Analysis – F1 2014 the story so far: Ferrari
Innovation
Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 18.06.29
Posted By: Justin Hynes  |  24 Apr 2014   |  7:14 pm GMT  |  214 comments

With the first four ‘flyaway’ grands prix out of the way, it’s a good time to assess the start each team has made to the season and look at how each team has fared so far with the new hybrid turbo technology.

And the subject of our second post-‘flyaway’ analysis pieces is a team many expected to profit from the changing regulations but which has found itself once again facing troubled times…

Ferrari

Best result: P3 (Alonso, China)
Best grid slot: 4th (Alonso, Malaysia)
Average grid slot: 7th.
Retirements: 0
Constructors Championship: 4th
Drivers’ Championship: P3 Alonso, 41pts; P12 Raikkonen 11pts

Fastest race lap, gap to pace setter
Australia: +0.138s
Malaysia: +1.099s
Bahrain: +2.418s
China: +1.679

What’s gone right?
A couple of weeks ago you’d have said “not much”. Pre-season season testing showed that the F14 T was encouragingly reliable but worryingly sluggish and the opening round of the championship only served to confirm that suspicion. In Malaysia, the first really representative circuit the F14T was seventh in terms of maximum race speed in every sector. Through the speed trap Alonso was ninth quickest at 307.4kph compared with Felipe Massa’s 324.56kph.  Bahrain was the nadir, with Alonso and Raikkonen finishing ninth and tenth.

On the upside, Alonso has recovered from his dip in form in late 2013 and -whether inspired by the arrival of Raikkonen or just because he’s back to himself – is driving at an extremely high level, as like 2012. The improvements the team has brought since Bahrain have proved effective, especially in China where the most visible item were the larger brake ducts and blown wheel nuts first trialled in the Bahrain test. However, the revival of ideas already tried in the past by Williams and Red Bull, was probably not the signal upgrade run in China. Ferrari had clearly eked more power from the 059/3 engine. Rumours suggest that part of this improvement came from a new fuel from Shell and also via improvements on the software side.

Raikkonen was sixth-fastest through the speed trap, 4kph slower than fastest man Rosberg. Alonso, meanwhile, might only have logged the 16th-fastest speed but his pace was sufficient that Red Bull admitted to having doubts about whether Daniel Ricciardo would have been able to have a crack at the Spaniard due to the Ferrari’s better speed on the straights had he been free to fight with the Ferrari driver in the closing stages of the race.

Afterwards, Engineering Director Pat Fry admitted improvements had been made. “We made some progress and in general, the speed of the car has increased, both in the corners and on the straights,” he said.

Aerodynamically the car is solid, though clearly not in the same league as Red Bull’s RB10. While the team’s much-publicised wind tunnel issues were reported as solved in pre-season testing, with the team insisting the track data correlated with figures from the tunnel, former Team Principal Stefano Domenicali targeted poor aerodynamic performance as the team’s big weakness barely a week before stepping down.

With power unit issues being the most obvious handicap afflicting the F14 T, (not only in the unit’s output but also in power delivery that affects balance) the fact that the team is slowly getting on top of its problems is encouraging, especially in a championship in which the quest already seems to be to finish as ‘best of the rest’ to Mercedes.
What’s gone wrong?
Where to start. It has simply been a cataclysmic start for the season for Ferrari. Most of the teams issues have been put down to the power unit and the team’s inability to master it – specifically in terms of weight, power and driveability.

Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport has reported that the engine is 13kg overweight. The power delivery has also been called into question, with suggestions that the team hasn’t got on top of integration of ICE and ERS power and that this leads to rear end problems that make the car tough to drive and which harm the rear tyres.

Allied to that are the problems being faced by Kimi Raikkonen. Initially the team blamed a lack of comfort with the car’s brake-by-wire system only for the Finn to rubbish his own team’s excuse in public. The Finn admits, however, to struggling with the front end of the F14 T and so far those problems haven’t been cured. In China, too, Raikkonen confessed that his driving style was at odds with the circuit and the conditions. “I don’t think I work the tyres very hard. So obviously when it’s cool conditions and wet conditions it’s been many years that it’s been hard to get the tyres working,” he said. “Today it just feels that when you have a new tyre it works well until the grip from the new tyres goes away and obviously you have to go slower and then you start cooling down the tyres more. Everything goes round and round and you cannot fix that. I reckon it’s more to do with that.”

It isn’t just those issues that are hurting Ferrari, however, and again in the week before he parted company with the Scuderia, Domenicali’s assessment of where improvements need to be made was bleak: “Basically everywhere,” he said. “I don’t think by fixing one problem you fix the whole performance – so we need to work to have a more efficient car; we need to work to have a better engine; we need to work to exploit better the balance between electric power and traditional engine power. Everywhere!”

Add to all of those technical woes a political situation at the team that is characteristically Borgia-like. Domenicali’s abdication has resulted in the appointment of the previous little known company man Marco Mattiacci, a figure trusted by the parent FIAT/Chrysler board, who will be carefully steered, as he learns the ways of the F1′s ‘Piranha Club’ of team owner politics by Luca Di Montezemolo. Whether Montezemolo can turn around the apparent cultural malaise affecting his team remains to be seen, however. It also remains to be seen how the current hierarchy will be organised in the new Ferrari world order and how that will affect 2014. Former Mercedes technical director Bob Bell keeps being mentioned; he worked very well with James Allison in their Renault days and may find his way to Maranello by the end of the year.

Strong points of the team and car
Reliability has been excellent with a full complement of finishes so far. And despite the obvious issues the team is facing all buit two of those finished have been in the points, leaving Ferrari fourth in the Constructors’ Championship with 52 points, just five behind Red Bull. Alonso is third in the Drivers’ standings five points ahead of Nico Hulkenberg. If 2014 is a case of being ‘best of the rest’ Ferrari are well placed ahead of the European season.

Weak points of the team and the car
The climate at the team deosn’t seem to be conducive to a sudden revival and it remains to be seen what kind of positive strategic influence Mattiacci can ultimately have in the short term. 

Raikkonen’s woes are hurting the team in its pursuit of it’s main rivals Red Bull Racing and (at the moment) Force India.

Power unit issues would seem to be the biggest barrier to progress.

 

 


Where do they go from here?
If you were in a confident frame of mind, you might suggest that Ferrari keeps plugging away as it did in China, where the power unit solutions they brought had a clear benefit. There’s been no major upgrade yet and it will be interesting to see what the team brings – particularly in terms of aero solutions – to Barcelona and the test that follows. Solving the issues affecting Raikkonen would seem to be an immediate racing goal. The Finn hasn’t lost any of the pace and skill that saw him take eight podium finishes from the 17 races he contested last year.

A more pessimistic outlook would be that there is no hope of making a dent in Mercedes dominance and that attention should switch to 2015 and plotting the right choice of power unit elements to focus on.

 

Overall Marks out of 10

Ferrari – 6/10


Fernando Alonso – 7/10


Kimi Raikkonen – 5/10
 

How many marks out of ten do you give Ferrari so far? Leave us your comments on this post in the comments section below.

 

Featured Innovation
FOM
INNOVATION BRIEFING
technical innovation from tata COMMUNICATIONS
Previous
Next
Share This:
Posted by:
Category:
214 Comments
  1. Gaz Boy says:

    Everyone knows Ferrari have aerodynamic, mechanical and traction issues.
    However, what about driver line up issues?
    What I mean is that Fernando and Kimi have a very different driving technique. Having watched Fernando at Silverstone, particularly through the mega fast corners such as Copse and Becketts/Maggots (where he is always mighty – check his Silverstone pedigree) I would say Fernando sets his car up so he has the weight distribution and the aerodynamic centre of pressure more rearwards, which generates a lot of understeer, both his uncanny responsiveness to a sliding front axle can overcome this. I noticed that on the exit of the Becketts complex he was using more kerb than anyone else (apart from Mark, another Silverstone maestro!).
    I have studied Kimi’s technique as well, but I would certainly say he has the opposite driving technique: like Our Nige, Michael, Lewis and Sebastian he likes a “pointy” and sharp front axle, and likes to use oversteer to rotate the car in slow corners.
    In other words, Ferrari have employed two drivers with totally different driving techniques! This is a remarkably silly operational error, as it means there is very little “overlap” in terms of the two drivers set up preferences and technique in slow corners.
    I stand to be corrected, but isn’t it better to employ two drivers with a similar driving technique – like Seb and Dan? That’s called doing your homework!
    Another silly operational error from the Prancing Horse!

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      PS

      Fernando 9/10
      Kimi 4/10
      Ferrari 4/10

      I wish I could give Kimi and Fezza higher scores……prove me wrong lads, prove me wrong!

      1. Jez Playense says:


        James says “Solving the issues affecting Raikkonen would seem to be an immediate racing goal. The Finn hasn’t lost any of the pace and skill that saw him take eight podium finishes from the 17 races he contested last year”.

        Yet you rate him 4/10. Are you watching the same series?

      2. Gaz Boy says:

        My musings are based on Kimi’s performance relative to Fernando – and El Matador is giving the Vodka Choc Ice man a driving lesson at the moment!

      3. DMyers says:

        James may say Raikkonen has not lost any of his pace and skill, but how did he measure that? It is unlikely that he has, but it’s bad journalism to make assertions such as that rather than look at the evidence. The evidence says that Raikkonen has been virtually anonymous this year, but the truth is somewhere between the two.

      4. Galapago555 says:

        @ Gaz Boy

        Who is “El Matador”???????

      5. Gaz Boy says:

        RE Galapago555: El Matador – Fernando the bullfighter! Well he came close in 2010 and 2012……

      6. SteG-B says:

        Fernando is just a better racing driver than Kimi . . That’s all there is too it .

      7. Jez Playense says:

        I am glad to see such a lively debate.

        Proof will show in the course of the season. Kimi will find his form or not. Kimis refound form will be due to his no longer driving badly, or the car actually being tuned to fit his style, as is usual for all drivers in all teams. Indeed I believe Alonso has found this tuning to be performed well by Ferrari during the past seasons, hence the car does respond well to his driving style.

        I am surprised how few fans here refuse to accept the opinion of James though…

      8. valrond says:

        Agreed. I don’t get why Alonso gets only a 7. Just because he isn’t driving a Mercedes and heading the championship?. Only the two untouchable cars are ahead of him in the championship, he’s on third despite not having the 2nd best car, heck, if we use Kimi as a reference, the Ferrari is the 4th or 5th car at best, yet Alonso beats everyone that is driving a car within striking distance.

      9. aveli says:

        well observed.

      10. sami says:

        Ferrari is the second fastest car if you look at the fastest laps of the weekends run so far. So Alonso’s third place in the WDC is just about right.

    2. Wayne says:

      5 is very generous for RAI, would the score be that high if he was not such a high profile driver?

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        Possibly, yes.
        Could be of the view of “give him the benefit of the doubt!”

      2. Wayne says:

        The review score is supposed to be based on his performance to date not on his potential. I know RAI has plenty of potential and JA is probably not taking these ratings very seriously (why would he? He’s just offering a guide number) but still, a 3 seems more appropriate. It just feels like RAI has not scored much lower than the McLaren boys and this is probably down to his ‘status’ in the sport rather than his results to date.

      3. Luis Pastilla says:

        I have no doubt whatever that over the course of the year Kimi will be scoring more than Alonso.

        One must be impressed by his honesty at all times. He could make excuses and some would actually be true. Instead he praises his team and says truthfully that he thinks his driving style is a difficulty. There may be more to all this that will come out later. But Kimi will sort it out and be back on top.

      4. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

        Perhaps if Alonso contracts some kind of terminal illness…

        Joking aside, Kimi should improve in the hotter conditions helping the tyres.
        If he doesn’t could it even be possible that MM will be LDMs axe man!

        Ferrari on the other hand, I expect to be better at China and Spain with the front limited rather than rear tracks. What will be crucial though is that they improve beyond this.

        I really don’t get the need to totally separate the 2014 car development from the 2015. The concept of give up now and concentrate on next year. Fair enough if there is a big rule change, as with 13-14, but they need to develop next years car by testing aero concepts etc on track this year surely.

        Finally, James, 6/10! You can’t say that! Eeets a Ferrrrrrari!!

        Alonso 9/10 (extra mark for celebrating the 9th place and not giving up despite clearly Fernando Felipe is faster than you, through the speed traps)
        Kimi 4/10 (for not finishing one place behind Fernando, come on man, adapt)
        Ferrari 3/10 (prospects for a leap forward look bleak this year as problems in so many areas, unlike say RedBull)
        LDM 3/10 (would Kimi or Fernando dedicate a podium to him if he quit!)

      5. H.Guderian says:

        Dear Luis

        You have just been promoted to NUMBER ONE Kimi fan on planet Earth. Elie was demoted to number two and Valentino from Montreal (long time no see, Valentino!!!) demoted to number three.

        Thank you so much.

        P.S.: OH MY GOD!!!

      6. Jean-Christophe says:

        Just how do you become a high profile driver?

      7. Wayne says:

        Winning a wdc is a good start don’t you think?

      8. Sri says:

        or winning some 20-odd races in career which very few have managed in history?

      9. Matthew Cheshire says:

        Yes, obviously. If Kimi just appeared this season and achieved the results he has, compared to his teammate. It would be a 3.5. The article argues that Kimi has lost none of his speed, therefore blaming the car. But potential speed does not win points. Adaptability, doggedness and ability in all conditions win races.

        Imagine if Gilles were driving this season. He’d wring every 100th out of that car and make Alonso look like the conservative, safe half of the team.

        So your point is valid. Compare Kimi to what we think he can do in a car that he likes-a 5. But if Gilles would be a 10, Kimi today is a 3.

        Ferrari need a Gilles right now.

      10. Mocho_Pikuain says:

        Ferrari can’t have something better than Alonso. Gilles was fast… when he didn’t crash the car. But he is/was nowhere near Alonso’s level, Fernando is more consistent and faster.

      11. AndyFov says:

        Fernando himself had problems adapting to the McLaren in his firsrt year there.

        Give Kimi time. People are way too quick to write off drivers who, with limited testing now, shouldn’t be expected to finding the limit from day 1.

        I think F1 is massively complicated and even the very best drivers don’t imemdiately adapt. 2014′s reg clearly suit Hamilton’s natural style but not Seb’s.

      12. aveli says:

        gilles wouldn’t be able to recognise any of the functions on the steering wheel let alone cope with the g forces alonso and raikkonen have to deal with.

      13. Heinz says:

        AndyFov

        That puts it well and with intelligence. Thank you.
        Drivers, even Kimi, are human beings not robots. Kimi also has crew and a racing engineer who are new to him and it seems the new car is difficult for them to understand also.
        All this is not Kimi’s fault.

      14. Andrew M says:

        I agree, I don’t see how Kimi can be anything other than below average based on the season so far; he’s been comfortably outqualified, outraced and outpointed, he’s crashed the car in qualifying and for good measure damaged a chassis in Bahrain. The fact that he had a good season last year and retains a lot of talent doesn’t come into it.

        I think Alonso’s score is pretty fair, China is the only “Alonso-esque” performance he’s put in so far this year for me.

    3. AuraF1 says:

      Alonso describes his style as ‘changeable’ by which I think he means he adapts. I remember DC saying once that you could watch Alonso do 3 laps and after that he’d look like a different driver taking the corners – he does adapt very quickly.

      So I think it’s less that a team needs to pair drivers with similar styles and more that Alonso can flatter a car by driving around ‘some’ issues (I’m not one of those who believe drivers can work miracles). But Kimi, like Button and to a lesser extent now Vettel clearly has a very narrow operational window of excellence. When they’re in it – they are awesome but just a few things not to their liking and the drop off is staggering.

      I think we saw this with Kimi – when dialed in he was clearly losing none of his speed and racing ability in the Lotus, but even relatively minor issues with steering set up etc and he was regularly outclassed by Grosjean.

      1. tarun says:

        this is why I feel ferarri should fix kimi’s issue and give him the car he is comfortable in, we saw it in 2009 after massa’s accident how ominous kimi was in that undeveloped ferarri just on pure set up.

        what we have also witnessed over the years is that alonso has been able to flatter the bad ferarri cars, you can just compare the difference between him and massa over the years but not neccesarily that is the faster car. so this time ferarri should go for kimi’s inputs and make him comfortable.
        You don’t just lose driving skill over a season as we have seen in kimi’s case.

      2. Yago says:

        Absolutely agree. I don’t think Alonso has a definite driving style.

      3. Blackmamba says:

        Ferrari are not a 6. That implies they have been doing well which clearly they have not. This is the most successful team in F1 and its by these standards tha we judge them. They had the same if not better opportunity than Mercedes to stamp their authority on this season with their power unit and chassi all being inhouse and the chance to marry these into a formidable force but they have fluffed it. FAILED 3/10!

      4. Spinodontosaurus says:

        3/10 for what is arguably the second or third fastest car on the grid? Really?

      5. Luis Pastilla says:

        If that was totally true, Kimi’s F1 career would have been much much less successful. He had these same problems he has now in 2007 with that Ferrari and he was champion over Alonso in a faster McLaren.

        Hamilton made the mistakes of a rookie that year but Alonso did not.

      6. KRB says:

        Faster McLaren my foot! They were very closely matched that year, but Ferrari led 12-5 in Fastest Laps that year, in the refueling era, where FL’s were representative.

      7. thinktank says:

        No, its not true. Gaz Boy has already explained it. Alonso has more rough and aggressive style and he likes understeering. Don’t forget that F14T (and previous Ferraris) was build to Alonso preferences. Please, also consider that currently, drivers who like aggressive style (Ham, Alo, and to some point Ric) are better than slow hand ones (Ros, Vet, Rai, But).

      8. AuraF1 says:

        No offence to Gaz Boy but I think Alonso’s own words and the definition by other drivers probably hold a bit more credibility regarding Alonso’s style.

      9. Gaz Boy says:

        RE Aura F1: I think we’re both correct. Fernando certainly can adapt his technique, depending on the track circumstances.
        Perhaps I should clarify: I was talking more about Fernando out on his own, like his Renault championship days.
        The Renault from 2003 to 2006 had a very obvious rearwards weight bias/distribution, Fernando then set the car up with the aero balance/centre of pressure rearwards, and relied on a very sharp and direct steering response to counter the mid corner understeer that this set up is bound to produce.
        Watching him leading at Silverstone in 2011 and 2012, I would say he has retained that particular set up preference and driving technique – but I stand to be corrected!

      10. Spinodontosaurus says:

        This Alonso like understeering cars comes from his days at Renault. But those weren’t understeering cars, they had a tendency to oversteer, which Alonso overcame by self-inducing understeer himself.

    4. Ferman says:

      I highly doubt that some guy on the internet knows more or better than Ferrari themselves when it comes to hiring drivers.

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        You’re right – Ferrari have more access to data and analysis than I ever will have.
        However, surely having all that data, a team should be able to make an informed decision over a driver has the required technique to get the best out of a car?
        Red Bull made an excellent recruitment with Daniel, but it was nothing to do with “talent”; Red Bull have obviously studied Daniel’s driving technique, and noted that he has a similar penchant for pre-apex oversteer to “back” his car into a corner just like Sebastian. Hence, why Daniel feels very comfortable driving a Red Bull (at the moment).
        In my opinion, having 2 drivers with totally different driving techniques is counter-productive – I’m thinking of Jenson struggling badly in the summer of 2012 relative to Lewis (until Germany) or Lewis struggling badly in the summer of 2011 in relation to Jenson (apart from his win in Germany). Both times McLaren went down a somewhat fruitless technical quest to appease the struggling driver when if both drivers had the same driving technique they could have pushed on with better development against the Bulls.

      2. aveli says:

        jann mardenborough, went from playing games on the internet to beating experienced drivers on track.

    5. Curro says:

      +1

      Great commment Gaz Boy.

      Remember Alonso’s time at Renault with heavy understeer? Great drivers know how to make understeer play to their advantage: Alonso, Prost, Lauda but also Button, Berger… but the really great ones (Gilles, Keke, Mika, the german one whom I never liked but I wish like hell he gets better) are always oversteering (then there’s the brazilian guy who was fast regardless of under or over steer), which means, OVERSTEER still rules the world. Kimi, get it right soon, I want to see a straight fight with Alonso!!!!!!!!! May the best man win

    6. KARTRACE says:

      As all of us know bringing Raikonen back to SF was il “Duce” style stick to punish Alonso after becoming vocal last year on teams issues. LDM believes in old Roman Colloseum resolve where you open the gates and let gladiators sort each other out. For LDM this season is a worst nightmere of the lot. His token driver failed him, engine department failed him and the only one who is delivering is Alonso somone who he wanted to be trashed by Raikonen. driving style shouldnt be a problem for the team as any car could be set up in many different ways suiting every driving style. It is more to do with drivers ability to drive around the problem instead of redesigning the whole car once again to sort out drivers lack of adaptability.

      1. H.Guderian (ALO fan) says:

        Wrong, Kartrace.

        They just hire Kimi because they thought Alonso would leave (to RBR).

        Trust me.

      2. KARTRACE says:

        To trust you ?, I’d rather trust myself. Everyone knows modus operando ‘ Il’ Duce” style that LDM is known of. Commendatore was even worst that this in his days. At Ferrari it was always dog fight perpetrated by Commendatore. LDM started thinking to employ those old relics on his drivers in 21 st Century, but it backfired. Alonso has easily eaten Raikkonen so far. Ferrari instead producing worthy challenger they rather play in house mind games.

    7. foreverf1 says:

      Alonso impressed me from the beginning, just like Lewis did and Seb after that. You knew they were going to be stars in f1 one day.

      Having said that, I also believe that you cannot outperform a car. You can always underperform in a car, which all drivers do, some more than others, but you can never outperform it. The car has its limits and once you go over those limits you break the car. As simple as that. The best you can really do is maximize the car’s potential.

      My question is, does Alonso really outperform the car every Sunday or does he just underperform on Saturdays?

      In McLaren in 2007, Alonso managed only 2 poles while Lewis had 6. Both went on to win four gps each.

      However, instead of appreciating the number of times Lewis reached the maximum potential of the car, which was 10 times (6 poles and 4 wins), we were in awe of how Alonso, despite only getting 2 poles, managed to win 4 races in the same machinery, which suggested that he “outperformed” his car. If he outperformed the car or even reached it’s maximum potential, wouldn’t he have the same number of combined poles and wins as Lewis did. They were driving the same car, after all.

      If you think about it even further, Jenson, while partnered with Lewis actually had similar results in Mclaren from 2010 to 2012. The difference is, we never heard people say, “Oh, would you look at that. Jenson outperformed the car again this week.”

      Quite the contrary. In fact, Jenson was actually often derided and called out for not qualifying high enough and not getting the maximum out of the car like Lewis does, week in and week out. But isn’t this exactly what Alonso is doing every weekend? Qualifying lower than the car’s actual potential?

      If Alonso stayed at Macca with Lewis for a couple more years, wouldn’t he have the same stats as Jenson because Lewis outqualified both around the same percentage while winning roughly the same amount of races?

      Comments?

      1. Mocho_Pikuain says:

        Without the Hungary infamous incidents in 2007, Alonso would have had 3 poles and Lewis 5, and probably 5 wins to Lewis’ 3. Until Hungary they were 5-5 on Qualy battle. After that it was 5-2 for Lewis, period when he got all the extra laps in Q3. So, if we count Hungary as an Alonso pole, they would have ended the year 9-8 for Lewis, with the British having preferent treatment the last 7 events. Not bad for a bad qualy driver like Fernando, huh?
        BTW, even with all what happened to him, he ended the weekends ahead of Lewis more often than the other way around.

      2. aveli says:

        the then youngest ever back to back world champion against a rookie?

      3. Fastfastfast says:

        Nice reply. Fair Enough.

        Not knocking Alonso but I think the mystique surrounding “Spanish Samurai” is a bit out of proportion.

      4. Sanky says:

        Yes…that right…Alonso doesnt get the most out of qualifying on saturdays..he is great on Sundays though…same with Kimi ….I wonder if Hamilton will be driving the ferrari he will be able to qualify atleast in the top 4

      5. Fastfastfast says:

        There is no reason why he wouldn’t. If I’m not mistaken, Lewis is actually the only driver on the current grid who has captured at least one pole position and one win in each year that he has been in F1.

      6. KRB says:

        FFF, you are not mistaken. A win and a pole in every season, in every car he’s driven. As far as I can tell, the only GP driver to ever do that.

      7. AuraF1 says:

        I agree that drivers don’t outperform the car – you just have different skill sets and some drivers are more adaptable to problems than others. I do think Jenson gets a lot of unfair stick but even his biggest supporters, including his Dad who said the same thing, Jenson is not a fast qualifier and he does need the car to be in a narrow range of his liking. Once he gets it he can clearly outperform most of the grid – but it’s the adaptability that is missing from his armor. Lewis’ weakness used to be overusing tyres and his emotional tendency towards giving up and making silly errors – but he was always able to drive round some imperfections in the car set up. I guess he’s now starting to work out some of those weaknesses – but then his confidence seems entirely linked to thinking he stands a chance in the championship – as soon as it looks unlikely Lewis has tended to get depressed and lose his edge.

        Alonso himself has said he is not the fastest driver, never has been and knows qualifying isn’t his strongest suit. I think he’s described himself best when he said that he is not the greatest in any one area but he is very good in all of them and remains consistent. I tend to agree with that. He doesn’t really have a driving style in the way that most drivers do. He is a bit of a chameleon.

        I think Alonso’s main attribute is just raw determination. He just doesn’t give up. I’m not his biggest fan at all but you have to respect that sort of doggedness.

        So outperforming the car? No I think it’s just a case of some drivers have a wider tolerance range for poor cars. Some need perfection to unleash their talent. Some can get near their own potential even without the conditions being perfect.

      8. Fastfastfast says:

        Great post. Lewis did make more mistakes than both Alonso and Jenson throughout their careers but since 2012, he seems to have matured alot. The verdict is still out this year but he’s already jumped a couple of hurdles by forgetting the Oz disappointment and then breaking his own winning streak record of two consecutive wins.

        I do agree with Alonso being one of the most adaptable drivers on the grid and he seems to have a knack for performing to the maximum potential of his car on Sundays compared to his teammates. Also, he has yet to be beaten by any teammate in any car, although Lewis did match him in 2007.

      9. AuraF1 says:

        I agree Fastfastfast – Lewis handled the DNF opener far better than he would have in the past. I think he knows this is his chance to be in Sebastian’s shoes of 2011 and start with a car that is so far ahead he can really commit to this season. I think he got burnt out by losing so it’ll be interesting to see how he handles any further DNF’s/poor race days that may come when the tension mounts up later in the year.

      10. KARTRACE says:

        If you know a little bit more on the subject of racing you would already find out that there are drivers who were able to bring broken cars even to the victory, there are to many history examples that could be mentioned here. Read a little bit more on the motorsport history and you will find out how wrong you are.

      11. Fastfastfast says:

        Wrong on what? I love the fact that others have responded to my questions with examples and facts, which I acknowkedged and sometimes even stood corrected on, but you chose to get on your high horse and insinuate that you know more than anyone about motorsport history.

        If you read motorsport history there are also tons of examples of drivers who had perfectly running cars, sometimes even the best cars, who couldn’t get on pole or win races. So what’s your point?

      12. KARTRACE says:

        So what are you telling us. That you have historical knowledge ? Well if you do then your statement that driver may not outperform his car is wrong, that is the while point. Happen so many times since the beginning of the GP’s. Must I (to satisfy you) mention all of those cases/events ? or you will find out yourself

    8. NickH says:

      You’re right Gaz, Kimi likes a pointy car in the way Michael and Lewis do. I still believe once he gets happy with it he’ll be slightly quicker than Fernando. Just because the style he uses, like Lewis, is quicker than the style Fernando has which generates understeer. It’s just going to take some races until he finds it.

      Also we must not forget Fernando tested for 2 days in Bahrain and then went on to have his strongest race of the season so it’s no doubt he benefited from the test

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        RE NickH: I remember when I first saw Kimi at Silverstone in 2001, when he was in first year driving that terrific little Sauber (with a Ferrari engine, gearbox and rear axle, so it was quite a decent little package).
        Kimi and Mika’s technique was very similar at the Luffield complex: to get more rear end (i.e oversteer) to balance out the understeer the two Finns were using trial up braking to the rotation point, keeping the weight on the nose/front axle.
        Any F1 driver who uses this technique is an “oversteer” driver who likes a pointy front end, like Our Nige, Sebastian and Lewis.
        It’s worth pointing out Kimi struggled in 2008 and 2009 with mild mid corner understeer; I suspect that this is his problem this far.
        Can Ferrari engineer a solution to his problem? That’s the (multi) million pound/euro question!

    9. Martin says:

      A note on Fernando’s technique: in Driving on the Edge, the Art and Science of Race Driving, Michael Krumm writes on page 79:

      “When Fernando Alonso was driving for Renault early in his F1 career, I remember seeing an on-board camera view during a race at Barcelona. Every time he approached the left hand downhill hairpin he ripped on the steering wheel and forced his car into heavy understeer. It looked really bad and I wondered what was wrong with him. He was not using the front tyres correctly and couldn’t load them in the right manner with trail braking, although he was much quicker than his team mate and running in a good position as well. I took a while to discover that Alonso’s car apparently suffered from huge oversteer that season and nobody was able to drive the car as competitively as him. So while everyone watching TV (including me) thought he had a very strange technique, he was actually showing extreme flexibility and experience at a very young age. It is no surprise that he went on to become a world champion.”

      Some track side commentators such as Gary Anderson have noted the Ferrari’s lack of traction. Oversteering cars often have poor traction too, so it is possible that what you see as an understeering characteristic in the car is really an oversteer one that is being compensated for. When Lewis was backing the 2007-08 McLarens into corners it was to overcome understeer. Since then he rarely does it to that degree as he’s generally had well balanced cars.

      I don’t know the truth on the Ferrari’s characteristics, but I wouldn’t be fixated on aero balance / centre of pressure / centre of grip. Different drivers will drive the way that works for them. The teams generally run the aerodynamic bits that give the best numbers on the load sensors when they try them on Fridays. What we saw in 2012 of Jenson running less rear wing than Lewis in Melbourne and Spa, to me seems to be really rare. Aerodynamically, apart from front wing angles, the cars are usually the same spec.

      1. Puffing says:

        Thanks for this post, Martin.

      2. Pete says:

        Martin,

        The former Williams/Ferrari/Peugeot/Asiatech engineer, Enrique Scalabroni, analyses the upsides and downsides of the the two major F1 front suspension layouts seen in 2013 – pullrod (Ferrari, McLaren) and pushrod (the rest).

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izRhrcI7S7c

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YvV2Qvp75M

        and “It’s only a small angle change but it helps reduce the sideways movement at the tyre’s footprint.”

        which supports what designer Scalabroni claims.

        http://www.vivaf1.com/blog/?p=10280

        There’s plenty of other online articles that make the same claim of reduced lateral tyre movement with pull-rod suspension, and as I said earlier Gary Anderson also claims it delivers less mechanical grip. I’ve not read anything so far that contradicts this.

      3. Martin says:

        Hi Pete,

        Firstly, while I have an engineering background and have a few books on suspension design, I’ve never built a car and I’ve probably forgotten more than I know now.

        However, I’m taking a rather different interpretation from those videos and articles than you seem have.

        If we start with the tyre, what we want to achieve grip is the contact patch to be stationary to aid the keying of the rubber to the road. Everything else being equal, your suspension design would maintain a constant track width. For aerodynamic reasons the Ferrari has a high nose and the pullrod suspension. These design decisions lead to the highly angled wishbones that in turn give relatively large changes in track width in bump and roll.

        The original claim was that pushrod suspension would lead to greater tyre temperatures for Raikkonen. If we take the constraints of a high chassis and the aerodynamic objective, then as Scalabroni says the pullrod design with its greater track variation is likely to lead to more wear. The comes from friction as the tyre contact point is dragged sideways during bump and roll and the tyres are also distorted, which creates tyre temperature. Going to a pushrod design would just make things worse for Raikkonen.

        To repeat what Scalabroni has drawn and says is that the pushrod suspension is the one that reduces lateral movement (and from that tyre temperature and where). Not the pullrod suspension, which is what you seem to be arguing.

        In regards to mechanical grip, in a perfect world it would make no difference in terms of wheel control. When Scalabroni was arguing about much greater forces, the Viva F1 post argues a little differently. What we are considering is the amount of spring deflection for the amount of wheel movement. The Viva F1 post concluded the mechanical advantage was about the same for pushrods and Ferrari pullrod. So in terms of the forces that springs, dampers, inerters, etc have to handle, it isn’t significantly different. If Gary Anderson doesn’t like the design, I suspect it due to the wishbone angles, not the pullrods themselves.

        The Viva F1 post highlights a few design choices that Ferrari made in terms of wishbone length and camber settings that mitigate the angled control arm effects. If these are correct then they would lead to a reduction in the tyre temperatures.

        In my opinion the pullrod/pushrod is irrelevant to the tyre temperature issues that Raikkonen feels he is having. The Ferrari has pullrods as the engineers feel this is path to generating the most downforce. The camber and toe-in settings, and to a lesser extent castor, determine how much the tyre deforms as it rolls for a given pressure, downforce level and car weight.

        In the midst of all this Pirelli has changed the tyres. Last year we were seeing the cars with the most downforce were the ones wearing the tyres out most quickly as increased load brought more wear. This year we are seeing that the cars with less downforce are struggling – in traction zones in Bahrain and with graining at other tracks. This to me suggests that the tyres were designed for a slightly higher downforce level than most of the cars have, Ferrari included. So if Ferrari can bring more downforce it will bring the double advantage of faster lap times and longer stints. I’ve no idea where on the curve Mercedes is, but they are much more likely to be at a point of added downforce bringing shorter tyre life.

      4. Pete says:

        Hi Martin,

        Thanks for the response, which is interesting. All things considered both Enrique Scalabroni and Gary Anderson expressed a preference for push-rod front suspension; Anderson on grounds of mechanical grip and Scalabroni seemingly on weight, if I understood him correctly.

        Scalabroni also stated that pull-rod gives a stiffer car, which perhaps doesn’t complement Kimi Raikkonen’s driving style. As you say the shorter wishbones and camber settings which are noticeable on the Ferrari may also have reduced tyre temperatures as the Viva F1 post explains.

        I’m not convinced the pushrod/pullrod design isn’t having a negative effect on Raikkonen – it’s one of the main differences from the Lotus he drove last year, but I do accept he may still have struggled to get heat into his front tyres on a 25C track, like in China, even with pushrod front suspension. His smooth driving style works for him at some races and against him at others, and he’s not the only smooth driver to suffer with this in the last race.

        I’ve commented elsewhere on this topic about Pirelli changing the compounds, mercedes being the only team to run 2014 compound tests with them last year and some of the other teams making a political issue out of it. Suffice to say this years tyres seem to match mercedes well, so far.

        Again, as I’ve noted elsewhere, Red Bull have the most downforce and this didn’t help smooth driver Seb get his tyres switched on in China. McLaren think a lack of downforce caused them problems getting their tyres switched on in China. I don’t think downforce is the issue I think it is more likely to be the traction power curve, which matches mercedes well – as the only team to have conducted the Pirelli requested tyre tests last year.

        I’m only guessing, but that would be my guess rather than downforce as Red Bull have bags of it and it didn’t help Seb on a cold track in China. Mercedes were heavy on their tyres last year, again I think that was related to their traction power curve. Fortunately, for them, Pirelli’s new compounds seem to match mercedes performance well. It looks to me as if those tests are beginning to pay off and maybe the other teams should have done them instead of making a political issue out of them.

        I don’t think the extra weight associated with pull-rod front suspension is helping Ferrari, particularly when their engine is reportedly overweight too and around 20 HP down on the mercedes, by current estimates. I’d have thought, like Sauber, Ferrari should be looking to cut weight.

        According to Pirelli, Barcelona and Suzuka put the most energy into the tyres, so Kimi’s smooth driving style shouldn’t work against him here.

        One other point Gary Anderson mentioned in preference for pushrod over pullrod front suspension, was that pushrod allowed for more adjustment for the driver to set up the balance of the car. Kimi is struggling to get this right in the Ferrari, which may be another reason they are thinking about changing back to pushrod for him. Fernando was driving pullrod front suspension back in his Minardi days and perhaps it suits his style much better than Kimi’s.

        Cheers.

        Oh, there’s an on-board race video footage from China that shows some thermal imaging of the front tyres here, along with other race highlights:

        http://somersf1.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/onboard-race-footage-china.html

        What is noticeable is the temperature of the front tyres mostly limited to inside edges of the front tyres due to camber angle, on both pushrod and pullrod, I think. On pit stops the whole tyre surface is warmed out of the blankets, but soon drops away to mainly inside edge.

      5. All revved-up says:

        Just a light hearted post from me.

        While Ferrari struggles to build an F1 competitive hybrid power train, and brakes that give Kimi the feel he needs; the road car division has come up with this!

        Seemingly glowing reviews of the power train and brakes!

        Just goes to show the gulf between F1 and the rest.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaC3jJgtDOE&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    10. Personally i don’t blame the drivers at all. They are the 2 top drivers for consistency, performance and expertise, i lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of the guilty party, “FERRARI” they bragged about a brilliant package and how long they been working on it and have everything in house to make sure there car will be the best.

      What happened? They delivered a substandard package, a car that is in the lower end manufacturers class. Not the top teams! Its only because of those 2 drivers that they are where they are in the constructors.

      Alonso 10/10 he does his job consecutively
      Kimi 7/10 he is getting there, give him a bit more time.
      Ferrari 0/10 They lost the plot, they need major upgrades in the next 2 races to make a difference, lets see if they come to the party!

  2. Phil Glass says:

    Some changes announced today by Ferrari

    – the decision making process more immediate, with the aim of optimising the work and the direction of development

    – an immediate overhaul and streamlining of internal processes, eliminating intermediate stages and bureaucracy in order to be more flexible and efficient

    – cutbacks in the number of consultants and admissions aimed at strengthening key areas to find more performance from the F14 T (car)”.

    Astonishing that this did not happen sooner… like last year

    1. AuraF1 says:

      Having worked in an Italian company briefly I can say there is often a culture that repays loyalty and allegiances over ruthless efficiency. I can almost imagine some of the outside consultants have been part of the family for so long it was unthinkable to do things differently.

  3. Krishna says:

    It’s true, the car hasn’t lived up to the potential that the driving line up offers.

    Ferrari has made some gains (it helped my fantasy scores for the last race) however, there are so many teams in the hunt at the moment, it wouldn’t be wise to rule out Red Bull or even McLaren for that matter.

    The smaller teams are likely to drop back by the time the developmental parts turn up in Barcelona.

    My score for Ferrari this season is 6/10 only because of Alonso, even though I like Kimi more.

  4. Anil Parmar says:

    Bahrain was abysmal but given the improvement we saw in China, I really do think we’ll Ferrari improve come Spain if the software and aero updates work. Hopefully the gap to Merc will be closer because I’d like some more close battles for the lead!

    I really hope Kimi gets his issues sorted. He’s incredibly fast on his day but it’s so frustrating that he has such a narrow operating window. Ferrari need him up to speed if they want to beat others to second place in the WCC.

  5. Pete says:

    Ferrari are still using the pull-rod front suspension which gives less lateral tyre movement and less mechanical grip. Fernando has had two years to get used to it and it didn’t stop him switching the tyres on due to his more aggressive style.

    Kimi is a smooth driver who struggles to turn the tyres on with push-rod front suspension. Add a cold track, around 25C in China, and Kimi’s tyres will only work out of the warmers until their temperatures drop away, then he’s losing a second a lap to Fernando.

    The pull-rod front suspension is a disaster for a smooth driver like Kimi. I think Ferrari are the only team still using it in F1. It needs a stronger chassis and upper wishbones, more weight, and Kimi cracked the chassis on the kerbs in Bahrain, so it still needs to be stronger.

    Ferrari need to switch back to push-rod front suspension for Kimi to compete. Pull-rod is more difficult to set up correctly and Kimi had virtually no track time to do so in China. Kimi didn’t blame the car but the pull-rod front suspension is the obvious difference that is causing him handling problems from the Lotus he drove last year.

    After the China race Kimi complained of low power and no grip, front and back. Pull-rod front-end suspension.

    1. Yago says:

      Totally disagree. The Ferrari puts temperature in the front tires much faster since they have front pull rod suspension, this is since 2012. Look for example the performances in the wet, much better since 2012 than the 2010-2011 ones (of course normalized to the relative speed of the car).

      1. Pete says:

        Less lateral force into the tyre = less heat into the tyre = less mechanical grip.

      2. Yago says:

        I am a physicist, you are not going to convince me with an obvious statement ;) There are soooo many more variables into play.

        The fact: right from 2012 onwards, when they switched to pull rod, Ferrari has make a huge improvement in getting heat into the front tyres. This is a fact, acknowledged by Ferrari themselves. I am not saying it is due to the pull rod, but had Kimi been driving for Ferrari in 2011, his struggles getting the front tyres to temperature would be even greater, and he would be driving a push rod.

        So no, I don’t think the pull rod is as big a handicap as you say on that front, if it is a handicap at all.

      3. Pete says:

        @Yago well we disagree then.

        The fact is that pull-rod front suspension causes less lateral movement in the tyre, which means less heat, less grip. It means it is harder for a smooth driver to keep his tyres switched on. If he can’t keep them switched on he’s going to lose grip, can’t put the power down, suffer from under-steer, and lose speed – about a second a lap to Fernando.

        Exactly the handling problems Kimi reported in China.

        Kimi is a quick driver because he’s a smooth driver, but he can’t be quick if his tyres lose heat and grip. Because push-rod front suspension causes more lateral movement of the tyre it generates more heat in the tyre which maintains grip, which helps a smooth driver. You will not put more heat into the tyre by reducing its lateral movement because it has less work to do. Pull-rod reduces lateral movement, work, heat and therefore grip.

        There is no way Fernando is a second a lap quicker than Kimi in the same car unless Kimi is suffering from lack of grip or some other problem. Obviously Fernando’s more aggressive style works the tyres enough to keep them switched on. Obviously Kimi’s smoother style does not, and the pull-rod front suspension works against Kimi’s smooth driving style. It probably doesn’t help Fernando either but the negative impact is more limited due to his driving style.

        I understand Ferrari are already looking at changing back to push-rod front suspension for Kimi, who reportedly said “Ferrari are not stupid, they know what is wrong.” I dare say they do, but nevertheless pull-rod front suspension is someone’s baby and Ferrari have wasted a lot of time and money getting it working and its simple geometric characteristics work against a smooth driver, like Kimi. A fact that Ferrari clearly understand or they wouldn’t be looking at changing it back to push-rod for Kimi.

      4. KRB says:

        Surely they can’t change to push-rod mid-season?!? That is a fundamental change.

    2. Optimaximal says:

      I believe after their struggles with it in 2012, the suspension setup process has been refined and revised so that they can achieve as much as they could feasibly do with push-rods, plus they’ve got the aero-benefit of the straighter arms.

      Because the rockers and other suspension kit is at the bottom of the chassis, it also lowers the COG of the front of the car a bit.

      1. Pete says:

        But pull-rod suspension still gives less lateral force into the tyre, less heat, less mechanical grip. The refinement of pull-rod suspension means its heavier too and set-up is more tricky, which outweighs any claimed aero benefits and lower CoG for these components for a smooth driver, like Kimi.

        The rest of the teams have stuck with push-rod front suspension for good reasons.

    3. Mike Martin says:

      Interesting read if it’s true. I completely forgotten about that pull rod system and assumed Ferrari had trashed it already.

      Kimi needs some time to adjust which is very normal. After Hungary there can be no more excuses. Kimi needs to step up.

      1. Pete says:

        To step up, Kimi needs to get heat into his front tyres so that they switch on and deliver more grip and he can put the power down to the track.

        He’s going to struggle to do this with pull-rod front suspension which puts less heat into the front tyres. In China it just dropped him into under-steer and graining more quickly, loss of grip, loss of speed.

        He might still have struggled to keep heat in the tyres with push-rod front suspension in China due to the cold track, as evidenced by smooth drivers Jenson and Sebs problems switching the tyres on, but at least he’d have a better chance of getting some heat into the tyres with push-rod front suspension.

        Fernando can live with it because of his aggressive style. Kimi can’t race with no mechanical grip – no one can, they just go off the track or drive slower.

        McLaren think they can just increase down-force to switch the tyres on, but Red Bull have the most down-force and Seb struggled to switch his on in China. Red Bull have so much down force it was the slowest car in the speed-trap on the straight, because down-force increases drag.

        The lotus, equipped with the same spec Renault engine recorded faster speeds in the speed traps at China because they’re running less down-force, so less drag. Newey has started to pick some bits of extra aero off to increase speeds but as Lotus demonstrated the lack of speed is not all down to Renult, partly it is the excessive down-force of the Red Bull aero package.

        Interestingly, Mercedes don’t seem to be suffering the same problems switching the tyres on so those tests last year with Pirelli that Pirelli requested from all of the teams, which Red Bull bleated about to the FIA, seem to have been used to develop the 2014 tyre compounds which match Mercedes well – the only team to agree to those Pirelli tests Last year.

        If the other teams had run the tests Pirelli requested they may be suffering less this year switching the tyres on. Lack of grip from tyres can make a huge difference to lap times as the smooth drivers who couldn’t turn them on in China all found out. Ferrari at least have something they know they can change (front pull-rod suspension) that will definitely help smooth driver Kimi. If they are serious about winning they’ll do it for him but he’ll need a new chassis, so it won’t be cheap.

    4. Martin says:

      Hi Pete,

      Like Yago, I’m not convinced by your arguments. The arc that the wheel takes is defined by the wishbone pivot points (which are carbon fibre flexures). The rod connecting the hub to the spring is ideally infinitely rigid so that the forces are controlled by the spring and not the rod. Pullrods and pushrods in themselves make no difference to the movement of the wheel. In the case of the Ferrari and McLaren pullrod implementations, the wishbones are more angled (further from horizontal) than most cars running pushrod suspension. This means that change in track width for degree of movement is greater than those cars with flatter wishbones. Geometrically your proposition that pullrods give less lateral movement is wrong.

      In terms of forces there is no difference. The forces are generated by the weight of the car, the aerodynamic load and the bumps the car goes over. The upright that the rod and the wishbones attach to is designed to be rigid so that structure is like a truss and the forces act long the length of the arms. As the pullrod is nearly horizontal the bellcrank that links the pullrod to the torsion bar probably need some clever design to ensure the torsion bar behaves elastically. The angles in the pushrod suspension implementations aren’t that great either though.

      When Red Bull reintroduced the pullrod rear suspension in 2009 there was never an issue of tyre temperature. In the early part of the season the races where Red Bull was most successful against the double diffuser equipped Brawns were the wet races as the Brawns struggled with tyre temperature.

      Camber and toe-in settings have significant effect on tyre temperature as they cause the tyres to distort more while rolling, generating heat.

      1. Pete says:

        Hi Martin,

        Less lateral tyre movement for pull-rod front suspension was among the benefits Ferrari themselves claimed for doing it, along with lower CoG for those components and better aero performance, from what I’ve read. I’ve not tested it myself so I don’t know if those claims are true. But Gary Anderson and other F1 insiders seem convinced by them and maintain that it delivers less mechanical grip, if true, and I agree with him.

        The Red Bull implementation of rear pull-rod suspension is unlikely to affect tyre temperatures significantly due to reduced lateral movement of the tyre because these tyres are used to put the power down to the track which puts work, energy, and heat into the tyres.

        Gary Anderson also says, along with other F1 insiders, that pull-rod front suspension is much more tricky to set up than push-rod. Again, him having done it I’m inclined to take his word for it.

        Kimi got very little set-up time in China due to a problem on his car that took the mechanics a long time to repair. He definitely suffered in the race from failing to keep heat in his front tyres which cost him a second a lap to Fernando. There will be reasons for this and the pull-rod front suspension looks a likely candidate from what I’ve read. McLaren are not using it this year, they’ve gone back to push-rod – the same as everyone else except Ferrari.

        I’ve read elsewhere that Ferrari are looking at changing back to push-rod front suspension for Kimi and I don’t think they’d look at this if they didn’t believe their own claims for less lateral tyre movement in their pull-rod front suspension. There may be other reasons, of course, but I’ve not read them anywhere else yet.

        There’s also the issue with additional weight because the wishbones need to be bigger and stronger and the chassis needs to be stronger/heavier to accommodate the higher forces the different geometric design delivers from pull-rod when compared to push-rod. It doesn’t have a direct impact itself on retaining heat in the tyres but more weight = less speed. Not ideal on a racing car.

  6. Gaz – why are you banging on Kimi? It’s not like Monty could have been unaware of the contrast in “driving style.” One would think that if blame is to be assessed, it’s with the person “in charge” who is only now acting like it may take more than ear twisting and whipping and perhaps even sacrificing to scare the troops into whatever is desired.

    Allen nailed it above when he described Ferrari as a “team that is characteristically Borgia-like.”

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      I’m not specifically criticising Kimi if that’s what you mean………….he is a great driver, but he has a very specific car set up preferences which are somewhat alien to his Spanish team-mate.
      I’m guessing that Fernando had some input into the design of the car in terms of its handling, so I guess Ferrari would build a car with the aero centre of pressure and the weight distribution more rearwards biased as Fernando likes a car completely stable at the back, and his uncanny reflexes can cope with the inevitable understeer that this sort of set up would induce.
      Problem is………..Kimi is exactly the opposite driving wise! He likes a touch of pre apex oversteer, as long as the front of the car is “pointy” – sharp and direct.
      Problem is, the Ferrari does not have a “pointy” front end at the moment…………
      Still, early days………

  7. goferet says:

    With the majority of the gab during the off season being how reliability was going to be the winning factor in 2014, Ferrari was looking good as the cars have always been reliable.

    But lo and behold, it turned out not only was the Ferrari reliable but slow and thirsty too.

    For sure it would appear Ferrari are tardy when it comes to new regulations for they always seem to get stuck at the starting blocks e.g. 2009, 2005, 1998 etc.

    But anyway, we look forward to the upgrades the team are cooking for Barcelona but the drivers in a way should be thankful that their car is off the pace because considering the form Lewis is currently on, this could only have resulted in some embarrassing situations e.g. Germany 2011 when Lewis overtook Alonso on the outside.

    As for new boss Marco, he has gotten off on the right start with a podium in China, now the test is if he can bag a win(s) considering Domencali won races every year he was in charge.

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      Totally agree, the Prancing Horse is more like a knackered old donkey when there are major regulation changes!
      Ferrari like continuity in the rules, they don’t do change!

      1. goferet says:

        @ Gaz Boy

        Yes it seems Ferrari as an organization are anti change.

        This would explain why Luca is so against the new regs.

    2. Sebee says:

      One thing is for sure. We’re going to watch Barcelona very very attentively as it will provide many answers.

      You know, Brawn did defuse the heck out of the start of 2009, and yet things were reasonably close at the end. Granted, it wasn’t the type start MB have had, but pretty close.

      1. goferet says:

        @ Sebee

        Yes, with a fully working wind tunnel, it will be interesting seeing what solutions the Ferrari come up with.

    3. Peter says:

      Don’t forget that Domencali developed (or had a hand in developing) every car he was in charge of.
      Marco has been handed a car and been told to get on with it so judgement can’t be too harsh yet.

      1. Optimaximal says:

        Actually no, he didn’t. He’s the team principal, not a car designer.

        Yes, he was likely involved in board/team-level discussions about the car and its direction, but a team principals role is fundamentally to manage the entire team, not get involved in technical detail. That’s why teams employ technical directors…

      2. goferet says:

        @ Peter

        Oh yeah, the honeymoon period is the best.

    4. AuraF1 says:

      You’re quite right – we were all still talking about no possible finishers in Melbourne and 50% drop out rates until at least Barcelona. So building a reliable car did seem like a smart move – but once again F1 has managed a quiet miracle. I’m not sure there’s any industry in the world that builds such reliable high tech with so little testing.

      But yeah they (and McLaren) should probably not have retreated into building a safe ‘baseline’ and gone for speed. Ah the benefit of hindsight…

      1. goferet says:

        @ AuraF1

        It really is incredible how fast the teams get on top of problems that even the backmarkers are making it to the finish line.

    5. Random 79 says:

      “As for new boss Marco, he has gotten off on the right start with a podium in China”

      He was there, but he had about as much to do with winning a podium as I did.

      We should give him a couple months before we start accrediting success or failure to him.

      1. goferet says:

        @ Random 79

        But the podium came under Marco’s watch so the credit goes to him.

      2. Random 79 says:

        We might have to agree to disagree on that one goferet :)

      3. Gaz Boy says:

        Indeed.
        You know what the tifosi are like – couple of bad results and they want the Ferrari team manager to be incarcerated without charge.
        Speaking of Mr ……………

      4. Gaz Boy says:

        IE MR E……………

    6. Sri says:

      I don’t think Ferrari has a thirsty engine. Their fuel consumption rate was better (or lower) than both the Red Bulls in the last race. Raikkonen’s was on par with Rosberg’s and Alonso was slightly higher. Hamilton’s was the lowest amongst these drivers. So he was not only fast but also efficient.

      1. super seven says:

        I have a question on the FIA fuel consumption figures. Is the measurement a percentage of the amount of fuel put into the car at the start, or the percentage of the 100kg limit?

        If it’s the former, then we don’t really know whether the Ferrari is lighter on fuel consumption or not. They could have fueled the full 100kg, while the others may have only put in 95kg.

    7. KRB says:

      Domenicali won races (plural) each year? Nope. Only solitary wins in 2009 & 2011. From 2008, the wins by year: 8, 1, 5, 1, 3, 2. Not good enough.

  8. German Samurai says:

    Compared to Mercedes the car is rubbish, but so is everything else. It was certainly the best of the rest in Shanghai and I expect it to be best of the rest in Barcelona.

    Ferrari’s problems over recent years are overblown, while Red Bull’s dominance is overstated.

    The Red Bull was only ever a dominant car in 2011 and the second half of 2013.

    The Ferrari was clearly the quickest car up until Montreal last year, but Alonso was mistake prone in races and especially qualifying. Vettel still pulled away from him during the period that Alonso had the best machinery.

    If Alonso was the one with the 36 point lead over Vettel after the Canadian Grand Prix rather than vice versa, you would have seen Ferrari committing more of their 2014 resources to development for the remainder of 2013. So you have to say Alonso contributed the plight of Ferrari in the second half of 2013.

    In 2010 and 2012 Alonso’s car was good enough to win the world title with. In the final races of both seasons Vettel drove out of his skin and Alonso crawled back into his shell. The best driver won the championship both seasons.

    Yes, in Alonso’s time at Ferrari he hasn’t had a dominant car over the course of an entire season, but Vettel only ever did in 2011 and 2013–though 2013 has to be viewed in the context of the revolutionary changes of the regulations for 2014 and the balancing act of whether to commit resources to 2013 or 2014.

    Up until Montreal Alonso had machinery good enough to have propelled him into the championship lead but Alonso wasn’t up to the fight. That’s a big part of the reason why Ferrari chased Raikkonen (even though Raikkonen is even slower than Massa).

    Alonso has no-one to blame but himself for not winning 2010 and 2012, and not leading the championship approaching the halfway mark last season. He should have 1-2 championships.

    1. Mocho_Pikuain says:

      Alonso drove better than anyone this last 4 years.

      2010 was his worst, but also Lewis’ and Seb’s worst, and still managed to take the fight to the last race and finish a close second.

      2011 was lost since 1st race, both McLaren and especially Red Bull were clearly faster (remember Ferrari beeing down a second per lap every time they switched to the harder compound), and the man fought for the 2nd spot until the end (finishing ahead of Lewis Hamilton!).

      Not much to say about 2012, best performance ever alongside with Senna in 1993, miracle after miracle (ahead of Lewis again).

      2013 was almost the same as the previous year, but the second part of the year Red Bull was just too far ahead. On average the Ferrari was probably 4th faster car, and Fernando was 2nd again, seeing the difference with massa in the end was similar to 2012 tells you how impressive he was again. And you know what? He beat Lewis once more, again with a slower car.

      He has no-one to blame but himself? Rubbish.

      1. goferet says:

        @ Mocho_Pikuain

        No denying, Alonso has driven well these past years but he has also had a couple of advantages in his pocket.

        Imagine, in Alonso’s entire Ferrari career he has had only one mechanical DNF.

        Also, Ferrari were deceptive in that their cars had better race pace than qualifying pace, this is the exact opposite of Lewis’ Mclarens which tended to have better qualifying pace than race pace.

    2. Optimaximal says:

      I’d actually argue that Alonso’s car was *not* good enough to win the 2012 title.

      That car had no honest right to be where it was – it was a combination of driver skill, circumstance and a lot of luck that meant they were in contention at the final round.

      1. goferet says:

        @ Optimaximal

        Actually the 2012 Ferrari had very good race pace especially from Barcelona.

      2. German Samurai says:

        Exactly.

        If there was a world championship for manipulating the public’s expectations and making self-aggrandising statements then Alonso would be a 10-time world champion.

        2012 had 8 different winners in the first 8 races. When Ferrari was weak in the first 4 races, everyone else was struggling to figure out the tyres therefore Ferrari’s struggles were minimised.

        Let’s look at the last 3 races of 2012:

        Abu Dhabi — failed to capitalise on Vettel starting from the back of the grid. Really he should have beaten Raikkonen that day. Alonso had the quicker car. He should have qualified much better on the Saturday too. Change this and he wins the title.

        Austin — Gets beat by Massa in qualifying. Ferrari/Alonso sink to a new low by breaking the seal on Massa’s gearbox in order to invoke a 5-place penalty and move Alonso up one place on the grid. If you need to resort to these tactics to win a championship do you really deserve it? Are you the best driver out there?

        Brazil — Finishes 2nd, only 1 second ahead of his teammate Massa. If you can’t finish more than 1 second ahead of Massa then you have no business being champion. Compare Alonso’s drive to that of Vettel who stormed home to finish 6th despite falling to the back of the field and nursing a damaged car.

        People always point to Valencia of that year being an incredible drive, but he under-performed in qualifying therefore he started behind slower cars and was able to blow past them in the opening laps. And the other thing is he benefited greatly from the timing of the safety car.

        http://www.jamesallenonf1.com/2012/06/how-the-safety-car-changed-the-game-in-valencia-analysis/

    3. goferet says:

      @ German Samurai

      But there’s a reason why people have been saying Red Bull have had the best car since second half of 2009.

      If you look at 2010, Red Bull had an advantage of a second in qualifying and the season only appeared close because of reliability and rookie mistakes from Vettel.

      Red Bull were sluggish in the first half of 2012 as the diffuser had been banned but thanks to upgrades introduced around Valencia, the team then begun stretching it’s legs.

      2013 was another good Red Bull that was only hindered by the fragile tyres in the first half of the season.

      But I would agree that Alonso didn’t take advantage of Red Bull’s problems in 2010.

      For sure everybody made mistakes in 2010 and if Alonso didn’t have a difficult first half e.g. crashing during free practice in Monaco >>> he would have won the title earlier.

    4. Andrew M says:

      Red Bull had comfortably the best car in 2010, it was just masked by the fact that:

      1. They lost wins through unreliability (Bahrain, Australia, Korea).
      2. Both drivers made mistakes which cost them points and wins (Vettel in Turkey, Hungary, Belgium, Webber in Korea)
      3. Webber was closer to Vettel than in 2011 & 2013, so the points/wins were shared more evenly between them (although on pace Vettel was still decisively ahead).

      If you add in the wins they lost through unreliability/mistakes (Bahrain, Australia, Korea, Turkey), they were class of the field and would have won 13 of the 19 races that year; that’s “dominant car” territory in anyone’s language.

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        PS Don’t forget Mark flying at Valencia 2010!!!
        I still shudder at the in-car footage of that accident……

    5. shaboopi says:

      The word Samurai is reserved for honour and certainly a person with fair judgement. Your somewhat ignorant ramblings regularly show you aren’t deserving of the title. I can think of several better suited words to substitute into your name.

    6. Cheesypoof69 says:

      German, they say often the people who talk the most have the least knowledge and thank you for proving that true. There are dozens of articles from people in the industry citing Alonso’s 2012 season as one of the greatest of all time because it was in a car that shouldn’t be competitive. Yet here you are, taking every opportunity you can to pump half-witted crumbs of your supposed knowledge down people’s throats. You may sway several willing fools who read your tripe but the majority of readers here have too much common sense to fall for it. Keep barking, dear chap.

    7. KRB says:

      Quick, better cement that rep as a Vettel and RBR apologist.

      GS, it seems to me that the level of your comments has gone way down this year. Last year, while your opinions often differed to mine, I could see where you were coming from.

      Now it seems that your sense of the F1 order/hierarchy has taken a big hit this season, and you’re searching out for new theories/explanations. These are the exact moments when critical thinking is most needed. Otherwise you’re liable to fall back on easy and shallow arguments.

  9. Mocho_Pikuain says:

    Ferrari’s 6/10 is ok, but Alonso only 7? and Kimi gets a sufficient 5? Unless we are ranking them looking at their individual potential and not about a global standard for all the drivers it looks more like a 9/10 for Fernando and 4/10 for Kimi. And still think Alonso has done better than just 7.

    1. Alexander Supertramp says:

      His last race was very good, but the rest? 7/10 seems very fair to me.

  10. W Johnson says:

    The McLaren knockers have been quick to point to the loss of talent at McLaren without recognising in several instances this was home grown talent which is what any successful team needs to do. By comparison, Ferrari has bought in huge amounts of talent and their results have not been much better in recent years so where is Ferrari’s prospect for improvement?

  11. Gudien says:

    What have the successful teams done that Ferrari has not done?

    Red Bull: key personnel led by Newey, stability and several years of hard work to produce the dominating Vettel/Webber cars of 2010-2013.

    Mercedes: many top technical personnel raided from other teams, and several years development work (plus questionable testing ethics).

    I rate Ferrari 9/10 for continuing to make the EFFORT, year in year out thus giving the tifosi hope.

    Alonso 8/10 for stepping up the pace following Domenicali’s exit.

    Raikonnen 6/10 for failing to bring home the points.

    1. James Clayton says:

      “I rate Ferrari 9/10 for continuing to make the EFFORT, year in year out thus giving the tifosi hope.”

      Um I think this is a performance rating, not an effort grade.

      To score 9/10 you’d need to be almost on par with Mercedes; perhaps only missing out due to a couple of poor strategy calls.

    2. Andrew M says:

      “What have the successful teams done that Ferrari has not done?”

      Build arguably the most dominant car in history for a start…

      1. James Allen says:

        Ferrari cars weren’t too shabby between 2000 and 2004..

      2. justafan says:

        Not only did they have a fast driver back then but the driver was also able to lead the development race as well as motivating the whole team, not undermining it.

  12. Mike from Colombia says:

    Don’t understand how Alonso gets 7/10 when he has done all that he can in that car – with no errors.

    Makes as much sense as Rosberg being rated abvove Hamilton last year.

    1. Mocho_Pikuain says:

      I think is what I said in post 9, James rates every driver looking at his own potential, not on a global standard. Otherwise it would make no sense.

  13. shaboopi says:

    Really… You give Alonso a 7? I can’t wait to see other drivers scores because I don’t think any driver has outperformed him this year. Or will Hamilton get a 9 for having a superior car? Perhaps 2 bonus points for being British? I can’t wait…

    1. Optimaximal says:

      Hamilton and Rosberg will likely get the 9 or 10 they both deserve for fundamentally exploiting their performance advantage, racing each other fairly and performing to the absolute maximum at almost all given opportunities.

      Them and Daniel Ricciardo…

      1. Mike from Colombia says:

        Rosber will get a 10 and Hamilton a 9.

      2. super seven says:

        Given their relative finish positions in races where both finished, surely those scores should be reversed?

  14. shri says:

    Let us see what they bring Barcelona onwards. They may not catch Merc immediately but at next race if they can be best of the rest and clear of RB then it would be great for them.

    1. Mocho_Pikuain says:

      New nose, new front wing, new rear wing, new floor, thinner sidepods (less drag) due to new radiators package, PU improvements for 10-15 extra hp.

  15. while it certainly seems as there are horses for courses and jockeys for horses, the Ferrari doesn’t seem to suit Kimi, the last couple of years regardless of the car or the course, Alonso seems to get the most out of the course, the car and himself.
    you may say the cars are built to his style but if it is only a matter of understeer or oversteer wouldn’t the team be able to adjust for each driver? it seems to be deeper than that. Ferrari like Redbull has missed the sweet spot that Mercedes has found and their only bright spot is Alonso has kept them from close. personally I feel they are too far behind to close the gap this year.

  16. AlexD says:

    James, I have to say that you are not very consistent:-) on one side you say that Alonso is driving on the level of 2012 where he was clearly the best driver on the grid and yet you only give him 7/10:-)

  17. davis says:

    This is why I read James Allen…

    “The Finn hasn’t lost any of the pace and skill that saw him take eight podium finishes from the 17 races he contested last year.”

    James, you truly are the voice of reason.

    What we’re getting from other F1 media…

    “Kimi isn’t motivated!” (yawn)
    “Ferrari should drop Kimi!”
    “Kimi’s WDC was a fluke!”
    “Kimi only looked good at Lotus because Grosjean is rubbish!”

    Thank you James

    1. Random 79 says:

      I’d like to know what genius came up with the last one ;)

      1. davis says:

        It was a pundit who was constantly praising Grosjean and making excuses for him the entire time he was losing to Kimi. The anti-Kimi bias in the media isn’t subtle.

    2. Mocho_Pikuain says:

      Maybe James and the rest of journos are all right and its just athat the Lotus was a bullet. Who knows ;)

    3. Mike Martin says:

      +1 lmao

      “Kimi isn’t motivated!” (yawn)
      He will be very motivated NOT to lose from Alonso
      “Ferrari should drop Kimi!”
      And who should take his place? There is no better replacement available.
      “Kimi’s WDC was a fluke!”
      Uhhm, yeah. Lewis should had that one but spygate would not allow it
      “Kimi only looked good at Lotus because Grosjean is rubbish!”
      Is that the same press that rated Grosjean to the top four best drivers on the grid? What a joke that was….

      Kimi will get on top of his game. No worries.

      Go Lewis!!

      1. keke says:

        Yeah yeah yeah – I know what I am doing!

      2. rafa says:

        spy gate did not allow lewis to win to wdc? err.. as far as i remember the result of spy gate was mcLaren lost their championship points in the constructors championship and got a 100 million fine. The drivers were not penalized in any form whatsoever… either you did not follow that season or you are indulging in argumentative contortionism.

      3. Mike Martin says:

        Ohh, you still one of these people that believe nothing is directed in sports? Interesting….

    4. Mike84 says:

      Yes J.A. is the best F1 journalist, but regarding Kimi, I don’t hear Alonso complaining that the car doesn’t suit his style; he adapts his driving as needed. Kimi seems unable or unwilling to do that, he’s got an even narrower operating window than the tires. If he were in the army he’d probably be saying, “the gun’s recoil didn’t suit my firing style, so I had nothing to fight with.”

      1. Louis says:

        I don’t agree, driving style is just like your hand writing. you can’t easily change your hand writing that you already get use to. how do you rate Michael Schumacher in Mercedes? He is 7 times WC, and the new tire and the front not suit him at all, doesn’t mean he lose his speed.

      2. Heinz says:

        You have to look objectively.
        Kimi was not ‘complaining’. KR does not complain and belly ache, he is not Webber.
        He was explaining with honsty the problem he faces, and that was because he was asked.

  18. Kyorin says:

    I think that China just suited their car more than the previous circuits, there was probably some improvements too, but maybe not enough to lift put them significantly on other circuits. Mclaren and Ferrari are in danger of being beaten by Force India this year!

  19. Yago says:

    The overall marks are joke.

    Ferrari more than a 5/10? Well… McLaren the same mark as Ferrari, being considerably slower with a Mercedes engine? …

    Alonso 1 point higher than Ferrari? Oh God… Alonso 2 points higher than Kimi? Oh god… If you multiply Kimi’s WDC points by the number of races completed so far, then you get Alonso’s points. That says it all…

    And the best of all: “Alonso has recovered from his dip in form in late 2013 and -whether inspired by the arrival of Raikkonen or just because he’s back to himself – is driving at an extremely high level, as like 2012″

    So what were the scores for Alonso in 2013? 4-5/10? And Alonso’s score in 2012? Also a 7/10? James, how can you be so inconsistent? I want to see the scores of the rest, because I don’t think there is any driver driving better than Alonso. If somebody gets, say, a 9/10, then he is driving considerably better than “extremely high level”. That driver has to be God himself, and that was the third time a say that word in this post…

    1. Martin says:

      Hi Yago,

      this post wasn’t written by James, but someone with the last names Hynes. He or she was also the author of some of the recent posts about Red Bull that drew a few comments from readers noting a pro-Ricciardo slant.

      Cheers,
      Martin

    2. Carbonated says:

      +1 Yago.
      Some of these people are either bitter at him for the McLaren fiasco, are in self denial or blind.

  20. All revved-up says:

    Unlike McLaren and Williams, Ferrari have consistently been a Top 3 team.

    Albeit a distant 3rd behind Mercedes, and to a lesser extent behind RB – in 2014.

    Between 2010 and 2013 Ferrari were arguably the number 2 team – sometimes closer to the number 1 team, and at other times a greater distance away.

    It’s just that being number 2 is not good enough for Alonso. Hence the incredible noise and pressure he generates.

    If JB were in Ferrari and finished number 2 consistently – it’ll be a job well done and off to the next marathon with some mates.

    Don’t take this as a criticism of JB – he’s probably wiser and happier. Being F1 world champion multiple times isn’t more important than love and family. And is not worth selling your soul for nor being a sad grumpy bitter person.

  21. Mike84 says:

    They should never have allowed Red Bull to have 4 cars, either they had to stop them from doing that or else start doing it themselves by acquiring Spyker which is now Force India. It was so obvious that Red Bull were gaining an advantage from having 4 cars, and when Spyker went up for sale shortly after RB started that 4-car stuff, that was Ferrari’s big chance to secure their own future success.

  22. Simmo says:

    I personally do not see it necessary (for me) to give ratings after only 4 races. It is a long season, let us see what happens.

    1. Andrew M says:

      We’ve got 3 weeks to fill!

      1. Simmo says:

        Wow! Had not realised that!! In that case a 10/10 for all for their efforts.

  23. kenneth chapman says:

    well i would give the team 6, alonso 7 and raikonnen 4. yes, there have been improvements made recently but until we see consistency, excluding mercedes, who are almost metronomic, the team don’t deserve any higher rating.

    alonso will always do his best and at the same time extract from his car what is most likely 99% of what it is capable of. conversely, raikonnen is struggling and needs a bespoke car that feeds his style rather than he changing to meet the new needs. this also appears to be endemic amongst some…vettel comes to mind.

    it is easy to criticise especially when i personally don’t have the skills to perhaps even exit the garage in an F1 car, but it is important to recognise the facts. alonso is proving a point and he will step up very time given the merest of sniffs.

  24. Hunter C says:

    Interesting ratings. based on the performance factor alone, I would’ve anticipated a wider gulf between alonso and raikkonen; something on the order of 9 vs 3 or similar to that.

    Yes, none of us have forgotten how good raikkonen can be, but until he flashes any of that potential…..

    meanwhile, alonso has just chugged on stellar as usual; outracing both bulls in shanghai, and qualifying 4th in the wet at malaysia with a hastily replaced tie rod.

    I don’t anticipate ferrari making the leap; they’ll likely stay as the 3rd or 4th best car (except for the occasional flattering alonso performance) while red bull and one of the other mercedes powered teams (likely williams) push forward in their development. The moment domenacali walked out meant 2014 was a throwaway season for ferrari.

  25. Nick4 says:

    Thanks James.
    Clearly ALO has a great ability to adapt and especially to the new generation of F1 cars which are frisky to say the least. I would give ALO an 8/10 and agree with your scores for Ferrari and RAI. The latter has surprised how he has been outperformed by ALO, when clearly the expectation was that he would give ALO a run for his money if not beat him – the hope of the MAS fans who consistently believed there was a conspiracy against him in favour of ALO.
    Interesting point re-the different driving styles of RAI and ALO. BUT and HAM have very different styles and is that what penalised McL?
    James, can we be reminded who was the drivers’ choice of driver of the year for each of the 4 years of VET’s championships please?

  26. Olivier says:

    I am disappointed that the much anticipated Alonso vs Kimi battle is a non event.

    my assessment:

    Alonso: 8
    Kimi: 4*
    Ferrari & Monte: 5**

    (*) Because I know there’s room for lots of improvement. You can do better Kimi!!
    (**) They totally missed the start of the new F1 era. Instead they decided to focus on sound. Their China turnaround was impressive … unless Alonso is flattering us? I am giving them the benefit of the doubt.

  27. Warren G says:

    Hey? You claim that Alonso is giving his all and performing at the same level as 2012! Yet he only scores a 7? Raikkonen has been woeful and scores 5? Lol

    1. Oly says:

      +1
      LOL indeed

  28. dan says:

    So Alonso has made Kimi look like a pay driver and performed flawlessly, yet only given a rating of 7?

    Please explain the logic behind your rating, although I suspect there is not any and you have confused the performance of the car with the driver.

    1. oli says:

      I think it is extremely difficult for us to judge drivers performances. Most of us only have external point of views and absolutely no insights of what’s going on inside the garages. We are only fans and some of them are multiple world champions. Whatever Raikkonen and Alonso say to the media, I am sure there are plenty of other things that they cannot say. Our point of view is a bit biased because we get most of our information from the same sources. The only thing I think we can all agree to is that they are both great drivers who deserve a car to their liking, which seems to be more the case for Fernando so far. But in any case I would rule Kimi out or give him a slower rating. And I seriously hope the car gets to Kimi’s liking soon to, some wheel to wheel battle between those 2 on the same car would be great.

      1. dan says:

        Extremely difficult?

        You think its extremely difficult to compare their qualifying times, race positions and points totals?

        Its actually pretty easy, unless of course you don’t like the results.

      2. davis says:

        Yes its easy to compare them but its hard to draw too many conclusions from them. There’s just so many factors in play and most are unseen by the fans.

  29. Sergio says:

    To understand the Domenicalli “effect” I recomend to watch 1949′s movie: Twelve O’Clock High. Domenically is the calm & friendly boss who failed to get the best of everyone in Ferrari on a technical point of view. I like him as a person, but in F1, you have to raise the game, even being not so kind. In the case of drivers, there is no extra motivation needed. ALO & RAI are self motivated persons and dont need anything to improve their speed, not the case of other drivers like HAM who needs a big rival to get the best from him. Saying that, Ferrari is so “comfortable & relaxed” that Alonso is not considering the possibility to leave it even losing.

  30. f1_fan says:

    @james its unfair to say alonso had dip in form in late 2013, he had podium in last race, in india his car was damaged, and in other races he achieved more than what the car was capable of, so i don’t agree with your statement.

    1. James Allen says:

      Not surprisingly he lost a bit of his mojo with Vettel dominating, an uncompetitive car after a strong start to the year and the row with Montezemolo in summer

      I was there, I saw it. I’ve known him his whole career, remember

      1. holly says:

        What a ludicrous thing to say. So one of the things that make him lost his mojo was the fight with Montezemolo, despite that he got second position in the next 3 races after the fight. You were there, but we are not blind, we watch the races too.

      2. AuraF1 says:

        I think it’s fair to say he didn’t seem like the usual Alonso. The defining thing about him is he is just relentless and that comes across, whether he’s angry, sanguine, up or down – he still projects a confidence that he’ll keep going.

        You are right that his results didn’t drop off incredibly in 2013 – but he just didn’t seem to have the personal confidence any more. I think that was obvious just from TV and Alonso’s social media statements – so I imagine it was palpable for journalists seeing him in person every other weekend.

        It’s probably a slightly vague thing to describe someone’s mojo – I guess it’s down to personal impression rather than concrete results.

      3. Sri says:

        Watching is different from being with the person and talking directly. You get much more info that way. And I trust James’ judgement better than others’ who just watch races or some journos like in BBC who are more like fan-boys.

      4. justafan says:

        He might have won a race without the necessity of the ear tweaking, though. And please don’t be rude to James. His is one of the best free reads on the net.

      5. kenneth chapman says:

        james, based on your long standing relationship with alonso would you care to expand a bit on where you see him right now?

        do you see any changes that might give us an insight into his thinking re this years changes and his ability to get on top of it all?

        he seems to be quite an open sort of chap most times and i was always impressd with the relationship that he had with mark webber, both on and off the track.

      6. dan says:

        James if you ‘were there and saw it’ I guess you must have also seen Alonso dominating Massa during his supposed slump. I guess Alonso is that good he can still dominate his team mate during a ‘slump’.

        I looked over his last 6 races of 2013, and apart from India with a damaged car he produced amazing finishes. There was no slump apart from being out qualified by Massa 3 times in that period.

      7. James Allen says:

        I never called it a slump

        He lost a bit of motivation, that’s all

      8. Darth_patate says:

        That can also explain why he lost several quali to Massa who was instead vindicated by his need to find a seat elsewhere.

        James , what is the general opinion in the paddock on the Massa- Alo “bump” of last race. My couch expertise tells me Massa seemed to have stopped moving left and it was alo who hit him by keeping on going right but he may have had no way of seeing him coming from the far right instead of from behind ?

  31. Ahmed says:

    KR and JB are the same, they regarded as greats because of their personalities. Its not kimi’s first season or the first time he is driving for a top team, he’s expected to be competing at th top.

    1. Heinz says:

      Sorry, that’s rubbish. They have almost nothing in common.

      1. AuraF1 says:

        I presume he meant people like them because they have interesting personas. JB is the Gentleman racer who needs a perfect car set up to show his best. KR is the one-line inscrutable character who needs a perfect car set up to show his best.

        I think there’s more to them than that but they certainly have a good media following – JB because he’s so easy to talk to and KR because of…well…the opposite :)

    2. Krischar says:

      KR and JB are the same – Very well put ahmed

      Both kimi and jenson cannot simply drive around the problems of the car. These 2 pilots have a very narrow operating window. If the car and set-up are well to their liking then they are quick enough to win races and WDC, otherwise they struggle a lot.

      Also you are spot on about the no non-sense attitude which kimi and jenson possess as well. People here like certain pilots for different reasons rather than just the skillset which they possess

  32. Anil Parmar says:

    James, do you think Alonso needs another title before he can be considered an all time great?

    I wasn’t huge fan of his but since he’s been at Ferrari, he’s been absolutely incredible. I genuinely think he’s up there with Prost, Senna etc. Relentless.

    1. AuraF1 says:

      Not sure about the fans but I think Alonso will consider it a borderline failure not to retire with 3 titles to his name. I think that’s why he’s already making noises about continuing past age 36 and showing a keen interest in Schumacher’s fitness regime (who put some of the drivers in their 20s to shame in his 40s fitness wise). I think Alonso knows he needs more years to get into the right car at the right time. I think after that 3rd title he’ll be content and might move into another formula after that.

  33. Sergio says:

    Alonso is unbeteable with a car difficult to drive. VET, HAM, MAS & RAI need a car easy to drive or well tuned for their skills. All these drivers, included MAS are able to run equally fast or even faster as the Spaniard with the correct setup at one lap, but just in that conditions: A perfect car for them or driveable enough. Alonso has the perfect brain for the sport: almost invulnerable to pressure, inteligent, multitask & the hability to do this work without wasting a lot of resorces. Say that, after China GP I see the Spaniard almost off. His effort was extraordinary.

    1. HP says:

      and you think this years ferrari isn’t made for alonso’s liking?

      1. thinktank says:

        touché

      2. Sergio says:

        Yes I do. Possibly someone who knows something called F1 can support that statement like James Allen, at least his hability to drive difficult cars. Since Minardi Alonso has driven cars difficult to drive, not conceived for him, and he beat all by far. He did not begin in a top team. You can find documentation about his beginings or you can reply in a forum whatever. Maybe your rethorical question aims for too much. I vote red, you vote black

      3. Lady F1 says:

        Wow, really! Speechless

  34. Michael Frennesson says:

    James: How would you rank Alonso’s years at Ferrari? Do you agree with me…
    2010 – 9/10
    2011 – 7/10
    2012 – 10/10
    2013 – 8/10
    …and what do you think Alonso lacks or could do better?

    1. Darth_patate says:

      I am rooting for him since 2005 but i think you are too generous

      2010 8/10 only, he made several mistakes by himself, and each one would have gotten him the title
      (example; start of canada, crash in Spa, losing a place at the start to BUT in the last race)

      2011 , i woul go to 9/10. his car was not so good but he did far less mistakes )

      2012 9.5. he would have had the 10 if he won. i believe his suzuka /kimi DNF was not 100% kimi’s fault

      2013 7/10. some opportunities missed in the first half. Some bad quali in the second half and less “warrior attitude” as James pointed out

      1. Fernando "150%" Alonso says:

        *Start in China

    2. justafan says:

      2010- 8/10
      2011-7/10
      2012-9/10
      2013-6/10

      2010 and/or 2012 would be 10/10 had he won the title.

    3. fox says:

      I wish Fernando to find another team and within next three years win 3rd title as he dreamed. Ferrari was a grave for him. 5 years of struggle while finger boy did mistakes and easily won 4 titles in a raw.

  35. Maxime Labelle says:

    Please, can someone explain what a “front-limited circuit” means in layman’s terms?
    I keep reading this expression but I don’t really understand what it means, much less what impact it has to a particular car or driving technique.

    Could anyone also share what are the characteristics of such a circuit?

    Thanks a lot.

  36. Abdullah says:

    I think 5/10 is fair for kimi but 6/10 is very genorous for Ferrari, a team with the money, experience and resources of ferrari doing this kind of pathetic work on they’re car should get 4/10 IMO. I don’t route for drivers im a Ferrari fan but the truth is Alonso is doing a great job he should get at least 9/10 IMO.

  37. Peter says:

    I have been following Kimi since his first year (Sauber) and consider him in terms of raw speed at the level of Hamilton. Alonso and Vettel are top classes for different reasons. Kimi is not the most dedicated,and he is not at his peak anymore but if he gets the car that suits him he still will be very, very fast and entertaining to watch. His problems are clearly down to the car. People who suggest that driving style or car characteristics are not important do not know what they are talking about. I think Ferrari never has suited him as the Mclarens and never will. Alonso has the same crew, many years of recent experience with the team and the car has been build around him for years even if this years car is a new technology. Ferrari should hire Kimi`s old race engineer by any price and lead by Allison build him a car that suits his style to put both cars into the front. Hamilton has had problems with some of his cars just as Vettel is having now. Kimi will be back if Ferrari wants.

  38. Harvey says:

    Merc admittedly worked on their engine and power unit for approximately six years prior to this season, and threatened to leave the sport if the V6 turbos weren’t adopted as the formula. I assume that Ferrari, as well as McLaren, Red Bull, et al weren’t devoting half as much time or research into the turbo issues. Give it time, especially if it’s true that Merc have got about all they can out of their power unit. I like what I’ve heard from Mattiacci, he may not be up to speed on F1 but he has a proven record of success in business and racing.

  39. Kaartik says:

    Hi James, is there any remote possibility of Chris Dyers to return to Ferrari as Kimi’s race engineer? Antonio is good or maybe great but Kimi and him are not working at harmony. I never saw him(Kimi) screaming to his race engineer race after race. Awaiting your reply James

    1. James Allen says:

      I would doubt that. Not heard of it

      1. Kaartik says:

        Thanks for the reply James. I would also like to ask you why Kimi always having difficulties in setting up his car not just now even with Lotus?

      2. Bart says:

        According to Andrea Stella, who was Kimi’s car engineer during Kimi’s first spell at Ferrari, the car for Raikkonen to get the most out of it has to be in a certain, rather narrow, performance window.

        Kimi goes with the flow of the car, he’s a reactive driver while Alonso’s his opposite, his driving style is more bullying, it works across different lines and many grip levels (wet, dry, cold etc.).
        Also, Kimi doesn’t like understeering cars.

  40. Krischar says:

    James i cannot understand the reasoning behind you scores for the Ferrari or either the pilots.

    Ferrari should be only given 3 or 4 at best for the start they made this season. Before the season started LDM was sanguine and put positive spin among the fans. Yet once the season started we have clearly witnessed the pattern like previous season Ferrari were poor and sacked Stefano D now. Ferrari simply cannot beat the RBR for the last five seasons and now trail Mercedes by biggest margin which they cannot overturn at least in 2014

    I do not denigrate kimi by any stretch, yet he is simply not good enough at the moment and kimi also confessed the fact F14T was difficult to drive and not quick enough. This itself proves how well alonso have driven in the last 4 races and pretty much for the last 5 seasons. Alonso have done a exemplary job ever since 2010 to this point.

    Alonso is a fable and his performances over the last 5 seasons has been simply fantastic. Without Alonso Ferrari are nothing. The day alonso leaves Ferrari they will become even more worse from bad

    Finally it’s 10/10 for Alonso. Well i agree with 5 for kimi and Ferrari should be only given 4/10

  41. Phil Glass says:

    James, is it possible you could do a tech analysis that explains the Ferrari suspension issues and whether they can have two different systems for their cars?

    I ask because @ Pete, and others above, have interesting views on push-rod versus pull-rod suspension

    1. Bart says:

      To have two different suspensions on their car wouldn’t make any sense at all, in my view; you have to go down one path when it comes to car development. They would have to design, produce and test twice as many new pieces

  42. Greg says:

    What a difference a year makes.
    Half-way through the season last year, you ranked Kimi’s performance second behind Vettel and ahead of Alonso. Kimi was second in the championship, had a win, multiple podiums and the closest anyone came to Vettel that year.
    This year, Kimi’s performance is not what we expected/wanted. I really hope that him and Alonso can be fighting wheel to wheel as soon as possible so we can all get what we were looking for.

  43. Bart says:

    James, I’d like to ask you just one question: is Fernando’s work ethics as impeccable as many people describe it or is there something wrong with it?

    If I’m not wrong, in the BBC podcast after Brazil 2013, when asked about the laziest driver, you answered “Alonso” (was it you or Gary Anderson? I didn’t download it and now it’s gone). Gary Anderson wrote last year that in 2013 Alonso would sit comfortably in his chair in the garage for the first hour of the FP1 session each weekend while everyone else was on the track gathering data to help find the right quali-race setup.
    He hasn’t been the most brilliant driver in qualifying recently… Does he work hard enough to understand his car as well as possible? (I bet his biggest competitor does)
    A couple of days ago Peter Windsor called Alonso an “improvisor”.
    All these thing make me start questioning his work ethics.

  44. Ryan Eckford says:

    Ferrari have in general been poor, particularly in the technical department, meaning that they have been building cars which are lacking in just about every department, not by much in each, but it adds up to a lot of time.

    In terms of the drivers, Alonso has been superb as usual, dragging that car into a position where it doesn’t deserve to be. He should be in a much better car than this, and everyone knows that.

    Raikkonen has had a bit of a struggle with the car, and he is not driving as well as you would expect, so something is a miss, either with the car, or with him. They need to set-up the car to what he likes from the car, to give him confidence, and to make him feel comfortable in the car. At the stage of his career that he is currently at, he cannot really change his ways without the changes being a failure, so Ferrari must listen to him, and work to his clock, not the other way around.

    This leads me to Ferrari President, Luca De Montezemolo. I want to say to you that you for a quite a while have been putting everyone in the F1 team under pressure via your actions. Back off, and let the people within the team work it out themselves.

    Overall, they have no chance of winning races, let alone the championship.

    1. Ryan Eckford says:

      Di instead of De.

  45. Joe says:

    All I have to say is Massa is a very lucky man not to be driving the Ferrari car. I doubt he would get so many dispensations, forgivenes and being excused for being so far down the point table compared to his teammate. Also, I doubt “car problems” would be brought out at all to explain his poor performance.

    1. Garge says:

      You don’t think there’s a relationship between “car problems” and poor performances from a driver?

  46. Carbonated says:

    Wow James! Alonso only 7 out of 10? That’s a “C” grade! And you say he has returned to his top form?? Is his top form only worth a C? Harsh to say the least.

    Third in points with a car low in power and placing in front of other teams with Mercedes’ powered engines? Better than a 7 I think.

  47. Vin S says:

    Is it coincidence that Ferrari generally suck in development since they have 100% focus on Alonso’s requirements.

    Alonso needs to start delivering wins with his favoured Pull-Rod, or else Ferrari might get fed up of it’s limitations and revert to other development paths that might generally be quicker, easier & less volatile to develop for both drivers, especially if Vettel is set to make a Ferrari move.

    1. rudyBB says:

      I disagree with you.
      Please show your reasoning. You’re invited to the techniques and design of Ferrari meetings to affirm what you say?

  48. fox says:

    Don’t understand how pilots scored 7 and 5 out of 10.
    If the car doesn’t perform, what could you do?
    minor part depends on pilots, may be 20-25%, everything else is car.

  49. chris says:

    montezemolo told “alonso’s aim is wdc. raikkonen’s aim are points”
    wake up people. the ones who aren’t able to admit that alonso looks so good also because the team wants him to look that good haven’t understood much about f1. sorry.
    it was the same story with massa and it will be the same story even if they change driver next year.
    in ferrari everyone would look like a rookie if compared to alonso, simply because alonso has a big power in there and domenicali clearly admitted that this car was built according to alonso’s driving style. I can’t remember a single season when alonso wasn’t number one driver and had to share the team with someone who wasn’t just there for scoring some points. maybe 2007, and we know how it ended.
    I’ve never heard ferrari repeating constantly “schumacher is the better f1 driver” ” we have to give schumacher a wdc material car”.

    as for 2007 wdc…
    you need to remember that f1 is a highly manipulated sport.
    2008 hamilton’s win against massa at the last corner of the last race…what about it? someone argued that glock knew something about it. so we can easily argue that if raikkonen’s wdc is a bit fake(even if he won more races than any other driver) than hamilton’s wdc is a big fake, since hamilton won less races than massa and he won his wdc only at the last corner.
    2009 brawn gp meteor?
    2010-2013 rbr dominance?
    2014 mercedes? I remember clearly what ecclestone said in 2013: he said that 2014 would have been mercedes’ year. So it is.
    2006 mass damper?
    2005 mclaren infinite engine failures?
    we can easily discuss about most of the past seasons.
    come on, f1 is more of a money and marketing game: sponsor behind drivers(santander?), pay drivers, terrible asian circuits, endurance races, drs and more. everything is on the fake side, so everything has lost value and needs to be taken as it is: a circus, where the biggest interest is money. you can watch it just for fun, but nothing more.

    1. rudyBB says:

      Alonso has earned the number 1 in its initial stage of Renault, do you not think so?. And Vettel and Hamilton and Raikkonen at Lotus?, Have not had a car made ​​to measure?

LEAVE A COMMENT

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Top Tags
SEARCH Innovation
JA ON F1 In association with...
Download the chequered flag podcast today
Download the chequered flag podcast today
MTS
Industry-Leading Testing and Sensing Solutions
Multi award winning Formula One photographer
Multi award winning Formula One photographer