Alonso wants an end to wacky races
McLaren
Alonso wants an end to wacky races
Posted By: James Allen  |  19 Apr 2010   |  12:01 am GMT  |  218 comments

Fernando Alonso had another astonishing afternoon in the Chinese Grand Prix, coming through from the 17th place to claim fourth spot.

Afterwards he said he had had enough of F1’s wacky races and wanted some more straight forward weekends, “We hope we get to have a normal race, ” he said. “These GPs with 5 pit stops don’t help us – I’m not even sure how many stops we had. Up to now we have only had one normal race, in Bahrain. I won that race, and we were first and second.”

Alonso: Astonishing recoveries (Darren Heath)


He’s right that since Bahrain the races have been fairly eventful and the weather has intervened either in qualifying or the race, to shake up the order. But on raw pace with a dry qualifying and race, the Red Bull would still have the advantage at the moment. Alonso’s point is that the likes of Rosberg and Kubica and maybe even the McLarens, would not be ahead of him in a normal race.

The lottery of the weather has helped them. But it is the same for everyone. Alonso is new at Ferrari and still assessing team’s ability to steer a course through troubled waters. It may be a co-incidence, but in Melbourne, Malaysia and Shanghai, his old team Renault has made all the right calls with Kubica.

There were many strong performances in China, but Alonso’s really deserves a closer look because, had it not been for his mistake at the start, setting off before the lights had gone out, he could have fought Button for the win today.

He was third on the grid, ahead of Button but jumped the start taking the lead. He was one of the many who pitted for intermediate tyres on lap 2, dropping to sixth place. Realising that he was on the wrong tyre and that a penalty was heading his way, he pitted again on lap 5 for slicks, rejoining in 12th place.

Now on the right tyre, he served the drive through penalty on lap 6, his third time through the pits, while Button and Rosberg had yet to make a single one.

Each tyre stop was taking around 23 seconds today and a drive through is 5 seconds less than that, so Alonso had dropped almost a minute and was in 17th place by lap 6.

He didn’t stay there long, cutting through to 14th in a couple of laps at which point he came up behind his team mate, Felipe Massa. He stayed behind him until lap 19, when the famous overtaking incident in the pit lane took place.

As Massa saw it, “I ended up on a puddle of water coming out of the hairpin and slightly lost control of the car: he managed to get inside me, passing me going into the pit lane. I lost some places because of it, as I had to wait for his stop to be finished.”

The move was executed at the apex of the left hand corner in the pit lane entry road, where Hamilton went off in the 2007 race. Massa was forced wide onto the grass strip between the road and the gravel trap and then followed Alonso into the pit boxes. Alonso had no intentio of queueing up and losing more time. It was a graphic illustration of his mentality.

Massa lost six seconds by queuing up and more importantly he lost track position to Barrichello, so on lap 20 the Ferraris were 10th and 12th.

In the 10 laps it took Massa took pass his fellow Brazilian, Alonso passed Vettel, Schumacher and Sutil, so he was up to sixth place. He picked off Petrov for fifth and then leapfrogged Kubica for fourth at the final pit stops on lap 38 by staying out a lap longer on worn intermediates.

In Malaysia, Alonso had to fight his way up through the field from 19th position on the grid after getting the timing wrong in a wet qualifying. He also had to contend with a gearbox problem, which meant that he had no engine braking and had to go through a complicated procedure at the corners involving going into neutral and pre-select the gear he wanted to come out of the corner with.

“My main problem was that the gearbox was broken from the start, ” he said. ” I had to accelerate the engine at each corner to be able to change gear and I couldn’t brake as I wanted to.”

Barcelona is his home race and his first in the Ferrari, so Hispanic expectations are likely to be off the charts. All the teams will have major development steps by then and it may redraw the pecking order.

But for Alonso to be 3rd in the championship, with 49 points, just 11 adrift of Button and ahead of Vettel is quite an achievement, given what he’s been through in the wacky races of the first part of the season.

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1

I’m just getting tired of hearing Alonso and all his opinions. He will by half season have destroyed the team work at Ferrari.

The season has been good and we can thank the weather for that. I’m starting to think Ferrari made a huge mistake signing this guy.

2

Maybe teh great Alonso is not great and a complete racer afterall.

He might be fast but not smart enough as say Button . I remember a certain hungarian GP in 2006 where button overtook a struggling alonso to win the race.

All this singing and dancing by alonso just goes to show that if things dont go his then fingers are pointed .. either at maclaren or moter nature

3

“a certain hungarian GP in 2006 where button overtook a struggling alonso to win the race.”

Oh dear!, Alonso lost a wheel after climbing from 15th to the lead, you don’t want him to win races on 3 wheels, do you?

4

exactly my point … watch the race again and you’ll see that Alonso is the one who lost it and hit the barriers . One can safely say that Alonso is no better than Button .

5

James, Fernado couldn´t fight for the win because he pitted for inters like many others and by the time he switched to sliks even without the drive through he would be some 50 seconds behind Rosberg, Button and Kubica.

At Renault Alonso was always praying for wet and wacky races.

He´s great race was also helped by the safety car.

By the way that was a Nascar safety-car style!!

I feel sorry for the stewards on this kind race, there´s always so much going on and so many accidents that it´s very dificult to be fair.

6

Fernando Alonso = racing driver. I watch F1 to see racing. Signor Alonso does race rather well. The end.

7

Sounds just like Schumacher, he called a race “normal” when he won. Where I come from we call that being a bighead. Who cares about what Alonso says he wants, he needs to go out and actually get it or be forgotten. I agree the hype about him being a team player looks pretty empty after stealing the pitstop from Massa.

8

Actually, if one would look at his overtake of Massa in a positive way this is what we get:

WCC points = 14

ALO 12

MAS 2

Now had their been “team-orders” and Alonso didn’t overtake Massa and stayed behind him and finished in 10th place.

WCC points = 3

ALO 1

MAS 2

Looks like a WIN-WIN situation from Alonso’s perspective.

9

To make up well over a minute under the safety cars seems like a very lucky race for Alonso really

10

Alonso prefers races where team mates crash on purpose.

11

Alonso has been involved in most of all polemic there has been in F1 the last few years.

I’m also stunned that people who has been involved in Industrial espionage has not been handed over to the police.

How is it that the FIA somehow are above the law and can judge in cases like this. Or why did no one involve the law.

12

and some people prefer just stirring it rather than being funny, clever or witty – go figure 😀

13

Right you are. You will surely have noticed, for instance, LaSexta’s pathetic adulation of their passing ‘fad’ targetted at ‘lobatomized’ zombies. Comfy on denial mode, no need to make an effort to refute the unrefutable.

14

… and legislated perversions of the Law like ‘plea bargain’ in an industrial espionage case. Those two super licenses should have gone for good in a true free market. Instead, the victim later hired the aggressor who then invaded Felipe’s path which of course pleases moral relativists who would like to think of themselves as “F1” fans yet remain utterly ignorant of a hundred plus better drivers in over a century of Grand Prix Motor Racing.

15

Alonso wasn’t great in the race. He was massively helped by the two safety car carriers. If we look at the fastest lap times compared to someone everyone seems to be critising, Michael Schumacher, he was only two tenths faster than Schumacher and 2 seconds slower than Hamiltons fastest. Lucky or what?

16

Boring driver indeed.

17

Isn’t that amazing Peter that Alonso was able to overtake so many cars that were faster or on par than his? What that’s tell you? come on, don’t be shy. Let me help you…race pace..relentless race pace… no matter it is wet or dry.

18

Why should Alonso complain? To be an f1 driver you have to be good in challenging conditions and to be fair on him he’s not won one race which lasts in the memory of people. Perhaps he can only win races which you can’t overtake. He can only wion boring races because he’s a boring driver.

19

I don’t think anyone should forget Alonso’s massively ballsy pass around the outside of Schumacher in 130R. Definitley not an un-memorable race that one.

20

Yes but he didn’t win that one did he. Like everyone else he was well outperformed by the exceptional Kimi Raikonnen that day.

21

The point is he made an exceptional pass – perhaps a contender for THE pass in recent F1 history. You obviously can’t say a driver who executes a move like that is boring and never passes.

22

Game, set, match: Peter.

23

I think the problem for Ferrari is that their early season advantage might well be gone. They had their chance to win a few races before Barcelona, and now they have no idea where they’ll be after all the car upgrades take effect on the other teams. They knew they had the pace for this part of the season but didn’t take full advantage.

24

Exactly the same is true for Red Bull

25

do you not think that alonso wanting less wacky races has been taken a bit out of context. i think all he’s saying is that on the normal race he’s had, he won. and he wants to win more. as drivers, i’m sure they all like the races where their decisions are important factors in the race.

as for the tyre calls, that’s all down to the driver. he can ask on the radio which tyre is quicker, what the weather is going to be like, what other drivers are on etc. but he is the only one that knows the grip level of the track and his tyre wear – only he decides if he’s coming in or not. i’m sure a few drivers at shanghai surprised their engineers at some point by appearing in the pitlane

26

James, your analysis is right on.

Far and away the most impressive drive in Shanghai was Alonso’s, who made 1 more pitstop than the podium winners and still only finished 12-13 seconds behind. Had he done only 4 stops he would have won … from 17th !

I give Button credit for his good judgement, but still rate him as a mediocre driver in terms of pure driving ability. I think as we get more normal races, Lewis will emerge the dominant driver at McLaren. I think the WDC will be between Lewis, Vettel and Alonso. Button should cherrish his lead now, because it won’t last long. There are much better drivers than him on the grid and one of them will win the WDC.

27

I truly enjoyed the various posts here. It would be great if James can comment on or answer some of the questions here. One thing, however, I have observed in the past is that just when everyone discounted Massa, he always bounced back stronger. So let’s just not write him off in the battle with Alonso, who is nonetheless my favorite amongst current drivers on the grid.

28

I hope things will work out for Fernando,

The big problem I have is with Mercedes GP

with this Micheal Schumacher issue,Stop making

this man out to be GOD,He is not GOD,He is a

human being,No athlete around the world at 41

is going to be great and that include him.Nico

Rosberg is in better car than the under performing Williams, so his results is no surprise,Drivers are passing him with ease,If

Mercedes GP Petronas are smart they will focus

on Nico because he is only 10 points back not

50 points, it is basic math. Micheal ego got

the best of him this time, A 41 year old athlete is not going to get better,move on

Mercedes GP and support Nico,Because no driver

is going to kiss his ring.

is

making this man out to be GOD,He is a human being and at 41 he is not the same driver

29

FERNANDO-MASSA incident: thoughts:

– Why will Ferrari pit both drivers at the same time? I don’t get it… and within the race.

– Ok, let’s say they call in MASSA first, that means ALONSO will wait 6-7 seconds behind MASSA?

– If I remember, it is in WACKY races that FERRARI brain pit does not work… it happen before, to MASSA twice during 2008. Actually MASSA lost that championship in the pits.

– MCLAREN great to take advantage of the confusion and WACKY race.

30

just look what happened when red bull pitted a lap later in one of the races (australia?) being on the right tyres AT THE RIGHT TIME is critical, and if both drivers want to be in on the same lap they have to queue up 🙂

31

I spoke to a guy here in Montreal that knows a bit more than me on F1.. he says that the Ferrari engineers figure out that a lap on the current tires was worst that having Alonso or Massa wait the extra time in the pits. So:

Lap on new tires + extra waiting time on pits less than an extra Lap on current tires.

So, the Ferrari brain is fully operational.

32

“Why will Ferrari pit both drivers at the same time? I don’t get it… and within the race.”

I was wondering about that too. I’d say Ferrari has some work to do in their post-race strategy debriefing! The drivers certainly need some intense discussions with the “Ferrari brain pit” as some of the wacky is coming from there.

Hmm. Maybe Ferrari could give Pat Symonds a call now that he is allowed to work as a consultant.

33

Alonso did do very well today and did a lot of overtaking, but you did miss out that he was very very lucky with the timing of both safety cars. Without those he’d have been about 50 seconds off the lead, probably about 9th place. He was also lucky not to do a “Hamilton” in the pit lane gravel trap.

34

The reason Alonso is saying this is simple. He knows that a few racers can beat him in a “normal” race. The only one who can can challenge him on pace is Hamilton. The past few races these two have shown that they are very good racers, probably the best right now. I expect that these two will get stronger and stronger as the season progresses. It will be interesting to see how J.B will do when there is no rain and hence nothing to gamble on.

35

I read elsewhere that Alonso has to fly back from Shanghai in economy class… Karma? 😉

36

“Alonso had no intentio” of queueing up and losing more time.

Esta bella typo! Perfectio et espiroto Ferrari!!

37

Alonso & Hamilton, the most exciting drivers in F1. Pity they couldn’t get along.

38

Fernando certainly put down his marker when overtaking Massa on the way to a very important pit stop.

Its a shame that we couldnt hear the radio feed at that time.

I received a Ferrari tweet saying atht he had passed before the stop which is true I guess. Now he says that he is looking forward to the end of the ‘wacky’ races.

Sounds like he is trying to justify what he did as being just a bit, well, ‘wacky!’

See you in Barca.

39

You cannot but admire – be amazed at – Alonso’s single-mindedness in deciding to overtake Massa in the pitlane entry. Can you imagine how stupid he would have looked if the two Ferraris had crashed into each other in the pitlane, especially after Alonso had jumped the start… Also extraordinarily impressive – and quite fortunate – that the Ferrari mechanics had the presence of mind to get the right tyres on the car: again, it would have been massively embarrassing if both cars had been disqualified for running each others tyres. It’s a pretty interesting take on the whole idea of being a ‘team player’ and it says something for Alonso’s confidence within the team that he’s prepared to take that sort of risk (this is not to criticise Alonso, only to point out that he’s not necessarily one to believe that F1 is ultimately a team game at all).

Massa finds himself in the unfortunate position of appearing to be quite vulnerable in the team (the contract negotiations etc.) and has had the manners put on him by Alonso by this incident. He’ll need to do something to reassert himself – beating Alonso in Barcelona would do the trick nicely.

40

I can guess Ferrari is happier with Alonso finishing 4th, rather than 10th behind Massa.

Alonso already played nice teammate in Melbourne protecting Massa from being eaten alive by Hamilton/Webber. Enough is enough.

If Massa continues to finish races 48 seconds behind Alonso (who had a ~25 sec drive through penalty), it will be hard for him to reassert himself.

41

Dear James,

thank you for this very nice post! Alonso seems to be thriving at Ferrari, but should stop the silly mistakes, like the jump start.

Otherwise, he can completely and utterly thrashed Massa… that little canny overtaking manouevre being indeed full proof of it 🙂

42

You are contradicting yourself….To thrive would mean to perform far above everything experienced so far. I do not think it is the case with Alonso…and when you thrive, you do not make a jump start. When you thrive, you are above pressure, above everything. Alonso would have overtaken Massa on track if he was thriving, but he is again showing his ego.

43

James, I have seen some commentary elsewhere that indicates that the Alonso / Massa pitlane overtake was a way of circumventing the ‘team orders’ and ‘no overtaking’ rule during a safety car situation. Is there any basis for this thought?

44

Didn’t look like it to me!

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