F1 Winter Break
How is Alonso leading the championship with that car and what happens next?
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  28 May 2012   |  11:05 am GMT  |  321 comments

Fernando Alonso sits on top of the drivers’ standings this morning after his third place finish in the Monaco Grand Prix.

But it is more than surprising that Alonso is in this position, given how poor the Ferrari car was in pre-season testing and the early season races. So how has it happened? Consistency has certainly been the key for Alonso who, along with Hamilton is the only driver to have scored points in every race so far. But there’s more to it than that. The tyres play their part in this story, inevitably, the misfortunes of others have their part to play too.

Alonso’s lowest scoring race was China, where he finished only 9th, but he’s been on the podium three times, one of them a win in Malaysia and where no better result has been possible, he’s managed to pick up a fifth and a seventh place.

In contrast his rivals have been more erratic: Webber and Vettel have both had a non points finish, Button has had three non finishes. Hamilton has scored in every race, with three third places early on, but then pit stop and operational issues hit him in the last three races as well as a lack of pace on race day.

Key factors in their favour are that Ferrari has consistently the best starts and the best pit stops of any team at the moment. Alonso has made up many places at the start: 13 places in the first five races and another one on Sunday in Monaco, Massa has made up 23 in total. They’ve had to do this because the Ferrari hasn’t qualified very well; going into the Monaco GP on Sunday Alonso was averaging only 8th on the supergrid, which aggregates all the drivers’ qualifying times – behind the Red Bulls, McLarens, Mercedes and Grosjean.

This is the key area where Ferrari need to improve in the second half of the season, as the leading teams will get on top of the tyre issues and we’ll start to see a more consistent picture in races. To consolidate his position Ferrari need to give Alonso a car that will qualify more strongly.

“If you are fighting for pole position, and even on pole position, then the race is totally different,” said team boss Stefano Domenicali after the race. “This is something we need to keep focusing on to make sure things are going in the right direction. In terms of the pure performance of the car, we had a very difficult start. We have a situation where we are not happy and where we want to improve the car because we have seen other cars at the moment have pole positions, and we do not. So that has to be a target for the team.”

Alonso revealed how he has been approaching each weekend, “We wanted to be ahead of Hamilton and Vettel this weekend and we did it,” he said post race. “In this championship, at every race you have to concentrate on different drivers and next time we’ll need to keep ahead of Webber. We’re on top of the table; if you’d said that to me after Melbourne, I’d never have believed it. We have to keep improving the car because we are not yet the fastest. The next two weeks will be very important.”

Ferrari has clearly improved the car a lot in traction out of low speed corners, which helped in Barcelona and Monaco and will help out of the chicanes and hairpins of Montreal. However another key weak point is straight line speed and this is not straight forward to fix.

Ferrari has a major update coming for Montreal, and their history in recent years shows that they’ve often taken a significant upturn around June. The 2010 campaign, for example, started slowly but from Canada onwards Alonso won races and was in the championship hunt.

This time round he’s already ahead on points and, if Ferrari repeat their progress of 2010, he must be considered the favourite for the title.

While the other top teams are putting on updates to find more speed and then having to take them off again because the priority is to set the car up first to extract the best from the tyres, Ferrari seems to have a good way with the tyres, particularly at the end of the stints; Alonso again made up a place, on Hamilton, in Monaco thanks to pace at the end of the stint.

It was noticeable also that of the front runners, who were struggling to get the new soft tyres warmed up after the pit stop on Sunday, Alonso’s tyres were working several laps earlier than Webber and Rosberg. He acknowledged this after the race.

Expert observers at the weekend noted that Alonso had the right technique for driving the Pirelli supersofts, which can get easily damaged by spinning the wheels on corner exit. Alonso seemed to have appreciated that and was getting the cars straight before hitting the throttle, thus looking after them better.

Hindsight shows that he could have jumped Webber and Rosberg at the pit stop by staying out a couple of laps longer on his supersofts. And then with his superior tyre warm up, he would have driven away from them in the lead in the second part of the race for what would have been a dominant win.

But as he said afterwards, no-one would have predicted those tyre warm up issues, so Ferrari cannot consider it a mistake or a win that got away.

For all the latest F1 news post race and for updates posted by the teams and drivers click HERE

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I've not always been the greatest fan of Alonso as a person, but I have been mightily impressed with him this season in particular. He really has dragged every inch of performance out of the car, being aggressive when needed to be and driving very intelligently and patiently in other situations. I was also impressed with him in Malaysia as out of all the drivers, he made the biggest effort (by far) at the fan signing and rather than jumping in the car back to the pits he walked around the crowd signing autographs and taking photos. He clearly is very happy and at home in Ferrari.


I don't know about Alonso being the best driver since Senna, given the likes of Michael, Prost, Hakkinen and such, but he is definitely the best driver in the last 10 years. He beat Michael, twice, in no better than an equal car. Ferrari's stupidity cost him another championship a couple of years ago. He, Lewis and Kimi remain the best driver trio in F1. Everyone else, not named Schumacher, either lucked out big time (Button in that 2-sec-per-lap faster Brawn car) or simply made the best possible use of certain car advantages they had (Vettel, get pole and stay out of DRS reach) or are simply anywhere from mediocre (Webber) to GP2-caliber. This year w/ no technical superiority in any of the cars, at least so far, we will see who indeed is the best driver. And the best driver in my opinion is already leading in the standings.


He beat Schumacher TWICE in an EQUAL car? You honestly think the F2005 on those lame Bridgestones was equal to the Michelin-shod Renault? You can make a case for 2006 (and even then Alonso won because Michael had an engine failure and a fuel-pickup issue in the last 2 races, while LEADING the championship), but 2005 the Ferrari was probably the 5th best car on the grid. The fact that Schumacher came 3rd in the championship with that car is a miracle in itself.


Michael was something else at times in 2006.

I remember China 2006, wet qualifying - all the Bridgestone runners were stacked at the bottom in a pile, except for one in the top 10: Schuey

Also, San Marino that year, I remember Michael effectively suckered Renault into pitting Alonso early to try and leapfrog him when he (Michael) made it appear that he was in tyre trouble.

The guy had class.


Sorry Anop, but your "facts" are incorrect. Firstly, the mass-damper system wasn't banned till after the French GP (2 races after what you originally thought was true) - so the first race where Renault didn't have use of the mass dampers was the German GP (even then the stewards had ruled it as legal, but Renault chose not to run it because they would surely lose the appeal).

Let's look at the first few races too for Schumacher:

In Malaysia, he had a 10 place grid penalty, knocking him out of contention.

In Australia, the Ferraris were shockingly bad at getting heat into their tyres - Massa got knocked out of Q1, Schumacher in Q2. In the race he struggled up to 6th before he ran wide and crashed out.

In Monaco, we all know what happened - Schumacher climbed up the order to finish 5th in the race.

In spite of all these troubles (and with Alonso having a near perfect start), Alonso was leading the championship by 17 points after the French GP. And Schumacher had even more bad luck - he would've definitely won Turkey (if not for the ill-timed SC), and gotten a bunch points in Hungary (wrong strategy to keep him out on worn inters on an almost dry track). In spite of everything, he still came back with *that* win in China to lead the championship with 2 races to go - it was just not meant to be.

I don't buy into this Alonso is the greatest myth - for one, I can't see a Schumacher/Senna in his prime losing to a guy like Trulli, and then getting beaten by a rookie. Just can't see it.


The 2005 Ferrari was not a dog but dog's dinner. Its a miracle Michael took it to 3rd in the championship table. Who remembers Fisi complaining on the radio that pieces of Michael's tires were hitting him but yet couldn't overtake him !


Sorry mate but in 2006 Fernando didn't win because of MSC's issues in last 2 races. You have to go back till Indianapolis when FIA banned Renault's mass damper system and brought MSC back into the championship or else Fernando would have walked away with 2006 title as Sebastian did last year.

Some stats from 2006

First 8 races - max points on table 80.

Fernando had 74. 5 Wins and 3 Second places.

But then he fought back with an inferior car to win it of course. Still if you don't agree then don't forget than in 2006 Fernando should have won in Hungary in wet (Pits stop blunder) and his engine also blew in Monza running 3rd.

Sorry if I ruined your party but those are the facts. Do you agree James?


This +1


I haven't seen a driver extract more from a poor car and put it in contention for the title since Senna's 1993 season.

That year Senna was up against the Williams that were often 1 to 2 seconds faster than his McLaren. But by scoring wet weather wins in Brazil and Donnington, and sneaking away with a somewhat lucky Monaco win, he lead the championship at 1/3 distance.

Alonso has driven to a similar level this year.

In my opinion he is the best since Senna and Schumacher and has been the best driver of the last 10 years.


Personally, I don't think F2012 is that bad at race day, even in Australia their pace (driven by Alonso, sure) was much better than I expected.


Just a reminder of Spain 1996, may be the wettest race ever won decisively by Schumi - genius in inferior car


Good comparison. Although Senna won more races early in 1993 eg Donington and Monaco, plus there wasn't the depth of opposition there is today - only Williams really. But that 1993 Williams should have won the title at a canter


+1 on your post.

Alonso is the reason why I say WDCs like Button and Vettel are overrated.


you mean Button and Webber, rather - Vettel is simply good (not great)


If it was the car for Vettel's achievements, he wouldn't have won last year's championship in such flamboyant style- there would have been cases where supposedly better drivers would have made the difference and caught up to him.


No, I did mean Button and Vettel.

Objectively speaking, at the moment the argument still goes on whether it was the car or driver for Vettel's achievements. Until Vettel does an Alonso, this argument won't end.

And I apply the same to Button's 2009 WDC. He had a car with gigantic advantage to the rest of the field so it was easy for him to pull out a huge lead, and faded in latter half of 2009 (a trait which he repeated in 2010, possibly to tracks not suiting him or he just tends to ... fade).


No, they're not overrated, they're both excellent racing drivers.

Alonso on the other hand is one of the greats, he's peerless at the moment.

And I'm a Button fan lol.


Emphatic absolutness...totally agree


I don't particularly *like* Alonso. I certainly don't root for him. He has a way of setting up a scandal, then somehow walking away while others get the blame. And he does sometimes push the rules Senna/Schumacher style. But boy, you can't knock his ability to extract the last inch from his machinery. Also you get the feeling that where he has a weakness, he's fully aware of it, and knows how to drive around it. Could any other driver on the grid have taken *that* Ferrari to the top of the standings? Hamilton? Schumacher? Vettel? Maldonado?! ! IMHO, no.


Forget Maldonardo!



folkdisco, can you give us an example on how Alonso "push the rules Senna/Schumacher style". I have the impression that Alonso is quite correct on track, and so it said Maldonado about him the other day. Thanks.


IMO i dont actually believe that hes involved, though its hard to believe man as intelligent as him not to know abt these scandals, but i would give benefit of doubt first and if investigation says hes innocent, i believe that hes.

The way i look at it is, usually your racing style reflects your character, and hes always been fair on track, so i believe he could not have done those things.


+1 to both you and Kay.

IMHO, I believe Alonso is the greatest driver in F1 since Senna.


Well said Jake. I feel that the two most talented drivers in F1 today are Alonso and Hamilton. I am an Alonso fan because he came into F1 a bit earlier and made it more challenging after those one-sided Schumi years. I have great respect for Hamilton. Having lived in Germany I saw how misplaced nationality could play a role in supporters thinking that their countrymen are the best and blameless in every incident. Its good that I am neutral and so appreciate both Alonso and Hamilton for their talent.


It is very simple, the Ferrari is a very fast race car, but alonso fans constantly try to play down the car in order to try and resurrect the "Alonso the greatest" nonsense..... as of course the car should be in 15th, but the incomparable genius of fernando drags it up onto the podium.

A simple look at the facts, the times shows us different, the Ferrari is a very fast car a lot of the time in race trim.

To understand the angle, you need to understand the Spanish, the innate little man complex and how they love to play the heroic underdog fighting and winning against the big guys ...who are obviously conspiring against them....

Then you can truly understand the nature and reasons behind the nonsense you see and hear.


I agree 100% it is as if Ferrari and Alonso fans are trying to make this something it is not. The car is not that bad. However, the Ferrari team bosses weekly speak of needing "massive steps forward". All of the top 6 teams are capable of winning. The difference is the other 6 teams worry about 2 drivers each weekend. Ferrari only cares about one driver.


That's why Ferrari built Massa a new chassis for the 2nd round.

That's why Ferrari give him all the time in the simulator that he needs.

That's why Ferrari publicly support him

That is why Ferrari has employed him for the last 3 years despite his results getting worse and worse.

Ferrari only cares about winning and currently there is only one man capable of that driving the red car.


"Felipe. Fernando... is taller... than you. Do you understand?"





This put a very big smile on my face. Thank you!


I'm surprised this made it through moderation. I enjoy this site for two main reasons. First the quality of the news and opinion in the articles and second the quality of the comments. There is very little bashing and generally a good, positive conversation going in the comments. Sure people disagree, but it has been, thus far, respectful.

James, I would like to see the parent to this comment removed. Allowing comments that are racially, ethnically or religiously biased and insensitive should have no place on your site.

"The innate little-man complex" of the Spanish? Really? What year is this, 1812? Haven't we all grown out of this by now?


I have been reading this site since it started and this is probably the most ridiculous comment I've ever read on it.

I consider James Allen as a true expert, he certainly knows what he is talking about and the title of the post says it all: How is Alonso leading the championship with that car?

Of course this debatable but most of the F1 journos and fans acknowledge Alonso as the best driver of this generation, just get over it.

As for your "innate little man complex" I will not comment to much, probably is just a Freudian reflection of your own complexes and frustrations.




That's painting with a broad brush, to put it politely. We should never attempt to characterize fans or drivers because of their nationality. Would anyone be pleased if I said all Grosjean fans were arrogant or all Schumacher fans were anti-semetic? That's just racist, and it's best left out of discussions about driver ability.

On topic, I have never been an Alonso fan but the driving he has displayed this year is virtually flawless. I'll be cheering for him when I see the circus in person in Montreal in 2 weeks!


+1 Well said.


"You need to understand the Spanish, the innate little man complex..."

This is plainly untrue, hehe. You may look adult averages at :


As for instance :

France, 1.741 cms, 2001

Germany, 1.780 cms, 2005

Spain, 1.780, 2000

UK Ehgland, 1.746 cms, 208


Must have some giants hidden in the basque regions


How untrue again[mod]Tall people are spread all around Spain. Take the time to consult that page of wikipedia on human height I attached above. Think about how can it be that basketball and handball are so popular in Spain (and Italy, and Greece), and how it is that the national basket ball team has been a World Champion, an Olympic winner second only to the USA, and that so many Spaniards are playing in the NBA. Just to show but a few examples.


The Ferrari is not a fast car as you say. Its not just the fans who say that. All the experts in F1 share the same thoughts. You just have to see Massa's performance in a similar car. We have to give credit to Alonso for bringing the Ferrari to 3rd position in constructors with very little contribution from his team mate


Alonso fans? It looks like most if not all the media thinks of Ferrari car that is slow. Or at least in the first 4 races.

Even Lewis thinks of Alonso as probably the best driver on the grid.


Lewis says that because that builds up the Hamilton legend. Rookie takes on "the best driver on the grid", and comes out tops.

By saying something like this, Hamilton is showing how humble he is, while also building up his own myth - a PR masterstroke.


I disagree. After 3 years Alonso doesn't need to just say that. The press and alot of fans consider Lewis a very very good and fast driver. And after the last 2 years, Alonso has proved his skills.

I think you live in the past.


Look Pedro (probably de la Rosa?), you may not like the man but you cannot take away his achievements.

All teams have engineers who calculate a car's performance based on various tests and expects a driver to meet those targets. When a driver exceeds that expectation then clearly it's about the driver, not the car. FA and FM are clear examples.


This is perhaps the most bizarre post I've read on here!


well then presumably you must think that Felipe is one of the worst drivers to ever get his hands on an F1 car?

i'm a massive Lewis and McLaren fan, but Alonso IS the greatest


I don't think the is the greatest, but he certainly is among the very best in the sport. You could see his talent in the Minardi and he has not disappointed ever since (apart from being beaten by a newbie at McLaren). Still there are drivers who are just as good as him, remember Schumacher, Prost, Senna, Rindt, Stewart, Lauda for example - all of them have been outstanding.

Some drivers rarely had the cars to really shine, although they have been very quick. Drivers like Panis for example, have rarely made any mistake while being blisteringly fast, Frentzen, who was equally good as Schumacher in the lower formulas, rarely got an opportunity to show his brilliant talent, simply because of the car or bad luck (I also guess he was simply too sensible to bad temper in the team). Had he taken the offer to replace Senna at Williams, who knows what might have happened? Stefan Bellof, Gilles Villeneuve - life was too short for them.


"Alonso is the greatest" Nonsense???
[mod] You don't have to like him but you have to respect what he has done over the last 10 years.


Sounds like the same complex a lot of the Lewis Hamilton fans on here have to me ;).

Rogelio Carballo

I don't know what little man complex you're talking about. 1,85 meters is by no means a little man. So no little man complex on my spanish camp, mate.


Ahh!... Thanks for the clarification. 🙂


sounds like some complex, if not little man.


I am 1.83 metres tall and Fernando is much smaller than me. I think you are mistaken.

Rogelio Carballo

I was talking about my own size and how Pedro thinks every spaniard has a "little man complex". I am 1,85, I mean, standard european size, but if I were 1,55 I'd have no "little man complex"



FA managed to maintain certain gap behind LH on early stages of race, when Massa was close behind.

How do you think, he wasn't quick enough to match LH's speed at that particular moment or it was just tactical move to let tires work on clean air to let them last longer? Think no other driver did like that.


No, it was not tactical. He was pushing but he couldn't warm up the tyres properly. But then gradually it stated coming. It was just like how others struggled after changing to softs. Neither Ferrari nor Alonso said it was tactical.


By the way... (It dawn on me comparing opinions, wording and agreements...) are you sharing not by chance the same IP with that 'Pedro' of above?


Agreed. Neither can give credit where credit is due.


I was rushing to work so I had no time to dig up before I left home, but here you go:


"On this track overtaking is almost impossible and being in someone's slipstream causes temperature problems, both for the engine and the tyres. So, you cannot always be on the attack of those ahead, trying instead to manage the situation and push flat out only at the moments that count, such as the pit stops and that's what I did. "

If that's not tactical I don't know what else it is.

Whatever you believe it is, it got him the podium and that's all that matters.

I'd imagine you prefer not to have long list of readers comments countering your thoughts esp. from one you made on JA's previous article a few days ago?



I use this forum to express my opinion and to have a good banter with like-minded people. Everyone has a right to their opinion and I respect that. Unlike certain individuals, my intention is not to defend one particular driver or to argue who the best F1 driver is. That is not the point of this forum.


I think FA learnt his lesson from Spain where his tyres were shredded by following Pastor too close. Good that Alonso drove a very inteligent race.


I think it was tactical, yes. Conserving tyres knowing he'd have better tyre life at the end of the stint.


I think Ferrari were too conservative (after the mistake in Spain) given Alonso's superfast in-lap. Maybe he could have also jumped Rosberg and even Weber.


Personally I'd say they could've reacted on their feet and told him to stay out given the ultra fast in-lap he did 🙂


and also knowing that Massa behind would not attack. All he had to worry about was Hamilton ahead.

Bring Back Murray

Wouldn't you have loved it if someone had said on the radio "Massa is faster than you"! (even just as a wind-up!)

Bring Back Murray

If this is so, that proves he really is a cut above the rest, doesn't it


Alonso did the same while having Vettel chasing him. You seem to think that Massa had it in the bag to overtake Alonso on a circuit like Monaco, where Button was stuck behind Kovalainen for the whole race in a much much faster car.



It shows the benefit of being the clear number 1 driver in your team, Massa was never going to attack Alonso so he can drop back and save his tyres for when it matters, no other runner had that advantage.


Certainly does.


Behold the power of the flavour saver.


Webber and Vettel haven't had a non finish each, just non point scoring races each. Great effort from Alonso, so far.


Alonso is showing himself to be the best driver in the pack this season - his ability to work with what he's got, warts and all, and maximise the return sets him apart. While others complain that this and that wasn't perfect and woe is me, Alonso masterfully extracts results.


Hence WDCs like Button is overrated (as I mentioned above but yet to publish).

Button requires a very very precise working window, which he otherwise fails. He doesn't have the pace of Hamilton or Alonso. The intelligent mindset he has is also shared by MSC and Alonso, and sometimes Hamilton as well.

I think this enough justifies Button being overrated.


Harsh on Button; like Alonso he is a great reader of races. A lot of Button's greatest performances have come from him capitalising on changing track conditions and anticipating how to proceed/what tyres to use.

I happen to think, as a neutral, that Alonso is the best driver on the grid but only because he can marry the intelligence of Button with the raw speed of Hamilton/Vettel.


Would that be like the 2010 Australian GP when Button had to pit early because his intermediates where shredded to pieces.

Within 2 or 3 laps everyone was pitting, yet he was called genius and inspired because he changed early. Yeah right.

Or would that be like the lottery of Canada last year where he came from last to win. He actually caused Alonso's retirement, caught his back wheel and spun him round.

Considering some of the penalties handed out, I was amazed he received nothing.


You have to have Ferrari credit. It shows why alonso had so much faith to sign that long term deal. I think Canada could be tough for them tho because of the straight line speed and still they don't have the best traction. Canada should be a strong Mercedes and lotus track.


Alonso strikes me as a very intelligent driver. I think if Ferrari keep up the development, the only thing that will stop him is if McLaren and Lotus start getting their act together and take points off him. More than ever he needs Massa to fire.

As it stands I think he is too smart and has everyone covered.

Reminds me of Prost in a lot of ways in fact. circa '87. An inferior car in qualifying but he other drivers all taking points off each other and in the end he will have all the points! 🙂


Prost only? If you ask me I'd say he's a Senna and Prost two in one!


yeah he's ruthless but not in a dangerous way. he's not willing to cause an accident just to get past.

i'd say schumi is more like senna in that he is less sporting.

like prost would say about senna, "zi problemm wiss airtonn iz ee sinks ee cannot die in zi car!"


"Alonso confirmed that he was planning to attack Vettel before the red flag came out, as he could see that Vettel’s tyres were shot. “I had nothing to lose, I’m not leading the championship. I had two places in mind to pass and if we crash we crash!” Alonso said."


If only the red flag wasn't brought out then we would've witnessed that ruthlessness



I agree, I think he is a great combination of the two, both intelligent and ruthless.


It was Sepang, Malaysia 2010. Felipe did not get a good exit out of the last corner and Fernando was by his side before entering the pits but then he had the inside line and Felipe had to yield.


Remember one of Alonso's first races at Ferrari when he pushed Massa out of his way on the pit entry? I don't remember what race of the 2010 season it was.

I was so angry on Alonso..pushing your team mate like that. But then I realised that good guys finish last, so you have to be ruthless if you want to succeed.


Alonso is a brilliant driver and he can deliver even when he is driving bad cars but Massa's performance at Monaco is the clear proof that Ferrari is back in the business.


Much as I'd like to believe it, I don't think so.

I think they are getting there and as Alonso has said all along, BArcelona, Monaco, Canada and Valencia they have updates everytime.

They usually bring a big update for the British GP too.

In 2010, after Britain, Alonso was 47 points behind Webber, claiming they could still win.

God help the rest if by Britain he still leads and they are competitive.


Ferrari was back in business in Monaco because the track doesn't have very high demands on high-speed aero. The Ferrari has been a fast car all along, just too peaky. Monaco neutralized a lot of that and allowed the Ferrari drivers to work to the car's strengths.


I'm not sure about that.

they were 6th and 7th in qualy. That doesn't look "back in business" to me.

I hope in Canada they are competitive.


Ferrari at this point, for certain, does not have the dog of a car everyone is talking about. McLaren does not have the fastest one for sure.

Based on the first 6 races I would say Red Bull and Lotus have the fastest cars in the field.

Ferrari managed to fix their car after the winter testing, just like McLaren did last year.

Funny enough the Pirelli tyres seemed to be a bit "Bridgestone-like" in Monaco. Both compounds lasted 30+ laps and everyone was expecting the supersofts to be gone by lap 15-16 (including myself).

Even funnier was Perez lapping a full second faster than the big boys for a good part of the race.


Whilst I'll agree the Lotus is fast, the Red Bull isn't especially so? Like the Ferrari it comes alive in race trim. They are very similar cars it appears, faster in race trim, poor in qualifying and slow on straights. E.g. Vettels Qualifying performances this year: 6th, 6th, 1st, 11th, 8th, 10th (thus Avg=7th). Fastest car? I don't think even Christian Horner is that optimistic!


Vettels 10th was by choice not by lapping on the track. I base my choice on the race day, not the qualy. Over a single lap it's possible McLaren and Mercedes have the fastest cars but not by a huge margin.


But there is still almost nothing to say that the Red Bull is especially fast over the rest of the field. They've only had one fastest lap, and the two wins RBR have involved them coming under pressure from rivals, moreso than for instance, Button's win at Melbourne or Rosberg's win in Shanghai.



While I agree with your rationale for Alonso's great start to the season, I think the competition between the cars has been a bigger factor than in previous seasons as well. I'm not sure this is solely to do with the tires.

With cars like the Williams, Mercedes, Lotus etc all fighting at the front the ability of the 'traditional' leaders (RBR, Mclaren, Ferrari) to build a lead in the championship has been somewhat reduced. (I suspect we have had a greater number of different drivers on the podium already this season than in the whole of last season already.)

I get the impression that the banning of exhaust blown diffusers might be having a bigger impact on the RedBull and possibly other manufacturers as well.

Further, (and maybe you can shed a little more light on this as I don't have the statistics) but I don't feel like the DRS and KERS are creating as many over taking opportunities as last year (eg. RAI on GRO and WEB on HUL).

Linked to the competition between cars, I think it is possible that as the technical regulations age, each manufacturer gets better at interpreting them and copying other teams ideas (Sauber).

What do you think, JA?




"Linked to the competition between cars, I think it is possible that as the technical regulations age, each manufacturer gets better at interpreting them and copying other teams ideas (Sauber)."

That's always been the case.

A.Newey has always been good when there are regulation changes, but as soon as the new era is underway, his car fades away.


Your argument is a good one Kay, I have said that myself before.

Newey designed the MP4/13 in 1998 that Hakkinen won the WDC with. Added to this was their switch to Bridgestone during the off season, when their main rival stayed on Goodyear.

Hakkinen struggled to win the WDC in 1999 against Irvine.

From 2000 onwards Ferrari became dominant, yet the Mclarens generally got worse until they unveiled the MP4/18.

A complete disaster.


A lot of talk about what Ferrari are doing & what the other teams aren't. Little mention of the fact that (probably) the worlds best driver continues to perform at his maximum each race weekend.


What did make of Massa's race James? Seemed very strong for once, right behind and at the first half seemed quicker at times than Alonso. Still needs to be stronger if he wants tha seat next year I feel.


If there's any truth that Vettel has signed for Ferrari for 2014, we may yet have Massa for an additional year 🙁

Then again, Lewis and Fernando are very chummy, maybe Massa won't.

The mind boggles!!


I think they respect each other more than like each other now. There is a clear respect in their comments to one and another. However I really can't see them working together ever again 😛


True. Good enemies that give respect don't necessarily make good friends LOL

Don't think Dominicali likes the potential problem of having Alonso and Hamilton have an in-team rivalry again either! That'd just destroy Ferrari!


He wasn't quicker than Alonso, it was Alonso playing to his own tactics allowing Massa's nose right up his gearbox. Alonso had to run in clean air to save tyres.

Massa did drive a good race though I ain't taking that away from him, and damn I'm pleased he drove a good race, I guess the whole world and Ferrari are too.


Much better, he drove with real confidence all weekend.


i really think that coz of tires james, supersoft esp, as soon as massa switched to soft's his usual troubles started again problems with braking etc.,

one strange thing about this race all old pros schumi, webber and massa did good on supersofts


But was it confidence inspired from a car that had it's maximum downforce applied to it? What will happen to his confidence when we return to a track with high speed corners? I hope he can retain his confidence, he is clearly a talented driver who has lost some of his mojo. It would be good to see him back on form.


Agreed he looked more the part of a Ferrari driver rather than lost at sea as he did in other races. Do you think if he performs like this ie close to Alonso, right in the mix of things he might keep his seat? I just think because of his start this year his drive has gone.


Alonso is proving yet again he's the class act in F1. The Ferrari really isn't a great car, but he drags it by the scruff of the neck to the sharp end of the grid. I think both the Red Bull guys are performing at a decent level too, as their car is worringly slow (for them) in a straight line also (lets not forget that Vettel would lead the WDC had Nahrain not clipped his rear tyre in Malaysia). Another common theme with the two cars is that they both seem better in race trim. We've had scenario's which have seen both RBR and Ferrari nearly a second off the pace in qually. That's either inheriant pace, or those teams setting their cars up for the race. I fully expect McLaren to be back at the front in Canada with Lotus and Mercedes around them.

I think there is a reasonably strong argument that Ferrari have perhaps the 4th or 5th fastest car over the first 6 races, and Red Bull perhaps have the 3rd or 4th fastest. Thus underperformance by Lotus, McLaren and Mercedes has let the these tactically astute teams get some advantage.

You have to give credit where it's due here, Fernando is performing at an exceptional level.


Ferrari gotta be lucky that they race cars and not horses, or else Alonso would've brutally whipped that horse's ass like mad just to force it to finish ahead of everyone else and making WWF to call in to stop him!


Vettle clipped Nahrain. I watched the video over and over again and Nahrain had no where to go as Vettle came across his nose.



It was Vettel's fault. Seems like idiots don't know where to point their cucumbers correctly.


@Jay - I have seen the incident again, looked at a detailed analysis, and am not convinced that it was Vettel's fault. Narain even admitted blame and was duly punished, while Vettel did not move into Karthikeyan, as the pictures show. At the very most, you could argue that Vettel could have been even more careful than he already was when lapping the HRT, but no way is the blame for the incident 100% on Vettel like you are suggesting.



David A, rewatch the video again. Vettel moved into Narain believing he's already a car in front when he wasn't. He being a WDC ought to know better and wait till he's fully ahead before he moves back into the racing line.


Narain got wheelspin which made him go to the right and hit Vettel's tyre. Karthikeyan's fault, then again, it's not surprising that people look to take cheap shots at Vettel regardless of who is to blame.


The crazy thing is, the following corner is a left hand hairpin, so Vettel would have had to move to the right anyway.

He used the same argument with webber in Turkey, and had RBR back him up!


If u watch were narain is iin reference to the white line u will see he moves across the track into Sebs path.


No, really he didn't. You may have watched the video (as did I and it did look like that from one angle), but Nahrain said he had to turn back in because of the marbles. The man admitted steering into Vettel... I believe the steering traces of both drivers were used when awarding the 20s penalty to Karthikeyan.


If I remember correctly Narain said he lost the back of the car a bit and had to correct it, therefore moving away from the whyre/red kerb. But to be fair about it, Vettel instead of moving to his right for the next left turn, he didn't give Naiarin much space. He cut back in front of him very quick.

If I were Narain, I wouldn't except the world champion (which had plenty of space to the right) to cut across in front of me that quick, especially that the next turn was to the left and you have to position your car at the right of the track.

Vettel was clumsy on that move for not giving the HRT driver more space. I know that backmarkers are the ones who should move aside, but Narain was already on the kerb. Where else could he have gone?


Fernando has driven a Masterclasd on 2012 and that Ferrari was never as bad as most people thought. Sure it was on pre season testing . But Fernando has been making slow and steady progress and giving Excellent feedback. Now it's as quick as any car . He will probably win now .Mclaren have some issues and god knows what they are! They are killing every chance Lewis has of winning ! I don't think Lotus will keep progressing as well as the rest and their strategies are bad!


Im sorry but I strongly disagree.

Why is it only at this 6th GP that Massa managed to break through into Q3?

Think back to 2006 to 2010, Massa had no struggles getting through to the top 10.

Genius elevates a cars performance, whereas a good driver needs a fast car to be able to perform to the maximum.


Thank you !,, I cant believe Kay and Matthew Yau. How many more podiums or Wins do you need before you realize Ferrari is Quick ! Maybe when Fernando wins the WDC by 75 points.

Unbelievable..fact is Ferrari always understate performance whereas most others are neutral or overstate (whitmarsh/Mclaren).

These damn tyres :- One track a car can be 8/10 off if you dont warm them up. Next Track their Cooking fine !, Fact is if a car is in the Top 5 in every race of 300klms ITS QUICK ENOUGH !! regardless of driver,on the flip side everyone says LOTUS is the fastest. But believe me if it was Kimi would win half the races.Having said that I'm not denying Fernandos performance -he is Top Notch. But seriously all these drivers have been driving cars since they were still in nappies and the margins are probably 1/2 sec between top 10 drivers. They all adjust driving style to some extent especially with the new regs/tyres. Ferraris issues from the get go were mostly how to set up with the new design car.


Ferrari is not as quick as any other car. It's still about 0.8 secs off the front-runners. But with Alonso at the wheel, about 0.5 secs.

Monaco is typically an inaccurate track to compare cars, no real aero is needed, more about driver confidence, ability and traction.

We will see how closely matched the cars at Montreal. Big updates coming then too!


I'm not convinced it's as quick as any other car... yet.

It's still in Alonso's hands who is wringing every single drop of performance out of it just to make it fast. If Alonso has a genuinely fast car, he'd probably be a second or so ahead of everyone else.


In which race did Webber not finish?


Thanks for bringing this, James. I think having Alonso leading the championship today means a lot more than Vettel dominating it last year. Today, like never before, people see that it is mostly Alonso himself and also good strategies from Ferrari that made it all possible.

I think you can call him the best and most complete driver on the grid today, very consistent, very matured.

I am sure that the paddock and probably even you, James, did not believe that Alonso has a chance this year, but look at the table - he is leading it and the contrast to Massa is only proving how unbelievable great Alonso is.


That's why when I heard rumours that Ferrari were bringing in Alonso for 2010, I was leaping for joy.

Their best signing since Schumacher without question.

I'll add to that, because in 1995 there was no better option on the grid.


If only they signed Hakkinen!! 🙁

But then Hakkinen was an unknown to the world and it's never been Ferrari's way to sign an unknown driver.


Gilles Villeneuve ... yes he had driven one GP for McLaren, but was really an unknown quantity ....



With Vettel, the arguement of whether it's him or the car being superior just won't end.

With Alonso.. need I say more? 😀


If Vettel's 2011 success was all the car, his teammate Webber would have won just as much as him or finished 2nd in almost every race. It was clearly down to a combination of both, as with every other championship in F1 history.


Sorry James. Webber has finished all races, just one race in Spain out of the points. Alonso has done wonders in 'that' car and deserves to be leading the championship however it has been helped enormously by other teams (uncharacteristic) mistakes. But on the positive side Alonso was there to always take advantage of it. The signs are there, Ferrari have turned it around and are picking up speed. What a great year this is heading to be.


You need to be prepared and at the right place at the right time to be lucky. Alonso has done his part to be prepared. 🙂


That's why he described it as a 'non points finish' as opposed to a non -finish!!


"In contrast his rivals have been more erratic: Vettel and Webber have both had a non finish"

How has Webber been erratic ?

He finished 4th 4 times !

That smacks of consistency.

Sorry James, disagree.


Mark was lapped in Barcelona!


Simply 4 from 4 IS consistency and not erratic.

McLaren is the definition of erratic, if we are looking to define it this year.


Yes, in contrast ? That opens up a lot of comparing doesn't it. Lets not get started on McLaren eh .....


James Allen DID say "in contrast", and it was comparing results to Alonso's, not saying they ARE erratic.


Gosh what an unflattering photo of Alonso.

Eek! Haha...

Alonso is certainly looking like the favourite.


It's what many have been saying for years, especially after 2010, where to be honest the Ferrari was realistically the 3rd best car out there, yet he nearly won the WDC.

Give Fernando a car equal to the best and he will win.


I think the tires change so much from race to race James that they can't really be considered a pivotal reason for him leading the charge. Personally I think Ferrari have been rather harshly treated due to their own ridiculously high expectations (if the car doesn't win out of the traps it is seen as a failure).

I think the real situation is that the Ferrari is actually a reasonably decent car, that in consistent hands is capable of being where it is. I'd suspect the car is one that suits Alonso's style in the main given Massa's dramatic struggles early on.

But as you say, Ferrari's pitstops and general professionism on race day are crucial too. Its the lack of that at Mclaren which leaves them trailing.


"I think the real situation is that the Ferrari is actually a reasonably decent car, that in consistent hands is capable of being where it is."

Really? Ferrari in Alonso's hands has been handy in races, but in qualifying where you see what a car is capable of it was a dog. Lets look at some facts.

1. Australian GP - 12th

2. Malaysian GP - 9th

3. Chinese GP - 9th

4. Bahrain GP - 9th

5. Spanish GP - 3rd

6. Monaco GP - 6th

Should I make a comparison with the fastest McLaren, RedBull, Lotus or Mercedes to see how it looks?

The fact that Alonso was able to extract all and even more than what the car is capable doesn't mean the car is quick. Alonso and Ferrari were smarter and made less mistakes than the competitors which had faster cars.



To Mattw, Was last years Ferrari a reasonable car then?

Alonso's general qualifying place was 5th. That told you of the inherent speed of the car. Yet he scraped 10 podiums out of it when Massa's best finish was 5th.


I disagree. Whilst the qualifying pace hasn't been there the Ferrari was actually pretty reasonable in race trim and the current formula means that a bad qualifying session doesn't mean the end of the weekend at most circuits.

On the other side you have Mclaren with great qualy pace but then a disadvantage in race trim. Compounded with tactical errors it means Ferrari and Mclaren tend to end up passing each other in the night so to speak.


Ferrari was pretty reasonable coz of the pilot they placed in the car :D, and that's the sole reasonable Ferrari you talked about. The other was still somewhere behind lost in a huge pile of dust...


Alonso,one must admire him lately.

A Shumy mould, win a must but not in the

brutal way Shumy goes, but in more articulate

way be it on the track or the answers to the

press.His devotion to the team and the team

towards him " equal " success is on the cards.


Webber & Vettel haven't had a non-finish this season. One non point-scoring finish each, 11th in Spain for Webber and Malaysia for Vettel, but they've finished all 6 races.


Alonso is Mr. Consistent, from 11 seasons he's has 2 titles, 2 second places, a third, 2 fourths, a fifth, a sixth, ninth (in a dog of a Renault) and a twenty-third position (Minardi) in the WDC. He (almost) always gets the most out of the car and drags it in to finishing positions the car isn't capable of. He doesn't whinge too much during the races like Button or Hamilton and he's always exciting to watch. He could easily have 4 WDC by now and that's the reason I bet on him every season to take the title.


Alonso certainly is very consistent, as you point out, and has always been, and to accomplish that at such a high level with a car that is not the best is admirable. I have to disagree with you on the whinging though, in my opinion he is one of the worst ones in that regard. Also, while you can argue that he in principle could have 4 WDC's by now, he just as easily could be down to 1 (if Kimi had had a more reliable car in 2005) or even zero (if mass damper had been outlawed already before the 2006 season). That's why the "if" games are useless, they can go either way.


" I have to disagree with you on the whinging though, in my opinion he is one of the worst ones in that regard"

Whinghing or telling things straight? IMO is the second way, now and then ('gold' Ronny days).


He used to be... he's grown up in the last several years.


Talking of Button, I just find it very very strange with his performance.

The car is supposedly designed around him with Hamilton needed to adjust his style to the car due to having a wider performance window than Button, yet Button still couldn't get the car work for him, complaining about tyre temp. and stuff.

I'd imagine if McLaren run Button directly behind Hamilton, Button's tyres would probably heat up better and faster thus fall into his correct working window.


It's simple, they've pinched data from Sauber, car even looks like a sauber now!!! Compare the car now to launch pictures, and then compare it the Sauber!!


If that was the case, Sauber should be performing at the level of Ferrari, considering they use the same engine as well. I think there is more to it than that.


Compare the pictures, there very telling. Of course Ferrari have done some mix and match (how on technical is that saying lol)!!! With Sauber having a better car than them at the beginning of the season, and sadly Sauber excepting their fate as kinda of a Ferrari B team, why wouldn't the A team take data of them?


Heres an interesting observation from the Italian press: -

The Italian magazine Autosprint have mischievously christened the updated Ferrari a 'Ferrauber', explaining that the rear of the 'B' F2012 will be very similar to Sauber's impressive C31.


Alonso since 2010 mid season it's doing wonders, no matter if he has a good car or a bad car, shame that a lot of people, specially some from the UK can't give him enough credit, Alonso it's one of the best driver in the history of the sport and it's not over yet, sooner or later he will get the credit from the haters or they will look like complete fools. At least the paddock recognize his talent.


It's an interesting comment you make.

As my nick suggests I am/ was a huge Senna fan and found that a lot of the British Press didn't like him. Personality, maybe language barriers or different cultures, but from when he dominated F3, certain journalists and many spectators hated him.

His situation wasn't helped when he left Toleman in the lurch in 1984.

When he refused Lotus signing Warwick because he knew Lotus did not have the required budget to field two equal cars the press turned on him.

Something incidentally that both Warr, team boss of Lotus, and Warwick have agreed he was right about.

I was at Club corner in 1991, when he ran out of fuel and was sickened by the football mentality and the outrageous abuse the crowd threw at him. Yet this has become one of F1's most famous images, Senna getting a lift back on Mansells car.

After his death, the press almost began to speak of him reverentially and fans at the British GP that year all sported Senna "S" t-shirts, Nacional caps and Senna flags.

I found it hypocritical beyond belief.

Look, I get passionate about F1 but I won't apologise.

I say enjoy this phenomenon that is Alonso, driving at the peak of his abilities, because genius comes along very rarely.


Totally agree. I'm of the newer generation so I didn't start watching F1 until 1998, but I've watched Senna's racing through various clips here and there and it's bloody amazing to watch him propel from somewhere in the mid of the pack to the front.

At the moment it's that kind of fight and racing mentality we see in Alonso that we like so much about. Talking of getting a lift, I still LOVE the pic of where Webber drove Alonso back to the pits in Germany last year.

This year's Alonso fighting like mad from the mid-pack is what's so enjoyed about by fans this year, to see him fight for wins in an incapable car. If Alonso was placed in a top of the pack car, we'd probably see Alonso doing a Senna with a lap 1.5s faster than the next fastest again!

Gareth Foches

"But it is more than surprising that Alonso is in this position, given how poor the Ferrari car was in pre-season testing and the early season races."

Incorrect assumption. Ferrari has a good car to match this particular ice-cube of a tire, they have just not got around to finding the sweet spot. Now they are closer to understanding the balance between having grip and losing the tire too soon. This has been mentioned many times by Pat Fry.

Alonso being the most complete and intelligent driver he is, was hounding Hamilton at the start. He realised after three laps, being so close to Hamilton will kill the tires quick. He then 'fades' away while Massa hounded him. Massa's tires went away very quickly. When the window for tire changes arrived, he got very close to Hamilton again with his 'fresher' tires. When Hamilton pits, he put in a quick one with what is remained of his 'grippier' tire and took Hamilton's place after his stop. Examine the Alonso's delta time for proof.

As I have mentioned, this year, it's no longer about the driver, but the team engineers that get their car to work with the tire. Case in point, truck driver Maldanado won in an inferior car. The media scrambled to turn him into a hero, the last race showed him to be the hooligan he is.

Mansell mentioned “Be happy that he’s even racing. We were close to excluding him for the whole event."


Agree except "As I have mentioned, this year, it’s no longer about the driver, but the team engineers that get their car to work with the tire."

Without a driver, what feedback would the engineers have to work with to get the car faster??


You mention the teams engineers getting the car working with the tyre.

James, is the recruitment of the head of Bridgestone by Ferrari proving to aid their performance or is it just luck like everyone else.


'Alonso being the most complete and intelligent driver he is, was hounding Hamilton at the start. He realised after three laps, being so close to Hamilton will kill the tires quick. He then ‘fades’ away while Massa hounded him. Massa’s tires went away very quickly. When the window for tire changes arrived, he got very close to Hamilton again with his ‘fresher’ tires. When Hamilton pits, he put in a quick one with what is remained of his ‘grippier’ tire and took Hamilton’s place after his stop. Examine the Alonso’s delta time for proof.'

^^^This. Absolutely. No coincidence that he closed right up to Hamilton right before he pitted. He knew when Hamilton would come in and jumped him at the right time.



It is a bit odd though that the car which has struggled with traction is the car that is kindest on it's tyres.


I doubt Massa haunted Alonso, in fact I am sure Alonso was well aware Massa would never attack him. There is no way in hell Ferrari would allow him to take away points from Alonso, especially with the championship as it is!

Bring Back Murray

Lets remember that Alonso was the only person to beat Michael when he was fully competitive.


Hakkinen beat Michael fair and square, and also Kimi beat Michael in 2005.


Yes, but tyres had a lot to do with 2005. Bridgestone couldn't make a tyre that would do quali and race, Michelin could and so it's not really a fair comparison


Mika was rated by many to be the quickest over 1 lap in the 90's. Michael was the one you wanted in a race.


+1 on hero lol with the argument on 1998 tyres.


But also Alonso drove with Michelin, so if he is given credit for beating Michael, so should Kimi. If one starts going down the "not fair comparison"-lane, one could also say that Alonso got an unfair advantage also in 2006 with the mass damper controversy.


But that argument applies to 1998 as well James. Mclaren got out of a Goodyear contract because they were leaving at the end of 1998.

Ferrari stayed with Goodyear, but the writing was on the wall the previous season.

Ferrari were improving that year but Irvine never won a race, yet both Mclaren won races.


Villenuve? Hill?


Räikkönen did a pretty good job when the car didn't break down...

Bring Back Murray

Also I'm definitely not trying to take anything away from Hakkinen - he was definitely no slouch!(or Villeneuve)


Yes the flying Finn was great !

Bring Back Murray

Wasn't that when the McClaren was miles faster though? Alonso beat Schumacher when the Ferrari was still at (or near) its peak - although admittedly Shumi was getting towards the end of his first carear...


McLaren was faster at the start of the year but Ferrari caught them up.

Schumacher won the 3rd race and from Canada onwards was winning.


Hakkinen and Villeneuve both beat Schumacher, albeit with an assumed car advantage in both cases. Kimi ran him super close in a car that was 18 months old.


Wow Kay. Is that right, your spouse thinks you don't speak a lot?

Perhaps he/she should sign up to JAonF1 & find out the truth!!!!!


"Kimi ran him super close in a car that was 18 months old."

Now THAT I LOVE! 😀 😀 😀

Shows how good Kimi is even though he's a quiet bloke in front of the media.

I just really hates the way media need to brand everyone with some sort of thing, and with Kimi it's "lack of motivation". Just coz the guy is quiet doesn't mean he's not motivated. I think I'm one qualified to speak here coz in a real environment I don't speak a lot, and just coz I'm quiet my spouse seems to think I'm displeased with things or being grumpy or even not interested! Gets on my nerves ya know lol... Now wonder how Kimi feel with being branded with things 😀


Alonso just retired him!! 😉


And possibly going to retire him again at the end of this season which I would most definitely ROFL!!!!!!!!!

Justin Bieber



Very definitely Hakkinen.

Why do posters set themselves up as authorities on motor racing, when they haven't done their research & are only making guesses?

The guesses are usually in support of their 'favourite' driver, surprisingly.

Bring Back Murray

Didn't mean it to seem like I was making a random uneducated guess! Re-what Andrew M and Waseem have stated - the McClaren did have quite a notable car advantage in those days. I did just say earlier down that I wasn't meaning to take anything away from Hakkinen. That guy was seriously quick too.

LOL the comment even Coultard won in the McClaren during those times!


It seems that many arguments this year have that background


Really James? Hakkinen had a superior car during 1998 and 1999. Even DC managed to win races in it.

I'll agree the 2000 season was very close, but wouldnt you say 2006 was closer ?


1998: mclaren was 1sec faster than the ferrari for a good period. towards the end of the season ferrari matched maclaren performance.

1999: no need to say, schumacher broke his leg, maclaren was still the faster car at the season start.

2000: epic fight between schumacher and mika, mclaren was unlucky with lots of technical problems during the races.

2006: renault started with a very good car after the mid season ferrari came very strong. i dont think anyone other than alonso could have hold againt that much pressure from schumacher and ferrari. an epic season.

now it is not strange for me to see alonso is doing so fine especailly under pressure. he is not only a very good driver but also has a very strong mind.

im very happy alonso is driving for ferrari, he is no different from schumacher. a great leader who is actually carrying his team.

ferrari was very lucky to have schumacher and now also is lucky to have alonso.

next one : i have a hope for hamilton, another great driver, will suit ferrari very much.


THat wasn't the question. The question was who beat Michael in his prime?


+1 lol

Just as info for Bring Back Murrary, Hakkinen is actually the guy MSC respected most in his entire life. MSC said so himself.


I'd say Hakkinen may not be as fast, but was about to race with his brain best (Spa comes to mind).

A few days ago I rewatched a bit of Austria GP (maybe 98 or 99 can't remember exactly), and yes Hakkinen was slow, DAMN slow to be honest, but he knew exactly where to place his car that prevented Michael from driving away into the horizon.


I never understood why. After all, Hakkinen had to be gifted his 1st 2 GP wins, and the first one was an allegiance between Williams and Mclaren.

Funny really,the press went crazy assuming that Sauber told Perez not to race Alonso in Malaysia.

Yet it was never mentioned when Mclaren and Williams colluded together to beat Ferrari in 1997.


Yes. 1998 season was an epic duel between Mika and Michael. Too bad Michael broke his leg at 1999 season.

2005 is Alonso vs Kimi

Alonso's 2006 triumph over Michael is like a destined one, remember Japan, few laps left Ferrari engine failure. Very close fought season.


Absolutely, Hakkinen.

Someone that Schumy also respected.


In a year where no-one is really establishing themselves, these consistent points-scoring finishes are the order of the day. He loves a scrap Fernando, and I can easily see him 3rd placing his way to the title, as everyone else around him has ups-and-downs with their form. I still can't believe Mclaren have fallen away as much as they have. They looked the pick of the bunch in Melbourne.


James, would you mind to explain in a little more detailed way that how ALO could have driven away from WEB and ROS if he had had a longer 1st stint?

I'm in China but I managed to follow you and Jaime on every session this season. Fantastic job. Thank you so much,


He was able to warm up the new soft tyres faster than them, several laps faster.


I'm assuming that would have also included running a few laps more on the option before pitting, thereby making up the time to leap in front of them post stops?


I remember Alonso competing in F.3000. All drivers with the same engine, body and chassis. He frequently started 18th, 19th or 20th and used to finish up in 9th, 10th or 11th place after a lot of overtakings. I think his talent was already there. Today he calculates more. He is hungry but cautious at the same time. After last year, Ferrari improved on pit-stops, strategy, tyre warming but have lost top speed, and down force. At the moment they have improved the exhaust output flow but can improve more. Remember that they have employed Pat Fry and a number of people from McLaren. Pat Fry is slowly changing working methods to make them similar to those in Britain. Taking into consideration all these factors then we can understand better Alonso's consistency and his championship lead. I think they still keep in mind Abu Dhabi 2010.


Thanks for the analysis James, I concur on every point with regard to Ferrari's season so far. I guess that the clearest indicator to just how much of a difference Alonso makes (his infamous 'half second...') is the fact that the distance back to his team mate is vast in comparison to the other top teams who's points split is far more even, and explains why Alonso tops the driver's chart and are only joint 3rd in the constructors. True, Ferrari are the most dramatically improved team so far this term, but I still think that they have a very average car with only one exceptional driver. Hopefully the Montreal updates will give the team a shot at both titles this year.

Thanks also for the information about Alonso's evolving driving style. This is exactly the sort of information that makes 'JA on F1' my first stop for F1 news...


Either that Ferrari is actually fast or it does not matter how fast a car is because it's all about how you use the tyres.

Honestly, it's a joke that we don't know whether the F2012 is slow but good on it's tyres or fast with occasional tyre issues? When they have poor races, is that because the car was not quick or just that they missed the sweet spot for the tyres for that weekend? Is Alonso that much better or is Massa just at a complete loss with the Pirellis?

Ferrari struggled in winter testing and it must have forced them to analyze and reanalyze everything, including the tyres. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise (for Alonso at least), because tyres is what it's all about in 2012!


We do. It just takes a very keen eye to see when cars have their tyres in optimal working conditions or not.

At the front, it's very close. I'm inclined to say that Mercedes have the fastest car in one lap. McLaren don't seemed to have kept up in the development race (perhaps it was a mistake sending test drivers to Mugello?)

Red Bull, while competitive in one lap, seem to have better race pace.

You only have to look at Ferrari's quali results to see how slow their car is compared to front-runners. And recently, this has been disguised by drivers playing the tactical like Vettel not setting a lap time in Q3.


I am loving F1's life beyond the looking-glass. Only in a topsy-turvy world does Ferrari do starts, stops and strategy quite so competitively while McLaren puts Lewis H through the world's most public anger-management course.

Delighted, too, for the likeable Domenicali that the team is showing so well. Now I just hope the quake did enough to fix that eccentric wind-tunnel ...


Make no mistake, Alonso's consistency is his biggest trick in his deck of cards so much so that Fernando can make mistakes during a race even spin but he will still score points.

As the great man was once quoted... ''I may not be the fastest driver in F1 but I sure as hell am the most consistent''

Also as pointed out by our JAonF1, Alonso & Ferrari find themselves in this unexpected situation due to luck by being in the right place at the right time.

So as things stand, Alonso is looking more than likely to be the strongest driver in the first half of the season however, in seasons without a dominant car, this means he won't be the strongest in the second half (as evidenced in past seasons).

Also I would wager he would lose the lead in the standings for Canada is probably the only Alonso bogey track I can think of.

Now, the fact that Alonso is leading the title hunt & also the fact that Ferrari have improved their car can only add up to a double edged sword scenario i.e.

a) Mass will start taking points off Alonso sooner or later

b) It will be mighty embarrassing if the most complete driver lost the title for there will be no excuses... Yes or no?

On the other hand, if Alonso leaves the competition in his wake, then prepare yourselves for the over the top hailing of the second coming.

Fair is fair!

Personally I would like Alonso to take the favourite for the title tag away from Hammy ASAP for that title has a curse right next to it.


Its a shame Ferrari didn't know about the tyre warming issues in Monaco for that would have been a massive win that wouldn't have been forgotten.

But since Ferrari are learning from their mistakes expect them to stay out much longer next time.

Yes Ferrari are again kinder to their tyres and recalling last season, they preferred the supersoft tyre & that's why they were looking forward to Canada & Monaco whereas Mclaren (Lewis) were good on the hard ones.

*Just for laughs*

After Alonso's win in Malaysia & thus leading the championship, Jens declared he isn't worried about Alonso for he isn't a threat.


Why would Massa take points off Fernando? Surely as everyone has stated for months, he's just Alonso lackey?

That is of course if you actually believe Massa will be ahead of Alonso.

Great point about Jenson saying he wasn't worried about Alonso. I thought at the time, that would come back and bite!



Why would Massa take points off

Fernando? Surely as everyone has stated for months, he’s just Alonso lackey?


Well seeing as no one is perfect all the time, there may come a time when Alonso won't perform, maybe even DNF and Massa will be right there to capitalize.


Yes. I agree, but that's not taking points off of Alonso because he would have been in trouble any way.

Taking points off Alonso would be if Alonso was 4th for eg and Massa 3rd.


True that no one is perfect, but you think when Alonso has things under control he'd let that happen?

Rethink: China 2010 pitlane.

When anyone's to pounce, it's Alonso on Massa, or on anyone for that matter.

Yes there MIGHT be times when Alonso is on the back foot but that seems highly unlikely for 2012. I'd also imagine Ferrari to be 100% behind Alonso to push for the championship win and not risk losing one single point to Massa in case repeats of 2007 or 2008 again where drivers win or lose by a single point.


James, I just want to say a big thank you for writing and publishing this piece.

I must be honest to admit that prior to 2009, I've never been his fan and disliked him, but over the years recently I've learnt to like him and admire the qualities that he has. I've also noticed his change in attitude in character. Ever since he joined Ferrari he's been really really positive. I appreciate the Alonso now that we see.

Going back to Alonso you wrote, it's good to know that he's extracting maximum (if not more) out of the car, and performing better than his rivals.

I think Alonso will do a repeat of what MSC did, gather a group of talented people around him, motivate them to push to maximum and achieve the ultimate goal for the prancing horse, albeit difficulties with the car. Clearly hiring of ex-Bridgestone head helped them this year.


I think it's very unlikely a repeat of 5 consecutive WC's under the current F1 "small box" regs. Just look at what had happened since 2004; when RBR looked to nail the perfect team-car-racer combination, the FIA banned the new technologies and shrank the regulations box. I think what Alonso is doing right now is the right thing to do to clinch another WC: consistency. the team needs to keep pushing hard and discover qualifying in the car as well as top speed. Pit crew and race strategy is doing great....the rest leave it Fred. He deserves another WC after what could have achieved in 2007 and the horrible pit stop timing in 2010. Far better in comparison with Hamilton who has flushed at least a couple of WC so far and yet McLaren seems willing to dump big fat money on him in a 4-5 yr contract.


He's easy to admire and hard to love, many people say

But whatever you think of him, he's very effective


Maybe I have a different view because I am not British, but I have always loved Alonso's racing. He is talented, hard-working and tenacious (almost to a fault).

I have never understood why he has been so reviled. I honestly think that the (primarily British) press has done a very poor job in portraying Alonso. Luckily for us, the traditional press are fast becoming irrelevant. We can learn for ourselves what a driver is made of without the bias of parties who may have ulterior motives. @alo_oficial on Twitter to see what I mean.


I still cringe when i recall the personal attacks Peter Windsor directed towards Fernando in 2007. Stopped reading F1 Racing because media should have no bias.


Is hard to love by who?, Martin Brundle?, that was his phrase if I remember well. His twitter account is nothing but a testament of how many people like him, only certain group from certain place hate him, and I will leave it to that, don't want to start a war here.


Fernando has had a very clever approach for the first races of the season keeping in mind the level of Ferrari car.

Hope Ferrari can find the few tenths they need for the rest of the season, because I'm afraid McLaren is not going to make as much errors as they have done in the initial part of the season (mainly with Hamilton), and RBR will also improve.

Anyway, I think Fernando will have his chances for this season because his consistency.


I disagree with your thoughts on Ferrari lacking in straightline speed though.

Have watched all races this year (and even rewatched Malaysian GP and Spanish GP in the past two/three days), it's very noticeable that Ferrari had the pace in a straight line, especially in Malaysia down the two long straights where Sabuer were catching him up fast. In that race (latter part of course when the Sauber was almost breaking the sound barrier) Alonso was being caught up, but he only had to use a small squirt or KERS to keep himself in front of the Sauber, whereas the supersonic Sauber F1 had DRS AND used more KERS and still couldn't get alongside.

It's the latter 15-20 laps or so of that race in case you need reference.


If Ferrari have the speed you are talking of, how come Alonso could not past Maldonado in Spain, even after hounding him for many laps?

The Ferrari clearly didn't have the pace to pass even with KERS and DRS.....

Canada won't be the best track for Ferrari. Although, it will be cooler in Montreal which will disadvantage the other teams and therefore help Ferrari.


Also remember that Maldonado was stretching the gap in the last sector in Spain...and that was the reason why ALO couldnt get a chance in the main staright.


I didn't say Ferrari was faster than Maldonado, I only said Ferrari does not lack straightline speed, and that the Sauber couldn't pull alongside ALonso for a move in Malaysia, that does NOT suggest Ferrari is FASTER, only merely on about the same pace as Sauber

Going on to Spain, still bearing in mind i did NOT say Ferrari was faster by any huge margin, and this time it's a Williams not a Sauber so no direct comparison, the Ferrari was stuck behind another car that is feeding hot air to Ferrari's tyres cooking it while at the same time feeding dirty air. This does not aid overtaking.



@ Bring Back Murray

Lets remember that Alonso was the only person to beat Michael when he was fully competitive.


When Fernando beat Schumi isn't that black & white

First off,

a) Alonso was in his mid 20s whereas the Kaiser was in his mid 30s so in my view Alonso had a little bit of an advantage.

b) The 2005 Ferrari was a write off so Schumi couldn't compete infact his only victory came in the 6 car race in the US

c) In the 2006 season, Renault were running a suspect component (mass damper) which was later banned but unfortunately Alonso already had already amassed a huge lead in the standings & if you recall, when everything was back on a level playing field, Schumi kept eating into Alonso's lead in the second half of the season only for his engine to blow (which was unheard of for Ferrari) in Suzuka just two races to the finish.

So you see, one can't confidently say Alonso beat Schumi fair & square.

Bring Back Murray

You're right, it isn't that black and white. Didn't realise that comment would stir up so much to be honest!

Ideally Alonso would have come into the sport a couple of years earlier, then Shumi and Ferrari would still have been at their relative peak. I guess we'll never get a true comparison.

Just that when Hakkinen won in 1998, I distinctly remember the first race when they were about 3 seconds per lap quicker than everyone else! (with the "gentlemans agreement" and all that!).

Also, wasn't 1999 the year when Shumi broke his leg?

Like I said, I'm not saying Hakkinen isn't a great driver, and that he didn't have some great runs at Shumi, its just hard to compare who did the best job against Schumi when he and Ferrari were at their absolute peak.

I don't know, but just from a gutt feeling I felt that Ferrari were just coming down from their peak when Alonso arrived, but were only starting to find their feet when Hakkinen won the titles. Still, as you rightly point out in 2005 the Ferrari was pants.

Hakkinen was battling them when they were on the way up, Alonso when they were on their way down.

Guess we'll never know!


Alonso beat Schumacher. If you were going to analyze things like mass dampers, why not bring up technical issues Michaels Ferrari has had? Assess his seasons too and discuss justice.

Regarding the mass damper from Renault, this was cleared by the FIA and then after Alonso's dominance later became illegal. Taking a key component off a car slows it down fundamentally, so Schumacher kept eating into the lead naturally, but neither he nor the FIA could stop the best driver that year. Justice is served.


The "tuned" mass damper ban charade was shameful, especially when you read the ban was based on consider it a "movable" aero device! Renault seemed to lost a couple of tens afterwards....If we remember Monza '06 the penalty upon Fred after "blocking" Massa was criminal at least. Sometimes I think what could have happened that year at Suzuka if Schumi and Rubens decided not to spend several minutes throttling their cars in front of the Renault garage...


Let's remember
a) Hill beat Schumacher in the terrible 1996 Ferrari
b) Villeneuve beat an improving Ferrari in 1997
c) Hakkinen beat an improving Ferrari in 1998, and DC lifting off on the racing lie at Spa!
d) A broken leg beat him

So to surmise, Schumacher actually was unbeaten until Alonso arrived.

Yo may also like to read James' book about Schumacher: edge of greatness.
In a passage in there, he's asked which driver he fears the most. This was in 2002.
His answer wasn't Button, or Montoya or Raikkonen or Villeneuve.
It was Fernando Alonso.
A man who had had 1 season in F1 with Minardi and was then test driving for Renault.

Ferrari got the mass damper declared illegal, yet Renault had been using it for over 18 months by that point. It was the same as Ferrari getting Michelin to redesign their tyres in 2003 because the design they had been using for 3 years was deemed illegal.
Schumacher had many advantages to his career, incuding questionable ethics by the governing body. So lets not get carried away


Nice. +1

James, will you do a book on Alonso?


a) One could argue that Schumacher's experience outweighs age

b) true

c) Mass Damper should have been declared legal, that ruling was bad for F1 especially considering that cars continue to run mass dampers, just not linear dampers like Renault had. The cars shouldn't be on a level playing field, this is F1. If someone builds a better car or has a better idea, then they should win.

I think you can confidently say that ALO beat MSC with as much confidence as you can argue any two drivers in different cars.


He did, just get over it. Double diffusers and blown diffusers have been banned and that does not take anything from Button and Vettel titles in 2009 and 2011.

As for Schumacher engine failing in Suzuka I'm always amazed on how people always bring that but fails to remember what happened to Alonso in Hungary and Monza (FIA nonsense included), just take a look to refresh your memory.


To add to that, the FIA banning the mass damper technology in Germany that year. Something Renault had been using for over a year.

But the biggest mistake or misjudgement of the year was his complete and blatant cheating at Monaco during qualifying.

He started last, and finished 5th

If he had qualified 2nd to Alonso, he would have at worst finished 2nd.

val from montreal

100000000 % right !!

good to know , history has'nt been re-written ... its just the way how the press has twisted the facts to make Alonso look better ..

Schumacher for me anyways , won the 2006 WDC ... he crawled his way back and lead the WDC with 2 races to go ( he was tied with FA but was 1st in the standings because guess what , he had more WINS than Alonso ...)

The fact that Fernando has'nt won a title since Schumacher's engine blew in Japan tells all .... He did not win it with McLaren the following year ,then went back to Renault = did'nt make them champions again like he said he would , then goes to Ferrari and still the story continues ....

Yes Alosno is consistant in the way the media want to portray him to the public ...

You wanna talk about consistancy ? how about 7 titles in only 11 years , and being runner-up all the other years around ??



7 WDC in 11 years?

So 1994 to 2004, right?

In 1996, he finished 3rd behind Hill and Villeneuve.

In 1997, you will find he was removed from the F1 Championship standings for driving into Villeneuve.

In 1998, he finished 2nd

In 1999, he finished 5th

I remember all these, but if in doubt wikipedia normally carries the answers


Whoa... MSC won 2006 WDC 'for you anyway', Alonso didn't win WDC post 2006, etc... talk about twisting of story and even history! You beat the press to that!

1. 2007, with basically the entire team turned against him, Alonso still finished the season tied on points with Hamilton losing only to having fewer third places (tied on wins and seconds as well!). Doing that with basically both hands tied is quite an achievement

2. You expect Alonso to win with Renault in the dogs they created and achieve the same stuff as MSC? I guess you haven't landed on earth yet.

3. Alonso's 'story continues' as you put coz of a strategic error of the team, not his own fault.

4. Consistancy? The 5 out of 7 titles with teammates hands tied unable to challenge MSC is not exactly a really honourable or proud way to show off those titles.

Fine you are a MSC fan no probs with that, but twisting things just to fit your world is a little too much for our world to take.


@ Alex NK - In total agreement.....

I think it's the only occasion where Fernando had to fight consistently with his team mate on track, and was clearly rattled, history has shown us that. As much as I like Fernando and respect his skills, there will always be a stain on his character, that can never be washed out.

I just don't know why Alonso wasted 2 years of his career with a lesser team (Renault) in 08 & 09?

Rather than proving his qualities to the whole F1 community after losing in 07, by fighting Lewis on equal terms in a decent car in a decent team, he decided to leave, the thought of being beaten again by Lewis for a 2nd time was to much to bear in my view, he was mentally rocked by a teammate who could compete in all areas, including the mind games too. It wasn't Ron Dennis who was driving over the same patch of grass x5 times in Canada 07, spinning in Japan 07 etc etc.

For me, Fernando craves that number 1 status, needs that mentally to perform from the evidence I've seen, once that status is challenged, he'll stoop to any level to achieve his goal - we've had teammates crashing, Massa moving over on team orders, bad mouthing Fissi to the team after his win in Indy 06 etc etc.

For all the glory this guy get's, and at times fully deserved - no doubt.....as still shown when faced with a competitive teammate to be mentally fragile. I think Alonso as done great this season thus far, helped by others tripping over themselves, but still taking full advantage of all situations hence the title he gives himself 'Mr Consistent'.

Personally, I would choose Lewis everyday of the week, for the simple fact this guy will race anybody, anywhere, anytime with any teammate. If Lewis had the proper pitstops, the team professionalism, the strategy, the think quick on your feet type of team - like Red Bull, like Ferrari, like Mercedes, driving the way Lewis is, with this new found approach and calmness, it would be all over for the opposition for that I have no doubt.


AlexNK, my post was only a reply to Val's comments on all that twisted history he came up with and mentioned all sorts of stuff without recognise the reasons and events behind that made things happened as they did. I didn't say anything that twisted Alonso's past.

For sure these fighters at the front all want #1 status in the team, MSC, Alonso, Hamilton to name a few. However, Val's twists just to fit his desired image of MSC just isn't right. Nothing wrong with being a fan of some driver but one just gotta be realistic and stick to the facts.


To be fair, when did Alonso win a title with a teammate whose hands were not tied? Actually, when did he ever have a competitive teammate, apart from rookie Lewis (and we all know how that panned out)?


this guy is a cold blooded racer!!!! nothing else!!!! schumi did it then fr ferrari n nw its alonso


After reading this article, i'm feeling goosebumps again.

Let it be said again, Alonso's the best there is.

Give the man a car and watch him tear it up!

He is the master....


It's not a difficult question, it's very simple. He is leading because McLaren have stuffed Lewis' points on several occasions, while Vettel lost points in Malaysia and Button did too (as well as another McLaren stuff up).

Ferrari have a decent car, not the bad one of the first couple of races.

Simple, really.


Hi James, as you said consistency is key... if you can't win you have to accumulate the most points you can...

Alonso is very consistent and his race performance throughout the races prove it too. I found this stats ranking from the folks at Grand Prix Rankings, surprinsingly Hamilton comes in second:



I have my own opinion on HAM approach this year...HAM knows (and on his own words) who his the best/intelegent driver out there, why not do the same he does? That is why HAM is the second most consistent driver in 2012


Alonso is driving brilliantly in 2012. Very few errors and absolutely on it for every lap. If Ferrari can give him a car that works in qualifying, he will be much harder to beat. His last pole must have been 2010?


In a bad car or in a good car it does not matter....

Fernando "the Great" is always inspirational and that is what being a sportsman is about.

Thanks the article James, it's being a long time coming.


2012 looks set to be a modern day reincarnation of 1982, when the championship was won by Keke Rosberg's consistency after the form book failed to settle down. If races this season continue to produce various winners more often than not, then Alonso's ability to constantly punch above the car's weight and stick it a place or two higher than it should be can win him the title.

I'm still not totally convinced the F2012 has made that big a step. It looks as if they're still behind the leading teams by some margin, except that Fernando's talent is enough to cover the remaining deficit.


1982 was a very bad year, first Gilles lost his life than the other Ferrari driver Didier Pironi broke his leg during German grandprix which was bad enough that he could never race again.

Gilles was the favourite of the season and Didier was the championship leader before the accident.

overall that was a very sad year.


To add to that years statistics, Paletti was killed when Pironi ran into him at the start of the Canadian GP.

RIP to all the individuals who have died in this sport we all love.



1982 it was not about consistency but about tragedy instead. RIP Gilles the best ever.


I think the Ferrari was only a total dog of a car in the first 3 races, and one of those was totally neutralised by the rain, which Alonso won. Since then they've been about as consistent as the other leading teams - strong performance in one race followed by middling-to-nowhere the next. If any driver can string together a series of wins/podiums over the next few races I think they will be in a strong position to win the title.

Before this weekend I thought Hamilton was the favourite but they still can't seem to unlock the potential of that McLaren, I fear their time to make hay has come and gone. Now I think it will be between Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel, with Alonso the marginal favourite.

Also, I think Alonso's performance is being flattered significantly by Massa, who has rarely looked the same driver since his accident. He looked a step behind in the first half of 2010, and since he was forced to yield to Alonso he's just dropped off the face of the earth. He always has been a confidence and momentum driver, without them he's very average.


James, would you say the parts Farrari brought to Monaco have improved the traction and downforce to make it more nimble round this circuit, hence the "resurgence" of Massa also?

Have they managed to optimise for Monaco better than Lotus, for example, and so overtake Lotus, whereas Merc have done better still [should have won]?

I'm not daring to mention RBR whose success here is likely due to an illegal car!


Clearly. If Massa is going well the car must be improving

Bring Back Murray

Any idea why Massa fell back in Q3 James? Did he make a mistake, or just didn't get the tyres warmed up properly?


Why should anyone be surprised that Alonso is leading? First of all, Ferrari has probably the best car on the grid right now. We know pre-season they had a poor car but the fact is, they have a race winning car.

The media is painting a totally incorrect picture about the Ferrari drivers. The fact is, Massa is under-performing. But what certain people are trying to say is, Alonso is over-performing. Alonso is doing a good job while Massa is strugling with the Pirellis. Massa was faster in Monaco but come Montreal, he won't make it to Q3.

In hindsight we can say Alonso could have won if he had gone a couple of laps further in the first stint. But then we can also say, if it wasn't for the Kimi train, Vettel could have won!


If you take a look at the grid on Sunday u would of seen that a Mercedes, red bull, lotus and McLaren was in front of the ferraris. How u can say that ferrari has the fastest car right now in insane. It's was the 5th fastest car on Saturday. Fact.


It's been the 5th fastest car on Saturday all year. It's just that the deficit is closing down.


It either takes a genius or an idiot to say the Ferrari is the fastest car....and I think I know which you are. For your inept comparison on how Vettel could have won...is Alonso had stayed out a couple laps he may have won. Vettel had to overtake a very slow Kimi, which he simple couldn't do... While his teammate was winning the race. If it wasn't for the rolling barrier Grosjean, Vettel would have been further behind. Vettel's performance this weekend pales in comparison to Alonso, webber and rosberg.


"If it wasn’t for the rolling barrier Grosjean, Vettel would have been further behind."


He's lucky not to be penalised for that.


Grosjean a rolling barrier? Please have a look at the accident again. Who bullied and pushed Grosjean on to Schumi's Merc? Also Vettel didn't have trouble overtaking Kimi because he cut the chicane and got ahead of Kimi during that first corner incident.


Sure, the best car on the grid. As stated above let's take a look to Alonso's qualifying positions on "the grid" so far:

1. Australian GP – 12th

2. Malaysian GP – 9th

3. Chinese GP – 9th

4. Bahrain GP – 9th

5. Spanish GP – 3rd

6. Monaco GP – 6th

If this is the best car then Mclaren, Lotus Red Bull and Mercedes are not cars, they are rockets.


While I don't believe that Ferrari is actually the fastest car on the grid, I second Rob's view that it is up there with the best. Quali positions are hardly indicative, because it's all about the tyres now, and Ferrari is good on it's tyres. Look at the LH:

1. Australian GP – 1st

2. Malaysian GP – 1st

3. Chinese GP – 2nd

4. Bahrain GP – 2nd

5. Spanish GP – disqualified

6. Monaco GP – 4th

That's still the best stats this season, so by that logic McLaren is the fastest car. So why was Lewis moving backwards in every race that he started from his quali position? Is LH an also-ran driver, or maybe it has something to do with McLarens not being kindest on its tyres, so their quali and race performance do not always match? If you look at the Ferraris right now, none of their bad behavior from Melbourne is visible: the car is stable on the braking (just look back how they were into the first corner in Melbourne), doesn't lose ground to anyone out of the slow corners. Straight line speed maybe not Lotus-level, but they are definitely not sitting ducks like Red Bulls. So, Ferrari is a competitive car and has been for quite a while this season. Alonso, of course, would revel in telling everyone how the car is a dog, as well as praising Massa as the greatest driver he's ever seen, but the facts are the car is solid and Massa was mostly rubbish until Monaco.

Another reason Alonso is leading now by 3 points is that Ferrari is the only team on the grid that completely focuses on one driver. If Red Bull or McLaren used one of their driver to test the strategy for the other, or told one of the driver to move for the other, or had one of their drivers to guard another's back - the standings in the championship could be quite different. Giving credit where credit is due, Alonso performs very consistently this year, but he enjoys an absolutely unique position where the whole team is focused exclusively on his, so that is sort of expected.


In case you didn't know Alonso is not a qualifying expert; not good at exerting the best over one lap.


In case you didn't realise, Alonso is still punching above the car's weight bringing home the bacon whether or not he is good at quali or not.

So say IF he is not so good over one lap as you say, tell me someone better to do a better job.

Say again he is not good at quali, that makes him look even better coz be's bagging the points and leading the WDC when the car shouldn't finish where it does.

Fine you may argue Malaysia was lucky, but he was right there to be lucky. Feel free to think he didn't deserve the win and take it away to make it 0 points. He'd still be level with Raikkonen on standings and within a win's reach off the WDC leaders of Webber and Vettel.

I don't think I need to add anymore to justify Alonso's abilities.


Hey James, does Alonzo have a nickname. Many sport figures get good nicknames across the pond. (I'm from America) The maestro? That he is but it's taken. The professor? Again it would fit Alonzo, but it's also taken.

Finally, thanks for the article and all the great responses.


In Spain we call him "El Nano", a nickname for anyone named Fernando that's common in his home region. "Magic Alonso" too, partly as a play on Magic Johnson but also because he's into magic tricks, especially card tricks.


Alonso, not Alonzo. 😉


you are absolutely correct. We're on holiday over here. My thinking cap was not on when I wrote that. :>)


Webber calls him "The Fonz"


lol I'd call him the Brute. Damn brutal the way he strangles the car's neck and throw it across the line like he did for the first 4 or 5 races.


Be careful! In Spanish bruto means stupid / coarse and in Italian also unclean. 🙁


How cool.... sorry couldn't help it.

I wonder if anyone calls him Arthur??

As an aside, did you get to chat to Ron Howard at all over the weekend? I loved that small snippet of the new film Rush.


Well Alonso is a great driver who positions himself well, and I would not be at all surprised if he won his third drivers championship this year. However great drivers need some help particularly when the car is not at it's best. I think the Ferrari has always been a good starting car which has enabled Alonso to gain places at the start which is key. This year the car seems to look after it's tyres better than last, and has had better race pace than qualifying. All these things combined coupled with Alonso's tenacity and driving skill has given him a reasonably consistent point score, more consistent than anybody else. In the meantime Ferrari have improved their car to the point where it is reasonably quick if not quite the fastest car on the grid. This being the case I expect Alonso's charge to continue with more wins as the car gets better. Of course McLaren, Red Bull, and Lotus will do their best to prevent it.


Alonso is brilliant and very concentrate.


The thing about Alonso that most impressed me is his leadership skill. the first year he was at Ferrari, the team screwed up his chances of becoming a three time WDC. Another person would have blamed the team endlessly and lost motivation. I didn't hear much of negative comments from him. Instead I saw the Ferrari crew nearly in tears after that race. This event was followed by the signing of the multi year deal in 2011 when the car was clearly uncompetitive. These events have moved the entire team behind him and there is a feeling that they want him to win the title. This nature was also responsible for his debacle in McLaren. Bring together two drivers who are supremely confident and think that they deserve the best treatment, things start to unravel. Its good to see that the two are making positive comments about each other recently. It will be even better if the fans start showing some respect for both drivers. However, I do feel that Alonso's recent efforts to reach out to fans is a bit affected and people are going to get more cynical.

Tornillo Amarillo

For me the only highlight in Monaco is RED BULL:

they are the only team in winning 2 races so far and they are slowly slipping away in the WCC. They are not the fastest car, but they are doing a really good job.

val from montreal

Schumacher without all his DNF's in 2012 would now be sitting in the top 2 of the standings , or maybe he would be leading the WDC , who knows .... Watch Schumacher pull a ''2003'' starting in Canada ( montreal !! ) ... As soon as he gets that 1st win , the psychology will change thats for sure .... Schumacher is going to be fighting for the 2012 title 'till the wire .... never count him out ... watch him


val, Schumacher would be grateful fighting for a win after these last 2 and 1/2 seasons.

His first career, whatever the reasons was hugely successful, and trust me, as a Ferrari fan, I was grateful to every victory the red cars achieved because of him and the design team there.

This time round, for whatever reason, he has struggled, be it lack of testing, car design, because Byrne doesn't work for Brawn, (he still consults at Ferrari), be it tyres that aren't tailor-made for MSC or be it a team-mate that isn't forced into submission.

Whatever the reason, 2010 and 2011 haven't witnessed him stand on the podium.

Respect to the old boy, but there is no-one on that grid who is in awe of him any longer.


Yer I sure watched him running to the back of Senna, and running Barrichello into a wall as well.. watched those all along.

Too many ifs and butts. IF he was allowed to be challenged back in Ferrari days maybe Barrichello could've put up quite a nice in-team fight and changed history as we know now.


Would have put up a fight? You mean the same Barrichello that also lost to the "overrated" Button?


Alonso was masterful in the race. I noticed in the early laps he dropped back from Hamilton to save his tyres, so much so it looked like Massa was faster. Approaching the pit stops Alonso turned it on, left Massa behind, pulled up behind Hamilton and nailed him in the pitstops.


Mclaren have lost the plot with strategy this year.


James, quick question its been published that Vettel has a rumoured pre contractual agreement with Ferrari for 2014, and that Webber could fill the gap for a year, with Schumachers contract up this year would it be out of the question for Michael to fill the gap instead? Thanks.


I can't see it, either Michael was forced out or "retired" when at Ferrari.

I would imagine he was instrumental in Massa's performance in 2007 and 2008 whilst he was advising the team. I have no hesitation believing that he would have got huge pleasure at Kimi being out-paced.

Would he realistically join his old team and be up against someone of Alonso's ability? I'm not sure.

I was reading a newspaper over the weekend and they were speaking of MSC's pole position etc.

What made me laugh was the fact that the sentences started with "Ferrari Legend" not Mercedes driver.

Is Mercedes really getting all they want out of this relationship?


Thanks James seems to make sense to me.

Hero_was_senna, I find the statement that Ferrari forced out Schumacher a little absurd, a man who revolutionised the team, made them the most successful team of all time, and retired on top of his game. Look back at replays of Monza 2006 when his retirement was announced, the emotion from the team, tifosi, and Michael himself was there for all to see. Not to mention his near comeback after Massa's accident 2009. If he had wanted to he could have still been no1 at Ferrari now.

Fair point on the newpaper article though, it doesnt matter what Schumacher does from now on he will always be remembered as the guy that dominated in a red car.


"I would imagine he was instrumental in Massa’s performance in 2007 and 2008 whilst he was advising the team. I have no hesitation believing that he would have got huge pleasure at Kimi being out-paced."

Ah, I found someone who believes this as well!!!


That would blow a hole below the waterline for Red Bull if it happened wouldn't it?

Lot of anti-Red Bull stuff around at the moment...

Get the picture?


Simple.. Mclaren have being truely shocking this year, They never seem to pit Lewis at the right times and the actual pit stops have been a joke.

Mclaren have had the car but because of poor strategy haven't capitalised on their advantage.

Ferrari have just plodded along and Alonso has been consistant.


That's funny coz previous years McLaren weren't so bad as far as I can recall.

Maybe Sam Michael tweaked things a bit and made things even worse?


I love it, all they need now is to hire Nick Wirth to design the next Mclaren on only CFD computers.


Difference in previous years was erratic during from Lewis, this year he has been consistant but Mclaren have really struggled to come to terms with this years tyres.


I think the main problem in Macca is not the pitcrew, it the bad lack of race pace compared to the qualy pace. If the car were more consistent on race trim the pitstops could not have an important impact. On the other hand, if Ferrari improves 2-3 places in qualy, they would certainly fight for top finishes in most of the races


Thing is, this year Lewis has been consistant, but Mclaren haven't.

A lot of pit stops for Lewis have been slow or had problems and Mclaren just don't seem to know when to pit Lewis, their strategy is shocking.

At Monaco it was obvious Alonso was saving his tyres (which was only possible because he had the safety of Massa behind him, who isn't aloud to overtake him), so knowing how difficult overtaking is, they should have pitted him as soon as his tyres started to drop, even if that compromised his pace towards the end, track position is everything at Monaco and if Lewis's tyres would have 'hit the cliff' towards the end he would have been ahead of Vettel and Alonso and Would have most likely been able to hold his position.

But instead they left him out a lap or two too long which ultimately cost him a Podium.

Mclaren need to buck up there ideas, Because This years Lewis in another team (within reason) would be leading the championship ala Alonso

For me Alonso and Hamilton are cut above the rest.


I think "that car" has been way over blown as being so poor. Massa doing so horrible this year just added to the quesitoning of the car though. The reality is that 6 different drivers have won this year in 6 races and it seems any of about 6 teams can win on any given weekend.


Put some rain on Hungary and we'd probably see HRT on the podium owning Caterham and MotherRussia in the process lol


Alonso won a lot from his team's pitstops and strategy but Hamilton lost from his team's pitstops and strategy so far and I think this is why they have a difference in the standings.


Like someone said, Lewis speaks of "I" and "team" as though they aren't up to his requirements.

No doubt Freud would have made much out of that remark, but I'm no expert.

When you hear Alonso speak, it's always "we".

An old saying but fundamentally true, "There is no I in team."


"He's a crafty beggar that Fernando. For 16 laps he sold Lewis Hamilton the dummy that he was sliding away from the lead, dropping to 4.2 seconds behind the Brit on Lap 16, one of the biggest defecits at that stage of the race. He was simply running in clear air and keeping his tyres ready for the big sprint. We should have known something was up because Felipe Massa was so close. Then on Lap 17 the plan began to be revealed when he suddenly set the fastest middle sector of anyone. Previously he'd lost 0.5 and 0.6 to Lewis in that sector (all without backmarkers) so the car wasn't lacking. Then he closed the gap to 3.6, 2.9 with a quick burst of fastest laps. On Lap 28 he was just 0.1 behind after which Lewis pitted. Luckily for Fernando there were no Marussias around to spoil this plan. A great tactical move from Ferrari."


If one thing has the boy is determination. I first met him when he was around 13 y/o. It was before a Spanish Federation annual prizegivings and I was telling the karting youngsters how to act during the ceremony. One children did not pay attention and I told him that if he did not listen, he would not know how to do. He looked at me and very serious told me that he had been attending this prizegiving every year. Ouch! what a boy!


All due respect but Brilliant!


Was this Fernando? oO


Yes! It was a very young Alonso, I think h