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Alonso blames “extremely bad luck” for Malaysian Grand Prix retirement
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  25 Mar 2013   |  1:47 am GMT  |  199 comments

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso blamed “extremely bad luck” for his second lap retirement in the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang.

The double world champion, who was competing in his 200th race, moved up a place to second at the start but broke his front wing when he tapped leader Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull at turn two.

With conditions still a few laps away from being suitable for dry weather tyres, the team decided to keep Alonso, 31, out on track to avoid having to make two stops in four laps. It was a mistake; the loads on the wing were too much for the damaged pillar.

The wing collapsed on the start-finish straight on the second lap and became lodged underneath the Ferrari. Alonso no longer had control of the car and went straight on at turn one and into the gravel, ending his race.

Given everything that he and the team had said in the build up to the season about the importance of consistency, it was a very rash gamble, when he could still have scored perhaps 10 or more points on a chaotic, pit-stop laden race.

Alonso said: “It was a very, very small touch, but enough to damage the front wing a lot. It was extremely bad luck in my opinion. We were constantly talking on the radio on the first lap. The car was behaving more or less well in the first two sectors and from the television the team saw damage.

“But we knew on lap three or four we would switch to dry tyres and if we could make it to then we could save 20-30 seconds in the race. To stop on lap one and lap three for the tyres is a little bit too much of a penalty.

“They said I didn’t have the front wing performance I should expect, but to see how the problem was going to develop on the next lap. Unfortunately on the back straight the front wing dropped. At that point we were five seconds before the pit entry and we didn’t make it.

“Looking now, after the incident, it was the wrong decision, but I think it was extremely unlucky – a combination of things that happened today.”

Alonso, who finished second in Australia last weekend, said that if he hadn’t retired, his Ferrari had the pace to challenge the Red Bulls for victory.

“I think we had a good car and I don’t think we were too far from the Red Bull pace, especially in the race,” he said. “They didn’t have the easiest weekend here in Malaysia. No one was especially quick, so I think we could really fight for the win with the Red Bulls.”

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali said it was the team’s decision to stay out with damage rather than pitting.

“We took a risk that didn’t pay off,” he said. “The decision was from the pit wall. Obviously Fernando can feel it in the car, but he could not see the damage.

“We take the responsibility as the team. The ‘kiss’ [on Vettel’s car] was unfortunate because we could have taken good points from this race. Fernando’s not happy to come away with zero points, but he’s positive and looking forward because he knows we have something to play with.”

Felipe Massa, 31, who started second but finished fifth, said that graining on his front tyres in wet conditions ended his hopes of challenging for a podium.

“I lost a lot of positions because of graining and a lot of time compared to the guys in front,” said Massa. “In the dry it was fine and the pace was good so if it was not for this problem at the start of the race maybe I would have had a chance to fight for the podium.

“When you start second and you finish fifth you cannot say you are happy. But if you see what happened at the beginning of the race then it could have been worse as well. It is important to bring points home and fifth after the first stint was not so bad.”

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The definition of “bad luck” is gambling and losing, so Alonso’s statement is correct. I expect to see a lot of bad luck in ’13.

Scuderia McLaren

there is calculated risk taking and then there is reckless gambling.

what ferrari did was reckless and negligent to Alonso. he is lucky he was not on a streek track, like Canada, on the back straight at 300kmph.

A wing under the tyres there, no braking and straight into a wall at 300. Sounds horrific to me – think Robert Kubica Canada crash!


From the article, Alonso said: “Unfortunately on the back straight the front wing dropped. At that point we were five seconds before the pit entry and we didn’t make it.”

Is his memory bad or is mine? I could have sworn the wing came off at T1, several seconds *after* the pit entry.

Scuderia McLaren

You a right. Not sure what Alonso is saying. Wing finally came free at end of straight just before T1.


Simple fact, Alonso was too eager and made a mistake. If only his head is in the frame for damage limitation he would have have put up a good fight or even win. Shucks it’s an iffy.


There is some mis-interpretation going on here. Alonso is saying that in spite of what he felt to be a light blow to his car, it was bad luck that the wing completely failed. He was not blaming the contact on bad luck. He was not blaming the decision to keep going until the wing fell off as bad luck.

You also have to keep in mind that in Latin culture the role of luck is different than in Anglo culture. There are both language and cultural differences.

I think the driving and pit wall decision making were too aggressive in hindsight.


It is as you say. I had stopped writing here because most of the comments on the pilots were just caused by irrational phobias and accessions. Thank you very much for your comment.


Exactly as you say. Thank you so much for the comment. I stopped writing here because most of the comments on Alonso (and other drivers) only reflect irrational impulses for or against.


More like extremely bad judgement from alonso and ferrari. Four laps with a front wing that badly damaged… Keep dreaming.


I foretold back in February that Alonso won’t have the same degree of luck as last year. Bad news for Alonso fans, but this will be Alonso-Bad-Luck-Year!


Talk about pressure your team mate exerts on you !

In my opinion, As Massa is out qualifying Alonso for 4 th race in succession, Alonso is taking some bold risks in resorting to such strategies. If Massa was no where in sight for points or in grid position, Alonso and his race engineers would have taken a more conservative approach and salvage some points here.

It would be interesting to see how Ferrari and Alonso in particular acts in future races if Massa continues to perform well.


Anyone know the purpose of the 4 cables in this photo, running where the front wing pillars used to be?


If there was anything potentially suspect going on there, I imagine the other teams would already be on the case. But you’ll often see wires flailing about after front end damage, and in the case they’re mentioned by commentators, they’re supposedly for sensors on the car.

I suspect the readings at that particular moment weren’t looking very good. Haha.


If ALO admitted that was his fault/mistake he’d ve gained one more fan.


If Alonso had continued on lap two (and possibly further), would the loose front wing not have represented a danger to himself and to other drivers? Hence would race control not have asked the team to pit him?

What are the exact mechanisms here? Would they black-flag him at some stage?


Absolutely crazy race management from Ferrari/Alonso. I have been watching F1 long enough to know that a front wing being held by one upright at 200mph is going to fail very quickly.

The team should be fined for allowing such a dangerous situation to continue into a further lap and it should have resulted in a black flag in any case, particularly while he was trying to race at full speed.

One of the worst and most irresponsible “gambles” I have ever witnessed.


Alonso never admits his mistake like other drivers do (specifically Kimi). Now he is nicely putting the blame on Vettel for his own DNF seeing that anyway Vettel is getting bad publicity. He is a perfect politician and manipulates the situations to his own end. He says Ferrari is more united than RB – of course it is, if you are stated as #1 always, then it does appear more united. I think there are man selfish beasts in F1.


No Alonso, you did a big mistake and your team did another.

Simple like that. You are very aggressive at the starts, and sometimes you do a good one, and sometimes not.

This time you crashed on the back of Vettel’s car. There is no half words on that…

I think a two-times world champion like you should have the honesty to say so.


James you forgot to quote alonso where he indirectly tried to accuse vettel of slowing down purposely! i call it sour grapes!


Was it really the teams decision to keep alonso out or did he ignore team orders too, with red bull gate so big in the news one could imagine Ferrari masking this


I just hope his luck improves in time to support Massa’s title campaign later in the season.


Lol, +1


As has been said, isn’t hindsight wonderful.

It seemed ok until Mark moved in front of him and disrupted the airflow over it, then it gave way.

Ok we now know he should have stopped, but I’m just trying to defend Ferrari a bit by saying my thoughts at the time were the same!


Very bad decision by Ferrari, couldn’t believe it when he didnt pit

It’s like them trying to slipstream each other at monza in qualifying, knew that wouldn’t work as soon as I seen it


That’s not “bad luck”, that’s being greedy and stupid, firstly he was a bit aggressive and then instead of pitting they decided that they want maximum points but could have pitted immediately and settled for maybe between 7th – 10th.


Clearly Ferrari were hoping to delay the pitstop until it was time to change to slicks, but that front wing was dangerous, as we all saw. And with 20 cars behind him that could have been damaged by flying debris when the wing inevitably detached, why was the appropriate warning flag not shown?

What happened to Alonso in Malaysia was an exact copy of the incident that killed Roland Ratzenberger at Imola in 1994 (the day before Ayrton):

Extract from Wikipedia :

“He went off-track on the previous lap, damaging his front wing, but rather than come into the pits he continued since he was competing for the final grid spot. The high speed on the back straight, and therefore high downforce, finally broke the wing off, sending it under the car. His car failed to turn into the Villeneuve Corner” … #section_6

Ferrari should be ashamed of themselves, and the sport should never let this happen again.


Great comment! Luckily for ALO there is ample run-off room in Malaysia, but I doubt the decision to keep him out would have been any different at a less safe track.

I don’t know what mechanism should be put in place, but clearly the car was damaged and he could have easily taken out another driver when that wing failed.

Alonso is my favorite driver, but he and Ferrari should have just brought him in and got on with the race.


[mod]Alonso admitted he made a mistake and the team admitted their mistake. The “bad luck” was because their (rather dubious) call to keep him out didn’t pay off and also that such a small touch damaged the wing so badly (remember Vettels start in Brasil last year?). Had the call paid off or the damage been slight we would all be singing a different tune. As most have said, It’s a gamble and as with any form of gambling, it’s all down to luck, good or bad.


Don’t know how Alonso can say that was bad luck, he made a mistake hitting Vettel then the team made a mistake not bringing him in when it was clearly the sensible thing to do. Ferrari and Alonso only have themselves to blame.

Certain other drivers get accused of never being able to recognise they are sometimes in the wrong, but oddly not Alonso even after incidents and comments like this.


It wasn’t luck that the front wing folded under Alonso. It was only a matter of time before it actually happened. Alonso already lost a decent amount of front downforce and the only thing saving him was that clean air that gave him “something”, some downforce that held the car down.

When Webber later put the pass on Alonso and pulled in front of him, that was enough to take air off the front of the car, possibly causing the nose to lift. This had the effect of causing Alonso to roll over his own wing. If it wasn’t Webber that caused it, there were plenty of people behind Webber that would’ve pounced.


James – a point of correction.

Alonso was not “competing in his 200th race” as you state. He was participating in his 200th Grand Prix weekend but only his 198th race. On two occasions he did not start a race.

At Spa 2001 he did not take the restart (after the stop for Burti’s crash) which was classified as the only part of the race that counted and therefore the official start, hence an official DNS.

At Indianapolis 2005 he was not one of the six runners who did contest the race, hence another official non-start.

Sorry but that’s what the record books will forever show.

He will (probably) start his 200th race in Bahrain, the same weekend as Mark Webber will celebrate his 200th start. (He also DNS at Indy 2005 and Minardi withdrew in Spain 2002 – so they are both 198/200 for their career.)

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