Ferrari not enjoying the hard life
Scuderia Ferrari
Ferrari not enjoying the hard life
Posted By: James Allen  |  23 May 2011   |  12:44 pm GMT  |  161 comments

The Spanish Grand Prix was a strange one for Ferrari, with Fernando Alonso rocketing into the lead at the start and then sliding backwards as the race went on, later to be lapped by the two leaders. He now lies 67 points behind Sebastian Vettel in the drivers’ championship.

There were a number of problems on Sunday for the Scuderia, but the main one was the car’s inability to generate heat and grip in the new hard Pirelli tyre.

Alonso's stellar start (Photo: Ferrari)

Alonso showed his determination to get a result for his home fans and to celebrate his new five year contract with a stunning lap in qualifying on Saturday to split the McLarens.

But that lap was set on soft tyres over a single lap, the story on race day, especially on hard tyres, was very different.

The extent to which the Ferrari was at sea on the new harder compound hard tyre was clear from the problems of Felipe Massa.

But it wasn’t just the tyres that were the problem for Ferrari; it was the lack of downforce generally, which caught them out.

“What we have seen today was expected, ” said team principal Stefano Domenicali after the race. “Here unfortunately in the condition where the car needs to have the maximum downforce – and we know we don’t have it – we had a multiplied effect on the tyres, above all on the hard, because we were not able to let them work.”

After a stellar start, Alonso led the first two stints – 18 laps in total, before his second stop. Some 46 laps later he was lapped by Vettel, meaning that he had lost an average of 1.9 seconds a lap between those two moments, most of it in the two stints on hard tyres after he switched to them on lap 29. At that time the gap to Vettel was just under 20 seconds. In the next 35 laps it increased to 87 seconds – a loss of 2.4 seconds per lap average.

“Basically we were out of position in a way (in the opening laps) we were not quick in the weekend,” said Alonso. “We did a very good lap yesterday and we were fourth, and maybe it was a strange result, and today on lap one we were first.”

As for his start, which was one of the highlights of the race, it was against the run of form. Alonso has generally had a poor time of it off the line this season. In the first three races he lost places; four in Australia, two in Malaysia, one in China and then he gained one place off the start in Turkey.

“We were missing some good starts this year and it finally came today,” said Alonso “And here with the long straight to Turn One you have the opportunity to take the slipstream as well.”

Ferrari had a setback with the FIA deeming their rear wing ineligible, albeit complimenting them on their ingenuity.

The rule says that the rear wing must be no more than 950mm above the floor of the car. The Gurney flaps on top of the Ferrari wing took it 30mm over that limit. Ferrari’s idea was to engineer the wing in such a way that they could argue that the Gurney flaps were part of the rear wing support, which doesn’t fall under the height restrictions. But the FIA didn’t buy it and on Saturday they had to go back to the Turkey specification wing, with a resulting small loss of rear downforce.

The team has been criticised for not being creative enough in recent years, in comparison with Red Bull and McLaren. Here was an example of them pushing the envelope a little, but it didn’t work out.

The next race is Monaco, a track where Alonso could have had a say last year had he not crashed in practice. This year marks the tenth anniversary of Ferrari’s last win in the Principality, a surprising record given how strong Ferrari was in the mid 2000s.

You wouldn’t put it past Alonso and Ferrari to have a strong weekend there with the new supersoft Pirelli tyres on offer.

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Aldo has just left James. who do you think will replace him?


I think that Alonso had his thinking head on!

I’ll try and explain (and see if others agree or disagree)… if he can’t win (which he knew his car was unable to do on raw pace in Spain) and to stop Vettel getting so far ahead of him (in the championship) that by holding up Vettel\Webber that he would back them into a McLaren driver. i.e., it would be better for Alonso, at this point in the season, for a McLaren driver to win rather than Vettel.

Alonso fought like hell to get into first spot at the start, he then tried his damnedest to stay in front of Vettel at the first set of stops – which he did – and for as long as possible afterwards.

Sure, it was his home GP and he’ll fight for every position – that’s his nature – but considering his drop off on the hard tyres I was surprised that he fought so hard on his softer set of tyres, rather than trying to extend their life – to reduce his time on the harder tyres to a minimum.

I fear for Massa’s position at Ferrari, he’s contracted to end of 2012 and Alonso might be happy with little or no competition from him; but will Ferrari be happy with that? Massa seems to struggle all the time.


That’s a really interesting observation – certainly Alonso nearly won the Championship last year, and arguably would have done had Ferrari not messed up their AD strategy, because McLaren and RBR took points off each other early in the year.

I think Monaco somewhat levels the playing field for Ferrari – we saw their car was good in the very slow speed sections in Spain, and doesn’t seem to be lacking mechanical grip (just relative aero performance). Of course you pile on the aero as much as possible at Monaco, but it’s not so much about efficiency as just piling it on, so actually I think it’s less critical to have a “good” aero car, just a “big” aero car.


It’s “a thought” Daniel rather than an observation, but cheers…

Alonso was on fire last year (in the principality) until he binned it at the top of the hill in FP3… at least, I think it was FP3 if my memory serves me right.

Anyway, I figure Alonso will be flying again. I feel Monaco is less about the car and more about the driver’s ability. And he knows he’s got to bag some points before other drivers (notably Seb) get too far away from him and they can then drive for points, rather than victories.


Hope someone has an answer to this:

Lets say HRT/Kolles threatens to protest on friday. RBR put on Softs in Q1 and HRT isnt alloweed to race – can they still protest?

Honestly, i think this could happen if Kolles really pulled this at Spain.


They can still protest, though since a ruling has already been made that the EBD in its current form is permitted until after Canada, they will lose the protest automatically.


What is going on with Ferrari?

This track is the one that teams use as the ultimate test of their cars aero, the Ferrari didn’t stack up well against the other big two, but that is just the start…

Their pitstops are still slow relative to Redbull, with 4 stops a race I’m amazed they havn’t looked at this.

Pre-season they were rattling on about the new strategy guru they had hired, so far his influence isn’t obvious.

This race was like watching the 2010 finale all over, they were so obsessed with racing Webber that the first two stints were too short forcing a long final stint on hard tyres and ruining their race as a whole.

Last year Redbull let themselves down with poor trackside operations, this year they seem to be bullet proof while Ferrari are making life hard for themselves.

You do have to wonder is Massa really that bad or is he doing a representative job in a car that Alonso is flattering?


James, Team orders are killing the comp, the only people allowed to challange this year are Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel. It is clear that Button, Webber and Massa are there to pick up the crumbs.

AN f1 fan for 20 years and last year was so refreshing. I think i will go and watch V8 supper cars instead.


What makes you say that? What team orders have we seen so far?


I really think it’s time the FIA stepped in and changed the rules enough for Ferrari to win races. I have a few suggestions:

1) Give Ferrari unlimited in season testing until they’ve pocketed a few races (or bagged a championship or two)

2) Allow them to permanently borrow Schumy and Ross from Mercedes

3) Force all the other teams to swap their KERS device for lead weights

4) Weld shut the DRS of all other teams

James, please can you pass these suggestions on to the FIA?


Agree with all the previous comments about Ferari losing their edge since Todt and Brawn left and the credit crunch. But you have to say Alonso has been driving out of his skin in a car that’s miles off the pace. Along with Vettel and Hamilton they are in another league to the rest. Just compare him to Massa- every single race he decimates him with the same, rubbish car. Just imagine if Alonso was in Webber’s RBR…


The credit crunch caused Ferraris woes?

Now I’m confused. Thats a new one!

pert time viewer

it would seem ford were right the f150 does resemble a truck lol


Has any field ever been lapped by two cars from two different teams?


think Monaco for RBR & Canada benefits Mclaren as last year, so unfortunatelly for Ferrari, they’ll get next pair of tough races, and Stefano being declaring: that is not what we’re aiming to..


everyone is slaying webber – what exactly did he do wrong ?

Tom in adelaide

Qualified first. Finished fourth. In the fastest car.

You have to admit, his stock is in free-fall.


@tim It’s quite simple, Webber has the best car on the grid & yet he has nothing to show for it more so this year.

And what’s worse, he has been in F1 forever so one would have thought his experience would have made him school his teammate – At least we would have had a season on our hands with both Red Bull drivers taking points off each other.


On face value I agree – however in this race I thought he was unlucky (1) he did not get the undercut for Alonso (as Vettel got it over him) and (2) as such his race was ruined by being stuck behind Alonso. So I cant see him doing much more than he did. Anyway – he needs to get ontop of Vettel this week.


@Tim But Mark is the unluckiest driver in F1, time & time again, the chips won’t fall in his favour.

Monaco is all about pole & this year Vettel has been the pole guy & worse for Webber he won Monaco last year so all in all, his chances of getting one over Vettel in Monaco are next to none


By the way, my sense of things, and I haven’t done the statistical research, is that this year is an all-time low fro mechanical DNFs.

Has anyone else noticed this? Honestly, if you combine mechanical DNFs and accidents involving the top 6-8 cars, there has been very little happening to destabilize the finishing order.

In years past, reliability problems among some fast teams would at least make it seem like some other teams were in the mix. This year, no one seems to be struggling with gearbox or engine life, yet.


I bet Ferrari wasn’t the only team to make ‘reliability’ upgrades to its engine.


This is probably because they are too busy nursing tyres rather than pushing to the limits, shame.


Good point, certainly a record finish rate in Spain


No, it’s not a good point James, it’s, to my way of thinking, a sad reflection how today’s F1 is no longer on the edge of technology as it used to be and as, in my view it should be (engines being rev limited is simply not what F1 should be about and takes away a big challenge for the engine manufacturers all in the name of so called cost which in my opinion has nothing to do with the rule makers of F1, if Renault or whoever want to develop their engines in a certain way they should be free to do so, it’s their business.

In years past it was always a fair chance teams towards the front may never finish die to reliability as the cars were designed on the edge, in Spain in 2011 the chances of an engine blowing for example of very very rare.

It’s the same of nobody really going for it at the start anymore, everyone driving with an eye on the race as a whole knowing overtaking is now so much easier, is this good or better?

I guess it’s a matter of opinion, I think cars going for it and the odd offs are all part of racing at the start.


I understand, but you have to look at the big picture. If engine makers could do what they want they’ll spend £100m+ a year, their works team will dominate and the independent teams will be charged £20m a year for engine supply and go out of business like Jordan, for example.

We now have great racing with independent teams Red Bull and McLaren leading the way in the championship and teams like Force India, Sauber, Williams etc can compete for points. Better situation than five years ago which was unsustainable.


Had it been Kimi in the Ferrari, folks would have said lack of motivation etc, party goer etc … Ferrari has the Santander money but yet to deliver a title and their last most exciting win was Spa. Kimi said they couldn’t get heat on the tyres. Yet it is the same problem. They must have a recurrent fundamental issue in the engineering department.


Watching the coverage over the weekend it was mentioned that the Ferrari has good mechanical downforce. Will this be a bigger benefit at Monaco due to the lower speeds and less reliance on aerodynamics


It’s a very painful experience to watch Alonso dropping back after the eletrifying start. I think Alonso made his point clear with this move. Let’s hope that Ferrari should at least get enough qualifying pace for 2nd row, so we will see Alonso fight with nothing to lose. Ironically, I think he is helping Hamilton the most by stopping Vettel from pulling away…

I suggest Ferrari to have 2 seperate engineering department next year, with he first one build the car and the other one find an extra second. There will be no guess work excuses.


I wonder if all that investment at Maclaren in their tyre simulation computer is finally paying off this year.

Also what’s the odds that ferrari will try to headhunt James Key from Sauber.


There are two sides of Ferrari’s true identify:

1. The one before Schumacher, Brawn, Byrne and Todt

2. The one before them and after them

When people say that Ferrari is not performing up to their high standards, they mean the first identity. But at the same time…I think Ferrari is what you expect them to be after all these folks left – they are back to their normal. Is it not the right way of looking at things?

take the name away…what is left?


Call me aging, but seriously why don’t people pay attention to the fact that that Ferrari didn’t win a championship from 1980 to 2000? I became a fan as of about 1981 and have watched most of the races since they were available on Canadian TV in about 1987, and throughout most of that time, Ferrari was occasionally good, usually mediocre and sometimes terrible. It took Todt/LdM/Brawn/Byrne and Schumacher to change that, and they did shift the average an awful lot but if you see that period as the exception rather than the norm you can imagine a lot of third place constructors championship seasons for a while to come.

Marcus in Canada

Agreed, too many people forget, or are unaware of, the days before Todt/Brawn/Byrne/Schumacher/Stepney.


10 WDC and 10 WCC before and after them?


Alex makes a fair comment. Until Michael took them to the constructors championship in 1999, you have to go back to 1983 in the middle of the turbocharged era to find the last time that they achieved that particular mark.

Going back beyond that, they had a run of victories in the late ’70s, but then you have to go back all the way to 1964 for a prior constructor’s championship. 10+ year championship droughts are nothing new to the Scuderia.


In the light of the troubles that had during this GP, Alonso drove amazingly well – compare him to his team-mate.

It’s a shame Webber was not able to show better – although going by starting and finishing positions he had a poor weekend, it was obviously getting stuck behind Alonso on the same strategy that pushed him back and opened up the podium race (as you have blogged already, James).

Ferrari had better have something up their sleeves to put on the car over the next few races, or their 2011 season will be finished.


I think Super Fan has hit the nail on the head. Yes, in-season testing is what Ferrari is missing in other words, the credit crunch ruined this too-big-to-fail powerhouse.

But what happened is the recession hit right after 2008, when Massa had just narrowly lost out on the title & what came next is that Ferrari & couldn’t test their new parts by beating down their private track at Maranello constantly.

So apart from missing Todt, Stepney & Brawn, Ferrari also greatly miss testing & I believe that’s why Todt was thinking of introducing limited in-season testing – To help out, you understand *wink*


The ban in testing is for all the teams, not just Ferrari…


@Steven Unlike other teams, Ferrari have a private test track up in Italy & to add insult to injury they have the biggest budget in F1 + they earn the biggest prize money from FIA so yes, of all the teams Ferrari benefited the most from in-season testing


I think you are being a bit cynical with your last remark.

Not having testing in F1 is lunacy in the first place.

Imagine if football teams never trained between matches!? If they’d just crunch numbers and performed simulations trying to predict which player can perform what.

But then again, I have to quote toleman fan once again:

“The only reason I’m not (very) angry is that the FIA are such a disgraceful shower it’s hard to even be surprised any more.”

That pretty much sums it up why so many idiotic decisions make their way into F1. Seems people just became used to expecting stupidity and are taking it as something normal.


@Brace Actually the real lunacy in F1 pre 2008 was the kind of money getting burnt each year.

If I recall correctly, Toyota was flushing

down the toilet $300 million a year (that’s bigger that some developing countries’ budgets) – all this for a team that was on the podium a handful of races & all for what?

Nah, something had to be done for not only did Toyota & Honda leave, small teams would have eventually left too.

So yes, I can clearly visualize a football team spending lots of time in a gym & attending tactical classes, complete with a blackboard & chalk


what i dont understand is why ferrari and mercedes did slower lap times this past weekend in q3 than they did at winter testing. i mean how does that work. unless they used the super soft tyre and its much much faster then the soft. also maybe that extra curb at 7 and 8 slowed them down but in 2 months of development and better set up should that not still be faster. confusing.


The temp is usually perfect for fast times in he early testing season.


Didn’t know that. Interesting. James, do you have an explanation?


Tracks change.


If you are right then that’s really weird.

James, you have any official numbers on this?


1. Michael Schumacher Mercedes-Mercedes 1m 21.268s

2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 21.614s

from the fourth days testing the 2nd week in barcelona. 11march.


FA’s race reminded me of his post-McLaren wilderness years with Renault; outperforming his car, destroying his team-mate, glimpses of rare brilliance, but ultimately a waste of a supreme racing talent. It’s unfortunate for lovers of F1, because I think we all want to see the best drivers in the best cars. The car has to be an extension of the drivers will to win, an embodiment of that single-minded desire to succeed. You would think Ferrari, of all teams, would instinctively understand this alchemy of engineering and emotion, but arguably they haven’t produced a truly decent car since 2008. What’s also disappointing is that the rivalry between Hamilton and Alonso, which could – and should – have shaped the landscape of F1 for the last 3 or 4 years and comes only once in a generation, has stuttered into irrelevance. Instead Ferrari -the greatest racing team of all-time – appear to have retreated into a cul-de-sac of caution and conservatism and taken the brilliant Alonso with them. Boo.


Ferrari may not have the best car on the grid last weekend. However, a 5 year deal puts pressure on the team to deliver in all areas of development. All under their own control.

The Red Bull is very reliant on Renault keeping a step ahead. Adrian has designed a fantastic car but they will need a strong engine partner to ensure other teams do not close the gap.


I second that as a McLaren fan. Two of the best drivers in two great teams, a generation to remember.

Instead we get someone racing in a different formula, winning races with a wagged finger and the Crazy Frog theme. Hardly reminiscent of Senna/Prost.

FIA should invest in scrutineering, tighten up the rules, dump the artificial mechanisms, level the playing field a bit more and let the drivers drive.

F1 has become an exercise in risk-aversion, just as Jackie Stewart has claimed, and that isn’t what the fans want to see.

PS – major props to Alonso, he’s dragging that team along by the skin of his teeth!


Come on I am not a fan of Vettle, just because he is driving a good car while your favorite drivers isnt, doesn’t mean he is in a second class driver. At first people criticized him for his limited ability to win from the pole. Now he proved them wrong. Mark’s performances showed that it takes more then just a decent driver to win in a top car. There was nothing in terms of pace between RB and Mac, yet he produced a very mature drive. Give credits where is due man.

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Maybe Vettel will turn into the Nelson Piquet of the decade? A few world championships while the greats are struggling in lesser cars and then becomes forgettable….


THat’s a bit harsh. He was brilliant on Sunday


Good points!

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

James, a Ferrari question.

Does Alonso’s signing to 2016 make Domenicali’s position any safer?

Surely LdM must be at the edge of his patience with the team’s performance.

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Was Alonso’s signing down to Santander or the simple fact that Alonso is happy there.

I cannot believe that LdM is happy at all and imagine that on Monday morning he was tearing someone a new bodily orifice.


His position is probably safe for now, but I can’t see LDM accepting the current position (including seeing both his cars being lapped) for too long.

I’d love to see a Mclaren win in Monaco next week, but I can see Alonso winning on Sunday.


Securing the teams biggest asset for the next 5 years? Definitely makes the team, and so Domenicali’s position stronger.

Sets up a Alonso vs Newey Battle in the same way Todt set up a Shumacher vs Newey battle.


The only difference is that they are at the back foot instead of rising like the dream team, sadly, I must say.


I do think there is an element in Alonso’s driving – not seen so much (yet) this season, when he feels ‘hard done by’ in a situation, be it getting overtaken by Lewis, or a pit stop not getting him where he thinks he should be, where he takes his foot of the gas till the last few laps, essentially giving up on the race, then pumping in qualy times for the last few laps – like he’s saying to the team ‘if you’d done right by me earlier, i would’ve raced all afternoon like those last laps’

i guess it can be put down to petulance, which might be why its not being seen so much recently – maybe he’s finally matured a bit.

(of course, Kimi used to do the same thing to a much more noticable degree, and look where he’s racing now)


It is funny, I watch Alonso’s races and follow him since long ago and I don’t know what you are talking about…

I think there is too much psycological interpretation about him since 2007 and can understand the reason, but it is a really distorted image that you have


Take a look at the laptimes???….you are clearly

misreading the data from the race!


Ferrari was lucky to have such a good start on the race with Alonso. Imagine how far back he would be at the and of race if he had lost 1-2 positions at the start…

The wing idea seems a bit “basic”. Surely the can do better that that and come up with true innovations. The most recent I can remember is the wheel nut design lat year, which RBR tried to copy this year. They definately some “aero” innovations not just mechanical and engine ones.


The problem is the following:

You get the pieces to the FIA and they accept them. You test and make set up based on them.

Then, the morning of qualifying FIA tells you it was a nice try, but go to hell. The spirit of the norm. So you get the whole weekend screwed.

And then, the final question:

Where is the spirit of the norm in flexing wings touching the ground when a minimum clearance is required? How, when active aerodynamic devices are forbiden, can you come with expensive, dangerous and totally uninteresting F-Ducts?

[mod] For me this lack of transparency and this double standars are the[mod] main reason for stop watching it. So, lets get some democracy in this sport, and some serious regulations not the jokes we have to withstand every year

David Turnedge

And I imagine Webber would have been 3rd, if not 2nd, if strategy didn’t put him behind Alonso for much of the race.


There’s no point in hiring a proven car developer when you’ve banned testing. Ferrari has lost 0.6 straight away. FIA need to act NOW to save F1!!!!!

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