Ferrari’s strange weekend in Monaco
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  28 May 2013   |  9:46 am GMT  |  171 comments

Ferrari arrived in Monaco on the back of their strongest performance of the season in Spain, where Fernando Alonso took victory and Felipe Massa third, but they left the principality with just six points and a missed opportunity.

Along with Mercedes, the Italian team were one of the favourites for the win and on Friday, the car looked very impressive. Both Alonso and Massa were able to take more kerb on the left on the entry to the Swimming Pool section which opened the corner out. In contrast, Red Bull and Mercedes were avoiding the kerb.

But the team dropped the ball in qualifying and on race day, with Alonso limping home to seventh – which would have been ninth had Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez not collided and dropped down the field – and Massa failing to finish after an accident which looked remarkably similar to the one he suffered in third practice. The second one was attributed to front left suspension failure.

Alonso said: “The main problem was the pace, we didn’t have the pace. Normally on Sunday we pick up the pace, this time we didn’t, and as part of that yes we did have different problems. The team informed me that we had a plastic bag on the front wing for ten laps which was taking aero performance from the front part.

“Then we had a piece of Sergio’s front wing underneath on the floor and we lost around 30 or 40 points of aero performance, and then it was off for the last three laps so it was some up and down in the performance of the car. But the first 30 laps until the red flag we didn’t have any problem and we were too slow.”

Alonso didn’t look himself on Saturday and Sunday. He has really struggled in qualifying all season and that was the case again in Monaco where he started sixth, behind title rivals Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel while Massa started 21st after the team failed to get the car fixed in time to take part in qualifying.

Unlike last year, Ferrari appear to have a very strong car but they’re not making the most of it and the mistakes are racking up.

They have now had three weekends in six where they have gone away with few or no points. In Malaysia, the team decided not to pit Alonso when he had a damaged wing while running second, but it broke off on the next lap and sent him off track and into retirement.

Then in Bahrain, Alonso was running second when his DRS jammed open. He pitted so the team could force it closed but on the next lap, the Spaniard made the mistake of opening it again and he had to pit for a second time, ruining his chances of victory.

In Monaco, despite looking good in practice, he never really looked like he had the pace to contend for a podium, let alone the win. Alonso also appeared to have less freedom than his rivals with his steering, taking a very wide line into the hairpin and at Rascasse which effectively left him open to attack to his rivals. Force India’s Adrian Sutil took advantage at the hairpin, while Button made his move at Rascasse.

And Alonso was forced to give up a place after the cutting the chicane while defending against Sergio Perez. The Spaniard added that he was wary of getting involved in a collision with a driver who had little to lose while he had an eye on the championship.

Alonso hinted that Ferrari was struggling for traction – an issue that is magnified on the tight and twisty streets of Monte Carlo. He said: “We didn’t manage to have a good pace, as is usually the case on Sunday and I wasn’t pessimistic about not being competitive on Saturday, because so far, things have always improved in the race. That wasn’t the case on Sunday, maybe down to a lack of traction, a problem we had seen before in Bahrain.”

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali added: “It is important for us to understand why we were not as competitive as we were in previous races and try to react right away in Canada. Our aim is still to improve our qualifying and try to get back to the pace we had seen to date.”

While Ferrari struggle, their rivals Red Bull – who do not have the fastest car and have admitted that they are struggling to get the maximum out of their car with the current spec of tyres – are efficiently racking up the points with Sebastian Vettel.

Everybody was talking about Ferrari and Mercedes in Monaco and yet Red Bull left the principality with second and third. That enabled Vettel to extend his lead in the championship from to 21 over Raikkonen and a further eight over Alonso. In the constructors’ Red Bull now hold a 41-point lead over Ferrari.

And while Sebastian Vettel isn’t showing the kind of dominant form which saw him cruise to the 2011 title, he has finished fourth or higher – including two victories – in the six races so far this season. That is title winning form.

Alonso also has two wins together plus a second place, but he has a retirement, a seventh and an eighth place finish.

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1

Ferraris are the fastest cars in 2013 yet they seem to constantly implode…. Shocking.

Alonso had a 20 to 30 points loss due to debris…. Yet Raikkonen showed in Chinese GP that you can drive with even half your car…. but then again its Raikkonen we are talking about it 🙂

2

Contrast Ferrari’s fortunes with Mercedes at Barcelona and Monaco. One team lunches its tyres the other nibbles, typically. Contrast tyre stripping impact circuit of Barcelona and barely possible to skin a knee Monaco.

If Ferrari *knew* the trick of tyres they’d have had a much better result in Monaco. Ditto Lotus. No one’s got a clue. It’s a joke.

3

“Alonso didn’t look himself on Saturday and Sunday. He has really struggled in qualifying all season”

He’s never been a good qualifier though. Given the other drivers on the grid these days, his natural starting position is always going to be third though sixth. And nowhere is that weakness a bigger problem than at Monaco.

4

Yes, I always wondered how Alonso could win Championships despite his weak qualifying skills. I think it’s his enourmos racecraft that saved him, the guy has certainly got the best racecraft of all the Drivers on the grid, he’s even better than Vettel in the races.

5

“Then in Bahrain, Alonso was running second when his DRS jammed open. He pitted so the team could force it closed but on the next lap, the Spaniard made the mistake of opening it again and he had to pit for a second time, ruining his chances of victory.”.

Or maybe the team told him that it was OK to open it again. If you are going to blame Alonso for that, you should back it up with solid proof.

6

Everyone saying alonso has lost his edge hes lost it already trust me he will be back as usual and this will be his year and he will go on to win 4 drivers championships

7
Tornillo Amarillo

I think Alonso is not in a bad situation, it’s true he’s not been consistent enough, but he still has good points, a wonderful car and the good news is that nowadays he has Mercedes that can take away the big points from Vettel and Red Bull, at least in Monaco.

8

I wonder how long before the italian media call for alonso to be replaced with vettel.

9

I think Vettel would be the better Option already right now. He’s fast, he’s Young and he’s still improving while Alonso is at his Peak and will start Fading in 3 years or so.

10

Ferrari have been doing almost true quali sims on Friday for a while now, they are not ‘stronger’ on a Friday.

Traction is not their strong point and they do not win in Monaco very often, I was not surprised by their performance in Monaco albeit I didn’t expect Alonso to fall back like he did

11

Ferrari to me is a flawed team.

They either melt under the pressure or they are just incompetent. I am not sure which.

Alonso has been less than impressive. Now will he win some more races? I am sure he will, like I said before tracks that do not require a ton of traction and are front tire limited he will do well on as long as the team (which includes him) doesn’t mess up.

So we have a car that has some obvious strengths and obvious weaknesses but a team that can’t seem to be consistent. Add in their seeming inability to accept responsibility for those mistakes and I don’t see them getting better. For example Maylasia, they tried to claim it was Vettel’s fault for breaking in a corner.

So for me, if you look at my post after Spain I am not surprised they had a bad race the next week nor do I think they have a dominant car that will compete for the championship.

The driver I feel for is Kimi, I fear that Kimi’s championship hopes are dashed with Perez’s failed attempt at a pass.

12

Brother You gotta Keep your faith in Kimi. You know he’s only 21 Points behind with 13 races to go so there’s atill everything to Play for. Remember that last year Vettel was 44 Points behind with only 10 races left and that couzldn’t stop him from claiming the big Price either.

13

Actually I didn’t know that Vettel was that far behind.

Although catching Vettel is a whole lot different than catching Lewis and Alonso.

14

After 13 races in 2012 he was 39 Points behind Alonso when they Left Monza.

15

James, thanks for the insights.

If I remember correctly, the great Ferrari result of Barcelona was after a 2 day test by Ferrari in Barcelona after Bahrain. I do not think anybody knew about that test before last weekend. Is that fair?

How are test tests monitored e.g. by the FIA? I am quite sure that at all the tests someone (of the FIA) checks if they are conducted correctly. If that is the case, the FIA knew about the Ferrari and the Mercedes tests. If they were not there nobody can prove which car was used (2010 or 2013), or which engine –

Do you have any more insights e.g which other teams have had tests?

Thanks,

Frank

16

Its no coincidence that on some tracks Mercedes and RBR are fastest while Ferrari and Lotus suffer, then on other tracks Ferrari and Lotus are fastest and Mercedes and RBR suffer.

It is proof the tyres are sketchy and gimmicky, totally manipulating the championship. Intentionally.

17

Upfront the race died halfway through, when everyone decided to drive slowly to some delta.

Vettel could have attacked (leading to an amazing race), but of-course the tyres don’t allow for that.

Pirelli has F1 by the balls….

18

I don’t understand Alonso’s “racing” in Monaco. Alonso is no fool. So why leave the door open at the hairpin for Sutil. And again at Rascasse for Button. I can’t believe the Ferrari has an issue with steering lock. Perhaps terrible understeer? Surely not that bad…

He was wise to keep out of the way of the late breaking Perez – perhaps Kimi should have been as careful…

The worst race by Alonso in years…

19

He was catch napping. Button caught him totally unawares. Racing on narrow roads on tyre preservation mode for nearly 80 laps is not easy. We are all humans and have our off moments.

20

Told ya… Alonso is not able to do a flying lap!

He has a car that can win without pushing (“I’m not pushing”)…

And is competing with Lewis for the 4th place in WDC.

21

No car can win races without the push

Alonso is not able to do flying lap ? which race you watched ? Alonso competing with lewis for 4th in WDC ?

Look back at the past seasons and realise the truth. you will sense then how good is Alonso and his performaces were exceptional

Too many people here are too quick to Criticize Alonso (Sad – including james).

Monaco will be one off race and Alonso will be back to his best

Alonso is not just the driver of last season or just this decade. Alonso is the greatest driver in the history of F1

22

Thank you for an interesting article, James. I agree with you completely.

On a personal note, I have to say I’m disappointed in Alonso. It’s probably my own fault. I just bought the hype last year, maybe I overrated him, but yeah. He’s been disappointing. Not bad, just nothing special, especially if we take his excellent car into account. He’s not even the second best driver this year. Kimi is.

23

A little ingracious to highlight only Vettel’s contribution to RBR’s healthy WCC lead. Vettel is certainly performing highly and consistantly, but like past seasons the RBR position is also underpinned by Webber’s haul.

Unfair omission. Poor form.

24

No fan of Vettel, but I think it’s pretty fair, considering that Vettel brought 107 points and Webber 57. If Red Bull had two Webbers, they wouldn’t be leading the WCC standings, which would be pretty logical, since they don’t have the best car. They have to thank Vettel for that.

25

[1] Vettel has 7 of Webber’s points he shouldn’t have; and Webber should have 7 more.

[2]. In none of the past three Redbull WCC winning years, would the loss (removal) of Webbers points hauls leave RBR to have won anything.

[3]. Vettel gains from having Webber in that team, and few people give proper credit to that. Newey and the engineering team certainly do.

26

The problem teams will have this season is fluctuations in form for we have already seen some tracks not agreeing with certain cars and so it continues.

Yes Ferrari have historically not been strong in Monaco more so this year as the car is pretty good at the fast speed corners so this can only mean the team won’t be very good at the twisty tracks.

In contrast, Red Bull are wearing out their tyres on the high speed corner tracks but were able to savage something in Monaco due to their good down force.

The best balanced car for all tracks is the Lotus for it’s good of all tracks.

As for Ferrari not maximizing their potential, well, that’s the irony of life isn’t it for last season Ferrari didn’t have a car as fast as the 2013 but Alonso almost had a flawless season.

As for the Vettel, it appears he will be the strongest driver in the first half of the season which always means he will not be the strongest in the second half (however, with Wunder kid, you just never know)

Last season, Alonso was the strongest in the first half whereas Vettel was strongest in the second half but luckily for Vettel, Alonso hadn’t made a huge advantage in the first half due to those 7 different winners at the beginning.

P.s.

Interestingly Kimi lost Sutil valuable points in Monaco 2008 and now Sutil was the main beneficiary of the Kimi clash with Perez.

Oh and as a foot note, Kimi apologized to Sutil in 2008 >>> miracle

27

“Last season, Alonso was the strongest in the first half whereas Vettel was strongest in the second half but luckily for Vettel, Alonso hadn’t made a huge advantage in the first half due to those 7 different winners at the beginning.”

Feret, he had a 40 point lead cushion at the middle of the season!

28

@ Brad

But in the old currency 40 points isn’t such a big cushion.

In effect that’s less than two DNFs

29

Actually it was 44 Points with ten races to go. Considering Vettel won by 3 point’s we can conclude that Vettel scored 4.7 Points per race more on average than Alonso in the second half of the season while Alonso scored 4.4 Points per race more than Vettel in the first half of the season.

30

I know, but it was still a very handy lead…

till Grosjean came flying through

31

Funny they’re struggling for traction but still great off the start line.

32

Guys, after 6 races, what do you think are the rankings of this years cars?

Because until Monaco I was quite sure Ferrari has the best overall package. I’m still sure Red Bull is not the best, at least until they solve their tyre issues …

33

I wouldn’t pay much mind to Monaco. It’s a very specific track. To perform well there, one doesn’t even need the best car. It’s not that Ferrari’s car was bad in Monaco; their drivers were.

My ranking:

Race:

1. Ferrari

2. Lotus

3. Red Bull

4. Mercedes (well, that might change in Canada)

Qualifying:

1. Mercedes

2-4. Red Bull/Ferrari/Lotus depending on the track. They are actually very close, but Vettel has the edge on Alonso and Kimi in Qualifying, so more often than not, RB seem more convincing. Let’s also keep in mind that this season RB got poles only in mixed conditions.

34

I think it’s pretty obvious what’s happening. Losing all championships to Vettel in the three years he’s been in Ferrari is destroying Alonso as a driver. Hence his “I’m the best driver, my car sucks, I’m fighting Newey” mantra that he keeps repeating every time he has a bad race. He’s losing confidence. We all saw the look in his eyes in Brazil 2012 when he was watching Vettel celebrate his 3rd WDC. That was an expression of a defeated man. No, I don’t mean Alonso is completely useless now. He’s still a very strong driver who can deliver when he has a dominant car (like on the race day), but his performance in Qualifying is very affected by the lack of his confidence. It’s a psychological thing: like, deep down, he thinks he can’t beat Vettel(yes, Vettel – Alo might say aloud stuff about Newey, but he knows the truth), and because of that he really can’t beat him, despite having a great car.

Mark my words, Alonso won’t win this championship, despite having the best or at least one of the best cars. And I’m not hating on him. I quite like him, actually; that’s just how I see the situation. I don’t like Vettel, but I think he’s mentally much tougher than Alonso. People hate on him, criticize him, but he shrugs it off and keeps improving. And for that, hats off to him.

35

This is just history repeating itself. You know, some things never Change. When Prost rose to the top, Lauda understood that here was the faster Driver beating him in the future. Later Senna emerged, and Prost understood he would eventually lose out to him. And when Schumacher hit the ground running, Senna understood here Comes the new Benchmark. When Alonso beat Schumacher in 2006, Schumacher understood here Comes the new star and retired. And in Brazil 2012 after the race, you could literally read in Alonso’s face that he understood that right there the guy emerged that would beat him in the future and possibly haunt him out of his Ferrari seat.

36

Nice summary and I agree with the historical bit.

But Vettel is already 3x WDC so he’s already overtaken Alonso!

37

Alonso overtaken in what james ? just stats

Vettel has better stats than alonso nothing more than that.

Time has already proven how poor vettel can be, even this season we have seen enough in malasiyan GP. I expect more of the same from vettel when webber runs him hard later this season

38

It’s easy to be “mentally much tougher” when you have Newey on your side an a car that is one second faster. Things are not that easy now for Vet and I think Alo already have his share of bad luck.

39

Red Bull certainly do not have a car which is “one second faster” this year – it’s not even the fastest car on the grid. They did not have such a car last year either. Even in 2011 the RB was not a second faster. Car’s like that do not and cannot exist in modern F1.

40

Talk to the engineers who work with Vettel or read the interview of his former F3 technical chief. He proffered that Vettel knows intuitively about cars, how it should be set up etc. He was a mere F3 rookie then but those suggestions were often more accurate than the experienced engineers’.

A former RB engineer posted that Seb improved the STR as well as the RB after joining those teams. He could help develop the car better than their more experienced F1 drivers. The former engineer rated Vettel the best developer currently on the gird and expects Vettel to win more championship.

That’s why all the Newey jibes doesn’t rattle Vettel cos he knows how good he is. No one can take away the self confidence that we’ve achieved through our own hard work, that’s what makes one mentally tough.

We will never have that rock solid confidence if our success was gained through politics, sabotaging others or stepping on someone else’ shoulder.

41

Lets stop calling it bad luck – its poor performance and bad decision making. Please reread James article.

42

somehow two victories out of six races doesn’t fit in that story.

I think you are one frustrated Alo hater who finally lived to see bellow-average performance from this guy (for whatever reason), but you just don’t have the guts to admit that.

Bad performance even from an armchair psychologist.

43

Have you even read the OP’s post? He/She said that Alonso is “still a very strong driver who can deliver when he has a dominant car (like on the race day)”. Both Alonso’s wins were on the weekends Ferrari were clearly dominant, so it fits the theory pretty well I think. I’m not saying I agree with the entire post, but the poster got some good points. No driver can be on top form year after year, and being defeated year after year by the same driver doesn’t exactly help one’s confidence and motivation.

44

Alonso had a poor day, but I still feel he’s favourite for the title.

I feel this years car is better than both the 2010 and 2012 machines and he only just missed out on both of those occasions.

Also later this year Vettel will have absolutley no help from Webber, which could be important!

45

“later this year Vettel will have absolutley no help from Webber”

He had absolutely no help from Webber last year. If anything Webber was more of a hindrance to Vettel and a help to Alonso. Nothing has changed at Red Bull with respect to Vettel and Webber.

46

Unlike ALO I think VET has proven that he doesn’t need his teammates help to win WDC.

48
Wilma the Great

“I feel this years car is better than both the 2010 and 2012 machines and he only just missed out on both of those occasions.”

Of course Alonso has the chance to compete for WDC in 2013, but in 2010 he was 3 points behind Vettel after Monaco, in 2012 he was 3 points ahead. Now he is trailing by 29 points!

49

Maybe alonso needs an illegal mass damper, or flavio and piquet, or team orders, or maybe all of them!

50

2012;

Ferrari – Slow but consistent.

McLaren – Fast but inconsistent.

2013;

Ferrari – Faster, but inconsistent.

McLaren – Slower, but a bit more consistent.

Is it just me or have Ferrari and McLaren sort of swapped places this year?

Anyway, roll on Canada.

51

For sure Ferrari didn’t do it on purpose, but could it be that the outcome of this Monaco grand prix and Vettel/RBR’s lead in the championships will be a further restriction on how significantly Pirelli will change the tyres as of Canada?

52

Massa’s suspension clearly has something failing on the race crash – on the sky footage they showed something around the uprights flapping around before Massa locks up so it wasn’t driver error. Perhaps it was just a freaky coincidence?

53

James, thank you for the summary. Facts are facts…I was just wondering..are the any insights, thoughts, suggestions? Is it a one off? Is it something that they will fix? is it possible for Ferrari to sort the Qualifying problem?

I do not want to hide the fact…I really want them to win…really…

54

The point is that the car is good but they aren’t profiting from it enough.

55
Alberto Martínez

But why this change from a competitive car on Thursday to an uncompetitive car on Saturday-Sunday? It seems really odd to me!!

In Spain some are releasing theories about a problem with the front suspension in both cars, but there are no evidences.

Personally I think that Ferrari-Alonso got it wrong with the set-up and since we are so used to Alonso performing well it has become a big talking point because of the surprise factor.

Probably this was a one off!

56

James,

I start to see Ferrari as Mclaren last year, best car and yet they did not profit from it. …I hope that they dont follow the same trend.

As a Ferrari fan I think this was Alonso’s worst performance since he joined the team…definitely you could see on his face after saturday that he was not confortable with the car for some reason.

57

Very true. Canada’s long straight and Silverstone should be much better for them..hopefully they can stay out of trouble!

58

Yes! They just need a driver…

Alonso last year, was like Perez at sauber (making the most of a “good” car). Actually, in Ferrari’s case, in my opinion the best car of last year. Highly consistent, and for 20 GP’s, consistency is the point!

Now, again with the best car (together with Lotus), he can not qualify in a good position, and needs to race the “marathon like” GP. Kimi is much better than him doing this, and that’s why he is fighting Vettel.

59

James, it is hard not to agree with this. It looks like Vettel is doing this year what Alonso did last year. And…hopefully, it will finish exactly the same way with Alonso winning this time:-)

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