Ferrari gets another mid season technical shot in the arm
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Jul 2011   |  8:34 am GMT  |  119 comments

Leaving aside whatever benefit they may have accrued from the chopping and changing of rules over the off throttle engine mapping, the Ferrari worked well in Silverstone because of some key updates.

This time last year Fernando Alonso said that despite being a long way behind in the points, he could fight for the world championship.

Alonso was saying this because of the updates Ferrari had made to its 2010 car. They didn’t really show in Valencia and Silverstone because Alonso had problems with safety cars in both races, but he knew his car had been transformed.

And he was proved correct, the championship was in his hands as the start lights went out in Abu Dhabi. But he didn’t get his fairy tale ending.

This year the points gap – Alonso is 92 points behind Vettel – is more or less unbridgeable in ten remaining races, which is why the Spaniard isn’t making any promises. But Ferrari have done it again and revamped his car so he can fight Red Bull.

After qualifying a tenth behind the pole sitter in Silverstone, Alonso said, “I think it is the best qualifying in terms of the gap to pole position of the year. We have been more or less, on average, one second or seven-tenths in the last couple of races, and here in Silverstone, on a circuit that normally is not our preference in terms of lay-out and characteristics, with these high speed corners, being one-tenth off the pole is good news for us. The new parts we brought here are working well and (I’m) pleased with qualifying.”

And the car was faster relative to the Red Bull in the race than it was in qualifying as well as easier on its tyres.

Most obvious and eye catching of the updates was a new rear wing without a central pillar which also had a new mobile DRS activation. Silverstone requires a wing with less DRS effect because there are lots of high speed corners, where you want to shed drag, but still maintain plenty of downforce. It’s not traditionally been a strong Ferrari circuit in confrontation with Red Bull, but they got it just right this year.

In qualifying Alonso’s pace through sector 2 was comparable to the Red Bulls – when DRS activation is allowed. But in the race, when DRS use is not allowed, the Ferraris were half a second faster, showing that they’d pitched the level right on the DRS wing, so it’s effectiveness “or authority” as engineers call it was still high.

Ferrari also had a new rear suspension layout, which wasn’t a silver bullet but did contribute to Alonso feeling the car more to his liking.

There was a modification on the exhaust position, to improve the efficiency of the blown diffuser, notwithstanding the moving target that was the ruling on how much engines were allowed to blow them when the driver lifts off the throttle.

It should also be pointed out that Ferrari was helped by the wet start to the race which meant that drivers were not required to use the hard tyre at any stage in the race. This has been a weakness for the Ferrari. It would have been interesting to see how the updates might have helped their performance on harder tyres, but chances are Alonso would have been under more pressure in the final stage of the race.

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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

I know it’s early days and feelings may still be tender within the team, but I would be interested to have some insight into the changes that Pat Fry brought to this year’s development programme at Ferrari.

At the time, Luca di Montezemolo made reference to unreliable data from the wind-tunnel testing, etc. But is it possible that the relatively recent re-org has had such a quick impact? Or were some of the improvements we noted this weekend already in the can?

James: If you get a change to do another Domenicali Q&A …


Hi James i totally agree with your coments regarding Ferraris development and in particular with the scenario if they had used hard tyres, then we could say they have improved. For example, at spain ferrari were good on the softs but struggled with the hards?. Mclaren seem to strugle and looks to be with their hot blown diffuser engine mapping restrictions. At Valencia, the engine mapping has to be the same as qualifying spec, but the Mclarens suffered from rear tyre issues, Mclaren have said they know what went wrong? and now FIA have decided to go back to Valencia settings in terms of engine mapping?. I cant wait for the German GP to see how the field ramps up. Mclaren needs to improve their development and to me looks like they got lost with the blown diffuser off throtle saga.


I see no reason why Alonso can’t have a go at Vettel.

We’re not even half way through the season yet and Ferrari appear to have emerged with the fastest car.

All you need is a couple of wins by Alonso and a couple of stumbles by Vettel and its wide open again


After Pat Fry joined Ferarri recently, the noticable increase in pace is evident from Alonso and Massa. A little late in the championships charge but as a fan it’ll be great for the upcoming races and hope McLaren will improve too.

The best part in F1 is the pressure drivers impart to one another with neck to neck racing, makes it more bearable to watch than a runaway team, cruising to victory race after race.

Let’s hope Vettel takes the WDC somewhere during the last two or three races. RBR is too reliable this year and any hopes for Vettel’s scoreless race will be rare this year although not impossible.

Also wish Webber attain more points to keep his morale on the up. I have a soft spot for Mark sincerely. It does hurt being reminded he’s a number two.

As for Massa I do wish he’ll do much better too. Being kept out of the pits repeatedly has been very painful for him, you don’t feel that with Lewis and Jenson.


Clearly, Ferrari’s development is to be applauded, as has McLaren’s in previous years.

In order to challenge whoever is fastest out of the box, however, there needs either to be a better basic package or a faster pace of development.

The former is probably set in stone by definition but the latter is variable and achievable, if timeous. The question, of course, is how. I can’t help but feel on-track testing is relevant here.

So, I have to return to a view I expressed some months ago that limited testing has to be orgainised in such a way that it is not inaffordable, possibly by charging the public for entry to well attended sessions, perhaps with autograph sessions or whatever. On the basis the cost was considerably less than an actual GP, I would pay to attend such an event at a circuit within reasonable travel (for me Silverstone, Brands Hatch being sadly out of the question these days).

Edward Valentine

I enjoy the innovative and tech sides of F1 just as much as the on track action but would it not be better to standardise some of the aero parts on all the cars such as having the same front and rear wings or a standardised diffuser? This would surely level the field with enough margin to innovate other parts of the car.


Webber, Alonso, De La Rosa, Trulli, Schumacher… people on the pitlane who knows how to discuss with the enginers. Hamilton, Vettel, Raikonnen, people on the pitlane who have a seat on the car every sunday and driver as fast as they can on saturdays (very well, of course).

I’m really impressed of seeing bad performances due to bad tuning in McLaren on free practices.



Do you think Redbull are likley to keep securing Vettel and Webber because they could pass a few winning technical ideas to other teams?


Employees tend to move around in F1 on a regular basis, so knowledge that is unique to one team generally becomes common knowledge in the paddock.


“Employees tend to move around in F1 on a regular basis, so knowledge that is unique to one team generally becomes common knowledge in the paddock.”

So much for Ferrari making a big fuss about the leaks from its own Nigel Stepney. More than a whiff of a fake scandal.


So much for McLaren making a big fuss about the actions of Phil Mackareth!

When I consider the different noises that came out of Woking in the two cases, I am reminded of a comment made by the great Ron Dennis, which all who have viewed the Senna movie should remember: “Where is the consistency?”


god help everybody else in f1 if ferrari, alonso and newey ever get together. the records books would be rewrote.


Lethal Weapon. LOL.


Mr Allen your thoughts.

Would one be correct to assume Mr Pat Fry

has lot to do with Ferrari performance, since

him being in charge of shassis it did not take

long to bear the fruit, in addition outside

Shumi the next best man on the grid to develop

a car is Allonso would you agree.


Fry is in charge so he’s responsible, yes


This is exactly why I rate Alonso the best. He can offer team direction to work with when there is no Adrian Newey in their team. More importantly, he will deliver the good and expose the bad enginerring work.


To be honest, maybe this is why RBR wants to keep Webber (or did before that team order issue).

Newey has always been behind Mark. Maybe he provides the better feedback than Vettel?


Thanks for explaining how Ferrari’s good showing at Silverstone was not handed to them by the FIA’s clumsy midseason rule-rewriting.

Off topic, James: The new layout with all the loud graphics — it’s just NSFW! With the old layout it was much easier for me to sneak a peek during the day. Still, I love all you give us on your site, so thanks as always.

Andrew Woodruff

+1 (assuming NSFW means ‘not safe for work’!)


Wasn’t Alonso a second faster on average on S2?.

If I remember well they tested a little the hard tyre on free practice and it worked very well.

I hope Ferrari is up there with RB for the rest of the season, it’s on our own interest, I want exciting races till the end and inside the top 3 drivers, not Vettel running away from lap 1.


Great stuff James, I love your technical posts.

It was metioned in the article about DRS use in qualifying, I think it should be banned and left as an overtaking device in the race (where I think overall it has been a success). I can see no benefit to the show etc of unlimited use in qualifying and think it should be banned (at the end of the season). Does anybody know why it is allowed and if there are any plans to ban it?


I would like to see where the RBR’s qualify when they can not use the DRS all over the track.

I understand that all teams do use it, but was it not at Turkey that the report came back that Vettel was using the DRS a whole apex earlier than everyone else in diabolico?



Have any of you contacts at Ferria indicated how much time they think they gained becuase of the exhaust blown diffuser ban/non ban?


It is becoming clear to me that the aerodynamic performance of a car seems more limited by the performance of the design tools* available to the teams, rather than a raft of different ideas on each car.

* i.e. the fidelity of the team’s wind tunnel testing and the understanding the teams have of their tunnels. Their correlation from track, to tunnel, to CFD and how they perform numerical analyses, boundary conditions and so forth.

Going out on a limb, I predict McLaren will unearth wind-tunnel problems within the next 12 months. They had to do a hotfix back in 2009 – the tunnel may need recalibration again.


Jarno Trulli is highly rated as a development driver, according to Mike Gascoyne. Maybe he could go to McLaren and help to set up Lewis’s car for him. He can’t have long left in the Lotus.


There’s barely a role for development drivers in F1 under current testing rules unless in a racing seat.


In 2007, Ron Dennis told F1 Racing that Alonso’s presence in the McLaren team “[prevented] an F1 team from going down [time wasting] technical cul-de-sacs – and as a result, car-developmental progress becomes more linear.”

F1 Racing, May 2007, pp. 48–56.

Perhaps this is what McLaren has been missing as the season progressed both last year and this year.


Is it so terrible that Hamilton wants to win….and not come second or third whether that be driving in a McLaren or a Ferrari, both of which have not delivered although of the two teams McLaren has been more successful this year.

We know you don’t like Hamilton but apart from that I don’t understand what point you are trying to make!


Ferrari may have only won one race, but the team has continually closed the gap to Red Bull.

One driver (who races for neither Ferrari nor Red Bull) has been threatening to leave his team due to what he claims is a lack of competitiveness that it offers. Obviously this driver feels that his team is failing.


Ferrari have managed to win only one race! LdM was sharpening his axe only a month ago.

Not sure how one could ever assert that other teams have failed more than Ferrari whenthey themselves made a poor start to the season!


Given the praise that Ron lavished on Alonso, I find that unlikely. However, if he was leading Ferrari down a blind alley, he has certainly become aware of the situation and rectified matters, just as he did last year!

It is a great shame that drivers in other teams haven’t done likewise as it would make the sport more interesting.


And perhaps not. Alonso could have been leading Ferrari down a cul de sac for the first half of the season!

Perahps Ferrari are missing a deadly combination of two quality drivers instead of 1.5 drivers.


Ferrari do make impressive mid-season improvements, much more so than McLaren, for example. The trouble is that Ferrari are never the innovators, they’re always adding things to their car retrospectively after seeing another team do it, like the f-duct or off-throttle blowing, meaning they rarely have a fully-integrated package, it’s all bolt-on pieces.

This means they’re always playing catch-up in the championship. They should have won it last year but you feel that 92 points is too much this year, unless Vettel loses the plot or Red Bull suddenly have major reliability issues.

Perhaps after the technical team revamp earlier this season, the ‘conservatism’ they talked about in the design office will disappear and Ferrari will be more aggressive in design and be competitive from the start of the season and have a better chance of winning the championship.

Newey is a great designer but in my opinion his expertise is being magnified by the shortcomings of the others. Ferrari have proved that Adrian Newey is not the be all and end all of car design because they annihilated Newey cars with Rory Byrne, even when Newey was at McLaren, a team with a comparable budget to Ferrari.


Now if Ferrari are smart and sign up Webber for next year… imagine the loads of Red Bull Racing technical knowledge Pat Fry could extract from him.


Ferrari seemed determined to start this year with a basic car and planned to win the upgrade war. Problem was RBR just plain built a car with immense downforce and primed to top qualifying.

The Red Bull is hard on it’s tyres when following anyone. This is apparent for Webber as he’s rarely leading in clean air, but was invisible on Vettel since he blitzes quali so easily and even when he’s not been on pole he’s ended up leading most of this years laps.

But watching Vettel behind at Silverstone, his tyres were dying as quick as Webber’s. He needed to constantly find puddles to aid cooling and overheated the hell out of them (probably ideal for getting that one-stop quali lap for pole). It’s a perfect circle for Vettel – fast heat – grab pole, stay ahead, conserve tyres. But as soon as he’s locked in behind, those tyres die.

Someone should just prime their car for a pole winning blitz and force Vettel into a chasing mode and he’d be in the pits all day long, leading to more mistakes and more chances to catch them. Though I fear it’s too late, even for a resurgent Ferrari to do much.

McLaren – well, during winter testing they were floundering, then the came up with half a second or so by risking a clone of the RBR exhaust and have won two races (admittedly one through strategy and one through Button’s career best changing conditions rally) so I don’t doubt they can get their act together in bursts. They need to take some risks.


Tortoise and Hare strategy… it’s been around for years! It was big at Le Mans, where teams would instruct one car to push to try to raise the pace of the competitors, knowing they may sacrifice one of their cars to increase the chances of failure for a competitor.

I would like to see it tried, however! Certainly would make for an exciting race.


“Someone should just prime their car for a pole winning blitz and force Vettel into a chasing mode and he’d be in the pits all day long, leading to more mistakes and more chances to catch them.”

I suggest you look at what happened at Barcelona this year for a an example of what Vettel would do, when after the first turn he was in 2nd place yet still won, after also having a faster car at that time on his tail for a fair chunk of the race – do not take Silverstone as an example of what Vettel has to do, as now he is simply in points scoring mode and was also not comfortable with the car after a front wing change at the poor stop, so decided not to go in to full attack mode v Hamilton.


I think Ferrari had a good car in wintertesting, however due to their windtunnel issues, it was developed in the wrong direction. By the time they found out about it, they were at least a month behind.

How much it has hurt them nobody knows but the WDC would have been more interesting than it is now.


We already know this info. Lewis can walk at the end of this season if he is not WDC or the team is not WDC. Both of which are unlikely hey?


Sorry, team is not WCC. Typos! Grrrr!


Can’t help thinking McLaren are placing too much faith in their simulator to the extent that it is now too dominant in the car development ‘package’. A simulator is obviously a vital part of the overall mix – the McLaren system is probably the envy of the field by some distance…. but it cannot do everything can it! Regardless of how many millions are thrown at it. I fear my favourite team – following it’s core ethos of bringing technical brilliance to the fore – has reached the point now where the extreme level of investment dictates an unhealthy emphasis on the simulator that is actually limiting their development effectiveness.

Look at me; I even tried to use some of my own Ron-speak in this post!

My solution is simple; scour the entire earth for some special HUMAN talent. Someone born with the strange ability to ‘see’ how air works (like Newey can). And give them as much air-time as the simulator crew.



I’ll briefly add; no simulator ever came up with an idea.


The problem for Mclaren in the last two years is this; having both Jenson and Lewis does not work, no matter how well they get along or how good they are in the car. Lewis and Jenson are different drivers in terms of how they want the car to behave and both want to win. How can Mclaren hope to develop a championship winning car that suits the two different driving styles?

It won’t happen and they just cannot afford to continue like that while their competition (Red Bull and Ferrari) clearly have their preferred driver. The Ferrari is developed around Alonso and the Red Bull around Vettel yet Mclaren are sitting on the fence and winning nothing. Mclaren must have the balls to choose between their two drivers and develop the car around that driver.

If it was my decision I would let Jenson go at the end of this season, focus car development around Hamilton (if he stays) and get a proper number two driver capable of delivering decent points and even race wins once in a while. Someone like Di Resta comes to mind for me. Don’t get me wrong. I think Jenson is a fantastic driver, but Mclaren cannot develop a car in two directions. It’s like insisting on playing Gerrard and Lampard in the same team just because they are both great players even though the combination does not work and the team wins nothing.

It’s better to have Heikki for a team mate and win the championship that have Lewis and someone like Alonso or Jenson as teammates and win nothing (though for the constructors’ you may want better than Heikki).


Ferrari’s development in season has been good, this year; but it could have been even better if they’d not had issues with the windtunnel. They would have been matching/beating Red Bull earlier in the season, without the windtunnel issues.

McLaren on the other hand seem to be struggling with the developments, and often bring items that don’t work, or don’t work as well as they’d hoped. They need to sort this out, or their drivers will probably be seeking alternative employment.

Ferrari, need to design a car that is fast at the begining of the season, and then develop at the same rate, to challenge for both titles. The Ferrari in the last 2 seasons has looked pretty good in Pre-Season testing, only to be slow at the races, fix this issue, and we’d have closer racing.


Hi James. Good article but I don’t think Ferrari would have struggled with the hard tyre and I think the assumption that the regulation aided them is overblown. (Pun intended)

Here is a good analysis.

Prior to Silverstone, I recall Fernando Alonso stating that some development, to be introduced at Silverstone, was in the pipeline that would hopefully see him challenge the Red Bull’s. I pretty sure Ferrari have turned their season around all be it a little late.

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