How Ferrari bounced back in winning style
Scuderia Ferrari
How Ferrari bounced back in winning style
Posted By: James Allen  |  14 Mar 2010   |  8:44 pm GMT  |  263 comments

Today was a real vindication of the decision taken last summer by Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali to stop development of the 2009 car and throw everything at the 2010 model.

The Ferrari was the best car overall this weekend in various conditions. It was quick on the single lap, quick on the soft tyre at the start of the race when the car was heavy and quick on the medium tyre in the second part of the race as the fuel load lightened.

The Red Bull may have been quicker in the soft tyre parts of that, but when the hard tyres went on Alonso looked ready to attack. Would he have got Sebastian Vettel had the Red Bull’s exhaust not failed? I asked Fernando that in the unilaterals room and he said that he was planning to attack in the closing stages and had measured his pace up to that point.

And that illustrates the difference between new style F1 and what we had up to last season. Patience is suddenly a real virtue in a Grand Prix driver, whereas before it was all about dividing a race into three short sprints.

Before we get carried away in negativity about the new style, we should remember that in the years prior to the re-introduction of refueling in 1994 the races were about being cagey, especially in the turbo era and Alain Prost made an art form of it.

It seems that Alonso has that ability too. He did not go after Vettel on the opening lap when the German opened up a two second lead, pushing his tyres hard. The Ferrari didn’t manage the supersoft tyres as well as the Red Bull and by lap 13 he was losing between half a second and a second per lap. So he pitted on lap 16, when he was five seconds adrift. By the time Vettel had made his stop and rejoined, Alonso had the gap back down to three seconds. He lowered that to two seconds and then started reeling Vettel in. It was at this point that Vettel’s spark plug failed and he started losing power.

“I had some pace in the pocket at that time of the race but I was concentrating on managing the tyres,” said Alonso. “We knew that we had to do 35 or 36 laps with the tyres. I was waiting the time to attack Vettel, maybe waiting for the last 10 or 12 laps. But suddenly he had a car problem and he was dropping and we had the chance to overtake him a little bit earlier than expected.”

The Ferrari had speed to spare on the hard tyre. Once past Vettel Alonso drove a measured pace with laps in the 1m 59s but then on lap 45 he suddenly threw in a 1m 58.287 – the fastest lap of the race by over a second.

Felipe Massa can be pleased that he has made a successful comeback from injury to finish second, as he said, his best start to an F1 season. He also had problems with overheating in his engine, which meant that he had to run it rich and that sent his fuel consumption figures up. The only way to manage that situation was to go slower, which he did once past Vettel.

I asked him in the TV interview what his engineer Rob Smedley had been looking at when he pointed to the car on the screen and then later leaned over the pit wall to inspect the car. Massa had no idea what I was talking about, but I checked with Smedley and he said that the telemetry was showing an sudden aero inbalance which led the team to believe that part of the floor had come away. He radioed Massa to ask if he could feel anything, but Massa said no.

Massa’s problems meant that he would not have beaten Alonso even if he had stayed ahead on the opening lap, but the fact that he didn’t is probably the most crucial “take home” for the Brazilian from this weekend.

He outqualified Alonso and was well aware that the start was critically important and yet he couldn’t hold him, as the Spaniard eased his way around the outside, which gave him the inside line for the next corner. It was a beautifully weighted move.

Moments like this are very significant. It is like the pass Hamilton made on Alonso into Turn 1 at Melbourne in 2007, on his debut he boldly passed his world champion team mate and that set the tone for the season to follow.

Here it is obvious that there is an intense competition between the two men and only one of them can win the title. Massa was slightly faster than Alonso until Sunday, but winning races is about more than being fast.

Massa can point to fuel consumption problems, but he knows that next time he will have to keep Alonso behind him.

1. Alonso Ferrari 1h39:20.396
2. Massa Ferrari + 16.099
3. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 23.182
4. Vettel Red Bull-Renault + 38.713
5. Rosberg Mercedes + 40.263
6. Schumacher Mercedes + 44.180
7. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 45.260
8. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 46.308
9. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes + 53.089
10. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth + 1:02.400
11. Kubica Renault + 1:09.093
12. Sutil Force India-Mercedes + 1:22.958
13. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1:32.656
14. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth + 1 lap
15. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth + 1 lap
16. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 3 laps
17. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth + 3 laps

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Alonso eats Newey’s cars for breakfast. It is not the first time he’s pushed one to destruction.

Too bad though. Considering the speed he had at the end of the race, a pass in the last laps would have been the highlight of the “boring” race.


James it was great to see you on One HD (in Australia). Hopefully we get to see a lot more of you. I’d love to hear you commentating again. I always thought you and Martin made a great team.

Great posts by the way. You have access that others just don’t seem to and every post is worth reading. Keep up the great work!




If they’d shown Sutil and Kubica overtake half the field, te race would’ve been so much better! Poor production!


It’s really sad to see all the Hamilton fans making excuses for Lewis’s third place and trying to slag off Alonso’s smart win. Really poor sportsmanship, IMO.


I think the fatest lap of the race was made by a fever called Alonso and by more than a second.


Just to add:

Has anyone ever seen the drivers so unanimously unenthusiastic after a race before?

Give it a few more races and i think they’ll be stirring up a fuss.

Now would be a good time to start mentioning that proposed breakaway series flavio 😉


I don’t think it matters how many races you give it, it still won’t be proper racing.

Fundamental flaws:

a) Drivers not on the limit constantly. This is a joke. Since when was watching drivers managing tyres/engines entertaining?

b) Downforce too high. I’m fairly certain the teams could work together and come up with a set of Regs which means the cars can follow each other better.

c) Bad circuit designs / re-designs. Drivers or ex-drivers should design the tracks. Herman Tilke can make it look pretty on the eye.

If you address these three points, F1 would be a million times better. I think it really is as simple as that.


Ok everyone, I think we should all just calm down a bit and reserve judgement for a couple more races. Ok, Bahrain wasn’t the most exciting race in the world, but it was still worth watching, so if you dud wander down to the pub after lap 17 can I suggest you go back and watch the rest on iplayer.

I fear it could be a dull season under these rules but hopefully it’s a one off, and even drivers like Lewis or Alonso will push a bit and think about the fans.

Have faith in the FIA I’m hoping Jean Todt and teams will introduce what ever is required to slightly spice up the show. It would be a waste to have the best ever line up in years and see it turn into a procession, but I’m convinced the FIA won’t see that happen.

Here’s for keeping the F1 Faith and having an exciting 2010…. I won’t give up watching and supporting it and haven’t for 22 years.



Good post Chris.


You have more faith in Todt than me, I remember what he (and his mate Mosley) served us with the US fiasco and many other Ferrari dominated races.

F1 needs to think outside of the box and I don’t think they are able to do this as all those in the F1 family are all but stuck in concrete.

The engineers know how to counter the dirty air when following behind but aren’t allowed to design their car accordingly as the FIA has made it almost impossible to innovate any more.


I like the look of the Ferrari – both in terms of performance and appearance. The white sets it off nice. I also notice that the drivers have taken a leaf out of Lewis’s book and appear in the post race press conference in pristine race suit ‘covers’.


I know this has been touched on above, but the double Ferrari engine change. Based on the comments above, as long as within the 8 engine limit you can change as many times during a weekend with or without penalty ? Is this a possible loophole, in terms of having an option for practice, qualification and the race. Based on the events of yesterday it seems key to keep a fresh power plant for qualification, and maybe not so important to have ultimate power available for race other than in the latter stages ? Have Ferrari already outwitted the field ? Good luck to them if so.


Interesting points, mmmmmmm. I think you could have a point as it’s clear from the Bore-rain race that maximum engine power during the race is not so important.


To change the engine between qualifying and the race is only allowed once without a penalty, as far as i know. So Ferrari already used that ‘joker’ at the first race of the season, and i wouldn’t call that an advantage.


Interesting that Vettel’s exhaust was thought to have broken, substantiated with after race with TV pics of the extra hole burnt in the engine cover due to the gases going in the wrong direction. Later to hear that it was a spark plug does not sound at all right and does not tie in with the burnt cover. Also of course we saw something fall off the car in the rear facing onboard shot, or was that someone else?

No team seems to have taken any notice of the change in the regs re tyre warmers, the all seem to be using the same type as last year.

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Spark plugs that don’t fire, or misfire, cause unburned fuel to enter the exhaust system. The unburned fuel ignites inside the system and can lead to meltdown or damage.

Michael Prestia

The FIA should introduce some very lucrative points to the driver with the fastest lap during the race. Therefore each driver has to push hard on the tires and not nurse them for half a race distance. If your given 15pts for the fastest lap then it is almost as important as taking 1st place. No driver could afford to sit back… but by gunning hard on the tires the driver is more likely to wear them out quicker and force additional pit stops. Just my thoughts on how to spice up the show.


Then all the cars taht are outside top 10 would chill aroud till the last 5 to 10 laps… pit for option tyres… then kept diong qualifying runs till they get a top time get a good time… which will most likely beat any car’s best lap within the top 10 since they are acutally racing…

Look at the top time in the race compared to the top time in the qualifying sessions….

If i’m in P5 to P10, I might as well fall all the waty back and leave myself outside top 10 just to gamble for the top qualifying lap…

I’m not sure if that would make sense…


Gambles are good. No one is gambling right now and it is a long procession. Why gamble when there is nothing to gain. 5th to 10th place is a points paying position to gamble that position away by pitting in the last 5 laps is a gamble because if you can’t pull out a fastest lap in the closing stages and you pit for primes… you may give up points to someone else. I am not saying its the answer to all F1’s issues but it adds a new dimension to the race. I suspect the top 3 or 4 cars will be the ones with the fastest lap every race.


The double diffuser should not have been approved last year to begin with. The FIA is the blame for this!The overtaking group that set up the new car designs took a slap in the face when the FIA approved the double diffuser… but we all now that was a political decision made by Max to piss off the FOTA group.

Last note:

I don’t agree with reintroducing fuelling during the race. Seeing a pass in the pits is nothing exciting. I rather see cars running with boost button to pass on the track. THe benefit of KERS with the additional weight!


Last year, when Brawn started with winning races and with a car 2 seconds faster than all others, where were the british people complaining about the races being boring?

When FIA allowed the diffusers (and they are one of the main reasons the cars can’t overtake most of the time), where was the british outcry?

But now they are complaining?

This was so predictable.


I am a life-long Ferrari fan and I can’t express how boring it was to watch this race!


I think they need to a few things to bring back the spectacle:

1. Remove rev limits. They can ban exotic materials to control costs. At least provide a rev limit bypass button to be used twice per lap. Or how about a small tank of Nitrous Oxide? Perhaps only 30 seconds worth to be deployed freely when desired. Engines are way too reliable at present.

2. Provide more freedom on tyre selection and quantities for the race at least (maybe restrict during test and qualy to control costs). Forget the mandatory use of both compounds and let the drivers choose their strategy more freely.

3. Make the tyres less durable. Tyres should not be capable of lasting any more than half race distance and preferably no more than 3rd race distance.

That would do for starters…


James you are writing this article as if Alonso overtook Vettel with 2 laps to go. Watch the Indycar race in Sao Paulo street circuit if you want to see an overtake for the win on the dying laps. Alonso would not have been even able to get close enough to make a move on Vettel. And that is not because of Alonso’s talent, or Ferrari’s pace, but the aero and FIA regulations. Everyone saw the same interview you did, it was on TV. How you interpretted it, and most other people though is pretty different. Unless they are a Ferrari fan.

Vettel’s car had a problem. That’s why Alonso won. Not because of some sixth sense tickle in his lower elbow, or some great power. But as always in F1, results are remembered (not how they are acquired), and the victors write the history books. Vettel drives a perfect race, his car fails, Alonso gets the result and so therefore also gets all of the credit. Maybe his Prost like sixth sense made the spark plug fail.

On a seperate note.. there is a big concern with these regulations and F1’s entire structure. The sport is run by old people. Old people who have conflicts of interest between the good of F1 and the good of their own team, or in Bernie’s case his own pocket. People who grew up watching vintage F1 would probably love to see them racing in that hunk of junk that DC drove around the track (Fangios car). Prost thinks no refuelling is a great idea! Newsflash Mr Frost, technology, racing and the whole world has moved on since that point. We now have slicks, lower front wings, skinny rear wings, and now no refuelling and it goes backwards and becomes worse every season.

Bahrain 2006 ring any bells? Button and Montoya overtaking each other. Rosberg spinning on first lap and then overtaking alot of people for 1 point. Kimi getting a podium from the back of the grid on a 1 stop.

This is the question. Is F1 trying to please the “old people” or is it trying to draw new viewers into the sport? I’ve been watching F1 10 years and I’ve never thought about stopping watching the sport more then in the last 24 hours. If I feel this way, how in the heck is someone who doesn’t even know or understand the sport, going to want to tune in and watch???


Congratulations to Ferrari. Alonso wanted it and he got it, so well done to him too.

How come Alonso had to back off for a lap or two, when he first reached Vettel (before his issue)? He spoke (afterwards) as though he’d got it all planned, but without the issue on the Red Bull, I’m not sure he’d have got close enough to pass cleanly – no-one else seemed to be able to do so (except on the first lap, when drivers are on different lines and close together).

Still mystified why McLaren didn’t do the same ie, stop dev in ’09 and focus on ’10. Thought their f-slot \ top end speed would help on the straights, but they kept losing out in the twisty bits.

Race was dull – the first time of watching a GP in 30 odd years that I actually nodded off – TWICE!

Not impressed with the new in-field section at Bahrain either.

But we roll on to Melbourne, let’s hope it’s better… much, much better… but as Brundle alludes to, the teams are more savvy and far more reliable than ever before, so more of the same me thinks.

And finally a note to Kubica – who was my driver of the day – never gave up and kept on pushing despite his 1st lap incident.

P.S. Just a thought: let’s reduce the number of tyres they can use completely, so there’s more chance of them racing on used tyres in the race, thus throwing in a random variable and giving us more enjoyment… after all, the idea of no-refuelling (other than cost-cutting (pah!)) was that we’d see drivers on worn tyres.


BORING BORING BORING. Bloody hell if this continues I shall stop watching for the first time in thirty odd years of following F1. I managed to stay awake but my wife fell asleep and so did my two cats and the dog. My uncle went into such a deep sleep that for a moment I thought he’d died.

It’s a bloody insult to the fans and as for Leggard’s commentary, words fail me…..


I know how you feel. I like my food and I like my F1 even more, this is my 16th year following, but this weekend I found myself making scrambled eggs on lap 30.


I like your thought on abolishing the both compounds rule.A straight fight between, a slower but more durable harder tyre vs a faster but less durable softer tyre. Could Work.

What about a change in the regs, to bring in more mechanical grip? Perhaps a return to ground effect, and a dramatic drop in aero dependancy?

And I agree with the above comment about the tracks, they realy only reward single file racing.

Corners need to be designed with two racing lines, or like turn 1,2,3 at Bahrain, reward a driver on the outside and the inside.


Back in 1993, when we last had cars running on full fuel, THE BIGGEST – AND BY FAR THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR WAS: Cars could come in and leave the pits at full speed! Nobody was losing 25 odd secs like nowadays.


Oh yes, and drivers were killed, and mechanics, and track workers, and marshalls. There even was a time when the commentators said before a race ‘gentlemen, start your coffins’. I take it you want that back too?


No, that was not what I meant. The races were interesting with full fuel loads becuz people didnt lose time at pit stops. You only lost bout 10 secs and you would easily make that up with fresher tyres. If they are gonna have a speed limit in the pit area then its best to revert back to low fuels. Otherwise we are gonna be stuck with processional races.


There is nothing wrong with no refueling, the only real problem is that cars are almost impossible to overtake on many of the tracks it is taken to.

In the glory days of Senna, Prost, Mansell etc the cars could slipstream & overtake even on the worst of tracks.

The FIA playing with the rules as they do is just serving us rubbish, rubbish races on many (probably most) circuits & if Bahrain is anything to go by it looks like we’ll be having even more this.

Even the once great Silverstone has seen fit to add a twisty section that is hardly likely to liven the show for F1 TV fans across the world.

I think there should be less rules, more freedom for the engineers & teams & let them come up with solutions to counter the aero problems when following a car, left to them they would find a solution,

The cars are so tightly regulated that it’s nearly impossible for any team to come up with something new, something that pushes the boundaries (well done McLaren for at least introducing soemthing new & innovative).

What I saw yesterday was rubbish, a complete waste of several hours of my life & if the likes of me (an F1 nut) are saying & thinking this then what hope is there for expanding F1’s fan base?

The question is…,,,,,Should I bother to get up & watch the next race live or not?

CJ the 2cnd, probably...

Hear hear to all of that! (except refuelling)

Fewer and simpler rules, more scope for development. Stop emasculating the circuits, I would probably have forked out the cash to see a GP at Donnington, but not at Silverstone the way it is now. (I often went in the 70’s and 80’s, saw them at Brands Hatch too).

I think the question to consider is this – if Bahrain 2010 was the first GP you had seen would you be making plans to see the next one? I suspect not. I’ll still watch, but I’d watch them race motorised rollerskates if such a sport existed so I don’t count!


I thought the race was dull yesterday – in fact it was that bad I fell asleep for 20 mins in the middle and didn’t miss anything. Something is seriously wrong when the result is basically decided on a Saturday afternoon. Thought Massa did a good job coming back from his injury – only felt that Alonso got the jump on him due to Alonso starting on the clean side of the circuit. Don’t recall anyone in the top 10 making up places from the start on the dirty side. I haven’t missed a race live since Mansell won the European at Brands in ’85 however if that is what we have to look forward to I think the race will get sky plussed and watched at x12.

My view on what’s wrong firstly too much reliance on Aero – something wrong if you can’t follow closely behind to get a slipstream. 18k rpm rev limit – might as well have a speed restrictor as most of the cars will have similar ratio in the box and so practically same top speed – I remember a race where Massa was in Kubica’s slipstream and couldn’t get past because he was bouncing on the rev limiter. Better to take the limit off – if you constantly over rev you run the risk of blowing up – risk vs reward.

The tracks – It is a sad inditement that nobody has won Bahrain starting lower than 4th on the grid

F1 used to be exciting because the cars were more on the edge reliability wise it was quite often for one of the ‘big boys’ to be down the grid for them to charge through the field – Mansell being one of the best.

Something needs to be done otherwise you can see the sport losing a lot of the ‘casual’ viewer which is the type of viewer the advertisers are after.


A few things I think that might help:

1)They need to make the races shorter. A split race scedhule will not work due to TV air time. Leave the longer stuff to the ALMS. Maybe an hour race.

2) Stop this silly ecomentalist approach to racing- conservation of engines (8/season), gearbox management, tyres and fuel. Yes costs sprialled out of control, but watching pure racers drive at 99% and finishing the race feeling like they didnt drive 100% is crazy (a la Buttons interview from the BBC forum).

3) Stop making the cars slower to increase the spectal. For the first time in my life, the F1 cars looked slow. Like Brundle has said for many years, they can keep the speed, and stop the crazy aero by working from under the car.

4) Open F1 to the fans- its should be on Youtube etc and teams should have proper channels showing genunie race footage. I am enjoying the Tweets this year- especially from the teams, engineers, drivers etc.

I am sure I will get a barrage of opinions on the above, and how it may lack proper analysis but thats on of the biggest problems with F1 over the last 10 years.

Keep up the good work James.


Who’s gonna watch this boring crap even on uTube?


James is right, teams shouldnt be forced to make two stops,it would be a rather peculier rule change, but if the tyres are so good as that they dont deteriorate anything like what has been expected, then what can be done?

Teams will just do what they did this weekend, the tyres holding on mean making an extra stop will not recoup the time on newer, fresher tyres.

Surely we need more extreme tyres?

The teams are much more competitive and closer in time then they were back in 93, when cars were not as sophisticated and more susceptable to problems, which produced interesting, unpredictable racing.

The cars are so bulletproof now, and the cars so close, and the aero so complex, the engines so close, that the only thing left is to alter the tyre situation.

Or, lose the dependancy on aerodynamics and go back to mechanical grip, ground effect etc, that way cars WILL be able to race closer together.


Sam Michael told me last night that making it two stops won’t change anything


It would make competion between team mates go up to the final stop. If Ferrari were 1-2 after the first stop they would have just cruised for the last 30 laps. This has to be changed.


Did he say what will?


Last year I really enjoyed the pre and post race hype on both TV and Websites. Yesterday I didn’t bother to listen to red button etc. I thought it was a big let down.

All the tactics plans just came to nothing. The cars just can’t get within a 1 sec of each other without seriously compromising themselves. The race pace is nothing like the Qually…it is not about out and out pace, it all about conservation of tyres and fuel.

This year Qually is going to dictate the race, apart from Massa just being a bit rusty in allowing Alonso through..he would have won.

Rosberg nicked Hamilton but a pit lane lane hold dropped him behind again. Hamilton then gained 15 secs on him… I’m sure Jenson was held up by both Mercs… but he just couldn’t get near.

It puts paid to the myth that you can’t win the trace in the first corner!!!

The same applies to Mark stuck behind Jenson, probably .5 per lap quicker and yet it was not enough to get past.

The hards and softs just not different enough to make the tactics of starting on different tyres pay off (like Barrichello/Sutil)

I thought we were in for a great season, but I suspect we will need rain for an interesting race or mixed up qually.

I’m really disappointed.

On a plus note….the coverage by this site and others through links is just getting better and better. BBC have taken it up another notch as well. Its just a pity they didn’t take you on James, but at least you are in the mix.

Keep up the good work, and have a word with Bernie to get this F1 show sorted out!!!!!


One down, still too early to make judgements. Cheers to Alonso and Massa for a pleasant start, but do sympathise with Vettel as he deserved the win. Would have been better if spark plug didn’t fail RB, would Alonso have fought a tight battle with Vettel for the win. If only…….await down under.


I still reckon Alonso would have caught up with Vettel by the end of the race, and probably overtaken him. Alonso was on it all day yesterday. Without failure to his car, nobody could have beaten him, and I would be suprised if that is the case for the rest of the year.

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