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Alonso: Title challenge is on target
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Alonso: Title challenge is on target
Posted By: James Allen  |  26 Apr 2010   |  6:39 pm GMT  |  74 comments

Fernando Alonso has been speaking in Madrid today at a press event organised by Ferrari sponsor Santander. The 28 year old said that he was relatively pleased to have got through the opening four races with the points he has and believes his title challenge is on target.

Alonso: This is where it really begins (Darren Heath)

Alonso lies third in the championship with 49 points after one win and two fourth places, behind Rosberg on 50 points and championship leader Button on 60 points.

More importantly his competitive instincts have been revived after an uncompetitive 2009 season with Renault, where he could not contemplate winning, even in the most topsy turvy race.

“Being third in the championship, very few points away from the leader, I believe is a very good situation, ” he told reporters.

“With the potential that we have, with the super team that I have, this is just the beginning and I have a real chance to fight for the world championship.

“I’m enjoying it again, and I’ve felt that bug from winning a race or winning the championship again, and that’s the most positive thing about the start to this year.

“We can’t forget that last year during the final part of the season Ferrari was very far from the leaders, so there were a lot of things to confirm and many wishes to grant and they have been granted.”

Alonso believes that the opening races merely served to prove initial thoughts from testing on the relative performance of the cars. But as we saw last year with McLaren, when the development race kicks in for real at the start of the European season, things can change.
“In Europe it is time to show who is going to fight for the title and who isn’t, ” he said.

He didn’t say much about the controversial overtaking move on his team mate Felipe Massa into the pit lane in China. It will be very interesting to see how Massa reacts to this on the track in the next race in Spain and from now on. He needed to raise his game after the opening races to match Alonso and this is likely to have roused him. He now knows what he is up against.

Interestingly Alonso had a pop at the stories in circulation over the weekend that Ferrari had traced its engine problems to the air valve system and would be applying to the FIA to make a change to the engine in the interests of reliability.

“As for the engines, we have found the problems that we had,” he said. “I know there have been things written about the valves and the air consumption system of the engine, which are completely untrue, as it usually happens.”

Both Ferraris had permitted changes to the engines air valve systems in parc ferme, before the start of the race in Malaysia.

Alonso has lost two engines so far this season, giving rise to concerns that he may not have enough to get him through the season, from his original allocation of eight for the year. If he is forced to take a ninth engine at any stage he will start that race ten places back on the grid.

Here is Ferrari’s engine usage plan to date, as I understand it:

Engine 1 – Friday and Saturday in Bahrain, plus Melbourne Friday and Malaysia Friday. Massa used his Engine 1 in China on Friday. Alonso’s failed on Friday morning in China.

Engine 2 – Bahrain race. Alonso used his for Friday pm, Saturday and Sunday in China. Massa used his for Saturday and Sunday in China

Engine 3 – Melbourne Saturday and Sunday. Also the Malaysia engine on Saturday and Sunday, which failed for Alonso.

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thompson, I agree with you. I honestly think that the pit incursion with alonso and massa was great. Indeed, I think they should all go toe to toe. I just think that alonso IS a better driver, no 1 or not. My point was really in relation to schumacher who got the best of everything and we never really saw him challenged in a ferrari. It was laid out for him. As a result we saw 7 years of boredom. Thats my fan perspective. My manger persective would be to avoid the PR disasters stated. its corporates v purists…like all sports these days.


Schumacher has only ever done well when there is a clear preference for him. Hamilton is getting his licks this year from Button when we all thought he would get preferential treatment, himself included. Vettel is clearly better than Webber and is No.1 in his team. My point? I think Alonso has every right to feel he should be No. 1 as I think it is the only way that you solve individual and team goals for the WDC. The last time you had 2 equal drivers going for it was Mclaren with prost/senna hamilton/alonso and maybe williams with mansell/piquet. All cases were PR and PC nightmares for all involved and innuendo into whom was with whom in the garage and at exec level which causes major cracks for team unity. By the way, callous as it may be I feel Massa pre crash last was probably not going to get the drive for ferrari in 2010. After that accident Ferrari would have lost huge support by dumping him. They had to be seen to be doin g the right thing. Now it is playing out exactly as we would expect. Alonso is just a better driver and manager of the car.2 championships against a fully fit Schumacher define his ability and credetials.


Do you want a procession or racing?

Senna/Prost, Mansell/piquet Hamilton/Alonso provided some of the most memoreble racing in recent F1 racing history. Without them I doubt you would have the interest we have today.

You want champions,real champions them make them race I say. PR and PC nightmares maybe, but great entertainment and racing definately.


I swear I don’t get it, reading the comments so far its hilarious. Alonso, cool, calm, a thinking driver…this the same man who has brought nothing but touble and controversy to every team his been in since leaving Renault after winning his two championships.

The man has talent, but unless he gets preferential treatment his own way, as proved he is not much of a team player. And its the team that will provide the hardware to win this year. Thus far he as already made the 1st steps to destroying any commardary in the Ferrari paddock.

Apart from the Massa incident, it looks like you all forgot him keeping is foot in when he knew the engine was going. It’ll be interesting to see how things develope within Ferrari, would’nt suprise me if they star going backwards.

Can’t help feel he’s lucky to have Santander backing


Would you explain why exactly wouldn’t Ferrari back him if he is faster than Massa consistently and outqualifying/outracing him on regular basis ? Santander gives money to Ferrari to advertise them, they do not tell Ferrari what strategy to employ regarding their drivers.

And what trouble he has brought to every team ? At Renault, he was always happy bar one,two situations. At McLaren, we all know it was equally Ron Dennis at fault after being confirmed by Montoya,Raikkonen,DC. At Ferrari, one racing move and it’s storm brewing ahead ?


Its a little premature to talk about who Ferrari will back. I’d expect them to back whoever is leading within the team depending on points situation by 3/4 of the season. That said it makes no sense to be ruffling feathers at this stage of the season.

Massa as so far had the more reliable car, he has the better garage regardless of pace. Alonso has had problems. If this continues maybe Alonso’s machanics may need support from Massas crew – why make things within the Farrari paddock difficult now?

Regards Mclaren and Ron Dennis – Montoya was never the real deal, Raikonan got impatient and DC never deserved to be in a Mclaren, considering he had 9 seasons and never coming close to a championship in a championship winning car (Add one full season with Williams too ) or even beating a team mate.

Alonso’s behavior at Mclaren was a disgrace, holding a team to ransom to try and slow down a team mate…and you don’t think he had anything to do with crash-gate at Renault?

Every journey starts with one step, at Ferrari this could just be the first.


Definitely think Alonso is well-placed despite a fairly average start and will be looking to push on, especially in his home GP!


Alonso’s vision of the WDC will be the “big picture”. If Ferrari have found the root cause of it’s fragile engine, watch Alonso do his “chunking” mode by gathering more podiums and points. There’s a huge group who knows he will beat some overrated driver anytime. “Ruthless” a term use for Alonso repeatedly, wasn’t Schumi worse?


It is quite an interesting point on the engines.

Dropping 10 grid places for changing an engine may not necessarily harm the chances of the front runners too much.

If you remember some of the races so far this season where front runners have come from way back to finish on the podium.

It will be interesting to see it develop over the year.


Interesting comments from Alonso, but i have no doubt he will fight tooth and nail to win this years WDC.

Intelligent,ruthless and completely focused,and i don,t think even if Ferrari towards the end of the season have to drop 10 places because of engine allocation running out,Alonso would not be fazed. As for beating Schumacher twice,he has 2005,2006,the bench mark was Schumacher not Raikonnen who has only won a WDC once,enough said.


It isn’t inconceivable that all the top teams may use up their engine allocations. This could potentially result in some strange grids at the end of the year.



You are good.

Spot on,keep it up.


I have been slightly confused by the new point systems (not in terms of how much or why everyone gets what it does but the strength of the points leads people have over each other) so i have made a table of what the Championshiop would look like if they had not changed it.

Here you go:

Button 23

Alonso 20

Hamilton 20

Rosberg 20

Vettel 18

Kubica 17

Massa 16

Webber 10

Sutil 4

Schumacher 3

Liuzzi 2

Petrov 2

Barrichello 1

The top 7 cars separated by 7 points!

Would have been shaping up for one hell of a season (still is in my mind).


Using a ninth engine need not be the end of the world for Alonso. There shall likely be a race late on in the season where Alonso will be starting well down the grid for whatever reason and Ferrari could take that opportunity to introduce a brand new ninth unit.


The problem with that however, is that after qualifying, the cars are in Parc Ferme. Only changes to do with reliability can be made. So Ferrari can’t just decide to bung a new unit in for the sake of it.

Plus, if he’s down in 10th, he still has a chance. dropping to 20th puts him in danger of a collision and less chance of taking points, which at a late stage in the season could prove a disaster.

I like the story that he’s insured his thumbs, maybe Ferrari’s F-Duct means he has to plug a hole with them instead of his knee…?!!


If this season was all about “raw pace”, then we may as well hand the title to Hamilton or Vettel or some other so-called ‘always-on-the-limit’ driver. But thankfully, particularly with the new rules, it’s not and having “raw pace” is about as much use as a chocolate fireguard. Although it may come in handy in qualifying, but only if you don’t wreck the tyres going for pole.

This seasons title could be anyone of about eight or maybe even ten drivers to go for right now. But from a reliabilty point of view, I know which car I’d rather be in.



I might be right in thinking that Alonso has demonstrated in Malaysia that he isn’t short in the “raw pace” department as well.


I still believe raw pace will win the title this year, the only difference is the driver has to drive away and control the race from the front, in that way he can conserve his tyres better. For instance there isn’t any data to suggest that certain drivers chew up their tyres more than others, all we know is that they use them differently during the race as others charge from the back while others control from the front.

In terms of tyre management all the drivers are equal, so raw pace and intelligence is the only thing that will set them apart this year as in any other year. The tyre management theory is simply a theory, there’s no data to back it up.

Drivers who can get pole and win from there have a better chance of winning the title, Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton who are the quickest have a better chance in my opinion.


I would say that certain drivers use their tyres up more than others – I believe James has even quoted an F1 engineer or a Bridgestone technician, as saying so too.

If you’re out front, you can manage your tyres… as we’ve seen with Button at times… provided that you’re not under constant attack.

If you’re in the pack and want to make progress forward, you have to take some of the life out of the tyres in order to pass people… as we’ve seen with Hamilton… plus following closely behind someone, as we all know, takes more life out of the tyre too.

Going fast, whilst not taking the life out of your tyres is paramount and what all are looking for… being at the front helps the strategy of tyre management.

Alonso will be there or thereabouts come seasons end. As I hope will Vettel, Hamilton, Button and many more… wouldn’t it be great to get down to the last few Grand Prix with many still in contention?


So you think that all of the drivers are equal on tyre management!!!??? Mr Hirohide Hamashima think differently.


I have a feeling we haven’t seen the best of Alonso yet. It’s seems like the season really does start in Barcelona for drivers and teams.


Doesn’t the new rule require a driver to lose 10 grid places for 2 races this year compared to just 1 race last year for exceeding their engine allocation? What if a driver needs 2 new engines? Does that mean 4 races to lose 10 grid spots?

I think this can become a factor in Alonso’s WDC chances although we have seen in previous races that he can make up a number of places during the race. He will probably try to win as many races early to clinch the points battle with 4 races to spare so dropping grid allocations will be irrelevant. I see the 10 European season races to be critical in Alonso’s chances. He needs to have a big lead by Singapore or else the extra engines will cost him his WDC possibility.


Not a Fernando fan but I think he’s far more complete driver that Hamilton (especially mentally) and should fight for the title even with the 9th engine penalty.

Button will be his biggest opponent – one or two more races and I think Mclaren will/should focus on him instead of Hami.

Mclaren speed of developement is impressive but this year it’s impossible to find a 1s as they did it in 2009. Last year they had a bunch of ideas from other teams they adopted, now they are team to copy from. So in my opinion if they don’t find 0.3 s in Barcelona they will stay as the 3rd fastest.

Sorry for grammar but I’m not used to write in English.


Der, I guess that’s why Hamilton BEAT Alonso in his rookie year AND every year since ❓

FACT, Hamilton beat Alonso in his very first year in F1 get over it.


FACT: Hamilton didn’t beat Alonso when they were at Mclaren. They finished on equal points.


I´m getting all confused about these 1 year comparisons… so LH is better than FA because he beat him in his rookie year, and then Button is probably better because he beat them both last year, and then obviously has to be better than Schumacher who is a 7 time world champion… eerrr… as I said I´m all confused


Excuse me, equal race wins more podiums for Lewis ; 0 )

If Bulls had wings I’m sure they could fly, but Lewis still beat Fernando. FACT!


Actually they had the same amount of wins in 2007 with 4 each FACT!
If alonso didn’t get penalised in qualifying for France and Hungary then he would of won more races and the title that year FACT!
In 2008 and 2009 it was impossible for alonso to beat him due to inferior car FACT!


Hamilton was equal on points – yes. However with more race wins than Alonso he was given the second place ranking over Alonso, therefore BEATING Alonso. Those are the rules of the sport. If it hurts your feelings, get tough. Lewis sure has over the years.


I have no problem with Hamilton beating Alonso, chill. In fact they were equal on points and Lewis stalled his car in the last race by mistake. I know, rookie season, but fact is a fact. Another fact is that Marcus Winkelhock led the very first F1 race he ever entered beating Hami and Nando 🙂 what does it prove?

My opinion is – these two are equal in raw speed (vide Quali 2007), but experience, flexibility and mental strenth is behind Alonso. Just my opinion.


Rich, Im a big McLaren fan, and have never really been a big fan of Ferrari but Im afraid on this occasion its not a case of ‘One rule for Ferrari’. Any team who can demonstrate to the FIA just cause for making a modification to their engine to improve reliability can do so. As far as I understand it pretty heavily moderated to prevent misuse of the system. Plus, Ferrari are hardly best friends with the FIA like they used to be, Jean Todt or no!


Alonso has only had 1 clean race this season yet hes very close to the wdc lead and has a very fast car so hes the main danger man still imo. He’s just warming up.


I’m not a fan of Alonso, but i think he is a great driver.

For all the talk of Vettel and Button etc, all i really want to see is Alonso Vs Hamilton, Ferrari Vs McLaren, in a straight out duel for both titles.


I for one hope Massa, after the Alonso pit overtake, now shows us if he’s a real contender or not.

I hope he is as it’ll be fun to see Alonso throw his toys out of his pram again 🙂


No question Alonso will be at the front fighting for the title. But so will a number of other drivers.

Reliability let Red Bull down last year and this could be the weakest link in Ferrari’s championship plans. Engines aside, the Ferrari looks like a strong car during the race with the advantage that Alonso can adapt his driving style if required to work around small issues, as we saw.

There are 4 different teams currently holding the top 5 places in the table. And Kubica will be in the hunt should any of the front runners hit problems. I think the pace will pick up now as all the teams start to bring upgrades to the European races. It’s almost impossible to tell who will be fastest in Spain whilst Monaco has its own unique characteristics. Could be Turkey before we really get a clear picture of who is at the front.

It’s going to be an unpredictable and enthralling season. Will be fascinating to see who has the inner strength to fight to the end. And that has to be one of Alonso’s trump cards.

Jake Cooper, Australia

It was importnant for the sport that Alonso drives a competitive car because he is a great champion & he is one of those drivers who outperforms the car consistently. I’ve never been an Alonso fan, but he has improved as a person over the last 2 years. And that is why even though I reckon his pass on Filipe wasn’t a pretty one but necessary one. There really was nothing to talk about that & Ferrari surely have dealt with that internally. As far as racing goes, Alonso is still the favourite


alonso is right where he wants to be. Close, with expectation levels a little less than when he started the season. Better to come from behind and chasing then to cling onto a lead. He is right, this is where it all starts, and he has psychological and points advantage over his teammate. But ofr a couple of mistakes in the early races, he would be at the front but this is not an issue for him, he is all about the long haul and big picture, especially after his Mcclaren experience.


Fast Fred, once he has beaten everyone in F1, he will go on to America and have the best time of his life.

Ferrari is going to promote U.S.A. racing for the totality of the group ( Chrysler,

Dodge, Alfa, Ferrari tuning of American cars of the group, etc.

He can build himself a ranch in California with a dirt bike track and a cart track, and fly with a private small plane to events all over the States.

Way much more fun than a Tilkedome session with no alcholic drinks, out in the boondocks.


Recent history tells us that McLaren develop their car at a superior rate than their rivals. So it was last season, and so it has proven thus far this season.

I’m still of the view that in a straight forward shootout, devoid of complicated weather conditions including cool track temperatures which seemed to derail Hamilton in qualifying moreso that others, Hamilton has to ability to comfortably outstrip Button on raw pace.

While that bodes well for qualifying, the new tyre rules quite possibly hurt Hamilton moreso than all others in race trim. His style is on the limit 100% of the time. 2010 doesn’t lend itself well to that approach. He needs to learn to manage races and attack only when necessary.

For me we haven’t seen Alonso and Ferrari’s full hand yet. I imagine their combined race pace in Spain will leave them top of the pile, however Red Bull should again shade qualifying again but are likely to suffer with excessive tyre wear during the race.

It’ll be interesting……..

Soumya Banerjee

Yes but last season McLaren’s development was helped by red bull’s mid-season unreliability,

Brawn’s pace regression and Ferrari choosing not to develop the F60. Otherwise it wouldnt have seemed so spectacular.


There is no history to show McLaren develop their cars quicker than rivals.

Some rivals last year focused on 2010.

Remember its easier to make large improvements the further back down the grid you are.

E.g a 5 second improvement by HRT would be much easier than McLaren finding 5 tenths.

Or Red Bull 3 tenths.


2009 two foremost teams = Brawn & Red Bull

2009 first race Australian GP: gap McLaren to Brawn in qualifying = 1 sec approx (direct comparison not exact due to McLaren exit in P2)

2009 final race Abu Dhabi GP: gap McLaren to formost team (Brawn or Red Bull) -0.7 secs.

Net gain = 1.7 secs McLaren gain over foremost teams over course of season.

Similar 2010


Precise comparisons are indeed difficult, but no matter which way you analyse McLaren’s pace vis a vis their competitors over the course of the season, on balance they demonstrated the biggest gains overall


McLaren did improve significantly, but they weren’t competitive at all the tracks. Everyone knows that the biggest gains are made in the aerodynamics of the car. And all the tracks which tested the aero aspect of the car, McLaren weren’t at the pace of the Red Bull or the Brawn.

The 2nd point which is more important is the fact that McLaren was running KERS, while Red Bull and Brawn weren’t. So you don’t have an apple-to-apple comparison in this case.

Bottom line is that it would be ill-advised to compare what happened last season to draw analogies for the current one.

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Why are there so many worries about a 9th engine? A 10 place grid drop at one race is not going to wreck his title bid….certainly not at this stage.


I completely agree, if he has to use another engine, or even two, it shouldn’t stop him scoring points in those races, as we have seen him do already. He is one of a handful of drivers who really can fight their way through field, and the ferrari is fast enough for him to do it. Its not going to be an engine penalty that decides this season title, I dont think.


A 9th engine would almost certainly be at the end of the season and could well do

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