A personal review of the F1 year – Ferrari
Scuderia Ferrari
A personal review of the F1 year – Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  06 Jan 2011   |  5:37 pm GMT  |  174 comments

Ferrari, 5 wins, 2 poles, 3rd in Constructors’ Championship

There are so many ways to look at the story of Ferrari’s 2010 season, but let’s start with the helicopter view, the overview in other words. Ferrari hires Alonso (finally) gives him a winning car and despite a few mistakes he establishes himself as clear number one, takes the chances, wins races and then loses the title at the last round due to a bad mistake on strategy by his team.

The inescapable conclusion from this is that Alonso owed Ferrari one after his early season mistakes, but he made good. Now Ferrari very definitely owe Alonso one after the error in Abu Dhabi. And that sets the scene for 2011.

The detail is more complex and more controversial, of course; Alonso is hired as the team lets Raikkonen go. The Finn turned out to be not what the team was looking for, Alonso fitted the bill much better, he’s more in the mould of a Schumacher. After the euphoria of a debut win, there were some sticky moments early season, when he made out of character mistakes, like jumping the start in China or crashing in Monaco, but overall he got himself into a position to win the title, which is what you get when you hire Alonso.

Meanwhile the team showed great compassion towards its other driver Felipe Massa, keeping a seat open for him despite his head injury and backing him with a new contract, when he was struggling in the early summer. But the defining moment of his season – and to many fans of Ferrari’s – was the team orders episode in Germany.

Massa was moved aside by a message from his engineer Rob Smedley, who didn’t try too hard to disguise it. The TV director ran the audio clip and the world knew what it meant. The stewards said Ferrari had broken the rules and fined them, many fans and media felt the same way and called for stronger punishment. In the end the FIA couldn’t or wouldn’t do any more with the case on the basis of the evidence, but it did force the removal of the team orders rule, so now the big switcheroo can be done at will and I’m sure we will see team orders being used in 2011.

A fair minded person might say that the FIA’s lenience over Hockenheim leveled the scores a bit with the two episodes in Valencia and Silverstone where Alonso came out very much on the wrong side of the FIA and its stewards over episodes involving the safety car and lost a hatfull of points. In Valencia he lost out through no fault of his own, in Silverstone he tried to be clever passing Kubica and then got unlucky as Kubica retired so he couldn’t give the place back as the FIA asked him to.

Of course that episode in Hockenheim didn’t happen in isolation, many roads led to it. Alonso was angry in Australia to be left following Massa when he felt he had a chance to challenge Button for the win. In China he was behind Massa again and took matters into his own hands, passing the Brazilian in the pit lane. The team’s reaction to that told you everything about its attitude to the drivers’s roles; good on Alonso, driving like a champion. Massa’s mistake in Hockenheim was not staying far enough out of reach.

On the technical side Ferrari did a great job on the whole. The car was quick in testing, almost as quick as the Red Bull in the early races, but then tailed off as they lost ground trying to incorporate an F Duct. Monaco was a chance, but Alonso blew it. Turkey was the low point; an uncompetitive mess. A crude blown diffuser gave an uplift in performance from Valencia onwards, moving Ferrari ahead of the McLaren on pace and then a second more sophisticated one put them right in Red Bull’s wheeltracks, where they stayed to the end. This was enough to give Alonso a chance to fight back and he did so with three wins in four races from Monza to Korea.

As a result of Abu Dhabi Ferrari have changed the whole way they plan and execute race strategy with new people and new processes. It should make them more sure footed in key moments, certainly the background to every decision will be much more profound. The change sees two Englishmen called in to bring calm to the hot seats – an echo of the Brawn era?

Change where necessary, yes, but the fundamentals of this team remain the same; give Alonso a fast enough car and Ferrari will be in the title fight come Brazil in November. Where Massa fits in is anyone’s guess.

Alonso photo: Darren Heath; Drawing: Paolo Filisetti

For a full look back on the 2010 season, with race reports, detailed stories from behind the scenes and personal anecdotes, grab a copy of the JA on F1 2010 Season Review. It’s a limited print run and most are now sold, but if you haven’t bought one yet now’s your chance. It costs just £9-99 plus postageBUY BOOK

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That’s a great Alonso photo taken by Darren. I wish I’d taken it!


James, I hope you will write an article about reshuffle at Ferrari and how Stefano wanted to leave the team at the end of the year.

I am really wondering whether Ferrari has the ability to outperform other team in development…and come up with engineering innovations so that other teams are going to copy in order to catch up.

Many years without one already…


Already did it last week..


Indeed. It is the first time I am visiting your website since the season finale. I can’t swallow the mistake Ferrari made…was not able to read or hear anything about F1 till now. Two month later…pain is not so strong…

Let’s see what Ferrari is going to bring this year. There must be something more, not just the budget and legacy…


Hi James, do you think Alonso may have a say in hiring either Pat Fry or Neil Martin? Although it’s a rumor that Chris Dyer may re-unite with Michael at Merc, I think it’s logical. We all remember hearing Michael questioning his current engineering team lead by Andrew Shovlin for some of problems on his car.


Merc has realigned engineers already for 2011, as far as I know, so I’m not sure how real that is. I’ll dig around about Alonso/Fry connection. He raced a Fry designed car in 2007, I believe.


How much is known of Fry’s involvement with spygate?


Fernando has been given a free pass by the FIA. I’m more interested how Ferrari can justify employing someone who according to Ferrari’s own allegations (which weren’t proved) must of known and used the Ferrari data.



“I had understood he had personally requested specific information from Mr Step and then gone and personally experimented with it in the simulator to see how he could improve his car to beat ferrari with the information he had stolen from them.”

Is the “he” in question Alonso?

“Maybe I have this wrong?”

If the “he” in question is Alonso, then you most certainly have got it wrong.


And how much was Alonso involved in Spygate?

My comments were moderated earlier on this issue so I am now curious!

I had understood he had personally requested specific information from Mr Step and then gone and personally experimented with it in the simulator to see how he could improve his car to beat ferrari with the information he had stolen from them. Maybe I have this wrong?


We’ll have Kers and Pirelli tires. Massa weighs 58 kgs and Alonso weighs 70kgs. Heidfeld weighs 70 kgs and Kubica was at 78 kgs having to drop 4 kgs…Kubica does not look too muscular.. 12 kgs of difference and a tendency for Massa to be very quick during qualies will make an interesting 2011..


Alonso was too desperate to win the WDC for Ferrari, the reason why he lost the WDC. Saying Alonso was bad during that first half of the season is unwarranted praise for the dreadful decisions and actions that he made early on. After a great first race he kept reloading to shoot himself in the foot that he should be standing on stumps, with only his poor aim saving him.

When was the last time you saw a front runner lose it in the first corner, end up facing the wrong way only for the whole field to go past unscathed, then get a safety car to redress the balance?

Then screw up in qualy, again calling out the safety car for rescue.

When was the last time you saw a top driver at the front of the grid jump the start?

How there was no a collision with Massa in the pit lane is still difficult to believe. And if there had been contact blocking the pit lane, there is no way he would have avoided a suspension. With the possible gain being minimal, in actuality nothing.

Then the decision to keep the position in over taking Kubica by going off the track. Obvious to everyone he would have to give the position back, where he only had to wait a moment and he would have got the position anyway.

Alonso was so bad in that first half of the season with only good luck from the safety car (yes we know of the reverse with Hamilton) giving him a chance he never deserved come the end of the season. Then amazingly he suddenly morphed back into the driver we had seen win 2 WDC. Alonso’s state of mind is best underlined by jumping the start from the front of the grid, just was the last time you saw a top driver in F1 do that? The great drives from Alonso in the second half of the season seem to blind fans to the atrocious decisions he made in the first half, offset by luck which gave him no right to be competing for the WDC come the final race.


I thinks thats quite a good summary, both sides of the equation (driver and team) made mistakes in equal measure in 2010.

Fernando proved hes a top line driver and really pushed it in the second half of the season.

I still don’t agree that Ferrari got off with the team orders gaff (a rule is a rule, and must be enforced, whether you believe the rule should be in existence is different – and for the record I know team orders is part of F1 and always has been).

I can’t see any other conclusion than Felipe leaving Ferrari at some point in the next season.

I would love to see Robert Kubica at Ferrari, but despite all of the bluster and best mates talk, I very much doubt Fernando would want him at Ferrari.

What a shame that a great guy like Chris Dyer is pushed onto the sword. He has greatly contributed to past successes.

It always amuses me how top execs and principals, that they often consider their position, right before holding someone else to account for the issues 🙂


A great article and for once a balanced view on Alonso and Team Orders – I can’t think of a single article I’ve read on Hockenheim where the journalist discussed the Team Orders in Australia that worked against Alonso or China where the 2 drivers nearly collided or the British GP where they did actually collide.

I have found the deflection of two senior ex-McLaren engineers to Ferrari quite fascinating, is this financially driven (at the driver’s request) or do engineers want to work with drivers they respect? Thinking back to the end of 2007, I remember reading, with some surprise, that there were engineers within McLaren that were quite unhappy at seeing Alonso leave.


And others talking about shooting him.


In regards to the future and succession of felipe. I think ferarri will start breaking with a long line of tradition and put one of their up and coming from their driver program in, like bianchi.

A. For cost reasons
B. Other teams having great success ( Hamilton, vettel)
C. It would make having a nr 1 and 2 easier

What is your view?


Ferrari never run rookies. Only drivers with a few years experience


Wasn’t this also true of McLaren until Hamilton?



I had this question in the back of my mind for a very long time.

How do you media guys overlook the Santander factor when it comes to dismissing Raikkonen by implying that he’s a man with less dynamics? You being following McLaren for years would know the kind of stable relationship he maintained with his engineers back at Woking. There were even reports claiming that the MP4-22 was made for Raikkonen and that the engineers considered him as close to a machine which gives you what you need.

Todt left at the wrong time in my opinion paving way for a Alonso who had a rift with the former back in 2006, as we know.

Santander bought the seat for Alonso and it’s very evident and Massa is an easier way out than Raikkonen for Alonso and hence Kimi inspite of a superlative 2009 with an unlikely victory and few podiums when the car development was scrapped mid-way, was asked to leave.

It’s high time you guys think multi dimensional before quickly dismissing Raikkonen as a laid back uninterested bloke.


KK, I am with you. You missed saying that in Brazil, after being shown the door to make room for Santander money, after Kovalinen tried to get out of the pits ahead of him, pulling his fuel hose, spraying fuel & fire everywhere. Kimi drove through it, & the rest of the race, with fuel in his eyes. He could have damaged his eyes for life. But as you say, for some reason Ferrari & James seem to want us to believe the he was a laid back, un-motivated bloke…? I don’t know why…? It does not make sense.




@Tim, Thanks. 🙂


That is your view. You don’t know which came first though. When you are talking about a driver on Alonso’s level, it’s a package. It’s not like they ‘buy’ the seat. Alonso isn’t a pay driver, he’s a double world champion, a driver you build a package around.


James I hardly think Alonso was unlucky at Silverstone. The moment he came out in front after the incident he should have known all on his own to ease off and let Kubica through. Ferrari were then told 3 times by race control to give the place back and they ignored the warnings.

This was not bad luck, this was self inflicted.


Self inflicted by Alonso or by Ferrari? Did the team pass on the information to Alonso that they’d been told three times to give up the spot? If not, I’d agree it’d be on the team but I wouldn’t pin it on the driver. James would therefore be right in saying Alonso had bad luck.


Well if Alonso had never heard of what happened to Hamilton at Spa in 2008 and why this rule was made then what you are saying would be believable. However Alonso did know what had taken place in Spa and how the rule worked and well knew himself that he had broken it. I don’t like Alonso at all but he is not ignorant of things F1, he knew…



Please tell me which rule was “updated” as you put it. Please indicate what the rule in question stated before Spa 2008, and please indicate what it states now.

Please also address the issue that I made elsewhere about Ralf Schumacher being penalised for straightlining a chicane at Suzuka in 2002.

I am surprised that your comments passed moderation.


The rule was updated after Spa 2008. It now states that the position must be surrendered and another pass may not take place until both cars have been through two corners.

What Allen ruled in Spa in 2008 was that although Hamilton had followed the rules and the existing protocol, he had passed a Ferrari and therefore deserved a penalty anyway. When the race was over Allan and the rest of his friends sat down and after much thinking proposed a rule that would make any passing of any Ferrari an offense at all times, even on the qualifying time sheets, or in the pit lane… remembering what happened to poor Luca… But the Big Uncle thought that the non Ferrari fans might stop watching and that would cost him too much money, so they made the 2 corners rule instead.

Remember now?


“why this rule was made”

The rule has been around for as long as I can remember.


Its very interesting to look at Felipe’s year. He’s been a victim of circumstance on many occasions.

Firstly, he had problems with the tyres – but since Bridgestone are coincidentally leaving the sport, Ferrari aren’t going to do too much to overcome the problem.

Then there was the 2009 injury, which undermined his continuity in the team and meant that his pre-season testing was seemingly focused on getting him up to speed and failed to identify his problem with the tyres.

And then there’s unfortunate events that happened to him in the races. He was the forgotten victim of Valencia, as at least Alonso scored some points. Then he was involved in first lap crashes in Montreal and Silverstone that weren’t all his fault. And then there were the team and mechanical mistakes that ruined his finish to the season in Singapore, Brazil and Abu Dhabi. Once again, he was forgotten in Abu Dhabi as a victim of Ferrari’s poor strategy.

Anyway, Massa’s strength in the past was qualifying, but in 2010 it became his weakness. If he can get the Pirelli tyres working in 2011, I think he can be much closer to Alonso over the year.


Sorry, but you can draw up a similar list for just about every driver in the championship. Poor Sebastian lost three races to reliability, poor Jenson had the Monaco fiasco, poor Lewis was arguing with his father, poor Mark…

I have sympathy for Massa especially because of his accident a year ago, but at the end of the day being a top performer means overcoming such issues, not just shining when the sun is out. Massa is a talented driver, but he did not deliver the goods in 2010 – not by a mile. You cannot blame the team, fans and media for wanting more from him.


“Massa’s mistake in Hockenheim was not staying far enough out of reach”

OK, but its hard to stay out of reach if the team turns your engine down and Fernando’s up!



What do you think of Ferrari’s “Media Day” role on Ferrari’s 2010 achievements?


“I’m sure we will see team orders being used in 2011.”

I am sure that I saw them being used by numerous teams from 2003-10.


Perhaps it was the manner in which team orders were used by Ferrari, used so early in the season, even when Massa still had a realistic credible chance of a shot at the WDC (after coming close in the previous season).

Is the WDC a driver’s title or a team sport? If it is the latter, then why bother having a WDC when it is just a just a proxy for another WCC?


There was no outrage when McLaren informed Kovalainen that Hamilton was faster than him at Hockenheim in 2008. Kovalainen still had a strong mathematical chance of winning the WDC during that race (and Ron Dennis ALWAYS maintained that his drivers were allowed to race one another for as long as both drivers had a mathematical chance of winning the WDC). Kovalainen was only 30 points behind Hamilton in the WDC at the end of the race, and there were still 8 races remaining in the championship (with a potential 80 points up for grabs). Indeed, Kovalainen went on to win the following race in Hungary.

There was no outrage in 2009 when Ross Brawn suggested to Barrichello that if he wasn’t able to progress then he should think about letting Jenson have a go.

There was no outrage when Hamilton was told, “No Lewis, no”, when he asked in Turkey last year if Button would attack him.

The list could go on and on!

David Coulthard summarised the issue perfectly during the after-race coverage of the 2010 German Grand Prix on BBC when he a made a comment along the lines of, “All teams implement team orders, and anyone who claims otherwise is lying.”

There have been numerous instances throughout the history of the sport where team orders have influenced the outcome of races, and I will take serious the arguments of people who so vehemently criticise Ferrari’s actions when they start to criticise ALL implementations of team orders that arise in F1 to a similar extent.

Perhaps other factors fuelled the criticisms of Alonso and Ferrari that filled forums such as this one in the aftermath of last year’s German GP.

I personally don’t have a problem with the implementation of team orders, but I do have a problem with blatant exhibitions of hypocrisy and the factors which fuel such hypocrisy.

Incidentally, I was under the impression that Massa missed close to 50% of the 2009 season. Could you explain how he came “close in the previous season”?


“Ferrari have a history of early season team orders between drivers who had a credible chance of winning the title.”

McLaren implemented team orders in the FIRST race of a season. To be fair to McLaren, so have numerous other teams.

“I didn’t see any example of team orders when Kovaleinen was a driver for McLare”

If you saw the 2008 German Grand Prix, then you should be familiar the incident from 0:08 to 0:12 in the following clip.


And the response from Ron Dennis was, “…when he (Kovalainen) was told Lewis was quicker he just let him past.”


If you believe that Ferrari implemented team orders at Hockenheim in 2010, and you analyse this incident in a consistent manner, then you should conclude that McLaren issued team orders at Hockenheim in 2008.

“…certainly not quite in the same league as giving away a certain win for a second place…”

Are you suggesting that team orders are acceptable if the cars are not in first and second places? The rule that existed from 2003-2010 stated that team orders that influenced the outcome of a race were not permitted. It was not specific to first and second places.

Incidentally, Nick Heidfeld stated on BBC Radio 5 Live during the coverage for last year’s Canadian Grand Prix that he could have won the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix had he not been asked to let Kubica past.


You fail to answer my question:

If it is a team sport, why bother having a WDC if it just a proxy for a WCC?

Ferrari have a history of early season team orders between drivers who had a credible chance of winning the title.

I didn’t see any example of team orders when Kovaleinen was a driver for McLare and certainly not quite in the same league as giving away a certain win for a second place as was the case in Austria 2002 or Hockeheim 2010 to “pollute” the WDC, a favourite term used by Max Moseley!

Indeed, one can always point to spurious examples of team orders at other teams but were never in the same context as those employed by Ferrari at Hockeheim in 2010 or in Austria 2002.


That is what Montezemolo said


“as the team lets Raikkonen go. The Finn turned out to be not what the team was looking for, Alonso fitted the bill much better, he’s more in the mould of a Schumacher.” In the mold of Schumacher as being their 1st driver as compared to Kimi who ran as their 2nd drvier for 2008 & 2009. When Kimi was made 1st again after Massa’s wreck he went on a run of 4 podiums in a row (after they quit working on the car in July, one of them a win, the only win for Ferrari in ’09. What could Kimi have done with the F60 if he had been first all year…not to mention 2008. If Schumacher had had to run as their 2nd driver & Alonso has to run as their 2nd driver this year, we will see how much better he “fits their bill”.

As a general rule James, I like your writing, but this reads more like Ferrari PR.


I hardly think Ferrari would say that!!


James, I agree. I doubt that Ferrari would agree with me, publically. 🙂 When most drivers leave a team, they leave. Ferrari kept Schumacher on. I have read that when Kimi walked into Ferrari, Schumacher was there. That there was a division at Ferrari regarding MS’s leaving & Kimi was not made to feel welcomed or wanted. Alonso was, because MS was gone and FA was bringing Santander money. MS was being paid as multi-million $ consultant & I believe that he used that as his opportunity to make sure that Kimi could not break his records, & to placate & coddle him, Ferrari allowed it. I have read many places that MS told Ferrari to build the car/team around Massa, not Kimi, make Kimi their 2nd driver. Kimi seemed to ‘integrate’ very well with Jean Todt. They won the WDC for Ferrari in 2007 & then they were both fired…? I have also read that his crew liked him very much. I believe that Kimi’s mistake was trusting Ferrari’s sense of honor, integrity or even just sense of fair play, when they cannot be found. Kimi thought that winning WDCs would enough, as I believe that he would have had he been allowed to remain as the #1 driver in 2008. With his 4 podiums and win after he was made their 1st driver again in 2009, after Massa’s accident, I think that Kimi could have had a good shot at the WDC in 2009 if he had been 1st all year even in the F60 turkey. The same car MS tried in August, called it a piece of ___, & said that he would not risk his reputation in it. & Kimi is the racer Ferrari let go…? If Ferrari had stayed consistent with backing their best driver Kimi, as they had MS, in ’08 & ’09, it would have played out very differently. But they did not & they backed themselves in a corner. They made a series of weak and just plain dumb (emotional?) decisions. Someone had to pay for the mistakes & Kimi & his career were sacrificed. I am sure that Enzo would have handled it very differently.


@Bernd Rosemeyer, This is a quote from: , “Ferrari: Alonso can defeat Schumacher By Dieter Rencken and Matt Beer, autosport.com, Wednesday, January 13th 2010, 14:04 GMT “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.” Domenicali states plainly that Kimi was their 1st in ’07. In ’08 Massa was to try to get a WDC & then again in ’09. Kimi was 2nd both years. This is when Domenicali, who must be one of the MS backers, & Ferrari lost my respect. If it shows respect it certainly does not show brains. Schumacher,as a multi million $ consultant for Ferrari, told them to build the car & team around Massa, so that Kimi would be the 2nd driver.


@Marybeth: Taking the standings from the race where Kimi achieved the first podium (Hungary) onwards, Button was on 70 points and Kimi was on 18. That therefore gives a margin of 52 points to make up and a requirement of 53 points over the 7 remaining races, averaging 7.57 points per race, to take the title. That would, as you suggest, mean that he could have won the title had he finished on the podium in every race. However, it is also assuming that none of the other title contenders – Button, Vettel, Barrichello and arguably Webber – would score more than 70 points by the end of the season, yet all of them aside from Webber did. A more useful measure is the standings after the last of Kimi’s podiums (Monza), which showed Button on 80 points and Kimi on 40. With four races to go, and therefore 40 points available, Kimi could only have tied with Button even had he won every race, and even then he would have lost on countback (6 wins for Button, 5 for Kimi). Again, that is assuming Button would not score any more points after Monza, which was not the case. Put simply, Kimi would have needed a winning streak from Belgium onwards to even remain in contention, and not only did that not happen, it was not remotely possible with the F60 even had it been developed further. Its gearbox design was fundamentally flawed for the purposes of a double diffuser and meant it could not catch up with the RB5 or BGP001 without a complete redesign that the team had neither the time nor resources to do. There was simply too much ground to make up and too few races left in which to do so.

Hope that all makes sense.


Ferrari always made their #1 driver the one with a better chance to win the title. Like Hawthorn in 58, Surtees in 64, Scheckter in 79 and so on. Even Mike had to yield to Irvine in 99, because Eddie was ahead in the standings. In Brazil they orchestrated a Raikkonen win so that he could win the title. If Ferrari made Raikkonen #2 in 08/09, which I see no serious evidence of, then they might have thought that Massa was in a better position to win than Raikkonen. That said I think it would have been sportive to keep Kimi for 2010, honor his contract and employ Alonso after Kimi’s contract ran out (in 2011). However I guess Santander had a different view …


@David Ryan, Math was not my best field, so please bear with me here. My theory is that if Kimi had finished every race on the podium, as he did 4 in a row after Massa’s accident & with a car they quit working on in July, the law of probability says that he would have a good chance of winning the championship.


I’ve said it before and I will say it again: the Ferrari F60 was in no way capable of taking ANYONE to the title, Kimi included. He finished the equivalent of 4 victories, a 3rd and an 8th (47 points) behind Button, and by the time of Massa’s injury Button was 58 points ahead so Kimi only made up 11 points on him from Hungary onwards. He was also trailing Massa by 12 points at that stage as well, which puts paid to the claim that he was the better driver of the two by that point. I am no defender of Ferrari’s approach to racing – see, for example, my comments on Hockenheim – but the maths just isn’t right. As for Enzo, his approach was to let the team get on with it and interfere as little as possible – he stopped going to races at all quite early on, putting his faith in his deputies. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but that was his approach through and through.


I’m surprised that Schumacher tested an F60 in August 2009, there’s a testing ban since ????, even for returning seven time champions.

I thought he tested a two-year old car fitted with GP2 wheels and tyres.

Tell me more.


Love the article.

I kind of understand the notion of Raikkonen not fitting into the Ferrari mould.

But can there be that much hostility towards Raikkonen from the team. I mean, he did win Ferrari a DWC?!


I would be very suprised if Alonso didnt win the title next season. His hunger does not seemed to have wained, if anything it has grown. It’s hard to see him retiring before the age of 35, and it’s hard to seem leaving the sport with anything less than 4 WDC to his name.

An excellent move in hiring Alonso, although I’m still convinced that Ferrari hired him in place of the wrong driver. Raikkonen and Alonso would have been a hell of a team.


I’m a fair minded person and I wouldn’t say that it was Kama that Ferrari got away with breaking the rules in Hockenheim.

Nor would I say that an illegal over taking maneuver was clever!

And I don’t see how Alonso was so hard done by in Valencia he just happend to miffed because he didn’t think Hamilton was sufficiently penalised.

When Ferrari cheat they get the rules changed (as I predicted at the time). When someone else does something that Ferrari don’t like but isn’t illegal Ferrari get the rules changed so they can’t do it again!


“And I don’t see how Alonso was so hard done by in Valencia he just happend to miffed because he didn’t think Hamilton was sufficiently penalised”

As a Spaniard pro-Alonso fan, my opinion is absolutely biased. But I try to be a fair minded person… don’t know if that’s possible, of course.

But I think there is a point based on facts, not on opinion: in Valencia, before the SC was deployed, Fernando was just behind Lewis, and he had a strong chance to overtake him on pit stop (as Hamilton’s front wing was damaged, so he was going to need more time at the pits).

Then came the SC, and two drivers behaved in different ways: one overtook the SC, breaking the rules. The other slowed down, and stood behind the SC.

At the end of the day, the driver that followed the rules finished 8th. The one that cheated finished 2nd.

Those are facts, not opinions.

And now, my opinion: as Ayrton’s Dad says, very unfair, isn’t it?

Besides, I think we could discuss the overtaking manouvre over Kubica at Silverstone. I kind of remember some Rubinho overtaking a famous and controversial German puting all four wheels out of the track and getting no penalty…

So maybe some kind of kharma getting unharmed out of Hockenheim’s team orders scandal.


I’m not disagreeing with you here Galapago.

However, in the interest of, “being fair”, we should recognise that Alonso’s disappointing result in Valencia was caused more by Button, Barrichelo, Kubica, Buemi and Sutil getting into the pitlane whereas Alonso was stuck on a slow lap behind the Safety Car. They were later penalised for this albeit not very much. The reason for that, fully explained at the time, was they were too close to the pitlane entrance to jump on the brakes and get down to the time allowed.

This had far more to do with Alonso’s result, plus the remarkable drive from Kobayashi, than anything Hamilton did.

It’s not difficult to see why Alonso was so miffed with Hamilton, he could see that happening. He was maybe unaware of the Button train going into the pits.


With all due respect, it sounds like you’re perhaps being influenced too much by who the people involved were.

Imagine it was an incident between, say, Kovalainen and Buemi: you would easily see that the delay in handing out the penalty meant the driver who broke the rules fared better than the one who respected them.

That is a textbook definition of unfair: ok by the letter of the law; totally wrong according to its spirit.


Great review James.

One of Alonso’s drives has gone un-mentioned and deserves mentioning as it was one of the most impressive displays of talent and determination I have seen in a long time. That is his drive at Malaysia with an ailing, and eventually failing, gearbox.

The sector and lap times he was setting despite the problem, and his pace relative to Massa, was jaw-dropping. The problem was there for all to see and hear through the on-board footage, yet he adapted and muscled that car around for half the race (maybe more?) without missing a beat.

Super impressive.


It was indeed a very impressive drive,from what i remember Alonso had to keep the throttle open even when entering corners,this allowed him to change down.

A great shame he ended up with a DNF.


I guess people don’t write about it too much as he didn’t make it to the finish line (which was a great shame, considering it was so close). Maybe he would have if he hadn’t have to fight his way through the field and didn’t follow Button so closely for some time. I thought he had the problem from the very begining of the race and had to nurse the car all the way. Impressive indeed :).


Agreed. Everyone talks about the pit lane overtake but I’d bet Alonso hurt Massa’s confidence just as much with details like this. And Domenicali and Co. had to be taking notes: one driver overcomes gear issues while the other whines over tyre temperature.


I agree..that drive in malaysia was certainly the drive of year for me.. I remember reading somewhere that ferrari engineering staff were scratching their heads as to how he was going so fast without a troublefree gearbox..he even set a fastest lap at some point and also overtook button twice during the race…do u have any insight as to how good he drive that race, james??from outside it surely looked good.


it didnt go un noticed with me in ireland either mate. for me it was the best performance of the year and probably in the top 5 drives i have ever seen in f1 since i started watching. dont think anyone else on the grid could have done that. i know martin brundle rates that drive very highly too.


2010 was a very good year for Ferrari, but like McLaren they had a good car, but not a great car.

The categories that I measured the 2010 cars in include:

Car Driveability, All Round Car Ability, Low Downforce Circuits, Medium Downforce Circuits, High Downforce Circuits, High Speed Circuits, Medium Speed Circuits and Low Speed Circuits.

The categories in order of strength for the F10 are:

1. Low Downforce Circuits(2nd)

2. High Downforce Circuits(2nd)

3. Low Speed Circuits(2nd)

4. High Speed Circuits(2nd)

T5. All Round Car Ability(3rd)

T5. Medium Speed Circuits(3rd)

7. Medium Downforce Circuits(3rd)

8. Car Driveability(4th)

Alonso had a great first season with Ferrari in 2010, always trying to drive himself and his team forward both on and off the circuit. Along with Hamilton and Kubica, he is one of the very best drivers out there. He will probably finish with 3-4 World Championships, and will be remembered as one of the all-time greats. Massa didn’t have a great season, but remembering that he was coming back from a life-threatening injury, it was probably not a bad season. Overall, Ferrari had a very good season, but not a great season.


On the Abu Dhabi mistake, and the reasons because IMO it was not so easy to decide the right moment to pit Fernando.


I have posted before about this point, and I would like to give a final look back to Abu Dhabi. As I wrote before, I’m not sure that the decision to pit Fernando early in the race was so wrong, at least if we consider the info available at that moment. In fact, I think that the decision was right at that moment (Lap 15) and we only. Anyway, it was not a mistake of “biblical scale” as I have read here.

I remember watching the race on Spanish TV; I was also following James’ tweets (@Jamesallenonf1). No one said nothing like “What are they doing, they should not pit now” – btw, on Spanish TV they had Marc Gené on board.

James, if you don’t care I will copy paste some of the messages you tweeted during the race, just to remember how things happened and try to asses how the decision was made.

As the race started, the order was VET – HAM – BUT – ALO – WEB.

During the Safety Car period, one possibility to think about was that Webber overtook Fernando, giving the title to Seb:

(@Jamesallenonf1)“#f1 How about this for a scenario – Webber passes Alo for P4, giving Vettel the world championship? After all the opp scenarios discussed!”

At the same time, the front runners were expected to pit early in the race, initially on Lap 10, and as a result of the SC period, maybe on Lap 15 or 16:

(@Jamesallenonf1)“#f1 Expected the leading cars to pit to replace soft tyres after around 10 racing laps, with S car that could be stretched out to L15/16”

Lap 11. Everything seemed to be ok for Ferrari. The current order granted him the title.

(@Jamesallenonf1)“#f1 Alo not pushing, seems he’s looking after his tyres. He’s champion if he finishes in this position”

Lap 12. Weeber pits:

(@Jamesallenonf1)“#f1 L12 Webb pits for hard tyre, rejoins Ferrari are ready for Alo to stop to cover Webber, who’s in clear air on fresh tyres”

On that moment, everybody thought the right decision was to pit Fernando ASAP. We all were thinking that the man to cover was Mark, and that the soft tyres were going to wear off quickly. On the other hand, Hamilton seemed to be going to fight Seb for P1, and this also could help Fernando:

(@Jamesallenonf1)“#f1 Ferrari lucky Webb is losing time behind Algu.. Ham catching Vett for P1, Butt coming alive now too.”

(@Jamesallenonf1)“#f1 Alo going to pit, will be tight with Webber, he’s 24 secs ahead. Webb flying!”

Lap 16. Fernando pits and rejoins the race just ahead of Mark. Things still look ok, and the one in trouble was Mark, who had to overtake Fernando on the track:

(@Jamesallenonf1)“#f1 Alo gets out just ahead of Webb. So Webb will have to pass him on the track. Toro Rosso wrecked it for Webber. Who’d have thought that.”

Lap 21. Things start to look worse for Ferrari:

(@Jamesallenonf1)“#f1 L 21 Alo has real pressure on him now, but team asks him to pass Petrov “It is critical to pass him”

Lap 24. Vettel pits and is lucky to rejoin ahead of Koby:

(@Jamesallenonf1)“#f1 Vettl pits and rejoins just ahead of Kobay and Kubica. That was very lucky, as Kobay made a mistake and would have been ahead.”

Still on lap 27, things could change:

(@Jamesallenonf1)“#f1 Question is can prime tyre on Rosberg’s and Petrov’s cars last to the end. Alo hopes not. Still many lead cars to pit, lot can happen”

Lap 34. It starts to come out clear that Rosberg and Petrov are not going to pit again, as well as it looks impossible to pass them on the track.

(@Jamesallenonf1)“#f1 If Butt pits soon he’ll rejoin behind Ham. For Alo it’s all about whether Rosb and Petr can get the hard tyres to do 51 laps.”

Finally, on lap 47, we were sure that Seb was going to make the World Championship:

(@Jamesallenonf1)“#f1 L 47 Renault pit Kubica finally. He rejoins ahead of Petrov and Alonso. Disaster for Ferrari.”

So, as I wrote above, IMO the situation on Lap 15 forced Ferrari to pit Fernando; and it became an enormous error after more laps, when it was clear that the soft tyres were to last for half of the whole race, and that the hard ones of those that pitted during the SC (Rosberg and Petrov) were to last the rest of the race.


“So, as I wrote above, IMO the situation on Lap 15 forced Ferrari to pit Fernando; and it became an enormous error after more laps, when it was clear that the soft tyres were to last for half of the whole race, and that the hard ones of those that pitted during the SC (Rosberg and Petrov) were to last the rest of the race.”

Good Lord in heaven! It was obvious in that very instant that Ros and Pet changed tyres with the intention of running them till the end of the race. What are we talking about here?

Your “enormous error” became enormous when Ferrari pitted Alonso knowing he would need to pass the pair of them. It was just as much a no brainer then as it is a no brainer now – in the hindsight. Ferrari failed in that particular moment.


Everyone expected the hard tyres to last the whole race, Mercedes even deliberately changed to the hards after the first lap, such was the issues with getting the softs to perform.

What was totally unexpected was the soft tyres coming back and improving, allowing the front runners to extend their gap over the field and allow them to pit and come out clear of the field.

This is nothing to do with the performance of the hard tyres, every team had a very good prediction upon that. What they all had no idea on, is the soft tyres improving and being of value in this later stage of the race, which was decisive for everything that subsequently happened.

If you can find one team that was predicting the soft tyres to improve as they did at the crucial stage, then you have a valid point, but there were none. Ferrari even had the luxury of a close inspection of Massa’s tyres to confirm what was happening at that stage before committing. Everything strongly pointed to pitting now and being behind Petrov and Rosberg, waiting and being behind Webber, Petrov and Rosberg.


I cannot see why you’re talking about any pressure on Alonso. There wasn’t any. His tyres were all right, he should have stayed out till they were gone ( it was the only way to go, so obvious back then and now ), he would have won WDC that way. Instead he was pitted prematurely and as a result lost.

I wanted him to win, I wanted to see him become Champ for the 3rd time and snatch it from RBR. Instead I watched Ferrari blow it as if they were beginners in a complete farce. Grrrrr… I am becoming angry again.


“Well, how about the front runners, namely Vettel who later happened to win the title?”

Alonso was forced into a decision because he was losing time to Webber and very soon he would have no decision he could take.

The front runners never had any real choice or pressure, the field was not cutting into their times. They had no clear strategy at that point but desperately trying to eek out enough of a gap to pit and come back in a decent position. During this holding phase the tyres came back to them and they then had a very clear strategy. Show me one team who felt the softs would come back to them at the crucial point Alonso had to make his decision? There were none and that is the crux of the decision.

This was never about this race alone, but for Vettel, Hamilton, and Alonso, the WDC. Of those only Alonso had strategy and options in play, Vettel and Hamilton were too many points behind to have any real options, just locked into where they were and hoping for the best.


“What was totally unexpected was the soft tyres coming back and improving, allowing the front runners to extend their gap over the field and allow them to pit and come out clear of the field.”

And then you say:

“If you can find one team that was predicting the soft tyres to improve as they did at the crucial stage, then you have a valid point, but there were none.”

Well, how about the front runners, namely Vettel who later happened to win the title?


Red bull left Vettel on the softs, which only proves their superiority over the reds. At the point Ferrari pitted Alonso his soft tyres were still OK( people seem to have forgotten that ) and as Rosberg and Petrov have not been cleared no one sane would bring his driver in.

Ferrari knee jerked to Webber’s pit stop and completely overlooked what was happening elsewhere on the track.

I remember exactly my reaction when they pitted Alonso, it was like: what? why? In that instant Martin Brundle started talking along the lines I mentioned before. Why Ferrari did what they did I’m finding very hard to understand even though you’re trying equally hard to explain it to me, which I appreciate btw.


Very good post. Thanks for sharing.

Ferrari are just like any other corporation though – they have to hold someone accountable for the result (even though it’s a sport!) and therefore Dyer has to unfortunately pay with his scalp … even though at the time, he made all the right decisions.


The rights and wrongs of that decision to pit come down to one simple point, the expected tyre degradation of the softs. The decision was based upon a strong prediction held by every other team, so what exactly was wrong? When you have such a high probability at that time the softs would not last and the hards were quicker, the choice is to be 6th behind Rosberg and Petrov, or 7th behind Rosberg Pertrov and Webber, make your move!

Don’t get jumped at the start by Button and you are never forced into having to react prematurely and a very easy drive for the WDC.


Of course, it was the culmination of a long season.

Ferrari and Alonso lost points prior to Abu Dhabi.

It’s also true that Red Bull could have wrapped up both WC a lot earlier were it not for reliability and unforced errors.

Next season I see Red Bull improving reliability and maximizing their cars and drivers. Ferrari has made changes to strengthen their strategy team and have clear number one in Alonso. Whilst the mid-field teams close the gap.

So as we head out of the winter break it looks like 2011 will be just as much a battle between the top teams as 2010. The helicopter view gives us fans many reasons to expect another enthralling season.


Congratulations Galapago, an excellent analysis using the information you have.

But, with the benefit of hindsight we know that Alonso needed to beat Rosberg in order to take the WDC.

The question is, should Ferrari have been able to predict that Rosberg might have finished fourth? Bearing in mind their supply of information should be more complete than ours, and they have computer programs to predict these things.

You raise the point about Rosberg’s tyres lasting the distance. Kobayashi did almost a complete race distance on hard tyres at Valencia, Vettel did the same at Silverstone, if I remember correctly, so there is some evidence available, early in the race, that Rosberg would be able to finish without stopping again.

Does anybody know the state of Alonso’s tyres when he stopped on lap 15? James, can you help here?

I calculate that in order to beat Rosberg to fourth Alonso needed to stay out until lap 23 (when Hamilton pitted) at least, lap 24 (when Vettel pitted) would have been more comfortable. This assumes two things: –

1. Alonso would have maintained a two second gap to Button, because I have used the gap between Button and Rosberg to make this calculation. Alonso stabilised this 2 second gap to Button from lap 8 to when he pitted.

2. Alonso’s tyres would have allowed him to follow Button closely enough for this calculation to be any use. We know that Hamilton and Vettel made this distance on soft tyres, would the Ferrari have been able to?

If conditions 1 and 2 could not have been satisfied, Alonso would not have made the gap he needed over Rosberg and would have had to try and pass him on track, I think we can guess the likely outcome of that!


The mistake with Rosberg was a strange one. In Monaco, Alonso drove actually the whole race on one set of tyres, so even from their own experience Ferrari should have known that the tyres can last a long time. Montreal was one exception to the rule, but apart from that the Bridgestones were pretty durable and they should have known that.

I can understand that they might have not taken into account Petrov on Alonso’s way – one could expect that Alonso would find his way past the Russian sooner or later (however, they should have kept in mind that it was problematic for Alonso to do so in Turkey – like an omen) or that (basing on Petrov’s performance from the whole season) Petrov would make some mistake at some point letting Alonso through (who would have predicted he would be that faultless…?). So I can try to turn a blind eye on Ferrari ignoring Petrov, because they might have expected that they would get past him regardless of the strategy. But I don’t know how they could have ignored Rosberg. We already know from 2009 that this track is not overtaking-friendly, so getting past Rosberg on the track (assuming that Alonso would have overtaken Petrov) was a huge challenge.

I honestly thought for a few laps that the pit stop was a right decision (only until I realised that Rosberg and Petrov had already pitted – the moment I realised that, I knew they will not pit any more), but I did so, because I forgot that Rosberg and Petrov went into the pits under the safety car. However, I seriously doubt Ferrari crew would have made that mistake. They must have known he’d already been in the pits, so they either forgot how durable the tyres were (and thought he would pit again) or they assumed that Alonso would overtake him on the track, which on this particular track is not an easy task and Rosberg is by no means an easy driver to fight with. No matter what was their way of reasoning, it was totally wrong. I guess they were too occupied with Webber and covering him to see the bigger picture.

I know that race strategies change during races depending on the conditions, but that IMO was an example of a mistake you can make if you’re not driving your own race following your own strategy, but rather arrange your strategy in response to what the others do.


It still hurts, doesn’t it? You know it’s easy to say what the right decision was with a hindsight. Unfortunatelly, Ferrari had in fact 1 car (sorry, but Massa wasn’t of great help cruising around) to look after two Red Bulls and they identified the wrong Red Bull as a bigger threat. We know it now, but at that moment it was tricky and easy to make a wrong call. For some time it did look like a right move.

I found it ironically funny (understandable, but nevertheless funny), how Alonso was hoping for Hamilton to win the race (his team radio in race edit).


To some people it wasn’t a big mistake and that is OK as an opinion, but I’d say to majority of people it was the howler of the decade. Personally to me it was the biggest I witnessed in my life.

As soon as Ferrari pitted FA Martin Brundle immediately recognised trouble. He then would frequently highlight the fact that Rosberg

and Petrov already pitted and would be hard for Alonso to deal with. If he, Brundle, could see it strait away why Ferrari could not? Answer? They overlooked it or neglected it and it proved costly as they lost WDC title in that particular moment, hence we’re talking in terms of disaster here.


Very simplistic. What you failed to add was that Brundle and all the teams did not expect the softs to last much longer. Also Ferrari had a very good look at the state of Massa’s tyres to confirm this before pitting Alonso, along with the faster lap times Webber was now setting. What comment do you believe Brundle would have made if you added Webber to that group in front of Alonso?


Very simplistic, yes, but it is as simple as that. There was evidence from previous races the tyres can last for ages. You’ll find many people here pointing this out. Ferrari has got armies of people tracking data and running programs and simulations etc.

Anyway, trying to justify Ferrari is pointless here as they themselves admitted there was a disastrous mistake made (see the post about Mr. Dyer).


I agree that hindsight is a wonderful ally and only a handful of people could credibly claim to understand race strategy better than Chris Dyer.

However, many of us were howling at the TV way before lap 34 based on two points:

– Why cover Webber twice? Why forget about Vettel?

– Why was Ferrari apparently the only team not to realize that the Bridgestones would last much longer than planned? Renault and Merc knew, clearly. McLaren had enough confidence to wait and see. Even Red Bull simply hedged its bet.

Everyone talks about Button’s ability to preserve his tyres, but Alonso demonstrated race in and race out that he was just as good in that respect.

The season was full of examples of the tyres lasting way longer than anticipated (e.g., Vettel in Monza) and we remember Canada so vividly precisely because it was such a rare exception.

I, for one, am looking forward to a more lively and unpredictable Pirelli.

Zobra Wambleska

No arguments from me.


Really I sort of put the blame on Bridgestone for not knowing how much their soft tire would last, if I recall correctly this happened with the soft tires quite a bit during the 2010 season, they said they would last 10 laps and we saw 30. The rest of the blame is on whomever called Alonso in so early.

I was watching the race on BBC and they did mention it would be a mistake to pit Alonso so early when in fact it was Massa coming in to cover Webber, another lap or two and Alonso was sent in as well.



“A fair minded person might say that the FIA’s lenience over Hockenheim leveled the scores a bit with the two episodes in Valencia and Silverstone”

As you said, “he (Alonso) tried to be clever passing Kubica and then got unlucky as Kubica retired so he couldn’t give the place back as the FIA asked him to.”

Could n’t he give the place back? More like would n’t I think. Alonso and Ferrari can only blame themselves for what happened at Silverstone. We all know the rules after FIA’s nonsense under a certain FIA President to deny Hamilton and McLaren at Spa 2008.


He was rightfully penalised for not ceding the advantage that he obtained by driving off the circuit, just as he was at Suzuka in 2005. Likewise Hamilton at Spa in 2008.


I wonder where this mythical 2005 penalty against Alonso has come from. I went and looked up the results at Suzuka in 2005 on the official F1 website and no such penalty is recorded. The only penalties noted in the official record are “Takuma Sato disqualified for causing collision with Jarno Trulli. 25 seconds added to Jacques Villeneuve’s race time for forcing Juan Pablo Montoya off track.”


As the incident occurred in the final 5 laps of the race, Hamilton received the appropriate penalty. If he had ceded the time advantage that he had gained then the penalty would have been avoided.

The treatment that Alguersuari received at Monza last year was far more controversial, but I read no comment on it.


I suggest that you read a race report for the 2001 Japanese Grand Prix. Reference to the Ralf Schumacher penalty can be found on p. 253 of the 2001-2002 issue of Autocourse. As the penalty was applied DURING the race, no mention of it will be made in the official results.

I really do appreciate your efforts, but you clearly need to do more research. I notice also that you have ignored the evidence I have provided regarding the Senna disqualification.

I am aware of Dinnelly’s background, but I am also aware that arch Michael Schumacher rival Damon Hill presided over an incident involving Michael at Monaco last year. I don’t see you questioning Hill’s impartiality, so why question Donnelly’s?

And if you want to talk about poor stewarding, perhaps you should review the numerous decisions that went Hamilton’s way in 2007.


Spa 2008 would have been less controversial were it not for three aggravating factors:

1. Raikkonen crashed a matter laps later and so the Hamilton penalty was a moot point.

2. There was a massive differential in the performance of the Ferrari of Raikkonen and that of Hamilton in the McLaren when handing back the position at the point where Raikkonen was very slow because he had no grip. Issues about momentum are irrelevant in zero grip conditions for Raikkonen.

3. Hamilton is penalised 25 secs for an incident that didn’t warrant 25 secoonds especially after Hamilton had ceded the position fully and immediately. What else was he supposed to do?


It is interesting to note the official F1 website records no penalty to Ralph Schumacher at Suzuka in 2001.

I see what you are trying to prove I really do and I admire your effort, but I am afraid no such supporting incident actually exists. The only truly note worthy anomaly in 2008 that could explain not just the Spa stewarding decision but a host of others that year that like wise were unprecedented in the history of F1 was the inclusion of a business partner of Ferrari in the stewards box, Allan Donnelly.

If you do not know, Allan Donnelly owns a PR company that both the FIA and Ferrari contacted to do their PR work. What more credentials could be asked for a fair and impartial candidate to be present in the stewards box?


Progress! However, a precedent was set in 2001 at Suzuka when Ralf Schumacher received a stop-go penalty for straightlining a chicane, despite NOT gaining a position by doing so. This fact is INDISPUTABLE. (I am leaving out the Senna disqualification at Suzuka 1989 as you dispute the reason for this.)

The Spa 2008 incident occurred at the end of the 42nd lap, and there were only two laps remaining in the race. The stewards did not have time to review the incident within those two laps.

Incidentally, Alguersuari was handed a penalty for gaining an advantage by chicane-cutting at the start of the race at Monza last year. Hamilton carried out an identical manoeuvre in 2007, and overtook Massa in the process, but received no penalty. Oh the injustice! Where is the non-stop outrage and criticism?


So the precedent set in 2005 was that no penalty was handed out, but the driver is to be ordered to give the position back. Now why did THAT not take place in 2008 at Spa?


Perhaps you should read a race report for the event. I refer you to paragraph 12 of the following article.


Alonso surrendered his position to Klien for the second time a couple of laps later.


He couldn’t give the place back because Kubica retired.

Also, Alonso was pushed off the track by Kubica and asked the team if he had to let him past because he HAD to leave the track. Ferrari discussed it with Whiting but it was too late by then because he had retired.


Alonso had 10 laps to hand back position! In any case, what is their to discuss with Charlie Whiting after the precedent set by FIA in Spa 2008? Even my mim knows that one needs to gibe back the position immediately!


Alonso did not have the racing line and just like Hamilton, should have braked if he was to avoid going off the track. Unlike Hamilton, Alonso did not give the place back and unlike in 2008 there were very clear rules in place (wich he well knew) stating that he HAD to give the place back!

Alonso and Ferrari simply assumed the rules would not be applied to them. Why? He needed to get behind Kubica before the next corner and then follow him through the following corner as well. He did not even vaguely attempt to do this, how was his punishment unfair or unlucky?


Well, if you scroll down the following page about 3/4 way to the section headed “The 15th GP: The vulcanos erupt”, you will read that “Senna was disqualified after crossing the line first. The reason for his DQ was given as failing to rejoin the race in the appropriate manner, having cut off the chicane.”


Similarly, if you go to the fourth paragraph of the following article then you will read that “Senna had been excluded for missing the chicane.”


And I have read similar claims in numerous other reports.

However, if you are not prepared to accept this then I will point out that Ralf Schumacher was given a 10 sec stop/go penalty during the 2001 Japanese Grand Prix for straightlining the chicane. He was penalised SOLELY for leaving the track.


In 1989 the official record states “Senna finished first, but was disqualified for reckless driving: he also recorded the fastest lap of 1’43.024s”

Hamilton was not penalised for anything other than leaving the track. The FIA statement referred to him leaving the track, but the rule he was cited for only covers that the race should take place on the trace. Not that despite many other drivers leaving the track that day and since, no such penalty was or has been handed out to any one else.


In 1989 the official record states “Senna finished first, but was disqualified for reckless driving: he also recorded the fastest lap of 1’43.024s”

Hamilton was not penalised for anything other than leaving the track. The FIA statement refered to him leaving the track, but the rule he was cited for only covers that the race should take place on the trace. Not that despite many other drivers leaving the track that day and since, no such penalty was or has been handed out to any one else.


This is what you wrote initially.

“Unlike Hamilton, Alonso did not give the place back and unlike in 2008 there were very clear rules in place (wich he well knew) stating that he HAD to give the place back!”

You stated that there was no clear rule in place in 2008 which required a driver who leaves the track to hand the position back. Now you appear to be saying something else.

“At Spa 2008 Hamilton was nat actually penalised for gain an unfair advantage, but for leaving the track. He remains the only driver in F1 evert to be penalised under this rule.”

This statement is erroneous. A number of drivers have received penalties for cutting the chicane at Suzuka. Indeed, Ayrton Senna was DISQUALIFIED from the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix for cutting the chicane.


I did say CLEAR rules. At Spa 2008 Hamilton was nat actually penalised for gain an unfair advantage, but for leaving the track. He remains the only driver in F1 evert to be penalised under this rule.

My point about Germany this year and Alonso, was that in 2010 the rules were very specific and very clear and Alonso knowingly broke them, unlike the rules in 2008 and the incident at Spa with Hamilton, who believed his actions had been in accordance with the rules, as did race control.


The rules state that any driver who gains an advantage by going off the track must surrender this advantage. Drivers have been penalised at Suzuka for driving off the track, despite gaining no position in the process.

There are two types of advantage that a driver can obtain by leaving the track, a position advantage and a time advantage. A driver should cede BOTH advantages.

Incidentally, if, according to the rules, Hamilton was not required to give the place back at Spa in 2008, why did Hamilton move aside and why did McLaren check with Whiting to see if Hamilton had done sufficient?


There’s not much point discussing these moves with Charlie Whiting, McLaren did that at Spa 2008 over the Hamilton’s Bus Stop/La Source move on Raikkonen. Charlie said it was O.K. but he was overuled by the Stewards, he subsequently changed his mind too, if I remember correctly.

Above all, it’s pretty stupid having to give a place back to a driver who retires or slows to a crawl almost immediately after the move in question.



On page 253 of the 2001-2002 edition of Autocourse, we learn that Ralf Schumacher was handed a 10 second stop-go penalty during the 2001 Japanese Grand Prix for straightlining the chicane. Ralf did not gain any positions by straightlining the chicane, but he failed to cede the time advantage that he obtained from doing so.

Michael Schumacher had straightlined the chicane during the race as well, but he dropped his pace in the first sector on the following lap in order to cede the time advantage that he had obtained. Hence, Michael was not handed a penalty.

As I have pointed out to Peter Freeman in a response that will hopefully appear below, Ayrton Senna was DISQUALIFIED from the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix for cutting the chicane in question.

These demonstrate that there was a precedence in F1 before Belgium 2008 for penalising drivers who fail to surrender any TIME ADVANTAGE gained by leaving the track.

As for your claim that Hamilton acted “according to the accepted customary practice of what most people’s understanding of what that meant at the time….falling behind the tail of the other car!”, the likes of (former McLaren driver) Alex Wurz clearly disagreed, and he made that point very clear on ITV’s coverage of the 2008 Italian Grand Prix.


Great point. One of several aspects of FIA’s intervention that leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Unlike the Alonso example in Silverstone, Hamilton immediatley accepted the need to hand back position and did so according to the accepted customary practice of what most people’s understanding of what that meant at the time….falling behind the tail of the other car!

So what else was Hamilton supposed to do??


Good point about asking for Whiting’s opinion, but if Alonso had surrendered his advantage immediately then the whole situation would have been avoided.


Hard to add anything really.

In Australia Massa was given the same message as in Germany: “Fernando is faster than you.” You can watch it on formula1.com in video section – race edits. Maybe Massa didn’t understand “the message” in Melbourne? Anyway, FA made too many mistakes in 2010 and half of his wins were inherited and not on merit. Dunno why he bothers at all, he should do Kimi really – look for a new challenge.

Massa obviously wasn’t the same Massa we all saw in 2007 and 2008 or even prior to his 2009 accident. Stuff like that normally knocks the confidence out of drivers, self preservation interferes with “pedal to the metal” approach.

I’d rather see a driver pairing similar to Massa/Raikkonen at Ferrari, at least they had mutual respect for each other instead of talking about professionalism with sour faces all the time; with Alonso they’ll inevitably have to put someone like Bianchi alongside the the “Hallucinogenic Toreador” from Oviedo to play Piquet Jr. role.


Nice reviews and thank you James for getting us through the winter break!! This was very much needed for us like air, especially in the December month when all editorial staff of major racing magazines are taking a break too.

A few more weeks and we get car launches and thing roar into more news and action.

What a tumultuous first year it has been for Alonso and Ferrari. I wonder where his early season mistakes really came from? Was that the pressure of being at Ferrari bringing him off balance? I never witnessed it in his earlier career.

He seemed by mid season to get a better grip on things, getting more into his familiar confident and quiet zone. Perhaps related to him looking extremely fit, well trained too during this mid season period. You could notice this on his face / looking super trained.

Perhaps that was also related to lesser rhetoric from Luca de Montezemolo. I think that Il Presidente puts at wrong times unnecessary pressure on the team. His words weigh extremely heavy and each time he comes out saying something to help the team…. it seems to work in contrast! But who will tell him (to …..) ?

I guess driving for Ferrari must be a daunting task, that demands a lot of inner balance.

This was also the case with Kimi as I never thought the unmovable Finn could ever be affected by pressure and interest of the entire media circus around Ferrari that travels with it and tries to poke its drivers at all times, suggesting, insinuating, putting words in their mouths, and Il Presidente never giving a rest to things.

Only Schumacher I never felt was moved by the media circus, the attention etc (in terms of pressure i.e. negatively) Also Luca was kept at bay by Todt.

Schumacher always seemed firm, above it all. Only later towards the end he was visibly moved and affected by the love of the tifosi and press towards him (but that was all positive offcourse)


PS. Kartikeyan signs for HRT (?)


Still waiting patiently for the book – was despatched 21 December to SA. thanks for the round up reviews in time I’ve had to wait!

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