. H.Guderian says:

        8-)

        Perfect.

    3. Yago says:

      I see that many people seriously think that SV is faster than FA. That shows how difficult it is to extrapolate a drivers speed by taking out of the equation car performance. It also shows how underrated FM sheer speed is.
      I would commend all the people that think like you to read the opinion of the drivers that have been FAs team mates. As an example a recent interview with LH from Dailymail or an older one to El Pais, an article on F1 Racing I think where Fisichela talks about FA qualifying performance, another interview with Nelson Piquet Jr I do not remember where (yes that Nelsinho who should hate FA after crashgate 2008 but instead admires him, what should also tell something about FA implication on the scandal) etc…
      It would be nice also to have a talk with Kimi on his thoughts about FM, as he suffered in his own skin how fast FM really is when it comes to put the perfect lap. Sadly felipe has been treated very bad by F1 fans and pundits, and now that he is pretty close to FA on one lap peace some people wrongly think FA is not the highest benchmark he could have.
      Some times Alonso does not improve his firs Q3 time. He is by far the best when it comes to know where the limits are without even having to try before, and some times he can do a very good time in his first attempt and do not improve it afterwards. This hapens to hamilton some times too, the other driver with absolute natural talent and sheer ability on the grid.
      And do not get me wrong, I think SV is a super driver.

      1. KRB says:

        Very good post. Thanks.

      2. clyde says:

        well put :-)

      3. Truth or Lies says:

        Very good post.

    4. JTW says:

      Oops, I’m sure you meant Adrian Newey

    5. Alex says:

      Why would they do that ? Vettel might be just bit faster in qualyfiying than Fernando but when it comes to race pace FA is the boss , also Vettel qualyfiying only shines when Newey gets it right , problems start to show up and he is no where

      1. illegal bull says:

        +1

      2. **Paul** says:

        I think the accepted paddock logic is that Vettel is the best qualifer in F1, alongside Lewis (although perhaps that perception will change with Rosberg beating him twice in a row?). Alonso however is Mr consistent with race pace and is the best on the grid at that. Button is accepted as the master of wet/dry races, etc etc.

        Yes you could credit some of Vettels poles to Neweys car design, but likewise you could just as easily credit some of Alonsos wins to Nikolas Tombazis for the Ferrari car design.

      3. Kay says:

        “but likewise you could just as easily credit some of Alonsos wins to Nikolas Tombazis for the Ferrari car design”

        What??! Even in cars like the F2012???

        Madness.

      4. David C says:

        I think this FA race pace thing is being blown out of proportion, he likes to talkdown his cars but if you look at last year that ferrari was never 1 second away from the red bull on race pace. Alot of the technical people were confident that ferraris problems stemed from when the DRS aid was deactivated and resumes its normal position. As this happens alot several times (2012 régulations) in qualifying the gap is exagerated compared to the race where this occurs 1/2 times. Considering this the first couple of places FA climbed in each race were only natural as his car was being repositioned to its aproprite place in the order facilitaed by DRS / Pirelli tyres / Kers these inital overtakes were nothing spectacular, but non the less have created the myth of him being the best racer ever. Essentially he qualified out of position every race and made his way past some slower cars using driver aids. Dont get me wrong he is an amazing race driver and one of the top guys out there but alas he is no GOD.

      5. Dutch johnny says:

        I agree completely. Im getting bored of when alonso wins its his great skills. But when vettel/hamilton(less then vettel) wins its because of their package.

  5. Baghetti says:

    S. Domenicali said: “We will have races where it will be much more difficult to overtake.”

    Does he really think so? Granted that we have Monaco coming up, but apart from that race I do not think that it gets any worse than the Circuit de Catalunya where for 10 consecutive years it was the pole-holder that won the race (2001-2011) and where Alonso just broke the record of winning from lowest starting position ever.

    With so many pit stops, tyre nursing, double DRS zones, KERS and (Ferrari-specific) canon-ball starts we are now seeing a different formula than we were used to, qualifying position really isn’t that important any more, so except maybe for the specific case of Monaco Ferrari shouldn’t be too worried about its qualifying pace as long as they can continue to qualify around P5-P6.

    1. BurgerF1 says:

      I think you’re right for the most part, but qualifying lower also increases the risk of a first lap incident which either ends your race or makes victory almost impossible. Last year we saw that Alonso avoided a lot of this but for Spa and Japan (I think it was Japan anyway). Those potential lost points could have made him champion. This year we already have seen him trip over Vettel, lose his front wing and score no points).

      1. j says:

        Great point.

    2. Baghetti says:

      Should be 2001-2010 of course, in 2011 Vettel won from second on the grid

    3. Ben says:

      I think Domenicali is also expecting the change in tyres to reduce the chances of making a charge through the field so Quali will become important again.

    4. Doobs says:

      When Pirelli bring in their RB spec tyres it’ll be back to the “good” old dayzzzzzzzzz

      1. Baghetti says:

        As was the case when they brought in the Merc spec tyres in Barcelona, right?

  6. Bones says:

    First they’ll have to measure the impact of the new tyres on the aerodynamics. There is a possibility that because of the new rubber they’ll be forced to modify the front wings, floors and so on.
    Of course same goes for the other teams.

  7. Stuart Harrison says:

    Do Ferrari really need to improve qualifying pace? Given their electric starts in recent races (over the past 18 months or so), they can afford to be a few tenths off the pole pace and still be in the top three by the first corner.

    Monaco might be a different picture, but it’s the only race like that in the calendar and they can’t afford to be re-designing the car around that.

    I’d say they have things about right at present, so why change?

    1. Honkhonk says:

      I just want to say that while Ferrari have fast starts I don’t think all their progress at the beginning of the race is on that. I’ve seen at least two races this year where Alonso got blocked or such, and instead prepares and strategically uses entry into and exit out of the first turn to launch moves for position on others. He did this at the most recent race also. That had nothing to do with the fast start of the car.

  8. Curt says:

    “On another note, Alonso said in the FIA press conference that he wouldn’t care if he finished second in every race for the rest of the season as long as he won the championship.”

    Sorry Fernando, Kimi has already claimed that strategy.

    1. Sasidharan says:

      He said, let Kimi win one race and Seb the other. In that case we need to do our math to see if FA can win the championship. :)

      1. Tim says:

        If Seb and Kimi won alternate races and FA was always second, he would only win the WDC if they were fifth or lower in their non race winning weekends – I think :-)

      2. Sam says:

        Seb is one of the more emotional drivers on the grid and he always go for the win, which is a risk but makes him more interesting to watch.

  9. Brace says:

    James, with Concord non-existent at the moment and all this farce with changing tires for the 3rd time this season, is there anything written that forbids Ferrari from testing, or is it all just a verbal agreement?

  10. Richard says:

    Ferrari’s real dilemma is how to beat the Red Bull now tyres will go their way for the rest of the year…

    1. illegal bull says:

      Spot on

  11. Anne says:

    James what makes you and Mark Gillan so sure Ferrari won´t have problems with the tyres in Canada and the rest of season? In the article says they have have a dilema with the pole and race pace. So the new tyres add more fuel to the fire for them.

  12. W Johnson says:

    James,

    Or should the title read,

    “How to improve qualifying without wrecking the tyres”?

  13. Oz Geezza says:

    Pat Fry is a briliant designer /engineer.
    Luca D Montezemolo did not hesitate to move
    Alda Costa who was Ross Brown deputy i favour
    of Pat Fry.
    Pat Fry firm belief,the biggest improvement
    in performance for 2013 regulations are in
    the exhaust,exhaust, in every F1 meeting
    Ferrari had a update ar a tweak to its
    exhaust system.
    Undoubtedly it has beared the fruit.

  14. Mingojo says:

    The problem is one the weakness of Red Bull’s car will be removed from Canada onwards. Controversial in my opinion, but I guess Red Bull could be flying away with both Championships after Canada!

  15. goferet says:

    In my view, Ferrari need not worry too much about their qualifying pace.

    If you look at it this way, Ferrari have the one of the best race pace and best launch so lets say the team (Alonso) qualify P5 or better each race, this would mean after every start, he would be around P2 or P3 and then this is where the race pace and easy on their tyres would kick in.

    Yes theoretically, Ferrari have a car that can win anywhere as shown by the fact that the team that wins at Barcelona pretty much has the tools to do well at any circuit.

    But I understand the team’s point of view in that they would much rather win as easily as possible but the problem is even with a perfect car, Alonso isn’t known for his qualifying skills plus now he has to deal with two teams that have super fast talents i.e. Red Bull and Mercedes.

    So yeah, I wouldn’t change too much on those cars least I wreck something besides, it’s much more fun to win from a position that isn’t pole.

    As for the new tyres, the team is sitting pretty too for last year, Ferrari were matching Red Bull on the 2012 rubber.

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      I have read on another site that whilst the change helps RBR it is actually going to be worse for Mercedes qualifying speed. Something to do with tyre squirt…

      http://somersf1.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/pirelli-to-make-changes-ahead-of.html?m=1

      Might be of interest

      1. goferet says:

        @ hero_was_senna

        Shoot that sucks.

        But I still trust the Mercedes pilots, all that this will mean is they won’t get pole regularly or by a huge margin.

      2. Doobs says:

        Just what RB want…

      3. Martin says:

        Not a blogger I know, but I was not encouraged by what I read in his technical comments to read other articles.

        Fundamentally, Pirelli is still going to have fairly high degradation tyres based on what Paul Hembry says. What Pirelli doesn’t want is debris causing delamination as that looks really bad. Debris that immediately causes a puncture is more easily understood by non-technically minded viewers.

        The shape of the tyre is probably going to be slightly different and the deformation of the tyre under load will change from the teams have now. All sorts of bits around the front wings, front and rear brake ducts, etc will be changed by the top teams.

        I don’t know if there will be any reason to change the suspension geometry. The qualifying ideal is to have the rear tyres quite vertical when the load is low – basically 0 degrees static camber. As the speeds go up the camber goes negative as the suspension squats – performed by having the lower arms either longer or becoming closer to horizontal as the car squats under load. The degree to which a team does this increases the heat generated in the tyre as camber distorts the tyre as it rolls and this distortion generates heat all the time. In a race situation a team might prefer to leave the camber more neutral all the time.

        Personally, I’m not seeing too much change coming from the revised tyres apart from how punctures manifest themselves. To have 2 to 3 stop races, what Pirelli needs is to not race at Barcelona or Istanbul and not select the supersoft and soft options too often.

        Cheers,
        Martin

  16. Paul Watson says:

    Any insights james as to what they should do? Or if they should do anything at all for that matter. Personally I think that qualifying is Alonso’s chink in the armor and that Ferrari are probably on par with at least lotus. I wouldn’t do anything major and agree that many of remaining races don’t pose the Monaco problem.

    1. Martin says:

      I think the greatest theoretical improvement would be to find a way to increase low speed, say up to 120 km/h downforce without adding any high speed downforce. The improved traction out of slow corners comes with much less of a heat penalty than carrying more speed through medium and high speed corners. Extra low speed downforce is what made the Red Bull quick in Bahrain, but its extra high speed downforce gave it high tyre wear in Spain. To do this Ferrari would need to find a way for multi-element components, such as the front wings and the rear brake ducts to have their last elements stall above a certain speed without affecting the primary elements.

      Making the car more aerodynamically efficient so that the car makes the same downforce but has less drag will add lap time with no significant time penalty, but this is more relevant in the race and the qualifying gain will be small.

      Reducing the power loss from the Coander exhausts will also be a performance benefit, along with any other measures that can increase engine power with a ‘frozen’ engine configuration.

      Do everything possible to lower the centre of gravity of the car. Largely this means finding ways to take weight out of the roll structure of the car and turning this into ballast. This would require a new crash test.

      I would be very wary of messing with the suspension as that is likely to send the car in the Mercedes direction.

      Cheers,
      Martin

  17. Tomby says:

    Alonso’s Qualy positions aren’t that bad, to be honest they are the best since he’s in Ferrari.

    Australia 5
    Malaysia 3
    China 3
    Bahrain 3
    Spain 5

    avg in 2013 – 3,8
    avg in 2012 – 6,1
    avg in 2011 – 4,6
    avg in 2010 – 5,8

    1. Bring Back Murray says:

      Nice stats! Out of all the driver’s on the grid I’d say Alonso’s grid position matters the least. As long as he qualifies fairly neear the top of the grid (in the first two rows) you know he’s going to find a way to steam up the field.

  18. olivier says:

    James, here’s an idea to get rid of qualifying altogether.

    Let the cars start the next race in the order they finished the last one. This will encourage racing in every race. Especially in Barcelona as Monaco is next.

    Saturdays will be free practice for the racing grid. Fridays are reserved for rookies & young guns.

    1. TGS says:

      Or let them start the race in the opposite order they finished the last one.

      1. Chapor says:

        As much as I want to see that, I reckon they don’t need the medical car following them the first lap, but rather one of those big vacuum cleaner trucks they use to sweep the streets with… :-P

        That will certainly spice up the show… lol

      2. Doobs says:

        Reverse grid demo-derby…. Pass the band-aid

    2. Craig in Manila says:

      Or have them start in order of Fastest Lap from prior race.

      This method would encourage drivers to push hard the latter stages of the race even in circumstances where they were not in the points and/or had no chance of catching the guy in front.

    3. Satish says:

      2005 was a bit like that, one lap quali in reverse order of previous race finish positions.

      1. Martin says:

        The reverse order is meant to favour the winning teams from the previous race as the track is rubbered in.

    4. glennb says:

      Apart from going against tradition I think it makes a lot of sense. Purists would hate it but who cares?

      1. Martin says:

        Edd Straw on Autosport wrote about this, and said that the 1931 Monaco race was the first race to have a grid determined by qualifying rather than a lottery. So just tell the purists that they are not pure enough. It would also help teach F1 drivers what luck really is – mechanical failures are not luck for example.

  19. Jonathan Lodge says:

    reading the many articles about the route Pirelli are going down I would like to know a bit more about McLaren’s dilemma. There were calls for them to bring back last year’s car. With the prospect of using last year’s tyres surely they would be much better off using the older car…

    1. glennb says:

      Unfortunately they no longer have anyone to drive it. Personally I think the 2013 McLaren is performing as well as can be expected under the circumstances.

      1. Doobs says:

        They have a former world champion who is also one of the most experienced drivers on the grid, as well as the newbie who is at least as fast as the previous encumbant

    2. Martin says:

      Some people have argued that the McLaren front wing is a key part of the problem. Using a 2012 front wing design as a starting point for updating the MP-28 might be a good idea as the old front wing is designed to work with tyres of the coming shape.

      Two things to consider are that the MP-27 is now 6 months development behind RB9 which is a step ahead of the RB8 that the MP-27 was just quicker than at the end of 2012. So for a team determined to win, this isn’t likely to help too much. Also, in not solving the MP-28s problems the team doesn’t properly understand them and learn from them for 2014. F1 design is largely highly evolutionary with limited innovation in contained areas. The MP-28 is a step towards the MP-29 while the MP-27 would constrain McLaren’s thinking and knowledge.

      Ferrari went through something similar when it sacked Aldo Costa in early 2011 and brought in Pat Fry. It wanted to get out of a mid-2000s way of designing F1 cars and get into the simulator-led age.

      One final point now that I think of it. The MP-27 was a high downforce, hard spring rate car, which is the antithesis of the Lotus. McLaren won more races than Lotus last year, so that approach isn’t necessarily wrong, but I believe Lotus and Ferrari have taken a step forward in race pace with these tyres, while last year’s McLaren is really an extension of Bridgestone era thinking.

      Cheers,
      Martin

  20. Random 79 says:

    Improving qualifying without wrecking the race has to be a long term priority, but for Monaco they might do well to take a page from Mercedes book.

    From what I’ve seen and read Monaco could be Mercedes best opportunity for a win, so the best bet for Ferrari to beat them there might well be to make sure they are in front of them at the start and let the rest of the race take care of itself.

    1. glennb says:

      I understand the logic behind Mercedes favouritism to win Monaco but I tend to believe, based on current form that Kimi / Lotus will excel there. If they can pull off a single stop (dry) race, I think they’ll be we’ll placed. The trick will be keeping within 20? secs of the fastest 2 stopper and being in front after the final stop.

      1. jay harte says:

        i can see hamilton or rosberg being 10 seconds clear by lap 5 or 6 at monaco because of the field spread which is really big at monaco as nobody behind can overtake .
        would you agree james ?

      2. KRB says:

        2s a lap quicker, at Monaco? The only way that could happen, and I’m not even sure if it could even then, was if the two Merc’s got away 1-2, and the 2nd car backed up the field so that the lead car could pull a gap.

        If Mercedes are smart, and lock out the front row, they will make sure they ensure a 1-2 order, and do exactly that. Of course, to do something like that, the drivers would have to have a pre-quali agreement that whoever got pole would be allowed to lead the race. Then at race start, get together, make the cars wide, and ensure the 1-2 order.

  21. John M says:

    James, I realise that this is not Q & A for you but may I ask, in your opinion (or you may know in fact), during the race can any of the teams take the full speed/pace of their car for more than a lap or so without compromising their strategy or race?

    If no-one can then surely this would be a big issue in deciding how aggressive Ferrari go on improving their quali performance. Why take a risk for essentially one race?

    1. John M says:

      Thanks a lot.

      Disappointed.

      This will be my last post now.

  22. dean cassady says:

    We have this great hip-hop singer named KOS in Canada, and he sings this song, “… if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it…”
    Ferrari have finally got it right!
    It’s been a while.
    Keep on the current trajectory, continue to upgrade the car, without compromising race pace.
    They’ve finally got it working, their entire system.
    Let’s face it, the Ferrari was the best package in Barcelona.
    All they have to do is keep it steady, in the same direction.
    The Ferrari was the best package in Barcelona.

  23. dean cassady says:

    Oh yeah, one more thing, for those that seem unaware:
    Monaco, like Monza, is a very special, that is, especially outside of the average, real outliers in terms of requirements for the car. These ‘special’ circuits require ‘special’ set ups, and it is most likely that the competitive teams bring a previously described “Monaco package” and have it embedded in their development program plan, to maximize what they learn and take away the most they can for subsequent development work.
    Because of this, there could be surprises in terms of pace, in Monaco.
    While fundamentally strong designs, as the Ferrari now seems to be, are ideal for specializing, but many seem to think that the Mercedes is almost fundamentally designed to work well in Monaco.
    I say, the car (Mercedes) does not seem to have the fundamentals worked out very well, and I believe one manifestation that could be expected is, unpredictability of changes. Their optimization package will be more of a gamble than Ferrari’s.
    Likewise, Lotus seems to have a very predictable system for their upgrades, (some might say, too predictable). Their traction out of corners may yet pave the way for a differentiating performance. I don’t believe Ferrari’s obvious edge in top speed will give much advantage at Monaco, but I fancy Alonso’s chances to the chequered flag better than Mercedes.

  24. monsterFG says:

    James, Pirelli says they are gonna change tyre compound from Canada onwards, my question is what are teams saying on this as their approval is needed to change it and why is FIA keeping numb on all this. There are teams that will be affected in a negative way and most notably it will have positive effect on Red Bull. Whats your take on all this as I struggle to understand why they doing this and why are the rules sidelined, tnx James for best articles F1 related.

  25. mhilgtx says:

    On tracks that favor Ferrari all they need to do is be with in striking distance of Kimi. Lotus and Force India are their only competitors on those kinds of tracks, when it comes to tire wear.

    I doubt we will see a huge difference in the actual compounds. I could be wrong, but I think Pirelli will go with another half measure (Breaking Bad reference :) )and just round off the corners a bit and go back to Kevlar. If they can get away with just the Kevlar the will probably do that. Then if that fails they will make full changes in the compounds as well. They waited so long to get on top of this no matter what they do will look bad to some.

    1. Martin says:

      I agree that the compound changes are likely to be small. The way to avoid four stop races is to not race at Barcelona. To give Pirelli the benefit of the doubt, it could be the delaminations are coming due to debris and rather then punctures we are getting something more dramatic. Barcelona might be a convenient excuse for Pirelli to modify its tyres so that people who don’t understand tyres will assume the worst about the tyres.

      Cheers,
      Martin

  26. heinzman (Fan of ALO) says:

    Instead of changing the tyres because they are too sensitive, why not bring back refuelling? Refuelling without qualifying on race fuel. Opens up more windows for all!

    1. Bring Back Murray says:

      Hmm.. I was never a great fan of refuelling. Yeah they were driving much closer to the limit but far too much overtaking was done in the pits and never enough on the track. There were too many situations where a driver would simply sit behind another driver for serveral laps, wait for the driver in front to pit, then drive fast for the next 2/3 laps, pit and emerge out in front of him again.

      1. Heinzman (Fan of: ALO) says:

        I hear you, these days I think it would be different though. The fuelling would give teams like Merc an opportunity to compete. End of the day the cream always rises.

        What do you think about DRS/KERS?

  27. holly says:

    You guys don’t want Alonso in pole, with the way he drives in the races, he win all of them if he starts from pole.

    1. JohnBt says:

      That’s what i thought too. Never give Alonso the best car, it will be a bore fest.

    2. KRB says:

      Well, he definitely has a very good win-from-pole conversion rate. Only ALO and BUT have conversion rates over 60% on that score (63.64% and 62.50% respectively). Ok, Pastor is 1-for-1 (100%), but out of those with more than one pole. Rosberg was at 100% too before Bahrain (now at 33.33%).

      Of course, nothing you can do about unconverted poles due to mechanical issues. It would be nice to see the data having removed mechanical DNFs.

  28. Tom says:

    As happy as I am that Pirelli changed the tires back, it just means we’re going to have another Newey/Vettel (notice what I did there? :P )fest for the rest of the year. Hopefully Ferrari don’t worry too much about their Quali pace and stay focused on their race pace as I think this is their only shot at staying up there with Red Bull this year now that the tires have gone back to the old spec.

    I’d still much rather see proper F1 tires, even last years tires hindered the actual “racing” too much.

    1. Bring Back Murray says:

      I personally don’t adhear to everyone’s concerns about Vettel and Red Bull suddenly becoming dominent again due to beefing the tyres up. Ferrai and Lotus both have much improved cars this season regardless of the tyre situation. All I can see is close racing between ALO and VET (and pss Kimi) rather than one driver / team dominating the others like in previous seasons.

  29. Andre says:

    Qualifying is just not that much important anymore these days. Already since the time when one had to start on the same tires as they ended Q3 with.
    Ofcourse its still better to be as much in front as possible, but teams tend to compromise qualifying in favour of race performance.
    Hence some drivers don’t really go for it in Q3.

    On another note. People always say the Ferrari from last year was so bad, but Alonso average finishing position was 3th and had the most podium finishes of all drivers so as much a great driver he is he couldn’t accomplish that in a bad car.

  30. Arnie S says:

    “Alonso and Massa found a good balance on Friday and felt that they had a good chance for the race and didn’t want to upset that.”

    Well, with 1-3 finish, it seems to be understatement of the year

  31. stig says:

    I only see 1 scenario for Monaco:

    1)
    Merc leading the race from the start with 1-2 cars in front of RBR/LOT/FER and driving slowly until first stop, then creating gap but will get stuck in traffic because of slow first-stint pace. Kimi and Alonso, with better tyremanagement should benefit from this by going longer and very fast at the end of 1st stint. Only Q is how long they can strech it..

    RBR and Merc in particular might need a 2nd stop. What you guys think?

    1. Martin says:

      If the sun is out, then I suspect Pirelli’s intent with this year’s supersoft and soft is to ensure more than one stop for everyone.

      If the Mercedes is similar to Barcelona, then I suspect as its tyres wear it will become vulnerable out of Portier and through the tunnel. A similar thing happened in 2005 with the no stop rule.

      Between the Red Bull, Lotus and Ferrari, it will be whether the Lotus and Ferrari can run in clear air at some point to get ahead via the pit stops.

  32. Nick4 says:

    This post has produced a fascinating response. FA reminds me so much of Alain Prost, a driver whose race craft was unequalled even with the sublime Ayrton Senna on the same grid. FA like AP is never unsettled by not getting the fastest lap in quali. His focus is always on race pace and that is where a race is won or lost. He is remorseless in this department. The glory of the single lap whilst very helpful in Monaco and Hungary does not guarantee a win with the current regs and tyre pit stops. SV relies upon being able to set a blinding lap for quali and then gallop away from the race pack after the start. This is not the way of the modern GP. With super reliable cars compared to 20 years ago, different tyre rules, drivers of the calibre of FA and KR can produce results that challenge the convention of the pole sitter winning most races.
    Lest it be forgotten, off track quotes are as useful as an undercut in achieving the end result – a win.

  33. sjd1992 says:

    I’m not sure there’s much to be concerned about from Ferrari’s point of view even with the change in tyres.

    So far this season their best performances have come on circuits with a number of long corners (China, Spain etc.) which places just as, if not more, emphasis on a car’s aerodynamic grip than tyre performance. They clearly have the car hooked up well on those circuits (the likes of Silverstone, Nurby, Hungary aren’t too far away either) and that will help them regardless of how durable the tyres are.

    Also, if you look at the lap times in Spain, Alonso finished nearly 40 seconds ahead of Vettel. Even allowing for the change in tyres, there’s no way you can account for that amount of time loss based solely on tyre wear. All that points to Ferrari having an all-round better race package than the Red Bulls, and that’s an advantage they should continue to enjoy as long as they carry on developing the car well.

  34. JohnBt says:

    How about sticking Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel and Kimi in a GP2 car once and for all so we’ll really know who’s the best once and for all. Imagine just four of them out there, exclusive.

    1. Martin says:

      That would tell some people who is the best GP2 car driver of the four of them. Since Hamilton is the only one to have raced a GP2 car, some would regard that as an unfair advantage.

      How would you take into account the quality of the race engineers that they have? In F1 the drivers get to tailor the brakes and the steering much more to their individual tastes than would be allowed in GP2.

      Even looking at 2007 and Alonso and Hamilton, you will get many different views on this site. For example, Hamilton was a rookie and is much better now, or better a more rounded package but not any faster? Alonso was destabilised by the team for much of the year and for the first part, he was adapting to the Bridgestone tyres and the (Carbone?) brakes. Hamilton was faster in qualifying, but was he generally carrying less fuel.

      No two cars are identical either. The biggest variation might be the tyres, but with four notionally identical cars, the engines would all give different numbers on the dyno, the chassis would all have a slightly different feel due to tolerances in the arm lengths and spring rates and dampers.

      Some fans would like some other participants too. Bianchi is highly rated for pace. Paul di Resta would like to think he is in the mix given his F3 experience against Hamilton and Vettel. Hulkenberg is regarded by some as the most impressive GP2 driver overall.

      Stick any of them in a NASCAR and Jimmie Johnson would make them look pretty ordinary for quite a few years.

      Run the race in your head as many times as you like, but fans wouldn’t accept the result. There would still be lots of “Kimi’s the quickest of them all” statements on sites like this one. Or Alonso cracks under pressure. Or whatever.

      F1 is a team business/sport that also has a driver’s championship. The team gets the money and the driver the glory.

  35. Ryan Eckford says:

    James, I just wonder if Mercedes use a lot of fuel, and that it may exaggerate their problems with the tyres?

    Anyway, I think the changes to the tyres coming in for Canada will help everyone on the grid, but particularly Mercedes and Red Bull. However, Ferrari and Lotus will still have their strengths of managing thermal degradation better than Red Bull or Mercedes.

    For Monaco, it will be more of a case of getting heat into the tyres, rather than reducing the temperature of the tyres, which combined with slow-speed corners, good traction and braking required, Mercedes have to start favourites for sure. Red Bull will be strong as well, with Ferrari just behind them. Lotus will be there behind them, but Force India and McLaren will push them all the way. Toro Rosso is after them, followed by the disappointing outfits of Sauber and Williams, then the two youngest teams on the grid, Marussia and Caterham.

    1. James Allen says:

      No, that’ not it. Force India uses the same engine and they are one of the best on the tyres in races

  36. BlackShocks says:

    James,I thought launch control systems were banned from F1 for a couple of years now?

    How come (both) Ferrari’s have such incredible lightning starts at every race?

    1. James Allen says:

      We are going to do a piece on that

    2. Sam says:

      Looking forward to that cos read that Ferrari has a very good software for their starts.

  37. nusratolla says:

    I don’t think they should concentrate on anything. Qualifying is redundant this year. As long as you can manage tires as the Ferrari does best then why waste resources into redundancies.

    Even in Monaco all they need to target is finishing behind the Mercedes and they will win for when Mercedes’ tires wear down they can attack for Mercedes will be slower out of Rasscasse and Casino Square and they can pull off the move into the first corner and Mirrebeau respectively. But the trick is to be the first car to pass the Mercedes, for whoever, passes the Mercedes first will be the outright winner or to even stay behind before both the Mercedes pit.

    An extension to their high tire wear the Mercedes exposed one other weakness in Spain…. They need to brake early…. now rest is upto the rest to play with it.

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