Alonso and Ferrari pointing forwards, qualifying remains the weakness
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  26 Jul 2013   |  7:50 am GMT  |  64 comments

This weekend Ferrari and Fernando Alonso go into the Hungarian Grand Prix with the objective of reducing the gap to Sebastian Vettel in the points before the summer break.

With former Lotus technical director James Allison set to join the team later this year, there is a palpable sense of the team pointing forwards, but this championship is still there to be won, even if the numbers suggest otherwise.

Alonso has always maintained that the title will be decided in the nine races from Spa onwards, which come thick and fast in a three month period, unlike the first half of the season, where nine races have been spread out over five months.

This means that there is less time for race-to-race development in the second half of the season while at the same time, teams are focussed on the the 2014 cars, which will take up 90% of a team’s wind tunnel time from now on.

Last year Alonso had an advantage over Vettel of over 40 points at the summer break and yet the German overhauled him in the back stretch of the season. Alonso aims to turn the tables this year, with a significant upgrade coming to the car in Spa.

But qualifying remains the Ferrari’s Achilles Heel – Alonso was qualifying around 5th or sixth at the start of the season, but that has slipped to 8th and 9th in the last couple of races; too far back to make any impression on Vettel.

“Qualifying has been missing for the four years I have been at Ferrari,” said Alonso yesterday.

“Our best strategy is to start close to him on the grid, attack him hard in the opening laps and make his race difficult. But we don’t start close to him and we can’t make the decisive blow at the start.”

Red Bull has the best balance between single lap qualifying pace and tyre management in the race. Mercedes is the best over a single lap, but chews its tyres up in races and Lotus and Ferrari are the opposite. Red Bull has the best compromise and Vettel is able to get close to the maximum in both conditions on a consistent basis – that is is the story of 2013 in a nutshell.

Can Ferrari change the story’s ending? If anything they have faded in recent races, as Mercedes has translated some qualifying triumphs into points and Lotus has started to come good. It’s crowded at the front now and Ferrari need a new trick to join in.

A new exhaust this weekend is part of the solution, they hope, but others have similar tweaks on this important area, with extra downforce in the Hungaroring’s slow corners being the name of the game.

“We will try to close the gap a little here, ” said Alonso, “Even if we don’t have a revolution on the car. We think we know what the problem is and hope that after the summer (with the Spa update) we will be closer.”

* Don’t miss your chance to win a limited edition JA on F1 T shirt in our predictions competition. How far will Kimi Raikkonen qualify off pole for the Hungarian GP (in seconds). Competition closes when qualifying starts on Saturday. It’s free to enter JUST CLICK HERE

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Ferrari is …. A long established racing car company , Fiat had to get involved to keep them afloat through bad times . Angnelli and family are the main reason Ferrari are still trading and Giovanni RIP , did a great job pushing the brand forward . It’s a new era , the strong minded individuals with massive experience in f1 have passed away or retired . The great Ross Brawn is on his way soon . Jobs will be filled , but F1 teams are like the football divisions with money being spent more at the top. I thank Bernie for what he has done for F1 but let’s have a new start.


Tyres have been ( I know its getting boring ) the centre of attention for all f1 cars Pirelli is to blame , but Bernie requested Pirelli to sharpen up the F1 racing? .So would Michelin , Goodyear and other tyre companys take what Bernie and co want 100% to heart ? Or do it their way . A Newey has got everything to hand with dealing with new regs etc and no other team can get near his magic touch . I think last year’s racing had more excitement and final twists . I hope tomorrow red bull can be pushed to the limit .


Actually the number one problem is Pat fry and not Adrian newley is designing the car 🙂


That’s why James Allison is on his way there

Fry doesn’t design the car, he’s a technical director


James with Allison on board will Pat fry continue as TD and Nicholas Tombazis as chief designer and where does Rory byrne fit into all this ?


Allison will be in charge maybe CTO or Tech Director


sorry that’s what I meant 🙂

James is Allison as highly regarded as newley


Allison is probably higher regarded, since nobody knows who “Newley” is.


The number 1 problem Alonso has in trying to rein in Vettel for the title is that he has never come from behind and won like Vettel, Lewis and Kimi have done.

So yes, it’s really a tall order at this point and from the looks of it, it appears Ferrari still have wind tunnel correlation problems so there’s no guarantee their Spa upgrades will be for the better.

As for question of qualifying, I guess this is the knock off effect of being easy on your tyres. The teams that have good tyre life (except Red Bull) also face the problem of not being able to heat their tyres and with the introduction of the new tyres, this could possibly get worse for Lotus and Ferrari.


If it hadn’t been for Ferrari’s poor strategy call in Abu Dhabi in 2010, Alonso would have come from 47 points behind and won the WDC.


Really! but what you were overlooking is that vettel won the WDC without ever leading .where as alonso has the lead till the last race.hey man dont glorify an under achiever! i know why every body is so sympathetic towards an utterly jeolous guy like alonso .It is because he is competing against a german and the british love to hate germans.Not so long ago when Hamilton and alonso were in the same team nobody was as effusive in their praise of alonso as one is now.They say alonso doesnt have a good car.Actully he is very poor in qualifying is very poor .If he had a very poor car then how could he jump 5,5 places in the first lap.They media was critical of Ferrari when micheal shumacher was dominating and winning,a German.Now when ferrari is loosing they get all the sympathy!lols


That would have been an amazing achievement. Pity he didn’t do it.


There was a wistful look in FA’s eyes throughout the Monaco race, especially at the re-start. That wasn’t because Perez was being a nuisance, it was an understanding of the limits of the Ferrari versus the RB.

With Allison on board, that is going to change [and pretty soon I hope] and I’m expecting to see a new steely expression on FA’s face.


I agree the car wouldn’t even go round the hairpin due to inadequate steering lock


Alonso’s biggest problem is that another driver who is 6 years younger has achieved more than he has. That dents his confidence and triggers his mind games.


Interesting that you could see Alonso’s eyes through his helmet’s visor while racing on the streets of Monaco..



Maybe Phil’s last name means he’s procured himself some X-Ray Google glass shenanigans?


Ha Ha good one


“… nine races from Spa onwards, which come thick and fast in a three month period, unlike the first half of the season, where nine races have been spread out over five months.”

Er, not quite.

Leaving Nurburgring floating in the gap between:

The last 9 races cover a 14 weekend stretch.

The first 9 races cover a 17 weekend stretch.

3-and-a-bit vs nearly-4 months, no big deal.


First 10 races between March and end July = 5 months

Last nine races between end August and end November = 3 months…?


Clearly, in your article you (or somebody in your name) wrote “nine races spread over…”, not the “10 races between…” you’ve used in your reply.

Was it unreasonable to take your writing about equal half-seasons of nine races at face value? If not, my figures stand true. (counting, as you appeared to, Nurburgring as floating adrift between the two halves as the odd race in 19).

[my nit-pickery in response might have been unreasonable but, in a discipline where they measure time to the sixth significant figure, I’ll defend it against you appearing to count less than 4 as equivalent to 5]


…and I’d have made more sense if both times I’d mentioned *Hungaroring* as being the race floating in the middle instead of what I did say.

[sigh] 🙁


A-P has a point. You’ll need to change the reference to first 10 races of the season, instead of 9.

Sorry – my career has resulted in me becoming a pedantic control freak. Help!


Im not FA fan, but its sadly to see he is conserving himself, now he has realized he doesn’t have fair chance to fight VET and there’s the feeling like he’s saving his flame and energy for the future, for the right car right year, but now he gives up sadly.

But there’s question, how long is his patience, how strong is his endurance??

That’s the politic of Ferrari that hurt them most – giving most promises and anticipations than any other team at the start of each season and then fail at the end, vice versa RBR – talking fewer and doing most.


There is no “saving his energy for the future”. If Alonso thinks he needs to be in a different team, he would do his utmost to win races. I don’t think he is holding anything back, he simply cannot go any faster, whether that’s down to the car or down to his abilities.


Well, I think it’s to do what the car, isn’t it?


Perhaps both?


I ve a feeling it’s down to ALO’s qualifying pace (as he admitted himself last year or so). Ferrari seems not to be a bad car, HAM or VET ‘d have pulled out of it at least .18 – .25 , I’m afraid…


Too little too late.

Ferrari will be on the 4th row more often than not leaving too much to do in the race. They can still get on the podium and even a few wins are possible but they will not be able to recover the points deficit while Red Bull is so strong.


Why not copy RBR’s Approach to give up some race Performance in Exchange for better qualifying Speed?


How exactly you do it? Do you know? I am sure Domenicali would pay you a lot for this


I don’t know but it seems Vettel knows. So skip the no two rooster concept and make it happen.


That’s easier said than done. There is only so much you can do with setup, and the trade-off may be too great. Like every other team, Ferrari are already running the best possible compromise (in their view). Perhaps they could split the strategy, with a higher down force set-up for Massa, and see how he fares?

It also depends on whether they still think that winning the WDC this year is a realistic prospect. If so, they should perhaps experiment with different strategies on Massa’s car. If not, their goal will be the second place in the constructor’s race, and they need every point they can get from both cars.


A very tough job – improving the pace to match the bulls – but I hope Ferrari and Fernando improve, and spice up things at the top with Sebastian and Kimi. I miss Lewis not being able to fight at the top. It’s a shame that Mercedes don’t have a good race car.


I hope Alonso/Ferrari don’t close up. I want Vettel/RBR to smash it in again this year.

This is because:

a) I can’t wait for another year of arguing over ‘it’s the car/it’s the driver’

b) it means another year where Hamilton doesn’t win a championship which is only a good thing

c) 4 in a row is something only been achieved once before, so it’s pretty bloody amazing (driver or car being responsible). After four, surely the probability of another must diminish, and hopefully we’ll see a new champion next year (not Hamilton)


yes the other day i was reading formula one magazine where a mediocre driver named Martin brundle was asking ‘Is vettle a Hype? because he drives the best car? what a joker!! He went there from toro rosso and redbull doesnt have a history of Mclaren or Ferrari infact sebastien vettle has written what ever story that team has .Compare that to they Hype of ALONSO and HAMILTON who drove for Ferrari and Mclaren for the same period and what could they achive compared to vettel.HAMILTON is the most hyped driver i have ever known.he has won just one 1 race so far this season and articles singing paens of him all over the internet.


Four-in-a-row has been done twice, actually. Fangio did it first, then Schumacher (who added a fifth the following year).


” I can’t wait for another year of arguing over ‘it’s the car/it’s the driver’ “

LOL, this is F1, that will always be the case. There are many other formulas that allow drivers to show off their abilities compared to other drivers using the same car if that is what you want to see.


You seem to have the same level of affinity for Hamilton as I do for Raikinnen. 😉


As an Aussie I couldn’t stand another pom winning something 🙂 Lion tour, ashes, Wimbledon. No more !!! 🙂


Tour de France as well.

It’s been a brutal 2013.


Don’t worry, Mark Webber isn’t gonna win anytime soon either…despite having the advantage of arguably the best car for how many years….?


Its a pity your aussie is eating vettels dust ….that too in the same car 🙂


and same as I do for Vettel


P.S. James, thank you very much for all articles and everything you are doing this year or have done in the past. This is the best place to come and enjoy quality content about F1. It would have been so different without your blog!


I really do not understand why Ferrari cannot win for so long. They have the history, the experience, people, money, passion and yet they cannot. I am sure there is something completely unseen to people like me – maybe it is politics, maybe wind tunnel, maybe processes, maybe the lack of top talents working on the car. Really hard to say. But it is the reality – they try very hard, but they cannot.


Yes! its difficult to fathom the criticism of vettel somebody who does every thing right despite beloning to a team of Beverages this is what Hamilton ‘The Jealous’ had once remarked and now he thinks vettel is winning only because he has a good car.Mclaren and Mercedes arent beverage companies they have huge budget (i am not saying Redbull have a small budget).The british media criticises Vetel cant win from the back why dont they criticize that Hamilton cant win from the front after all he had 4 poles and started in front of vettel.If vettel is winning because of a good car only then the british poster boy hamilton won exactly the same year when mclaren stole ferrari technical data.He is as big a cheat Mclaren is .when vettel wins he is lucky to win when Hamilton wins in a car developed stealing data he is a fantastic driver.Lols .With the exception of James allen rest all comentrators are biased and jealous of vettel.

Valentino from montreal

@ Scuderia McLaren , great read !

Also , Alonso waisted a possible 2008 title !

He’s the one who left the team like a little baby after 2007 …

When I read comments coming from the Pro-Alo , Pro- Ham brigade , it’s really a love fest between those 2 camps … Alonso never expected at the start of 07 of getting beaten by a rookie ! So no , Alonso never wanted to paired with a pretty fast team mate , and so he left McLaren and possibly lost out another wdc in 2008 ..

He is lucky indeed that he’s a double …

Schumacher could have been a 10 time world champion if HE was’nt so UNLUCKY …

98 ) Car just stalled by itself on the grid at Suzuka. (Comfirmed by the team) ..Plus DC dented his chances in SPA !

99 ) He broke his leg ( Irvine could have been WDC too )

2006 ) Blown engine on Japan

I never bought into the Alonso hype … Im not saying he is’nt good , but he never was the ” Best ” on the grid either. ..

Not by a long shot !

Scuderia McLaren



All racing teams have the passion to win…..Ferrari is not special….but they have the money, taking an unfair share of F1 revenues just for turning up.

One big difference from previous years is that the F1 competition is much tighter with performance separated by one or two tenths of a second not seconds.


Maybe they don’t have the fastest drivers?


The simply lack a driver fast in both qualifying and race !! Alonso is weak in qualifying relative to Lewis, Vettel and Kimi.


Its easier to score poles when you have best car in qualifying trim i.e. massa (2007/8), Alonso (2005/6/7). Its good to score poles but major difference is that guys like vettel and hamilton qualify close to top rows even when they don’t have great cars at disposal…whereas Alonso is much down the field. See i can’t change your opinion but wait another year and if alonso doesn’t bring title to maranello. most likely, he would be history. to all those who think, vettel would partner alonso at ferrari…they are delusional. ferrari has never gone for 2 strong drivers. now please don’t bring up kimi and massa. as ferrari expected kimi to dominate massa which did not happen…Alonso won’t win another wdc !


Kimi is also a weak qualifier. # of poles: Vettel 39,Hamilton 29, Alonso 22, Kimi 16 (out of memory, I hope it’s right).


And Massa is a weak qualifier as well? I remember lot of poles from him back in 2007 and 2008 when he had a good car at is disposal, what happened here?


Remember that prior to Schumacher, and the rest of that team, Ferrari hadn’t won a championship for 20 years. So Ferrari having a bit of a downturn is not really out of character.

I really do hope they can get something together and mount a real challenge for the title this year.


Schumacher was the man who turned the tide at Ferrari. They say that Alonso is from the same mould so we can expect him to emulate Schumacher. Eventually there is hope.


Alonso lacks schumacher’s pace in particular qualifying.


…maybe it’s talent?…


talent of who exactly? Domenicali? Aero team? Pat?


Not really SM, THAT ONE belonged to Kimi…

Scuderia McLaren

Nah, he means the talent of Alonso. The driver is not just responsible for driving but giving direction and feedback on what they need to go fast. The car’s poor performance and development is as much on Fernando as any of the boffins.

In the end, Alonso will have no one to blame. He had opportunities at Renault, McLaren, Ferrari and wasted 2007, 2010, 2012 opportunities at taking a title. He near on lost 2006 bar for a Ferrari motor explosion in Japan. And 2005 was a weird single tyre for whole GP rule. Renault dealt with the odd one off tyre regs the best.

Frankly, he’s lucky to even be a double WDC. He really only should have one, 2005.


Domenicali, still a very much an amateur,

Tombazis learn nothing from Rory B,a failure

of designs.

Pat,they don’t come any better,just briliant.

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