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Monaco Grand Prix – A remarkable effort by Ferrari
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Monaco Grand Prix – A remarkable effort by Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  17 May 2010   |  11:17 pm GMT  |  151 comments

I’ve been thinking about the Monaco race and it occurred to me that something really remarkable happened on Sunday, which no-one has commented upon.

Alonso’s fightback from the pit lane to finish sixth was achieved in a car which was a box of bits on Sunday morning. Built in a hurry, without any shakedown or warm-up, it was sent out into the race and performed perfectly for two hours, getting a single set of tyres to last 77 laps.

If you think about it, this is quite incredible. We take it for granted these days that the cars perform and are reliable. Compared to F1 10 or 20 years ago the cars are amazingly consistent, despite the enormous complexity of the electronics and hydraulics, packaged into a tight space, subjected to heat and violent forces.

This year we have seen some signs that teams are finding niggling problems, because they are right on the edge with their development and there is no testing allowed.

We’ve seen McLaren have problems with Hamilton’s wheel rim and Button’s dashboard in Spain. Red Bull have had several problems with brake discs, spark plugs and what not. Williams had a nightmare in Monaco with failures on both cars which led to big accidents. Ferrari have had a couple of engine issues. And Sauber seem to have gone back to the 1980s on quality control of components.

And yet on Sunday the Ferrari mechanics built up a new car from the spare monocoque they carry in the transporter, set it up based on what they had learned on Alonso’s original car in practice and sent Alonso out for a lap to make sure it worked before he started the race from the pit lane.

It performed like a Swiss watch. Particularly impressive is the way it looked after the hard tyres for basically an entire race after he made the early pit stop on lap 2.

“The car was fantastic, “ said Alonso. “In the morning there wasn’t a single cable attached. It’s not common in a race as tough as that that everything works without problems.”

Alonso blew his chance of a win in Monaco with the crash on Saturday. Who knows where he might have finished if he had done qualifying as normal. Certainly he had a chance to challenge for the pole and the win.
“I admit I got a bit frustrated, driving such a fast car and having no room to overtake, “ he said. “The only place it was possible was the chicane in the port. I made five passes there, the rest was all strategy.

“It went better than I thought it would. I lost a lap behind Di Grassi, who perhaps thought he was fighting for the world championship.

“This result gives confidence to the team. It was tough not doing qualifying, but in this difficult moment the team was together. We showed that this team has talent, in rebuilding the car, in the choice of tactics and in the management of the car.”

It’s hard to disagree. Ferrari got it just right with the tactics on Alonso’s car. They were lucky to have the early safety car, which allowed Alonso to get straight onto the back of the pack after his stop and lucky also that none of the drivers in front chose the same tactic of the early stop for tyres, which was probably due to the slower cars not being well balanced enough to look after the tyres for a whole race.

If you throw in Ferrari’s adaptability and quick thinking in China, switching the tyre sets over in seconds when Alonso unexpectedly came in ahead of Massa, having passed him in the pit lane, it seems that the team is in quite a good groove at the moment, with engine woes hopefully behind it.

They need to be because the opposition is strong. Alonso is only three points behind Webber and Vettel in the drivers’ championship. The Red Bull is a faster car, but Ferrari is working well as a team and hats off to the mechanics, the unsung heroes of F1, for an incredible feat on Sunday.

Ferrari today announced that Alonso’s chassis from Saturday was written off. It also said that i Turkey it would debut new software for the operation of the drag reducing rear wing, which is interesting as the device is supposed to be driver activated. Is this Ferrari being provocative?

“The F10’s development programme continues apace,” says the item on Ferrari.com “Turkey should see the debut of an evolution of the software controlling the blown rear wing and other important advances will be introduced by the end of June.”

I got onto them today and it is a case of bad translation. In Italian the wording is “sistema di gestione”, which really means “system for managing” or management system, to give it its posh title.

Ferrari admitted on Sunday night that the rear wing had cost them downforce in Spain. Fixing that is priority number one for Turkey.

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Excellent point-remember also that earlier in the season Mercedes thought there was something "not quite right" with Schu's chassis.

To anyone who has ever tried to repair a well bent race car on Saturday night/Sunday morning The Ferrari achievement is remarkable. When he was jousting with DeGrassi I was waiting for the front wheels to both come off the Ferrari.


I don't want to diminish Ferrari's achievement for a second, but it is probably easier to build a car from scratch than to fix a badly broken / one.

Nevertheless, amazing reliability.


It is nice someone noticed...and YEA I am Ferrari guy.... it was good what they did as a TEAM!


Can someone tell me how much a team or driver receives for each Grand Prix win? Does the driver get a set figure and what is the total prize money for say the Monaco GP?


No it's a complicated formula, no set prize for a race win


It is amazing that with all his mistakes and FERRARI's relative uncompetetiveness that ALONSO is so close for the title hunt.

The problem is RedBull are really meaning buisness and I don't see how they can loose the title ! They are so far ahead and unless their reliability issues get going on, the next world champion is V*****. I even see hamilton as a bigger threat given his mclaren speed in race trim...

The last races show that in terms of race speed ALONSO and HAMILTON aren't in the same league as BUTTON and MASSA. The 2 last fellows must start to feel the heat, though MASSA has always had a better 2nd half of a season safe last year !

Given that everybody used to hail Raikonen as the best driver in terms of raw talent and pace and that MASSA gave him a more than hard time, do you stil think Raikonen has something special James ? (I'm not talking about his Ferrari's earnings !)


In my view, you've got to use the Constructors' leader board to gauge the teams competitiveness and here Ferrari as second only to Red Bull.

You can then use the Drivers' leader board to gauge driver comparative performance by their share of the points. Here we can see at the moment that the two Red Bull drivers are matching each other exactly and are as a result, taking points off each other.

Here is some interesting analysis (I think anyway):

How many points more would each driver have scored if their teammate had not taken points away from them. I have calculated this based on the additional points a driver would have scored if only their teammate was removed from above them in the leaderboard:

Alonso +5 (ie. Massa took 5 points away from Alonso)

Massa +9

Webber +9

Vettel +10

Hamilton +9

Button +4

Kubica +0

Make from this what you will but I think it is interesting to see the "damage" which the teammates are doing to each other. Kubica is clearly leading his teammate and then Button and Alonso are doing the same to a slightly lesser extent. The Red Bull drivers are knocking lumps out of each other which, if it continues like this, might allow either Alonso or Button to edge ahead. Even more interesting would be the effect if Renault can improve Kubica's car to anywhere near the level of the Ferrari or Red Bull!


Thanks for doing the sums. You could turn it upside down and add some psychology to conclude that Red Bull are best placed to win the constructors championship. It is rare that a number two driver can achieve consistent back-up (e.g. second) places. They are more likely to perform like Kovalainen in 2009, with the odd okay race.

If Red Bull remains the fastest car, then both drivers will pull away at 6.5 points per race from the driver in third on average.


On Kimi, even Ferrari, or at least Andrea Stella, presently Alonso's race engineer, interviewed just a few days ago on this topic, still thinks that when the car was right, Kimi had speed and racing talent that was out of this world, unmatched by anyone. The problem for them was that Kimi wasn't as involved in getting the car perfect as they thought he should've and thus they couldn't get the most out of his speed.

It is quite well known that, most likely due to Kimi's lack of interest in developing the car, the Ferrari's of 07-08 evolved into a car that suited Massa better (09 car was so bad that it didn't really suit anyone, yet Kimi managed a win and a few podiums so there must be something special with the guy 😉 ). With Alonso, such a thing will not happen, he will make sure car is developed according to his needs, which is what every drivers should of course aim at.


@Andy, In autosport in 12/09 LdM said, "All our car architecture - the dimensions of the gearbox, everything - was based on a different interpretation of the rules and, also, we were pushing very hard until the last corner of the last race of '08," he said.



Michael Schumacher, as Ferrari’s highly paid consultant, told Ferrari to build the car around Massa. I have read that MS did not develop the car, Rubens did. When he left MS was no longer winning. Maybe Merc GP needs to hire Rubens.

Plus, Kimi was relegated to being the 2nd driver in 2008 & 2009. In an article by Dieter Rencken and Matt Beer on autosport.com Jan. 13, 2010 entitled Ferrari: Alonso Can Defeat Schumacher, Stefano Domenicali said that "In the case of Felipe and Kimi [Raikkonen], in one year one driver was ahead of the other, in the second year the opposite happened, and so there was a form of respect.” I can’t imagine how Ferrari thought this would help motivate Kimi…?

It would have been fair for Ferrari to turn that around for the last year of Kimi's contract. I believe that if Kimi had been the 1st again in 2008 Kimi could have won the WDC, again. I do not think that he could have won in 2009. The car was a real turkey. It would have been honorable for Ferrari, to show 'form of respect' for Kimi for his last contract year, 2010, by returning him to being their 1st driver. 🙂

After Massa wrecked, Ferrari quit developing the car. Kimi was then back as 1st driver and had 4 podium finishes in a row, including a win; or Ferrari would have laid a large goose egg for the year. But he is the one out. Santander money talks.


Eh come again?

Software. Rear wing. Helping in the operation of.

I thought the fact Mclarens was driver operated made it legal. What software is needed for covering a hole or pressing a pad with part of the driver?

Have I missed something here?


Surely ‘Debuting new software for the blown rear wing’ can only mean that Robert Kubica has got Massa’s drive sooner than we may have expected!


Just a guess, but in theory could they have a pressure sensor that detects when the F-Duct is in use and changes the engine mapping or something??

That way the wing would still be manually operated and so still legal...


Yup I'm with Shane on this one...if it is mechanical or electrical related, how does that not contravene the rules?!


I couldn't agree more James - I've built a Caterham 7 style car from scratch including chassis fabrication, electrics, hydraulics, V8 engine installation, suspension, steering and everything else , and it took me 6 years and I'm still working out the kinks. See here if you are interested http://www.meerkats.uk.com/meerkats/Locost_Build_Diary/Locost_Build_Diary.html

Obviously I'm an amateur and these guys are professionals with a 'slightly' larger budget than me but I can probably appreciate more than most how incredibly difficult it is to do what they have done. It's good to hear you applaud their skill.

As you said, the unsung hero's without whom Alonso wouldn't have even started the race!

I hope you made it home safely.



In the past, race cars were a lot like your Caterham: hand-made and hand-fitted.

This feat by Ferrari proves how highly engineered today's Formula 1 cars really are. The parts truly are interchangeable; even prior known-good settings can be carried over to a scratch-built car. I can't imagine this working on my Lola T340 in 1976!

Being in the software business, the closest thing that comes to mind is that re-building a Formula 1 car from parts is like kicking off a build for a large and complex software product. Yes, it's complex, has many inputs and takes a while to execute, but the results will be repeatable and have no surprises. And this with people turning the wrenches, not computers!

Well done Ferrari, both for the engineering AND for the execution. McLaren forgot to take a bung off a ready-built car, showing just how trivial a mistake could have scuppered the whole effort.


Caterham 7 with a V8! sounds very exciting.


Agreed, they did a good job. Ferrari post Ross Brawn has made a lot of tactical errors but they got this right.

However I doubt Alonso would have won the race. From the time he caught up to Hamilton after Hamilton's stop he never passed again on track, no one did at the pointy end, except for Schu at the end.

I've seen enough Ferrari championships to last me a lifetime. Red Bull deserve and will earn it this year.


think its meant, Alonso potentially could have challenged for the win, if he had qualified in a decent position, rather than starting from the pit lane.


I don'think it would have made any difference. No overtaking occurred amoung cars of similar speed, and he was never going to get pole.


I've just noticed that Red Bull tend to hold more speed back than others until Q3. Wasn't the case in Barcelona, and I have not done a study on it, but they seem to hold more back for Q3 than anyone else. So if they are near the pace on Saturday morning they are almost always on pole Saturday afternoon.


WOW...you know for a fact he could not get pole....smarter then everyone else here.

Zobra Wambleska

Pierce89, he needed to beat Webber too, not just Kubica. Webber was a fair piece up the road and I doubt FA was going to be on target to make that jump.


How do you figure the fastest guy all weekend was never going to get pole, Kubica got 2nd in the Renault. Alonso and the F10 are better than Kubica and the R30 by miles.


You have to wonder how much money is saved by not having spare cars. I think in the scheme of things, it’s probably not that much (by F1 standards), particularly as the teams are basically required to carry enough spares to rebuild a car from scratch anyway...So I think its possibly no saving in a real sense.

All that particular rule did at Monaco was to deprive the fans of seeing Alonso in qualifying. I personally don’t think he would have taken pole (Webber was on fire) but the grid would have certainly been different.


James has answered your question in an early article - about $375,000 over a season per team.


"I lost a lap behind Di Grassi, who perhaps thought he was fighting for the world championship" - did Alonso really say this?

Surely they were racing for position?

Is Ferrari syndrome setting in? Everyone should pull over and get out of the way?


Gomer, I agree 100% with you. Alonso seems to think that just because he is Alonso and his car is a Ferrari everyone just need to move out of his way. IMO, that's arrogance at the highest level. I think DiGrassi actually did a good job defending his position, something he was able to do because it was Monaco, otherwise Alonso would overtake him with ease. But Alonso's attitude was just ridiculous.


If you had heard Alonso's live commentary as spoken in Spanish you wouldn't considered it arrogant at all. Was a soft, not offensive commentary whilst speaking about the race. It meant that, as differente from other slow drivers, DG fought as if he was to win the WDC. And, really DG was dangerously, if not illegally, zig-zagoing in front of Alonso. However, everything is fine to attack Alonso, but it is painful watch how any of his words is dragged out of context by some media and taken as granted by Alonso haters.


Give me a break...yes racing for position but come on DG knew he was blocking...what is the rule one block only !


its standard Alonso being arrogant, I personally think they should fight every position exactly as through they were fighting for the world championship, well done di grassi he did well in what looked like a terrifying car! I also think they should consider banning blue flags, after all if the fastest cars are fastest and have the best drivers, they should be able to pass...


Defending a position hard wrecks the tires and slows the car down. So defending a position that you won't be able to defend for long is not necessarily the smartest thing to do.


I imagine Alonso means that Di Grassi fighting for position with Alonso is nonsensical. By fighting Alonso, he forgets about the fight he really minds that is against Hispania and Lotus.

Alonso was going to pass him anyway. You only have to notice that more experienced drivers didn't put so much fight.

So, it is not that he should benefit Alonso; it is about taking care of his own interests.


Agreed. The HRTs saying they would 'get out of the Ferrari's way' was a joke.

What are they (the HRTs) on the track for?!


I was about to comment on the very same thing. Alonso himself made his fight for the WDC hard by crashing in practice and he should then bite the bullet and fight back, not expecting everyone to yield way just because he is in the hunt. That would, in effect, be giving Alonso an unfair advantage. To cry about losing an entire lap behind a slower car on a track like Monaco is being a primadonna. I thought he did a very good drive in passing even those slower cars, which effectively made possible his final position, but now I get the feeling the slower cars just pulled over for him, so maybe his race wasn't all that special after all.


DiGrassi destroyed his own race against his real opponents trying to hold someone he obviously never could hold for long. In return he got a minute of TV time for Virgin and showed us how bad this car really is.

It was his right, but one is allowed to question the wisdom of it.


My thought exactly.

What a load of crap. How arrogant can you be?

You're racing for position. Deal with it.


It is not like this. It is a very simple thinking, understanding the bigger picture. DiGrassi should know that Alonso is fighting those guys from top 5 in the race, not him. If I were DiGrassi, I would not race Alonso....I would race other folks who are around me. Next time DiGrassi is in the championship winning car, other people will not help him. It is normal-relationship with people are the most important.


So the "monkeys at the back" should just imagine a permanent blue flag when the mighty Alonzo shows up in the mirrors?

I believe F1 is supposed to be about racing and passing... but maybe I am just strange in thinking a driver should drive and pass if they have a faster car and the skills to do it.

BTW, a racing driver is fighting *all* the cars in front of him, and to fight the top 5, you should get there on your skills and strategy, not by having cars move out of the way.

Now, perhaps a really slow car may not want to aggressively *block* a passing move, but, they should not move out of the way. Let the faster car in the back pass outside the driving lane, it should be possible with much faster car.


No problems. Alonso passed him and finished 6th. do you know another racing driver like he is? Hamilton....agree. Who else?

Sachin Mahendran

Hey James, I've been a long time reader of your blog but first time posting here.

Really love the updates and inside info you're able to share with everyone, keep it up! Wish you were back on the commentary team though hahah


Breaking News:

Lewis is in the audience of the US TV show "Dancing with the Stars." His ex Nicole Sherzinger is competing.


Shes not his ex-..they are back together! #:)


James, what do you mean about new software for the rear wing? I thought the drag reducing rear wing is a manually controlled component that only uses air flowing through a tube and is directed by the driver’s hand. How would software be used to assist this process? If there are no movable aero devices allowed, then what would be electronic enough in that process to need software? Thanks.

Road of Bones

Perhaps it's not controlling software, but measurement software?



simply outstanding piece of commentary ! Do you give Alonso any chance at all to win in Turkey or Silverstone ?

RBR seems to be the fastest car, but in the hands of Alonso and given Ferrari's apparent advantage in reliability and tire preservation, could they spring a surprise before Montreal ?


Red Bull will be very fast in Turkey. Canada is a different matter - that's a chance for Alonso, Massa or the McLarens in my view


James, If Michelin is back do you think Alonso, Kubica and the others who had some teething problems switching to Bridgestone will have an advantage over the others? I remember how the Michelin runners needed to unlearn some of their skills when they moved to Bridgestone


No I think everyone has adapted now. They will all have to learn something new. Alonso may have some memory of the way to drive the tyres is they are similar in science to the previous ones


The scariest information for Ferrari’s rivals is that Alonso lasted just about the entire race with just one set of tyres. Red Bull might have the upper hand in qualifying; Ferrari is the best car in racing condition without any doubt. I can’t imagine Lewis lasting that many laps with one set of tyres. He was even told on the radio to be careful with his tyres with 20 laps to go. Only because it’s Monaco where passing is nearly impossible, otherwise Alonso would’ve over taken Hamilton for surely in the pits. There was barely any gap between the McLaren and Ferrari when Hamilton came out of the pits. But Alonso was stuck behind all those cars for a significant amount of time that he overtook within the first 10/15 laps.

Mighty effort by Ferrari. James Allen commented before the start of the season that the Ferrari looks bullet proof. A dry Monaco race has certainly proved that how reliable they really are. Alonso was 2nd behind Webber pace wise as well. Awesome effort.

James, an off the topic question if you may answer. I hear that Ferrari is the only big team out of the top 5 that is going to be using Pirelli next season if Bridgestone doesn’t stay in the sport and Pirelli get’s the approval. Is that true?


Seems like a "problem" of tire wear, as much as anything. Bridgestone has clearly been conservative with the tire this year. So much so, that mandatory pit stops for tire changes are being manipulated rather easily.


I hope not for their sake, it's a bit of an unknown and if the rest were on Michelins.... I would have thought Michelin was their first choice


I thought everyone agrees by now that there will be a single supplier?


Maybe they'd be interested in cultivating a somewhat 'exclusive' Pirelli deal (see: Ferrari & Bridgestone dominance, early 00's). As you point out though, it would probably be better to let Pirelli really prove themselves before signing up.



Can you comment on what a software could contribute to stalling the rear wing?

Another great article, keep them coming!!


I know, it's interesting isn't it. I thought the switch was the driver's hand


Initially, Ferrari's F-duct system was going to be entirely driver independent. It was to consist of 2 ducts in the shark fin, just behind the driver's head, one on each side. It would operate by a pressure differential between the 2 ducts - if there was more flow in 1 duct relative to the other the system would not operate. It would therefore only function in a straightline. Clearly such a system would need some instrumentation for measurement purposes and perhaps that is where the software comes in.

However, Ferrari had announced it was dropping the system and in fact in Barcelona, it used a driver operated system - the fancy left driver's glove. Perhaps they are going back to the original system? I seem to recall Ferrari saying that the F-duct system still needed work. So quite possibly they weren't satisfied with the results in Barcelona and decided to return to their original concept.

CJ the 2cnd, probably...

Are gloves software? !!


is it not Ferrari making a cheeky poke at the drivers just being part of the car these days rather than a separate entity and also a way to not openly acknowledge those who deemed it a dangerous way for the drivers to be going about driving the car....


The switch *is* in the drivers left hand, and they even use a special glove with a rubberized back to be able to seal the duct more effectively. This talk about "software" is almost certainly some kind of translation error (assuming the original comment was made in Italian). Ferrari have already commented that the F-duct requires more work, including on the way the drivers activate it.


Could it be allowing the engine to rev beyond the normal limiter when the wing is stalled?


Whilst the aero device is the driver, I imagine that the change in loading would require a different mix for the engine to capitalise.

The ECU would know how the engine should gain rpm under wing loaded circumstances and if this were to change, the mix change could be adopted, as perhaps could the shift change points for the driver.

That would be my guess anyway!


I imagine the software might control some aspects of engine running. Those parameters could then be adjusted to better suit stalled rear wing.

The software could recognize the wing is stalled either directly through data from a sensor or indirectly through already available data from engine.

This is just a wild guess.

zidane the great

maybe they will have updated gloves;)


the comments just popped in now after I posted below... I wonder if it isn't to do with performance measurement. If they say they were losing downforce in Spain they probably did not pick that up in their straight-line test (the system was still stalling the wing without the driver in play)


"It went better than I thought it would. I lost a lap behind Di Grassi, who perhaps thought he was fighting for the world championship."

Clearly Alonso doesn't understand the concept of a motor race. It doesn't matter if he's not fighting for the world championship, or if he's four or five seconds a lap slower than him. It is his right and his duty (to his team, the sport and his fellow competitors) to defend his position the utmost he can.

It is this sort of superiority complex which Alonso displays (and we have seen the like of from Massa too, re Valencia 2008 pit incident vs Sutil - *maybe* it's a Ferrari thing) which means I will never support him. I admire him as a driver and a racer, but not really so much as a man.


get over yerself and ask how you would feel risking your life trying to get past a car 3 secs a lap slower than you?? F1 is not a contact sport....This aint Ben Hur Chariot racing any more! I want to see the top 5 drivers at the front in EVERY race, not stuck at the back having to risk it all in getting past backmarkers! Alonso was alight and should have had a car for qualifying....we were deprived that by this stupid no spare car rule.....and Bernie Shekelstone talks about putting on a show?? No spare car rule certainly fooked Monaco for me! Cant take anything away from Mark tho, he was mighty, but Id loved to have seen him pushing Fernando for 75 laps #:)


I think we have different ideas about the sport, then. The nature of F1 is that cars break, accidents happen, and sometimes people have to fight and fight hard for a result.

Besides, we've seen what happens when all the fast cars line up at the front - they stay at the front and each event becomes a procession. I don't want that for the sport.

F1 is about a lot more than just the act of overtaking - and I know I enjoyed Alonso's overtake on di Grassi much more than the other overtakes he made, because I knew that di Grassi was fighting hard to keep him behind; it made the pass meaningful.


Sorry but this is ridiculous. Alonso is making a joke and is merely saying that di grasi perhaps was making it a little bit too hard considering the difference in cars.


"a little bit too hard"?

So long as he keeps it legal, he ought to make it as difficult as possible. It's crucial for the integrity of the sport that drivers fight for what they are entitled to.

See my reply to drums above, also. I apologise if I've misjudged Nando in response to some lost meaning in translation.


I don't think it is a Ferrari/Alonso problem. The comment was just a comment after Di Grassi movements on the track, who changed positions as many times as possible when approaching a corner. Legal? Illegal? I couldn't appreciate. Yet no other car who was overtook that day made such a consistent and evident zig-zags, and all of them defended the position at the corners. Let Alonso speak his mind and oppinions, as any other pilot might do. I heard this commentary in Spanish and was neither offensive nor arrogant. Just a reflection.


To be honest I didn't really take a view on the legality of his defending. If people think he was weaving then fair enough - I've just heard no-one thus far level that accusation and no-one on the commentary questioned the legality of di Grassi's defending.

Maybe some of the meaning's been lost in translation, in which case I apologise - although my point about every driver having a duty to defend their position to the utmost (while keeping it legal) still stands.


Di Grassi was all over the place and made a lot of blocking moves. I think he was referring to this. I think you make more out of it than there is.


The only reason Kobayashi is in a car this year is because last year he managed to keep Jensen behind him when he was in a Toyota; so forgive me Alonso, but Di Grassi was fighting for something bigger than a world championship. He was fighting for a career.


THANK YOU !!! while you already did a post/rant on the last lap/corner incident which I was utterly sick of hearing after a few hours, I'm glad someone noticed the feat Ferrari/Alonso achieved. Its as if what happened in those last few seconds made everyone forget the previous 77 laps.

Boring race ? No overtaking ? Its Monaco, hello ? When half the field finishes, how can that be labeled as not exciting ?

They may have been backmarkers but Alonso's passing of them was clearly NOT easy. and as an Alonso fan, watching all those passes coming out of the tunnel was exhilarating as there was clearly a risk of binning it again and the weekend being over w/no chance of redemption. Once past the slower cars and running to the end, anyone with less than a 20 sec. gap was going to lose out to Alonso. He wasn't going to catch Webber but he was going to jump up the order by quite a lot. McLaren saw this and pitted Lewis early I believe to ensure coming out in front of him and this set off the pit stops for all.

Boring race ? I think not.


Turkey is an important race for Ferrari, and in particular Massa.

If Alonso can beat Massa easily there, at a track where he has beaten both Kimi and Schumacher regularly, it will surely be very demoralising for Felipe.

Hopefully he can get the hard tyres to work before then, and it could be a good weekend for Ferrari.


There is a common misconceptiton that Massa got the better of michael in turkey 2006. He won the race, but Schumi had 8 laps extra fuel in the car and the only reason he won is the fact that ferrari decided to pit massa and schu together in the safety car period.


Good catch, James. Now that you point it out the crew obviously did a hell of a job!

What sort of s/w does it take to run that wing? Software for its operation implies to me some sort of switch or valve. Wouldn't that be a 'movable sero' device just like Renault's mass damper was alleged to be?


Indeed, hat off for the Ferrari mechanics, also it must be a tough job as one single mistake by these guys result in catastrophic damage (Button's engine blow up) but when they get it right few people take the time to talk about them, thanks James for this one :-). Again Alonso proved he's just like Hamilton when it comes to overtaking.


Sorry , what you meant to say was that Hammilton is just like Alonso when it comes to overtaking 🙂

Its ok , human error when writing your post 🙂


Agreed and great article as always James. Great race by Ferrari and Alonso. I'd personally thought that Massa might have been able to apply more pressure on Kubica during the race, but Robert was on another planet with the performance of that car. Only disappointment I'd point out is that Alonso should have never of found himself in that position in the first place.

Quick Question also...

What kind of performance should we be expecting from the top 4 teams come Turkey? RedBull still in front with McLaren second?


Red Bull well ahead, Massa is always strong there and he has to beat Alonso. McLaren and Ferrari close.


Excellent point(s) James. The furor over Schumi's pass and the subsequent penalty have overshadowed a great race this past Sunday. Webber coming into his own and Ferrari building Fernando a bullet proof car from scratch in less than 24 hours are just two of the phenomenal stories. Kubica and Renault are another astounding thread to a brilliant race weekend. Who said 2010 was going to be boring???


In Monaco capitalising on mistakes made by others can propel a good driver even from the back of the grid (remember Schumi in 2006). Ferrari and Alonso adapted and produced a spectacular finish. I tend to think that in F1 luck is an excuse. One has to work on the glitches or whatever till it full proof, more like calculated luck.

CONGRATULATIONS to Alonso and Ferrari.

Now it's time for a turkey.

Jake Pattison

Yeah, Alonso had a blinder. I was surprised it took *you* this long to talk about it James 🙂

Shame he lost a place on the last corner... :p

Ian Blackwell

I agree they did a top job in Monaco but I have a somewhat different take to a team 'in the groove'. To me it looks like Alonso has been making a rather lot of errors recently what with the jumped start in China as well and all the iffy strategy in the wet races. Add in his engine gremlins and comparable errors of judgment in McLaren and it looks like both Ferrari and Mclaren as well as their drivers are making errors simply because they have no answer to the pace of the Red Bulls and have to push everything just to appear to be keeping pace with them. I'm no expert but it looks like the Red Bulls have a far greater advantage over the rest of the field than Brawn did last year and are approaching 2004 Ferrari/1998 McLaren levels of dominance.

Ted the Mechanic

Isn't it great that Ferrari, McLaren and even Renault have got drivers who may know that Red Bull have got a superior car (their engineers and managers probably tell them so as well) but despite this they don't just roll over and say "I'm never going to place any better than 3rd" and they push and they practice and they poke their cars in gaps that provoke criticism and they plant their pedal to the metal longer than they should and they sarcastically ask their engineers if they would rather they park it rather than risk breaking it and they slide closer to the walls and they brake later and they dance around in dirty air with a derring-do devil-may-care hero-to-zero defiance that borders on reckless disregard for their benefactor's expense budgets and sometimes they do damage the goods but they take it on the chin and they come out again and they do exactly the same all over again and sometimes they learn from their mistakes and sometimes they don't...

But that's why they're heroes and that's why they earn the big bucks!

How fortunate we are to have so many of this calibre of driver on the grid right now. You know who I mean...

Whether you love them or hate them!

And even though Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel have got the dream rides at the moment we know they come from the same mould and if the tables were turned they would be pushing the limits just as hard.


What he said!


Hi James,

Do you think Alonso would of be able to grab pole?, also do you think Kubica lost 2nd primarily because it started from the dirty side? and last do you think Alonso F10 would of be capable of passing any of the Red Bull's on track?



He wouldn't have been able to pass anyone but the 3 new teams. That's MONACO


Pole would have beeen hard with Webber pulling out that lap but front row, yes. Dirty side hurt Kubica yes. Alonso would not have been able to pass Red Bulls no


According to polish press - There was something with clutch problem and not Kubica's fault as previously thought...



James, your article reminded me how evocative Ferrari is for Formula One. Your post on March 24 (prior to the Australian GP) was how Ferrari topped the poles as the fans favourite. This year, they are performing much better than last. I looked back at that post and saw my comment, which I have quoted in part below.

"There are odds for Mark Webber to finish in the Top 3 in the championship from one betting house at $5.50. If I could actually trust the agency I would sell everything and put $100,000 on this."

NOTE: No online agency would accept a large bet. They were prepared to accept only small bets but even then with much poorer odds. Only tiny bets are allowed with good odds.

I couldn't believe how dumb the average F1 fan was, in thinking Mark was slow in Bahrain due to his lack of ability. He simply stuffed up his qualifying lap. People also now say Mark is enjoying a purple patch. Well I would say if you have been following Mark's career he has always been one of the best drivers in formula one. The qualifying with high fuel in previous years made him look bad. But clearly the average F1 fan does not take that into account.

Roger Carballo AKA Architrion

I'm with you. All along his career, Mark has make every single teammate to run for his money. He's been consistently fast and professional, and a nice guy to support.

I'm not even a fan of any single driver. But Mark Webber deserves every ounce of support he gets.


Some of the things you said in your comment are spot on. Mark is in my top 10 drivers of the decade (ahead of Barrichello) even though he didn't get a place in most people's including James Allen. By the way mate, no sport can have outstanding success without average fans. F1 is no different. There will always be some people who are completely biased.


In my opinion it's not because someone is biased or not. Simple rule - the winner gets media attention - hence fans. That is why most people rate Massa higher than Barrichello or Sutil (most underrated driver at the momment in my view).


Mark was always quick, the only problem - he is a little bit too big in terms of F1 driver (the same with Kubica). Plus, in my opinion he is pron to make mistakes but if you are in a car 0,5 sec faster than the rest you don't have to take risk.


Excellent point and all credit to the engineers! I hope Ferrari can stay in the chase and take the fight to Red Bull.


Thanks for leaving the di grassi comment in as I feel it shows what a self entitled douche he is regardless of his ability to do well in a good car. Get out of my way I'm in a FERRARI! How much? More than you can afford pal! He is the perfect driver for Ferrari that's for sure.


Just about every race you see a driver's hand go up in frustration. Once Di Grassi and his car get faster, he may well find himself in the same situation behind a much slower car. Coulthard and Brundle in their BBC commentary agreed that sometimes it is wiser for a slow car not to prolong a losing battle.


Fair comment to the person who said de Grassi was fighting for his career, but he wouldn't have looked too clever if he'd gone off trying to hold back the inevitable. The jury is still out on whether it was a good career move, although I guess now we've all heard of him.

Interesting post from James (what's new ?). Ferrari are behind in sheer speed, but they have lots of race advantages which, with one thing and another, they haven't often been able to use yet. Alonso is still in it and I reckon the only driver outside of the RB pair who is. As Lewis said, "it's never over till it's over" (except in Monaco, where it was over, apparently, 200 metres before it was over ....)


Di Grassi and Virgin desperately need miles on the car and at some point consistent race finishes. Holding off Alonso at all costs may make for nice headlines, but manhandling the car like di Grassi was doing did himself and the team no favors in terms of the big picture. The kid needs to use his head a little more or his F1 career may end up being very short.


Alonso's reaction wasn't about Di Grassi not giving room. It was about the way Di Grassi handling the car in front of him. It was more of a frustration thatn get out of the way reaction. Not being a fan of Alonso is one thing mate & always misreading the moves or reaction is kind of arrogance. Di Grassi did his best to cover his own line like any other racing driver. But the back end of his car going nearly completely over the chicane every time was handling error, which could potentially cause an accident. Anybody in a faster car would be frustrated. Alonso is no different in that case.


Totally agree. In context of Grassi's driving Alonso's comment is not that bad. Alonso had no where to go because De Grassi was all over the track and threw his car everywhere.


Potentially cause an accident? Come on.

Sure Alonso was frustrated, but he has no God given right to get past Di Grassi. To say he thought he was "driving for the WDC" is exactly how he should have driven. What was the alternative? Jump out of the way like a coward?

I bet Lucas as getting a lot of support from the Virgin garage. And that's who he answers to at the end of the day.


Thank you formula zero! I was debating wether it was worthwhile pointing those facts out to brandon, kyle, vinnie etc...When Alonso got a better run out of st devote di grassi squeezed him against the armco. That was not the way to "Fight for a career" Either was braking off line with the back end sideways and locked up rears. Kobayashi didnt look messy when he 'held up button' and it didnt make me cringe unlike di grassi's drive in the middle of the road in monaco tactic.


"It also said that [in Turkey] it would debut new software for the operation of the drag reducing rear wing."

Maybe this is sensor related software (to tell the team when and how well the system is working)? Any actuator (which would be controlled by software) to affect aero would surely be illegal. Any other ideas out there?


at least alonso is righ when he says that the best mechanics work at ferrari. They sure know how to put a f1 together. Now he must do the same kind of job himself, and get a podium at turkey.


"I made five passes there"

Ha, when was the last time someone could say that at Monaco?


Fisichella, I think, must have been 2006 or 7


Off the Topic,Standing according to the 2009 point system
















Red Bull-62





Force India-9


No points for Alguersuari, Buemi & Hulkenberg. Also no points for Torro Rosso & Williams. So, I am standing by my comments that this year’s point system keeps all top 8 drivers and top 5 teams in the championship race. 7 points advantage over the closest finisher for winning a grand prix is massive. Thank goodness for all the safety cars and rains. Otherwise the championship would’ve looked just like the Moto GP. Of course it would change after Mercedes wins the appeal against the penalty given by the stewards (Damon Hill rather, the most controversial steward so far as I expected).


In Spain spreads de rumor about not being Alonso's crash caused by a driving error but by a car failure. He would know, but doesn't say anything in order to protect the team.

Eared anything about it, James?

Congratulations for the great blog.


He fully accepted the blame, so don't see what the issue is


Hello, Mr Allen.

The stretch where the accident took place doesn't seem especially difficult. They go from 270Km/h at the exit of turn 2 to 160Km/h in the apex of turn 3 while changing gears down from 7th to 4th. Correct if I'm wrong but it doesn't seem a high breaking point but a zone to adjust the speed progressively.

Allegedly Alonso overcooked the corner entrance, blocked left front tyre, went wider out of the racing line on the dirty right side and could do nothing to avoid the collision with the armco almost completely straight without cornering as it can be seen on the on-board footage.

Is that point so compromising that once you lose a bit the proper racing line you are completely damned to hit the wall straight? Is it not possible any evasive manoeuvre?

In other words, may you give us your interpretation of the accident?

Thanks in advance.

Chris Partridge

Good piece and the mechanics did do a great job - trying to fix my bent kart is a nightmare for

me! Would be brilliant to see more of mechanics in action behind the scenes (accepting the secrecy issues) as these guys are the unsung heroes. Fascinating about the software line and rear wing... I wonder what tehey are really saying.


This reminds me of Larini's interview mistake by mentioning Ferrari's 'traction control' device in early 1994!

Ferrari later said that dear old Nicola didn't have an especially good grasp of the English language and clarified it as simply being an 'adjustable rev limiter'. Needless to say they were asked to remove it from their car.


I think perhaps the rear wing "software" is the result of a mistranslation. The news item on the Italian version of the site does not say software but "sistema di gestione", management system. So the quote would read "Turkey should see the debut of an evolution of the management system of the rear wing..."

Ted the Mechanic

Good article James. Alonso and Ferrari might have made it look easy getting up to 6th and we may not be all that surprised that they did. But it's not easy passing round Monaco and Alonso did it lap after lap and I hate having to even mention it but remember David Coulthard and Enrique Bernoldi? The TV camera's showed us every painful lap after lap after lap after lap, etc, etc, etc...

Sorry DC...

And I was cringing and fearing the worst possible outcome every time Alonso got alongside a Virgin or a Lotus but he pulled it off quickly, cleanly, without incident and optimised the outcome. It was a remarkable team effort.

Now I just want to see Alonso qualify where he should, get a clean start, have an incident-free race and see where he finishes on that basis.


That said, both Lotus drivers made it easy for him.


With the Ferrari strategy working so well, why didn't other teams also try it or something similar? A Sutil or a Liuzzi pitting on a very early lap could have shaken things up a lot, as their pace was not poor and the Bridgestones appear to have held up fairly well over the race. Was there an assumption in the paddock that the tires would grain more than they did?


James, you say it was "lucky also that none of the drivers in front chose the same tactic of the early stop for tyres".

I was quite surprised that McLaren didn't bring Jenson Button in at the same time as Alonso. He'd had a terrible start, and was already out of the points on a track where passing is virtually impossible; he was driving on soft tyres, which he'd said on Saturday weren't working on the McLaren; and he had an overheating problem, which was exacerbated by the slow safety car period, but which might have been helped by some cooling in the pits. I'm not sure whereabouts on the track Jenson was when the safety car was announced, but I was left wishing that McLaren had brought him in and salvaged his race.

I was wondering whether you have any thoughts on this?


From an untested box of bits to a top performing F1 car: admirable.

Shame we didn't get to see Alonso in quali . . . we all lost out.

If Alonso had got into the top 3 or 4 in quali, I doubt if we would have seen much overtaking after the first corner . . . he would have held station to bring home the points.

He seemed to drop back a little when behind Lewis. Had his tyres gone off? Was he cooling the engine?


Surely that Alonso finished 6th is mainly down to luck.... if there hadn't been a safety car in those first few laps it would have been a very different story.


....O-for sure......the crystal ball would show us the Virgin cars would have won... 🙂


As the device controlling the rear wing stall has to be driver operated, perhaps the new software is a map of the circuit with the straights coloured in with felt pen.


No, it's just a poor translation


I find it quite funny that no one is doubting the drivers ability in the red bull team with their faster car. Unlike last year with Brawn.

We know all the drivers at the top are very close but the car makes a huge difference in todays racing. It looks like redbull and one of their drivers should get the title. If they dont it will be a huge mess up for them.


Hi James,

Bearing in mind that Alonso had the accident on Saturday morning, why did the team wait until Sunday morning to start building up the spare chassis. Surely it would have been easier to do it on the Saturday, or at least make a start.


Good job James, nearly as good as the Ferrari mechanics 🙂

What annoys me though is that one set of tyres this year can do a whole race and Alonso's strategy highlights the problem. I cant think of a single track this year where we will see anything other than a one stop race.


good article

maybe under 'software' they mean kneepads, or different type of glove? :p


Absolutely brilliant effort to get a car back on the road on Saturday. Just goes to show just how professional and dedicated the team members are to rebuild a car in such a short time.

And then to see how Alonso managed to get himself up through the field on Sunday. First class.

I'm not an Alonso fan, but I suspect his comment was a little tongue in cheek. Di Grassi had every right to defend his place and I'm sure Fernando understands that. Lucas was all over the place, which was very entertaining to watch as he was absolutely wringing the neck of the car (doubt his tyres enjoyed it much though).

It is great to see Webber doing a good job this year also. I suspect he will be right in the mix for the WDC personally.


Very good point James, not something that had really occurred to me either, but it's pretty remarkable. It's also another example of just how good Alonso is. He just is able to deliver in whatever car he is given, as we saw in Malaysia when he was still lapping competively despite a big clutch problem.


There is not 'Software' for the blown wing, the proper translation is :-

We are investigating a better option to have better control of the stall from the driver point of view.

ie - allowing the driver to keep both hands on the wheel.


James, off topic question, but is Button's Monaco engine destroyed now and do you know if this was it's 3rd race anyway (I know Monaco is not an "engine circuit" so the teams use it as the last race of an engine's cycle.)??

As always, an excellent insight into the paddock that no-one else offers...


Good point - I'll ask the team.


Well done once again!!

Would it not have been amazing to have had a time lapse camera running to have seen the car being built!!


In theory that footage exists as the FIA monitor the cars in the teams garage during park ferme via an overhead fisheye camera.


I can't believe the other teams made it so easy for Alonso. In any race you have to know who you are racing. Once Alonso had made that early stop the teams around 5th to 10th places should have timed their pitstops so that when they resumed they were still ahead of Alonso.

Yeah - good job by the Ferrari mechanics to get the car race ready.

Telling quote from Weber after the race. When asked about the championship he said that later in the year "engines come into play."

Cameron Isles

F1 Racing showed a pullout a few years ago of several Schumacher Ferraris, all in bits.

It looked impressive, but to the untrained eye so does a modern PC until you've actually built a couple; after that it's child's play.

Perhaps the credit should go to the engineer(s) who designed the pieces well enough that a whole car could be assembled in just a few hours and work properly first time (the way that PC build does today).

Face it folks. We're getting very good at stuff.


Hello, James

I think you've made a slight error in translation. The PR does not talk about of "software" at any time. The word "soffiata" means "blown" instead of "software".





"....un’evoluzione del sistema di gestione dell’ala posteriore soffiata"

".....of an evolution of the management system of the blown rear wing"



Can you please explain what writing off a chassis means? How big a deal is it for a team like Ferrari vs a team like HRT?

Are there any regulations/limitations from the FIA as to how many chassis a driver/team can use?

Thanks in advance


It means that it goes in the bin. Typically a top team will build five chassis over a season. Massa is already on his second. It's not a huge deal for Ferrari. Would be more of a drama for HRT. Brawn only had three monocoques last year and at times didn't take the spare to flyaways to save money!


Interesting how that would save money, James can you explain how it would. Seems like all it would do is take up a bit of space, aren't they allowed only so much weight only...



Now this bit of information is what keeps us from coming back here, 🙂

Your're so close to teams

Thanks James.


Given Alonso's engine situation, why didn't they change his engine as well?

He couldn't have started any further back than the pit lane and so it would in essence have been a penalty free change, wouldn't it?



I'm a software engineer by profession and I've always wondered what computer languages the teams use to code their software. I'm guessing they don't use the higher level languages as they come at a cost of runtime efficiency. Do they use machine/assembly level languages? And do the different teams use different languages or is there a standard? Thanks for you exemplary posts!


I'm going to do something on this soon. Keep tuning in


“It went better than I thought it would. I lost a lap behind Di Grassi, who perhaps thought he was fighting for the world championship.

you were that rookie once Fernando - it was a race at the time - you didnt have track position - so why wouldnt/shouldnt he fight you for the position


Hola, I've read somewhere that there is a rumour around the paddock about Alonso's accident not being his fault but something breaking in his car before the crash. Have you heard anything about it, James?


finishing 6th with 12 cars running is nothing spectacular, especially not if you are driving in a ferrari and you had luck with safety cars.

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