Alonso gets down to work at Ferrari
Alonso gets down to work at Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  06 Nov 2009   |  11:45 pm GMT  |  72 comments

Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari adventure is underway. The two time world champion has begun the programme of seat fitting and preliminary work with the Scuderia.

Picture 13
Alonso has been quite vague recently when asked about when he would be free to join his new team. I asked him about it on the Friday of the Abu Dhabi weekend and he said he did not know. He has some links with Renault sponsors and negotiations are ongoing to put an end date to engagements.

Ferrari’s official website confirms that the Spaniard arrived at Maranello around 8am, met with team principal Stefano Domenicali, saw the wind tunnel and met Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo. He also did a few laps of Fiorano in a road going 458 Italia.

Unlike Michael Schumacher’s first day with Ferrari, which turned into pageant, it was a low key visit, due to the vagueness of the sponsor situation. This suits both sides in may ways, as Ferrari has generally disliked being seen to hire champions, preferring to create them instead. The image of an all conquering hero riding in to Ferrari’s rescue doesn’t play well. In Schumacher’s case, after 17 years of failure, it was slightly different and an exception was made.

According to today’s Gazzetta dello Sport, Alonso is scheduled to appear at the Ferrari Day celebrations, later this month, which are taking place at Valencia on 13th to 15th November. It has always been a source of fascination as to why Ferrari chose to organise their event at Valencia. It served to feed the speculation that a deal with Alonso was done.

As it turns out they may have an event with neither of their 2010 drivers present, as Felipe Massa’s wife is due to give birth to his first son any moment. However it is likely that a deal will be done to allow Alonso to make his public debut with the team.

Alonso is optimistic that Ferrari’s strategy of stopping development on the 2009 car in July in order to focus on 2010 will pay off. The team was caught out this year by the effort it threw into contesting the 2008 championship until the final race.

“I’m not worried about the 2009 performance because next year everything starts from zero again with refuelling and narrower front tyres,” said Alonso.

As with his two previous world championship winning seasons, Alonso knows that scoring plenty of points in the opening races of the season is key to getting control of the championship battle.

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Well at least two people here know what is going on.


Hi Guys, thanks for all of your valued comments, I’m amazed by the depth of knowledge displayed by most commenters!

In particular, I enjoyed “Martins” technical explanation re. tyre characteristics and other info re. F1 car design. Thanks Martin.

Yeah, I too can see sparks flying at Farrari this comming season!! I hope Felipe can be strong mentally, and not buckle under the presure of the silly games played by Lonny!!




It’s funny watching F1 in the UK as i have the past three years and it’s even funnier reading comments by British fans, supposedly F1 fans.

One can’t blame them, a nation of mediocrity, when their champions have been Damon Hill and Jenson Button. Mansell and Hamilton have talent.

Ask your James Allen again about the top 5 F1 drivers. You won’t get a straight answer from him because he wants the supposed British F1 fans to keep visiting his website, he will never tell you who he along with everyone up and down the pitlane consider the best driver in F1, and no he is not British.


That is absolute nonsense, nationality has nothing to do with it and never has. BTW we will be doing a top 5 drivers competition soon here on the site.


It has a lot to do with nationality. Hear yourself speak at the end of Singapore GP 2008, the first ever F1 night race, a great drive by Alonso, who had been competitive all weekend, and no one knew at the time what had transpired behind the scene to get that victory, but you sound as if some one had died at the track. Your clear bias is not really under discussion here, that is all too evident for those lucky enough like me, not to be British nor Spanish national, to see.

As for Alonso’s situation, I see that most here think everyone is going to bend over backwards for Hamilton, like Ron Dennis did. Ferrari will be Alonso’s team, mind games or no mind games Massa has no hope in hell to even come close to Alonso. Gone are the days of F1 being a race of two or three short stints of 20 laps each. Further more, Alonso is not Raikkonen, and the British fans think since Massa gave Hamilton such a tough time, he ( Massa) might be something special. It was not so much Massa’s talent as it was Raikkonen’s lack of professionalism that let Massa become the team leader.

What’s the point of your competition? Give anyone your signed book. The results of your competition are known to fans like me in advance. Why don’t you tell us who you think are the top 5 drivers in F1, and in which order and why? That’s the question you were asked. Rather than having a silly competition why don’t you ask editors of reputed magazines to answer that question? It would provide an interesting insight. Maybe you can do an interview with Sir Frank Williams and have him answer the question which you don’t seem very keen to reply. I think, those who have watched F1 for a considerable length of time would agree that Sir Frank Williams is a man of great integrity and respected by all.Everyone here would be very interested in what he has to say about the current crop of drivers.


It’s somehow always Kimi isn’t it…

I was surprised by the sheer number of Kimi supporters at Suzuka… few Massa caps and shirts and few non Kimi Ferrari shirts/ caps too… but loads and loads of Kimi stuff… hats, shirts and even scarves in the heat of Sunday…. the Japanese take their F1 stuff seriously…

And despite the sale of Jenson cushions and cookies not a lot of Brawn stuff around the track…

And Alfonso gear was in very short supply…

Whilst Mr A has a terrific Spanish following it’s interesting how many non Finns are Kimi supporters… but with Santander big in Spain and Latin America (apparently one of their biggest markets) a Fernie/ Felipe double act was certain the minute Santander arrived…

Forget the fans look to the markets…

And the fans still want Kimi…

(Lewis’s comment at the Powered by Merc event that he’d like Heikki or Jense as team-mates elicited only a lukewarm reception … I’d have money that Kimi’s name would have been more warmly received)….

And Rob and Felipe will certainly be giving Alfie a less than cordial welcome if they can possibly get away with it… I can see the whole Ferrari team taking sides in this one… more so than at Macca…

And we all know whose side Michael will be on… and who’ll get the wet tyres far too early…

Well fireworks night has only just gone by….


I wonder which flavour of Ice Cream Fernando favours…


Brawn may have switched development focus on the 2010 car as eary as June this year.

If Kimi really wants a WDC capable car, then he should join a team that’s not going to lose their engine supplier in 2011. Mclaren are not prepared to stump up 7 million EUR to make up the shortfall in his Ferrari pay if he races. Surely even Brawn can come up with that, or at least match the 5 million that Mclaren are offering.


I have the same opinion, i don´t believe it´s 5 million like we are reading at some places, like you said even Brawn can come up with that.


I would suspect that Kimi would take the McLaren drive, with no fear about Hamilton. I also suspect that the sticking point is probably cash, as all these things usually are.

I think from a team balance point of view McLaren should probably take Heidfeld. I say that because McLaren have demonstrated over the years that their best years have had a similar driver balance. Hamilton/Heidfeld reminds me of Hakkinen/Coulthard. Would also strike a good corporate sponsor-pleasing balance.

I also suspect that Lewis wouldn’t be too worried about going against Kimi. IMHO Lewis has been the driver of the year – if the year started after Melbourne! But seriously, his driving has been top-drawer and he has destroyed Heikki. I think his father is probably lobbying against the Kimi deal…

However, as a fan I want none of the above. From a purely fan basis I’d love to see Lewis & Kimi versus Alonso & Massa, McLaren vs Ferrari, with Vettel & Webber right in there too. Button & Nico (who’ll take his first win) mixing: would be amazing.

So the question is, will Kimi take the deal on the table? Personally if I was Whitmarsh, I’d sign Heidfeld right now…



Another Kimi comment! Just wondering what is going on with Kimi-McLaren move. Do you have any inside information that we do not know? Nico, Nick are also yet to be determined besides many other drivers. It is surprising that you have not written an article on this topic yet which is the most widely discussed amongst F1 fans now. Perhaps you can write a detail article of what is happening with drivers for the next season. I heard that there are pay-issues, rallying clause besides Mercedes-BrawnGP collabaration that is hindering the Kimi-McLaren deal — is that correct?


Some people seem to be overlooking that Kimi may have had enough of the ugly insanity that has overwhelmed F1 in recent years, and that he might want to walk away regardless of

the money which is offered.


I think that´s possible.

But i think he was looking to stay at F1 at least two more years, try another world championship and then go to rally.

I hope he stays.


I think that is unlikely, Raikkonen is not one to care about the politics and soap opera drama of the sport and seems to be only interested in going fast. That said, he’s steered well away from any recent controversy.


I hope Massa beats Alonso, i don´t like Alonso, he runaway from Mclaren without taking the fight to Lewis on a second year.

James you put in a post talking about “Alonso gets down to work at Ferrari” and most of the comments are about Kimi, i think it would be a shame if he walks away, i think many people will miss him if he doesn´t stay, I WILL MISS HIM!!


You have to be kidding!

Alonso didn’t have any problem with Lewis, in fact, he’s looking forward to beat Lewis. Fernando left Mclaren because he was not allowed to compete with equal treatment against Lewis.


He could have challenged Lewis on the same car on a second year. Beating him on a Ferrari its not the same thing as if they were both on the same car.

Equal treatment? You have to be kidding!

That´s the excuse that the drivers use when they are beaten.


Even James in an enterview for F1 racing has stated that Lewis was getting the best strategies in Mclaren. Also you can check who got the most of last flying lap in Q3 between both of them: Lewis.


If Kimi does sign then I’ll be cheering him and not his team mate on his team mate just like in the good old Senna/Prost days.


Did he count his fingers after shaking hands/arm-wrestling with Massa? Their smiles in that picture look a bit Gordon Brown to me.


I absolutely love that photograph – two of the most forced smiles ever seen! I’m pretty sure I can guess roughly what they were both thinking as that picture was taken, and I don’t think it would have been repeatable on a family web site 🙂


It’s not as bad as Ron Dennis and Max Mosley’s handshake at Spa in 2007 after the $100m fine!


Alonso knows how to work hard, how to win, how to become a champion, how to be a team player (when the team needs him to be one). I think there will be many possibilities for Fernando and Ferrari to win next year title.


Alonso’s input into the new car will be limited as development into a design always happens well into the mid season of an active season. In this case mid 2009. Now its time for final sign off on design parts and then its off to the CNCs.

Development will still continue on the already planned direction but its very limited for a driver to make any major difference stating his choices in car characteristics.

If you’d have to take a good bet, it is most likely to suit Felipe Massa more than Alonso. 2011, now that can be a year when Alonso can have his influence into the design preferences for handling characteristics.

This visit is more of PR and establishing relations.

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Alonso must put his money where his mouth is now. Best funded team, with the driver who believes that he is the best. No excuses for either Ferrari or Alonso.

How many heads will roll if he doesn’t win in 2010 or 2011?


James do you know if Kimi is still included in the Ferrari Valencia celebrations?


I think that would be unlikely


Be interesting to see what Alonso can really do eh? This isn’t 5 yesrs ago with Renault, mass dampers (unused…ahem!) and very clever launch/traction contol software (met the millionaire designers), or a dodgy season at McLaren when he was trying to keep up with a rookie. This is Ferrari and Massa & the world watching.


Don’t forget the Michelins. 😉


fireworks and true colours -nuff said


Im gonna go get shares in Toys’R’Us. Not because it’s Christmas, but because there’s going to be a monumental amount of toys leaving the pram over at Ferrari next year.

The question is, who’s gonna kick off first?

Fred “My team doesn’t love me anymore” Alonso, or, Felipe “Rob Smedley changes my nappy” Massa?


I have it from a reliable source that the Ferrari pay off to Kimi is 23m euros but 18m if he drives for another team in 2010.


I recon Renault and Alonso will try to make everything go as smooth as possible since they have great relationship and I think they will give him as much freedom prior to January as they contractually can.

on the other subject, James, this website is really and I mean, REALLY acting up lately. I can’t access it half a times.


I’m sorry about that. We are moving to a new hosting solution very soon. Bear with us..



I think you need Geoff Willis to look after these reliability problems. 😉


Indeed! I’ve heard his name connected with Ferrari again incidentally.


Seeing as how everyone keeps banging on about the fact that the lack of overtaking in F1’s due too aero grip outweighing mechanical, won’t narrower tyres exacerbate the situation, or am I missing something?


It is only the front tyres that will be narrower. By removing the four grooves the contact patch of the front tyres grew more than the rears (tyre pressures being consistent). One of the design features of 2009 was shifting the aerodynamic load and the weight distribution forwards.

Comparing the 2009 and 2010 front tyres the key effect will be the tyre compound that Bridgestone chooses. If you keep the tyre pressure the same then the contact area of the two tyres will be the same. The wider tyre will have a shorter contact area and this causes the tyre to distort less. Distortion is a key source of heat, and high temperatures require harder rubber compounds. The rubber’s ability to ‘key’ to the surface and weight (the car’s mass and aerodynamic load) create the friction force, so soft is better for grip. Reducing the tyre pressures would increase the contact area, but the weight on the tyre is the same, so the force per unit area is reduced so there is no benefit from this. Softer pressures (or excessively high) cause more distortion, therefore more heat.

The thinking is that front tyres will provide less grip, therefore the aerodynamic centre of pressure would be shifted rearwards to retain neutral handling. In theory this would reduce the tendency for a following car to understeer. Instead you’d get a more neutral drift in turbulent air, so the following car would still be slower. I suspect that the narrower tyres won’t make much of a difference to anyone except the engineers. The difference is likely to be relatively small, so I suspect the front wheel changers won’t notice the difference.

A key thing that will change is that all the teams will have to rethink their front-end design. This means that the Brawn may loose some of its advantage relative to the Red Bull in being able to follow other cars closely.

In two 2010 there will be two things that will aid overtaking in the early part of the race. The cars will be heavier, with an increased dry mass and then another 120-150 kg of fuel, reducing the aerodynamic effect relative to mechanical grip. Also drivers may take different tyre strategies, some pushing, others conserving.

Another area that may lead to overtaking opportunities is the suspension settings. Ride height has a critical effect on the aerodynamics, so different teams might take different philosophies on this. Some might go for especially hard springs. Generally this is at risk of increased tyre wear and reduced driver feel and comfort. If the ride height is allowed to vary more, then there is potential of for the relative performance of a car to drift during a race. (The potential for an apparent ‘late-race charge’).

On James’ comment on Adrian Newey going aggressive to the detriment of reliability, I suspect this is unlikely unless it relates to cooling. Suspension design can be compromised for aerodynamics and this can lead to poor performance over bumps and kerbs.

I hope this of use.


Very much so, despite what Max has said in the past, there are F1 fans out there that are intrigued by the technical aspects of the sport, so thanks for such an in depth explanation


Thanks for that, Martin


Just James wondering what you mean by technical management being sorted out


I suspect James means that they need somebody to fully replace Ross Brawn! As we’ve seen at Brawn GP, RB took the same people who had already turned out turkeys and, with the right management, got from them a golden goose.

Ferrari, by comparison, seem to have “done a reverse Honda”, taking a once-winning technical department and leading (or not, if you see what I mean) away from their best work.


I suspect you may be right


Ferrari had succes for 5 years in a row, using a 1st driver 2nd driver strategy. When they decided to get Alonso, they aimed to get somebody that get’s the job done. Clearly they don’t trust either Massa or Kimi to do that. So where is Massa left in this picture?


Hi James,

I am relatively new to F1. I would like to ask you how much role will Alonso have in the development of next years car? I mean personally I am not convinced that an established company as big as Ferrari can possibly rely on certain individual for success?

Also how much is there any truth to some claims that Alonso plays big role to the development of the car


Even Ron Dennis acknowledged Alonso’s exceptional all-round ability in helping the engineers to straighten the car out in the 2007 pre-season.

Pat Symonds,when at Renualt,was always very kind with his words when evaluating Alonso, calling him an excellent test driver.


“an all conquering hero riding in to Ferrari’s rescue”

he didn’t manage to do much for Renault once the ‘Michelin effect’ of 2005 and 2006 wore off. Why should Ferrari expect anything else?

I hope they have a good psychologist in the team, to manage the Massa-Alonso conflict that will erupt. And is Michael going to continue to orchestrate things for ‘brother’ Felipe?


Well he claimed in the past to have brought McLaren a lot in the development of the 2007 car. A driver can make quite a difference by taking a strong lead and working with the engineers to develop the car. The pre-season will be critical next year because it will be quite short and will be the only time for testing. After that the teams are limited in the number of development packages they can bring to the car so everything has to be right and it has to move the team forward.


But James, weren’t drivers playing a much more important role in development when we did not have this testing ban? I believe the contribution of drivers towards development was coming into play only after driving the car for a race or two. But thanks to the stupid rules, drivers do not have that liberty anymore! 🙁


anything alonso brings a positive he brings an equal amount of the negative- there is is going to be major tension next year and no one will be able to manage it. i think it will be a season of self destruction for fiarrari. the hamilton/alonso battle was nothing. cant wait myself. fisicuffs whilst brawn redbull and mclaren take the top 3 honours


Nothing lasts forever and this is how I’m beginning to feel about F1. While it easy to be critical of Max and company for driving the manufactures out of f1 – he is not truly responsible. I believe the real villain in all of this is Ferrari and LM. The decision by Ferrari (for selfish and short-sighted reasons) to leave the GPWC in 2005 and commit to F1 until 2012 will be remembered as the turning point in F1. This in effect allowed BE to sell the commercial rights to F1 at an absolutely ridiculous price – creating a debt load that requires increasingly ever more ridiculous fees for hosting races.

I’m happy to see F1 leave Europe and North America, to leave its history and heritage behind for the empty grandstands in China, Bahrain, Turkey and Malaysia. Why am I happy – because it will provide the space for a new series that will ultimately need to come. Eventually, some one of these countries will wake up (as China is starting to) that the race hosting fees are not in proportion to the publicity from hosting the event because no one in Europe or North America is watching. Why is no one watching – because there are no races in these areas. Unfortunately, this logic escapes the decision makers (ie commercial rights holder) of F1. The current model of F1 is not sustainable. I think of F1 as heading towards a canyon with no bridge.

I hope I don’t sound to bitter about loosing the Canadian GP.


Well, you do sound bitter.


Sorry, but you do sound quite bitter.

And blaming everything that is wrong with F1 on Ferrari isn’t really making you sound less bitter.

There are so many influencing factors that lead to F1 current state of affairs. Blaming it on a single team or even single individual (LdM) is a bit silly.

Too many parties with different agendas. The teams are as much to blame for this as are FOM and the FIA.


Will Raikkonen be in Valencia? Do Ferrari even want him in Valencia? He did give Domenicali his only win this year


Does Kimi want to be in Valencia?

Properly not.


yeah!!! and I would bet poor old Stefano is really pi**ed off!!!! 😉


Don’t think so. Apparently, last Sunday was his last day as a Ferrari employee. Plus, Valencia is really Alonso territory.


BTW was Massa present at the time?

Let us all wish Alonso the best of luck.To do as well as Kimi, he’ll have to win his first race, beat Massa in his first season, and be champ in his first year.

If he’s facing Raikkonen and Hamilton at McLaren, it’s looking like one of the best ever years in F1 coming up. That’s if Whitmarsh and Haug can nail that deal with the Iceman. It would show monumental incompetence if they continue trying to beat down Kimi on pay and end up with small change saved and no KR.

James, do you know how Ron Dennis views the Iceman’s return? Is he fully in support?


“To do as well as Kimi, he’ll have to win his first race, beat Massa in his first season, and be champ in his first year.”

Michael Schumacher didn’t win his first race for Ferrari and certainly did not win the championship in his first year there. So by your logic he’s not as good as Kimi then?


My understanding is that McLaren are keen on it, but only at the right price, which takes into account the payoff from Ferrari. McLaren has other options, Kimi less so.


Kimi has now stated that he has made his decision, so I guess we will soon see if he will be at Mclaren or not.


Both Andy and Silas make valid points albeit on opposite sides of the fence.

If McLaren are still keen and from all accounts Kimi is still keen then with the money involved you would hope that they could both employ the best lawyers to ensure the deal happened with some “inventive terminology” in the contract

Whatever that may be.

Lets hope the deal happens if only to see four of the highest regarded drivers going head to head in two of the undisputed top teams, and that takes nothing away from what Brawn and Red Bull achieved this year and hopefully will again next year.


I do not quite understand the argument about “taking into account the payoff from Ferrari”. It should not matter at all to McLaren what Ferrari is paying for Kimi for breaching the contract. In no other business would one even consider getting a lower paycheck from the next employer just because the previous one is paying a compensation for terminating the contract. I know I wouldn’t. Besides, does McLaren even know how much Ferrari is paying Kimi? If the latest reports are true, it is a lot less than was previously speculated.

McLaren may have other options but none nearly as good as Kimi. They’d be fools not to be willing to pay more to him than to other available drivers.


Sorry Silas – I’m not a lawyer, but that doesn’t seem to make sense to me.

Kimi’s next drive should have no bearing on the Ferrari Compensation; because this is not through the courts. It is an agreement by both parties to terminate the existing contract.

It also doesn’t make sense (to me) that Ferrari only compensates the difference of Kimi’s McLaren (potential) drive. Because, there is an opportunity cost to Kimi driving and him doing nothing (and getting paid). i.e, to Kimi there would be no difference at all in terms of money whether he drove or took a sabbatical when there naturally should be for risking one’s life.

It seems that McLaren are pulling a similar stunt to what they did to Damon Hill, by trying to get a world champion on the cheap.


” McLaren may have other options but none nearly as good as Kimi”

REALLY is that becasue Kimi gives it 110% all the time or only when he wants too?


My understanding is that the Ferrari pay-off is considerably more if Kimi doesn’t drive next year and drops by double digit millions if he accepts another drive.

Therefore, unless Kimi doesn’t care about the cash, McLaren need to stump up an extra $10m or so just to bring his pay up to the same level Ferrari will pay him to sit at home eating ice cream.

Well it’s just what I’ve seen while reading various articles.

James, is it true?!


brill post Andy….exactly what i was thinking! If they`re going to keep spouting the “equal status” b/s at McmoRons, then give Kimi 15 mill like Shamilton and lets see the sparks!!!! #:)


Well Mclaren may feel that Kimi is being paid enough so if he wants a winning car he should just accept the deal. It’s still a business deal.

They aren’t going to rip him off but with Heidfeld and possibly Kubica on the market they have more options.


With respect, if the previous contract was “broken” then “compensation” should mean just that. The English courts, for instance, would look at what Kimi would have earned at Ferrari in 2010, look at what he’s earning at – say – McLaren in 2010, and award him the difference as compensation.

That is the very definition of compensation – it compensates for loss.

What should IMHO be happening, therefore, is for Ferrari to wait to see what Kimi can get paid for 2010 and then pay him the balance. From what I gather they’re trying to do – roughly – that, just with an estimate.


ps we’ve burned our Ferrrari caps and whatnot on the local Nov 5th bonfire. Arriverderci Mubadala.


James just on alonso who do you expect to have the best car next year and also who do you think is the best 5 drivers in f1


Thanks for that. On the subject of the best car next year, McLaren, Ferrari, Brawn and Red Bull will be the top runners and its just a question of whether one of them can start out with an edge. I think Red Bull will be very aggressive but that may not mean a reliable, adaptable car, also the engine is still a question mark. Ferrari have been working on it longest, so should have the edge, but have they got the technical management sorted out? As for top 5 drivers I’ll be doing a competition on that shortly, with a signed book as prize.

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