Alonso: For first time this year we were trying to win, not limit damage
Insight
Posted By: James Allen  |  11 Jun 2012   |  9:04 am GMT  |  101 comments

Fernando Alonso has issued a robust defence of the Ferrari strategists after he lost the win in Canada yesterday and ended up fifth by gambling on a one-stop strategy.

The Spaniard led the race on lap 50, when Lewis Hamilton came in for his second stop of the afternoon. As Alonso came around at the end of lap 51, Hamilton’s new soft tyres were still coming up to temperature and Alonso had a 14.8 second lead over him.

It was enough, arguably, with Ferrari’s track record this year of very fast pit stops, to chance their arm on a stop and retain the lead. He would at the very least have come out side by side with Hamilton. But Ferrari were thinking about Vettel, who was only three seconds behind at that point and clearly also contemplating a one stop.

“I don’t want to hear anything about strategy mistakes, ” said Alonso last night. “Tyre degradation made the difference. We stopped only two laps earlier than Grosjean and he finished second. ON his car the tyres lasted 55 laps on our car only 45 laps. That’s the story right there.

“We tried to win the race, but the gamble of only making a single stop did not pay off,” added Alonso. “When Hamilton came back into the pits for his second stop, we chose to try and play our hand: now itʼs easy to say that we should have made that choice too, but it would have meant we had tried nothing and we could also have lost position to Vettel.

“Also letʼs not forget that it was that very same strategy that allowed to us to get ahead of Vettel at the first stop. The car was competitive practically all race long: it wasnʼt the quickest because here the McLaren, as was expected, was very quick, but definitely we have made a step forward in terms of performance. We need to work out how to improve the tyre degradation.”

Ferrari’s argument is that they were going for the win, not for damage limitation, as they had done at every race so far this season. Perhaps they got caught up in that mentality. Because once Hamilton pitted for fresh rubber, there should have been a damage limitation element to their next move.

For a full analysis of how the race got away from Alonso and Vettel check out our UBS Race Strategy Report, which will be live soon here on JA on F1

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1

Much as I admire Fernando’s “we’re all in this together” attitude, and the attempts to put this down to a win-or-bust mentality, for me Ferrari simply had another weekend of strategic mishaps. They left both drivers out on tyres that were well past their useable life and paid the penalty – it’s as simple as that. It’s not a question of hindsight either – as Gary Anderson said on the BBC, the writing was on the wall for both Alonso and Vettel on lap 52 when Hamilton started catching them at a second a lap and rising, so given they have the split times on their screens I do not understand their belief the tyres would last. Alonso ended up the best part of 4 seconds a lap off the pace towards the end, and but for good fortune he could easily have lost 5th place to Rosberg at the line. I don’t know why, but Ferrari seem to have some serious issues on the strategy front and I fear if they don’t sort them soon they will take themselves out of the title race. There aren’t many days you can afford to throw away podiums when you’re in a title race.

2

we ride together, we die together. good on you alonso, backing the team. it did almost work, at least they have learned something about how far they can push there tires. Its not the end of the world and they wont make that mistake again, someone else will , they will all try it at some point !

3

I think theres a point to be made that at the time when Hamilton HAD to make his second stop because he was complaining about his rears etc. etc. in true Lewis style Ferrari was comtemplating a one stop as was red bull, this wasnt the case for Mclaren because Hamilton had already ruined his tyres. My point being OK it didnt work out for Fernando but just the fact that they thought it could shows that Ferrari and Fernando have a better understanding/skill on the Pirellis than the Mclaren/Hamilton outfit, which will pay dividends for the rest of the season.

4

Three way battle till the end…

Fernando vs Lewis vs Vettel

The best man comes out on top…

The driver who wins the 2012 championship will be a worthy driver and the best on the grid…

5

Why did Alonso pit the 1st time when his laptimes were still improving? Especially if they had not completely ruled out a 1-stop.

6

To get track position over Vettel and Hamilton who had stopped and were getting up to speed on new tyres

7

Thanks, I was just wondering if he could still have done that if he’d stayed out a bit longer, plus it would have made a 1-stop less risky?

8

“Went for the win” — which win, the WDC or the race? They did not have to win the race to stay on top in the WDC. Should have played safe.

9

IMO, if Lewis wants a challenge like Michael Schumacher or Adrian Newey did. He should got to a mid team like Force India, Sauber or Williams and make them the top team.

But I doubt the man is the courage or the aptitude to do it. He will end up with one of the top 4 teams.

10

Maybe Fernando was scared of the pit crew not changing his tyres, thanks to Spain-Italy in UEFA? 😛

11

So with Hamilton pitting and Alonso trying to play the long game did it not count that a few laps after Hamilton pitted Alonso only had about 2 laps to do the same? With Grosjean and Perez closing like mad to which he would have lost out in the same manner Vettel missed out to a podium?

12

Every other driver should be taking notes on this. When your team makes a call, you support it 100%. Disagree behind closed doors if you want, but when you drive for a team, you should be on board. Right call, wrong call, it was the call at the time.

Ferrari will bleed for Alonso, not a bad situation for a driver! I imagine that if they asked for a pint of blood from every mechanic to make their car faster, they would all roll up their sleeves and get back in line 4 times.

15

I think it was a worthwhile gamble from Ferrari. I think they felt the tyres would just about last but were caught out by the severity that they degraded. As JV said on Sky, the tyres really shouldn’t degrade that quickly and severely.

16

Did anyone happen to notice Alonso’s rear wing at the closing stages of the race? The left hand leading edge portion was besmirched by a very large piece of tire clagg.

Now, if we believe that these aero devices make a large difference in performance, then this piece of the puzzle should better complete the picture and help explain the coincidental tremendous lap time fall off.

17

That would explain a certain degree of loss of pace, maybe a few tenths in the faster corners or the odd oversteer moment. It doesn’t explain being 4 seconds off the pace, as Fernando was towards the end of the race, nor the visible traction and turn-in problems. For that, the only feasible explanation is the tyres having cried uncle.

18

You don’t think it’s just that his tyres were knackered then?

19

I think tires may have played a role, but the fouled rear wing added insult to injury, so to speak.

20

If only Ferrari used this site’s strategy calculator …

21

Indeed..

22

They could ask any of the armchair experts here and the Championship would be in the bag 😉

23

Glad to see him stand up for the team strategists.

24

Alonso just lost 8 points today, it is not a big problem especially if we consider that the car performance improved.

The good thing about the race, actually both Hamilton and Fernando beat Vettel if you consider their race pace. Vettel could not disappear after the start as he used to do with the dominant cars of last two seasons.

I think Vettel was lucky at the end because he had the advantage of the following car.

If Alonso had pit in first Vettel had the option to fallow the suit easily. RBR took the advantage of the position and pit in Vettel after Alonso got past the pit entry which means Alonso could have only give an answer at best one lap later which also means he had already lost over 3sec against Vettel. So even if Alonso had covered the last move of Vettel and pit in the fallowing lap, most probably he would end up at the back of Vettel with very few laps left to past a car as fast as his own, and one should consider that RBR was the fastest car on the track on the supersoft tyres.

25

Just another example of the lottery that is 2012. A different combination of driver, car and tyres seems to suit each different circuit. More please 🙂 Looking forward to the eighth winner next time, even though logic dictates we’ll get a repeater next time.

26

Fernando is right in one sense. “At least they were fighting for the win and not limiting damage”

Moving forward with development is all this championship about. Who has improved like anything? Its Ferrari.

I like Lewis and I am very happy for him BUT sadly McLaren are not improving. Still 13 races to go and Fernando is only 2 points behind Lewis. Ferrari will bring more and more updates not to mention we have 1 month break in August and 9 races after that.

History has shown us that Ferrari and Fernando come alive when it really matters in terms of results for championship.

This is what every F1 fan dreams about. Lewis vs Fernando in a straight fight. Canada has just told us one thing that its – “Game On!!” 🙂

27

McLaren not improving?

Their pitstops are getting faster. They won the race, and almost everyone on this forum agrees that whatever Alonso and Vettel had done, they wouldn’t have caught Lewis. That seems like improvement to me, though granted Jenson has gone precipitously backwards right now.

Looking forward to the next race. 8th different winner, anyone?

28
6 Wheeled Tyrrell

Hear Hear!

29

Dear James and all,

I think Alonso is right. Do you remember where Ferrari were at Albert Park? No straight line speed, lack of traction, debatable downforce. It was more a cart than an F1 car. Now? In Canada, where straight line speed is very important, where traction from the slow curves is fundamental, Alonso battles all weekend – fp1, fp2, fp3, qualifying and the race. Ferrari and Alonso took a risk to win and it went wrong. What could have we said if it went right? In my opinion, considering there is still room for improvement on the F2012, Ferrari and Alonso can seriously battle for the championship. The weekend is in the bottle’s half full, only the result is half empty!

30

when Fernando was taking multiple jabs at the final corner in Albert Park all through free practice, I said to myself — “This year is just going to suck”

It was a bucking bronco with a huge attitude problem. It was tamed, groomed and developed well and now its a real prancing horse.

You are absolutely right — serious challenge is possible

31

“I agree with ronmon, Hamilton would’ve been furious if it hadn’t paid off”

It’s fair enough to criticize drivers for what they do.

Criticizing them for what you imagine they might do seems a little unreasonable.

32

He’s got previous

33

Hindsight is wonderful 🙂

I have to say that if ferrari hoped to beat hamilton by finishing on those tyres, they had to believe it was a faster strategy than hamilton.

Combine that with Vettel apparently on the same strategy, it seemed like hamiltons move was the gamble of the three.

By the time it was obvious that they’d made the wrong call, vettel threw the dice once more, but this time Ferrari were right to stay out.

I think they covered the right guy, but unlucky that they were both on the wrong strategy.

As for Hamilton and Mclaren, I agree with ronmon, Hamilton would’ve been furious if it hadn’t paid off – to be told Vet & Alo were pitting again, only to seem them stay out, he had to be wondering if they knew something he didn’t. As it turns out, it seems an inspired move by the team.

Props to Alo for backing his team too, they did have the car to win.

34
Kevin McCaughey

Ferrari had a choice of following Lewis’ pit or taking a punt and hoping the tyres lasted, giving the chance of a win.

If the gamble had paid off (tyres lasted 55 laps instead of 45 like Alonso said) everyone would have said they were geniuses.

You win some, you lose some. I think Alonso is just being philosophical. There’s really no point looking back and beating themselves up over the strategy – they took a gamble, it didn’t work, move on. It seems a totally natural state of mind to me from Alonso.

I am not a Ferrari “fan” as such, but I think they are doing a good job at the moment and that was an optimistic, forward looking gamble they took, from a team that feels like it’s a winner again. Seems healthy to me.

35

Could not agree more.

One a side note I think DRS zone on this track should be revised or even banned. Those overtakes in the middle of the straight are ridiculous, they don’t add anything to the show but the opposite.

36

Seems time to analyse the obvious tyre quality ( spread ) in all details….

37

I don’t really understand Ferrari or Red Bull’s decision making processes in that race. Hamilton pitted with 20 laps left to run. In most races this season there has been a marked time difference between old and new tyres – always greater by at least 0.5s and often closer to 1s.

As such, and with Alonso only 15 seconds ahead on the track logic would suggest that Hamilton would have been able to make up the time difference and pass even if Alonso’s or Vettel’s tyres did not drop off the cliff.

With the ease of passing in Canada with DRS the race win for Hamilton was pretty much a certainty as soon as he pitted. Surely they didn’t need the benifit of hindsight to realise that?

38

Ferrari could have won last 3 races with perfect strategy… yeah i know it’s easy to say now.

39

Absolutely. But, that’s racing! if it were that simple, you and I won’t be watching this

40

Alonso’s just being loyal to the team. Big mistake made, so let’s move on. He’s only 2 points behind Hamilton. It’s not end of the world. Just don’t repeat it again.

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