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Ferrari not enjoying the hard life
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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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Ferrari can now work on 2012.

Mclaren can now work on Vettel and forget about Webber, he is a broken man.

RB can work out who replaces the broken man.

Mclaren dual champs 2011.


Too early for Ferrari to give up, but I agree its hard to see how they can come back and consistently outscore Vettel and the McLarens. This is made worse by Massa being woefully slow compared to Alonso, and if the Ferrari has a hint of pace we know Fernando will drag it over the line, but its no good if he is only beating Vettel with no buffer in between (ie Massa).

So it begs the question... was Ferrari SO wrong to have Alonso pass Massa last year, they appear to have been vindicated in that decision, although perhaps this is partly the reason Massa is appearing to be such damaged goods now?

Webber isn't broken. He took pole this weekend, and had he a gotten a better start and perhaps beaten Alonso into the first corner he would have walked this race... thats the difference between anyone being ahead of Alonso vs. behind his amazing start...

Why would McLaren be now best placed to win the championship? RedBull are still beating them, in Turkey they were left floundering by comparison. We could have Ferrari flying in Monaco, but this won't make them championship favourites.

Its great that we have cars suited to certain tracks with their tyre combinations and others not so much. However there is still one very frustrating constant, and that is RedBull, and Vettel in particular, now that he isn't making mistakes attributed to inexperience. They seem to have all areas covered at the moment (he even looked comfortable being chased closely by Hamilton), with no signs of letting this slip, and why would they, barring the diffuser issue of early 2009, they have been the outright dominant team since we went wide winged and back onto slicks 3 years ago, the rest are still playing catch-up and copy.

2 Things that could accelerate a better CHAMPIONSHIP.

Ban this ridiculous DRS ruling that you can use it through practice and qualifying, its not adding to the show, and it is playing right into the strong characteristics of the RedBull in qualifying. We can see their qualifying pace is somewhat more impressive than race pace. Monaco may be a lot closer especially since the only fast corner they would love to use DRS in, you can't rendering it largely useless as a benefit.

Secondly, Vettel needs a bit of bad luck, and soon. I found myself naughtily hoping for Hamilton and Vettel to collide, to open up the championship race... not for the obvious controversy, but for the small chance a miracle occurs that the RedBull gets reeled in before its too late...

And lastly if you're a RedBull fan, ignore the above... and enjoy the dominance


Completely disagree with Mark being a broken man. Seb is absolutely on it no doubt.

I think Mark will win Monaco.


You underestimate Webber. He may not be as fast as Vettel, but his determination is difficult to beat. Remember 2009, when he came back so strong from a broken leg? I wouldn't write him off


Not only i don't believe Webber is a broken man, i just think that he will be the last on the grid to be broken. For sure the guy with the most personality in that grid.

We has shown lots of times that you can't break his will, and i still expect a bit more from him.

Anyway this championship may be Vettel's to lose, even if Maclaren get a faster car, he collected a strong bunch of points, and now he can make damage control in harder races...

Only if crash kid takes back control of that RB, we can see this championship in place again, or maybe bad luck with Reliability

issues in RB (despite KERS)...


Come on Mr. be serious.


That's right. In fact, Lewis will probably clinch the championship in the next couple of races. After being the moral and real champion the last 4 years, it's just keeping regular form.


Wow...moral and real champion? What planet are you on...he was the 3rd best driver last year. Its fans like you that make me smile when he loses though. Let me guess, England were the moral and real World Cup champions over the last 16 years too right? lol.


He's on a planet with a sense of humour, F1Fan.


Haha quality. He's bound to win monaco though right? I mean, the driver makes all the difference there.


Webber is only 10 points behind Hamilton and has 6 points ahead of Button so he is not really broken. Alonso still has eyes on the championship and he is 67 points behind Vettel.

But i agree, Vettel clearly is RBR's 1st driver this year. He's driving much better than last year so it won't be easy for McLaren.

Vettels last year was actually 'bad' compared to beginning of 2011. After only 5 races he almost has half of his last year points.

But after Spain I think this year could be pretty close again. Hamilton collecting podiums and some wins, a DNF or two by Vettel, and they will be even in no time.

Let's wait and see.


"Hamilton collecting podiums and some wins, a DNF or two by Vettel, and they will be even in no time."

Assuming Hamilton doesn't register some DNF's himself!

Grayzee (Australia)

Ouch! A broken man? Ok, I might be a patriotic Aussie, but that's a bit harsh, even though you have a point. Unfortunetly, he just can't keep up with the kid at the moment, and RB are favouring the young lad. Maybe Mark will retire anyway, so how about if he was replaced by Hamilton! Now that would stir up the pot, eh? And get you lot arguing even more! 🙂 Is Hamilton contracted next year?


Mark has been outscored by Vettel in 10 of the last 11 races. The one where he wasn't was Korea where both didn't score.

If someone said Driver A had beaten his teammate Driver B in 10 of the last 11 races, and the other was a draw, that would be considered a comprehensive beatdown.

Mark's chance to win the WDC was last year. He's still a good driver, but he's not getting faster.


I agree with you Grayzee, the comment is harsh and Vettel is still being favoured. I have read in that the reason Mark looked a little stoney faced when he had pole was because the Vettel side of the garage was going to send him out to try to beat Mark's time. This was against an agreement that they would only do one run if they were 1-2 with a margin.


The only reason Vettel is being favoured is because, unlike Webber he's one of the accepted top 3 (shame Kubica got injured as it might have been an accepted top 4)drivers.

Webber's good but alas he's not one of the top 3 is he?


350 points on offer across 14 races and its all over for Webber and Ferrari?


Yet, afraid so 🙂


McLaren can't work on Vettel, they can only work on their car and they're doing a pretty nice job.

Don't under-estimate Webber, he's a grit and it takes more than that to break him. But if Vettel is fundamentally faster, he can do nothing about it.

Massa is taking a beating from Alonso since the spaniard put a foot in Maranello and no one suggests he's broken. Button isn't in a much better shape either, he's smart enough to go for a different strategy which helps hide some of the difference in pace.


It only takes Hamilton putting his car in the barriers once and Button scoring a 2nd or 3rd place for them to be all but tied in the championship. They're different drivers, with different styles. That's why it's a genius plan for McLaren to have both of them and they don't step on each other as Hamilton did with Alonso. One will always be there when the other isn't. What's the point of playing someone else's game when you know they'll win it 7 times out of 10, when you can beat them at your game 7 times out of 10? It's a season, not a race.

Further down the field, the results between Perez and Kobayashi will be equally interesting to observe. Neither are champions (yet), but it's the strongest pairing Sauber has had since Raikkonen and Heidfeld.


I totally agree kristian


I completely agree here. I don't rate Hamilton much higher than Button at all. In fact i still believe Mclaren is Hamilton's team, and with that being the case, Button is doing a great job. I do think that Mclaren in a way might force Button to use alternate strategies, something which Button is open to since his style suits it, so sometimes I'd just like to see him in a straight fight with similar strategies to everyone else. I guess that is just the outcome when he generally starts from a lower grid position than his team-mate.


Come on Mr. Serious - say what you really think.


Fully agree with your three first points.

Regarding who's to be 2011 Champs... I'm afraid still the Bulls are too strong,and we will see too many times someone's finger waving triumphantly.

The Kitchen Cynic

A Ferrari declared illegal? Wow, times have changed...


Yeah, I miss the usual "Ferrari International Assistance" banter here...


I can start it again if you'd prefer Jose


Can we say Blundell falls into the category "British International Steward" after letting Ham, But & Buemi go away with purple under yellow flags.



Also Webber. So are you saying that because

Mark Blundell is British, he lets British drivers (Hamilton & Button) plus Buemi & Webber (you forgot him) off a penalty scot- free?

What about the other three (or was it four) Stewards/Judges of fact? Were they British too?

If anyone was on a purple lap it was because 1 they were on good tyres at the time, or 2 lightening fuel load

I realise any sort of argument in favour of anything British will not suit you, but lets hope Mark Blundell has an expensive lawyer.


Wouldn't of made a difference to either Mclaren's position, sensible stewarding from the whole team.


to be fair it was just insane that talk anyways.


been thinking about the ferrari this year and why it lacks downforce. it leads me to think that there double diffuser last year must have been awesome for them to have slipped so far back this year. its not as if it is a massive rule change over the winter and there already used to kers. the last maximum downforce track was singapore and fernando won that race so this weekend should be interesting.


Some points as I see them:

- Last year Ferrari was nowhere close to Red Bull in downforce.

- Singapur is a track where high speed corners are not really importat, it was mainly based in braking stability and traction, both good characteristics of the F10

-Alonso made an incredible lap in Q3, the quickest car was Red Bull, said by Horner. Alonso risked a lot, he is reported as privately reckoning he almost crashed

- For tracks where downforce is important, just whatch the results of Turkey, Spain and Hungary. There, the RBR was quicker by a mile

- So this year situation is no surprise in the sense Ferrari team is still struggling and trying to find again the correct inernal organization and processes that make a team competitive today. Too much change in the relevant persons and ban in testing have made massive damage to the performance of the team


Gené said on spanish TV that starts problems of Alonso were a mix of missfortune on choosen path and mechanical disadvantages of Ferrari's car. It was in this Spanish GP when Ferrari incorporated a new clutch, since they couldn't use this new clutch in last Turkey GP, because it was related to the engine problems they suffered.

So since yesterday, I expect better starts in Ferrari and particularly Alonso, in the way he did when on Renault.


That's correct. And last Sunday the reaction time was really good. I just hope the car is not lacking pace now they have the oportunity of making good starts

Michael Grievson

I think Stefano's job could be on the line if they don't win soon.


Stefano himself wanted to quit at the end of the 2010 season until he was talked into sticking around.


Sums it up, that you mention Massa once in your blog post. Thats about fair for someone seriously underperforming at the moment.

How much longer will Ferrari settle for someone so out of sorts, and a shadow of his past performances?


They might not enjoy it, but I do.


One has to wonder, were Ferrari hiding how far they were behind in testing? Or can it be they did not even find out despite doing over a whole race season of running in the winter.


There's no point stopping development on this years car because whatever they learn this year will directly apply on next years car. Having said that, a championship from here onwards is certainly a tall order...


After Monaco it is not inconceivable that Alonso will be 3 race wins behind Vettel (i.e. 75 points). OK, there are plenty of races left but the problem for Ferrari is that their car isn't close to winning a race compared to the Mclaren or Red Bull. Alonso can forget the title this season and Ferrari would do well to concentrate on next year. Depressing for them maybe but realistic I think.



I disagree a bit with your analysis. When Alonso pitted the 2nd time, he was on a relatively new set of softs and yet Hamilton was quicker than him on a set of softs that was used for 10 laps, barely quicker but still quicker.

So Ferrari was much slower on both sets of tyres. The gap showed afterwards because both Hamilton & Vettel were free to do their race. Only Webber got trapped much longer, which by the way helped Button grab the podium.

When the gap is this immense on both sets of tyres, it's no longer a question of being harsh or gentle on tyres, it's as you rightly mentioned about lack of downforce, a huge lack of downforce.

The situation clearly worsen with the harder compound but it was disparate anyway.


THat is noted in the text if you look at what I say about the gap after the soft tyre phase and then the hard tyre phase


Did RBR/McLaren make a big step forward


What was different about the Spain GP was the extended gap managed by RBR/McLaren to the rest of the field. All the other teams were lapped by Vettel/Hamilton.

In previous races, the gaps were much closer till the end of the race which might hint that the 12 updates brought by McLaren & the unknown number brought by RBR made a difference the other teams weren't able to match.

That might help explain why Ferrari was nowhere near them pace-wise yet comfortably ahead of the others : Mercedes, Renault, etc....

Only a suggestion, can't wait for the technical analysis of the GP


Comfortably ahead Mercedes and Renault? Yeah, I can see there is only one Ferrari for you. How do you rate the work of its driver related to the car then, by some kind of adivination?

Otherwise, I agree with most of our post. I think the downforce advantage of Red Bull and the aero / suspension / style of Hamilton helped a lot this race, but with the super softs lets see if McLaren is as close to the Red Bull as in this race



I read somewhere that Colin knowles was seriously considering protesting if the teams do not sort out the engine mapping before Monaco. Seeing as this is such a short turn around are the other teams doing anything or just calling his bluff?



Colin Knowles? Does he work for the council? Kolles, yes. He's playing his hand and we'll see what happens on Saturday in Monaco


Are the teams biting? Do you think they will react and change or is it safety in numbers for the team? No idea where I got knowles from >_<

Michael Prestia

Hope he does it and sends this season in chaos! Otherwise Vettel will win the championship soon.


James this a semi serious question, what's the likelihood of one of the front running teams throwing on a set of options and burying Hispania under the 107% rule, I guess they would have to do it with a charlie whiting approved engine map to keep Hispania from automatically protesting, but I doubt I'm the only person who wouldn't mind seeing that happen after this stunt by Kolles and Co.


I've heard it mentioned elsewhere that he will keep that protest in his pocket until the HRTs finish in front of the Virgins. The problem with protesting when HRT finished behind those other teams is that it opens up the possibility of cars finishing ahead of HRT being promoted into the points, and thus rendering the promoted team uncatchable by HRT in the WCC.


Sorry should say Colin Kolles. And it was from the BBC. Thanks


Ferrari weren't the only 'big' team having problems in Barcelona - what about Mercedes? Their pace was even worse than Ferrari!

A lot of talk during the build up to the weekend was about Mercedes bringing some big aero upgrades to the car (after they had finally found some balance in Turkey). The team were hoping they would improve their car more than the opposition and this would allow them to "close the gap".

In the end they seemed to drop even further behind, with both Michael and Nico being lapped by Red Bull and McLaren, and if i'm not mistaken they also finished a good 25 seconds behind Alonso despite all of his problems. So this was a pretty terrible performance by Mercedes when compared to their rivals - they didn't seem to find much performance at all.

And i don't it's anything to do with the drivers - between the two of them Michael and Nico will always drag the maximum out of an F1 car... unfortunately for them I think they've being given a pretty bad one for the second season in a row.

I enjoyed the race on Sunday, but as a Mercedes fan it's pretty hard to watch. I was really hoping they'd be up there this season, at least being able to compete. At the moment it feels like Red Bull and possibly McLaren are in a completely different league, with Mercedes seemingly incapable of doing anything about it.


Mate, you are insulting Ferrari by putting them on the similar level with ex-honda team man. As much as I want to see them in the mix, what have they done in the past apart from showing that they are the champions at going backward.


Nico was on the podium only a few weeks ago. Things aren't as bad as you say! Don't get too depressed, Ross Brawn is on the case.


I don't think we know or saw the true pace of the Merc in Spain. Rosberg stayed less than a second behind MSc for the majority of the race so obviously could go a lot faster. I think MSc could have as well.

It is a shame the circuit is so poorly designed. Regardless of DRS and KERS it was tyre performance difference that proved the only way to overtake and with MSc calling the shots on when to come in for new rubber, Rosberg needed a mistake from MSc to show his true pace.

Ferrari on the other hand benefitted from the nature of the circuit to a great extent. Once in front Alonso was able to dictate the pace of the race with only Button trying his own route with pitstops.

The dreadful perfomance of the Ferrari on the hard tyres put paid to any hope of a podium.

Was it the set-up that did for them? Did Alonso/Ferrari concentrate too much on qually and getting the softs to work? Could more downforce have got the hards to work with a sacrifice of top speed?

This new clutch of theirs seems to have moved them forward a bit and promises more in Monaco. Either that or a pile-up on the start.

Don't despair. I think the Merc is better than it appeared in Spain. MSc was concentrating on keeping Rosberg behind him throughout the race and this meant compromising lap times. Once Monaco is over I think we will see the results coming. A podium or two is not beyond hope in the first few races.

At the moment they appear to be behind RB, McL and one Ferrari. The season has a fair way to go yet. The real problem for Merc is the ability of the teams in front, especially RB and McL, to improve their cars. Merc is playing catch-up.


Hi James,

I wondered what your opinion was on Alonso saying after Spain he still believes he can fight for the championship. I'm a fan but surely there is no chance for him to win the title in a Ferrari? I'm just wondering if this is diplomacy or if he actually believes he really still can win it.

This Ferrari team is very poor in my opinion (which they were anyway before Todt, Brawn, Byrne) so I guess I can't be that surprised. They are weak in every area; downforce, design, tyreuse, strategy, starts, KERS, DRS and pitwork. For instance...Mclaren might have the best KERS, Red Bull have the best design/downforce...even Mercedes have the best DRS....but Ferrari aren't superior in a single area. Even in areas which don't require a quick car (pit stop speed, strategy) they have yet to demonstrate one solid race. I heard the excuse of the wind tunnel....but given their high standards, what is the excuse for mediocrity in every area?


I agree on that.

I would like to see Alonso doing better this year but its hard to see Vettel losing the championship. Most of all is the consistency of his results that puts a limit to any other driver's hopes for the championship. RBRs had no reliability problems (excl. KERS of course) so far and funny enough, I can't recall any of the top teams having such problems. So if the tyre situation remains the same and RBR can save tyres in quali Vettel should have it in the pocket. Add on the quick pit stops that the RBR crew does there is not much other teams can do.

So if Alonso comes anywhere near the championship this year would be an amazing achievement. What bothers me is that he had to dig deep into his "bravery" reserves for the quali and the start of the race in Spain. Sounds a bit desperate and even dangerous...


There's a long way to go. They came back last year, but Red Bull and Vettel were making mistakes last year. They aren't making many this year....



There's a long, long way for Ferrari to catch up... 110 points behind Red Bull in the Constructors Championship... do you think Ferrari can catch up?

There doesnt seem to be much optimism in the team - and Stefano saying they didnt expect to do well in Spain doesn't really give out great signals... especially with both their cars light-years off the pace of Red Bull & McLaren at the moment.

P.S. Love the website.



I doubt Ferrari will win another WCC for some time seeing as Alonso doesn't like good team mates and the RB/McLaren/Merc boys are all pretty evenly matched


That's very harsh. Do you not recall Massa in 2006-2008? He was fantastic and won plenty of races.

Grayzee (Australia)

Great article hightlighting Ferrari's woes. It would seem that the huge gap between the hard a soft Pirelli's has cought them out.It reminds me of when Schumacher went to Ferrari in 1996, and it took 4 years to win the championship.....followed by 4 more in a row!


Schumi had a significant tyre advantage in those championship years, so perhaps his undoubted skills were a little flattered.

With everyone now on the same rubber, Ferrari's built-in advantage has gone. Couple that with the loss of the key people who were around during that time, and perhaps Ferrari are just finding their natural level again.

When I hear the pronouncements coming out of Maranello about their performance this season, it almost seems like they feel they're entitled to be at the top. This rubs me the wrong way. No team stays at the top forever, and even Adrian Newey hasn't won every season he's competed in.

I hope that the teams continue to enforce and improve the resource limitation rules, so that engineering skills will win out more and more, rather than who's got the deepest pockets. It would be great to see the likes of Williams, Sauber or Lotus (the green and yellow one, that is) be able to challenge the big budget teams on a more equal footing.


Hi James,

Typically good article. I remember Ferrari struggling on the hard tyres in Melbourne as well. So the super hard tyres were probably expected to give them trouble.

McLaren's race pace was astonishing. Even though Vettel was without KERS for some of the race, Hamilton seemed faster than him even when he did have KERS. Seeming as RB were obviously faster round the very high speed corners, McLaren must have been better in the slow - medium speed corners.

Taking this into Monaco, you've got to say McLaren could be favourites and Martin Whitmarsh seems to agree:-

"Our Barcelona race pace, in particular our sector three times, looked very respectable indeed last weekend - and hopefully that will give us a good idea of what to expect at Monaco, because it’s a slow, stop-start section of the track. I think one of the strengths of the MP4-26 is its low-speed grip and traction, so I think we should be in good shape from the start of the weekend."

Do you think McLaren may be the team to beat?


My bet's on Vettel taking Monaco from pole unless he makes a major mistake, and then McLaren's straight line speed taking the win in Canada for Hamilton.


yes james

who do you think will be strong at monaco this weekend ? have mclaren got a chance to beat red bull around he principality ?

who is your money on for the win ?


I was reading dominicalli's post-race comments and what stood out is the repeated mention of "We have to be careful, we have to be very careful..."

They got lapped and all he can say is let's be careful? It may be time to get some new people in there. You know, people with some balls!


I thought the teams are able to review changes with FAI before actually building parts and testing on the car.

Thus Ferrari would have known that the rear wing did not meet the spirit of the regs.

I hope they have something better up their sleeves.


No team has a God given right to win, that's one of the pronlems with Ferrari as they believe they do.

Shame that McLaren didn't win if only in so far as it'd would have lessened the points gap and made the championship a little more interesting. I fear Vettel will be champion way before the last race of 2011 and he'll go down as the best driver of 2011 which from what I've seen so far is simply not the case.

I wonder if all the team principles could pick any one driver for their team who would be the most popular?


Agree. They'd make a b-line for Alonso or Hamilton, probably in that order but it'd be close.

But unfortunately Vettel is the perfect racer for modern F1. He is fast and consistent.

With artificial mechanisms like DRS and KERS in play, and tyre management more important than ever, the overtaking skills fans value in Alonso and Hamilton are less valuable.

For example, in Spain, the ineffectiveness of DRS, the track layout and the RBR's downforce advantage meant Hamilton sped right up to Vettel and then hit a brick wall.

If it was another track (obv not Monaco) where DRS was effective, Vettel would not have been able to defend. It would be a complete 360 to Spain.

Sad really, because I don't watch F1 to see a moveable rear wing or a battery win a race.


to cjf and Marcus.

"It’s not really clear if he has outperformed the car he has been given, I think Alonso/Hamilton in similarly dominant car would probably have performed as well as he has." And there we have it. With Vettel cancelling out his mistakes of last year and being a more complete driver, that perception has certainly been turned on it's head. Alonso's up and down performances last year and this year has to be questioned, there's no consistency in his racecraft and delivery.


It's not often that I see eye to eye with an Alonso fan, but I agree with nando. If only Alonso fans could be more rational like this...


Alonso didn't win the title in the Ferrari though... I don't buy Alonso as the most complete driver on the grid, if you only want to win a drivers championship he might well be.

To me complete driver must also include being able to work with a competitive team-mate giving the best opportunity to winning both championships.


Um...are you serious? His up and down form last year? Lets get it straight, if Vettel was in a Ferrari last year, he would not have won the title. So we can respect your opinion, but at the end of last year when the team bosses were asked which driver they would pick, the majority said Alonso. That is more of a certainty than your theory of perceptions turned on its head...absurd. lol.


They actually had a little competition after the last race last year and post of team principles picked Alonso!


They picked Alonso based on his form fighting for the championship. Vettel has been near perfect and the best driver so far this year, followed closely by Hamilton, and only a disillusioned F1 fan would think otherwise

Marcus in Canada

I don't think I'm disillusioned, but I would pick Alonso. Ask yourself this: if they switched cars who would be doing better? I think Alonso is the best right now at maximizing any given situation. I bet the team principles, and his fellow drivers would agree.


His performance needs to be put into context, It's easy to look good when you are driving a car that is comfortably faster than the competition.

I think that Vettel has certainly upped his game this year and but I would be interested to see how he fares if McLaren/Ferrari begin to match the performance of Redbull and he is subject to a bit more pressure.

It's not really clear if he has outperformed the car he has been given, I think Alonso/Hamilton in similarly dominant car would probably have performed as well as he has.


i think they might flip your little world upside down and pick vettel. if you seriously think that vettel hasnt been the best driver this year there is something very wrong. vettel has been perfect when it mattered most. fact.

Michael Prestia

I hope Kolles is true to his word and protests the off throttle blown diffuser in Monaco.


How long before Ferrari are using renault engines?


Ferrari has been slowly losing it's edge since Jean Todt left. What they need is a little of that drab, hard-nosed Northern European influence. Two words for them. Ross Brawn.


Alonso is driving the ferrari far quicker than it is capable of going something like Senna did in the first 3 races of 1994....pole in the 1st 3 gps....Ferrari should give up on this car and concentrate on the 2012 car they dont have a hope this year 🙂


By definition a car cannot be made to go faster than it is capable of by any driver since the car has finite capability. I would agree, however, that different drivers will get more / less out of a given car but that is a measure of driver skill and would always be a subset of the car's capability in both cases. I could imagine a hypothetical future robot driver that would be a better driver than ALO, VET etc but even then it would still not be able to exceed the car capability.


you dont say !! 🙂


But if they don't have real tests, how to check if they are designing something useful or just another dog of a car? They have to try hard this year, even if they don't win asingle race


Mark is a broken man?

What is Massa?


Massa has to make up his own mind. Hanging around like this or simply go.


the f150 is a lemon ....only its painted red 😉


Go easy on the lemons! Lemons are full of vitamin C, excellent in tea and generally very good for you.

Now we know why Ford didn't want their excellent King Ranch F150 confused with other products.


hello allen, one question can ferrari cut the rear wing pillar (post ) for 30mm ? in that case maximum height will be 920mm from flor of car plus these new gurney flap 30mm that legal?

sorry for bad english

David Turnedge

Still 2mm out, mate.


ok then cut pillar to 918mm and whole rear wing will be drop down...i mean is that legal to rise and drop rear wing is any regulation that sad must stay at that position or height?


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!!!!!


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.


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??? are clearly

misreading the data from the race!

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.


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!


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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..


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

pert time viewer

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


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!


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?


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?


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?


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.


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.


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

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