Insight: An era ends at Ferrari – How did Massa do against Alonso?
Posted By: James Allen  |  20 Dec 2013   |  12:17 pm GMT  |  173 comments

As Ferrari launched its 2014 turbo F1 engine in Maranello, the team’s disappointing 2013 came to a point of closure.

Felipe Massa ended an eight-year stint with Ferrari, as the team chose to sign Kimi Raikkonen in his place, alongside Fernando Alonso for next year. So, as part of our series of comparisons, we’ve run the numbers on their time together.

The Brazilian, who will drive for Williams next season, spent four seasons with Alonso as his team-mate and according to the statistics, Massa was comfortably outperformed by the Spaniard during that period. However, it needs to be born in mind that on a number of occasions Ferrari invoked team orders in Alonso’s favour, so these comparisons are more of a guide.

In qualifying, Alonso achieved the faster time nearly 75% of the time, beating Massa 59 times to 18. In terms of pole positions, Alonso came out on top with four, with the Brazilian failing to achieve one.

In the races, Alonso scored 11 victories over the period, with Massa failing to finish higher than second. When it came to podiums, Alonso once again led the way, with 42 to Massa’s eight. Things were closer in terms of points finishes, with Alonso coming out on top 69 to 58. But when both cars finished, Alonso finished ahead 58 times to Massa’s seventh.

Overall, Alonso scored more than double the number of points that Massa achieved and beat him in the drivers’ standings in all four years. The Spaniard finished second three times in that period, while Massa’s best was sixth in 2010 and 2011.



Faster qualifying time: Alonso 59 / Massa 18

Poles: Alonso 4 / Massa 0

Front rows: Alonso 7 / Massa 2


Wins: Alonso 11 / Massa 0

Podiums: Alonso 42 / Massa 8

Points finishes: Alonso 69 / Massa 58 

DNFs: Alonso 5 / Massa 7
Ahead in two-car finish: Alonso 58 / Massa 7


Points: Alonso 1029 / Massa 496
Seasons finished higher in standings: Alonso 4 / Massa 0
Highest championship placing: Alonso 2nd (2010, 2012, 2013) / Massa 6th (2010, 2011)

Their first season together – 2010 – was perhaps the year in which Massa was closest to Alonso. In qualifying, Alonso had the upper hand, achieving the faster time 15 times to four.

In the races, Alonso clocked up five wins as Massa failed to reach the top step. The Spaniard scored double the number of podiums with 10 to Massa’s 5, but they were close on points finishes with Alonso edging it 16 to 14.

2010 STATS


Faster qualifying time: Alonso 15 / Massa 4

Poles: Alonso 2 / Massa 0

Front rows: Alonso 3 / Massa 1


Wins: Alonso 5 / Massa 0

Podiums: Alonso 10 / Massa 5

Points finishes: Alonso 16 / Massa 14

DNFs: Alonso 1 / Massa 1
Ahead in two-car finish: Alonso 13 / Massa 4


Points: Alonso 252/ Massa 144
Finished higher in standings: Alonso
Championship placing: Alonso 2nd / Massa 6th

In 2011, Alonso retained the advantage over Massa in qualifying with the Spaniard achieving the faster time 15 times to four. When it came to the races, Alonso’s speed and consistency was clear as he reached the podium 10 times while Massa failed to do so once.

Massa was close in terms of points finishes, with Alonso scoring the slightly better tally of 18 to 15, but when they both saw the chequered flag Alonso finished ahead 13 times to 2.

2011 STATS


Faster qualifying time: Alonso 15 / Massa 4

Poles: Alonso 0 / Massa 0

Front rows: Alonso 1 / Massa 0


Wins: Alonso 1 / Massa 0

Podiums: Alonso 10 / Massa 0

Points finishes: Alonso 18 / Massa 15

DNFs: Alonso 1 / Massa 3
Ahead in two-car finish: Alonso 13 / Massa 2


Points: Alonso 257/ Massa 118
Finished higher in standings: Alonso
Championship placing: Alonso 4th / Massa 6th

Alonso had a very strong season in 2012, beating Massa 18-2 in the qualifying head-to-head and coming out on top in the poles and front rows tallies.

In the races, he scored three wins while Massa failed to achieve one, and comfortably outscored him in terms of podiums at 13 to 2. Perhaps the most damning statistic is that when they both finished, Alonso always finished in front – 17 times to 0.

2012 STATS


Faster qualifying time: Alonso 18 / Massa 2

Poles: Alonso 2 / Massa 0

Front rows: Alonso 3 / Massa 0


Wins: Alonso 3 / Massa 0

Podiums: Alonso 13 / Massa 2

Points finishes: Alonso 18 / Massa 14 

DNFs: Alonso 2 / Massa 1
Ahead in two-car finish: Alonso 17 / Massa 0


Points: Alonso 278/ Massa 122
Finished higher in standings: Alonso
Championship placing: Alonso 2nd / Massa 7th

In their final season together, Alonso’s performances in qualifying dropped off, with Massa closing the gap and consistently outqualifying him. Alonso only edged the head-to-head 11-8.

In the races, though, Alonso retained his advantage, scoring nine podiums to Massa’s one and finishing ahead of the Brazilian 15 times to one when both finished the race.

2013 STATS


Faster qualifying time: Alonso 11 / Massa 8

Poles: Alonso 0 / Massa 0

Front rows: Alonso 0 / Massa 1


Wins: Alonso 2 / Massa 0

Podiums: Alonso 9 / Massa 1

Points finishes: Alonso 17 / Massa 15 

DNFs: Alonso 1 / Massa 2
Ahead in two-car finish: Alonso 15 / Massa 1


Points: Alonso 242/ Massa 112
Finished higher in standings: Alonso
Championship placing: Alonso 2nd / Massa 8th

Don’t forget there is still time to enter the JA on F1 competition to win one of the five special edition Lego boxes which contain six Lego Ferrari cars, courtesy of our friends at Shell.Entries close today (Friday) Click here to find out more and enter.

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Massa has no business in F1 with three podiums in three seasons driving a good car. It’s an appalling record considering that Vettel would have won the championship in the 2012 Ferrari and Ferrari should have been leading the drivers championship going into the summer break in 2013.

It’s almost embarrassing that Alonso could only out-qualify Massa 11-8 in 2013. Massa was a glorified test driver for Ferrari.

As well, Alonso should be ashamed of the lengths the team went to advantage him at the expense of Massa. People to this day still bring up Austria 2002 (forgetting that Schumacher handed the win back at Indianapolis), yet Alonso gets no criticism for Germany 2010 and things like the gearbox change to move Alonso up one grid spot at Austin last year.


Do not forget that Ferrari’s car was always tuned for Alonso, he had better engineer team and every engineer attention was (is) for Alonso not Massa. Massa’s car was always a previous revision vs Alonso’s one or he was testing something that should be plugged in late on to Alonso’s car.

Just remember when Alonso were DNF several times – Massa’s result become better – why ? Because all Alonso’s strategies & “specialists” were being switched to Massa and helped him to archieve the maximum like for Alonso.

I do agree that Alonso is better than Massa as a driver. But Massa like Lewis is quite unstable but they both could produce an excellent drive if everything is put together. Although Lewis could do it more frequent.


Alonso and Vettel seriously don’t get enough credit for their accomplishments.

Massa and Webber deserved their treatment through virtue of their performance. Period. We are in an era of Maldonado getting a Lotus seat over Hulkenberg because of money. This is motorsport not a charity.


I recall saying Alonso was poison!

The team broke Massa’s spirit in favour of Alonso

In the same way Webbers spirit was broken. But Massa did himself no favours.

As a professional sportsman Massa should have understood this and done as much has he could to make things hard for Alonso, he did not-I agree with James on this.

Kimi imo was not motivated in he’s 1st carrier at Ferrari for what ever reason and did not build on he’s huge kaonasss

as displayed at McLaren but a few drives which were outstanding this year will make this the battle one to watch.

These two are of the same generation, it’ll be interesting to see how toxic things get in the red team.


Britney Spears in an F1 car…has potential 😉


With some of the longer-term comparisons like Alonso vs Massa and Vettel vs Webber I wonder if it’s worth ordering the analysis differently from a mere chronological analysis.

For example, it is generally believed that Vettel really got on top of Webber when it came to a) Red Bull’s blown diffuser (including the iteration that came up when EBDs were banned after 2011) and b) the Pirelli tyres. Therefore you could try to split the analysis two or even three ways. With the three ways analysis, you could compare them firstly in 2009-10; secondly in 2011, 2013 and the second half of 2012; and thirdly the first half of 2012. Although the numbers would need to be treated with caution undoubtedly, it might give a basic insight into how the rule changes translated into differences between the team-mates numerically.

With Massa and Alonso it is a little more awkward. However, I feel that Alonso got better relative to Massa as he settled in 2010 right up to the start of 2012. However, from about mid-2012 onwards, Felipe started coming back at Alonso, though he was still too inconsistent to do this often enough. So maybe you could split in by 2010-early 2012 and then mid-2012-end 2013. Admittedly the problem here is that Massa’s improvements didn’t always show up in the numbers (through reasons mentioned and through inconsistency) so the argument is not quite as strong as for the Vettel-Webber case.

Should stress these are just some ideas I had and I know this is meant to be a light comparison at the end of a long season for those who travel with the sport (most races if not all). Not to take anything away from this blog, which has been great to read as always.


Looking at the stats all I can see here is Nepotism at Ferrari!


The Alonso-Massa battle wasn’t much to talk about, the real battle was Massa trying to hold onto his seat.


Firsat one to use some dodgy statistical method to prove it was a draw gets a free mince pie!



Alonso beat Massa by more than double the points most seasons.

1-0 Alonso,

Massa has raced for Ferrari about double the amount of times Alonso has.

1-1 Massa/Alonso,

Hence, cough, statistically it was a draw.

You can keep the mince pie though, as I fudged the results – the full theory also proves Massa’s helmet is a brighter yellow than Alonso’s helmet hence 2-1 Massa.


not bad, but I’m sure there is a more obscure measure out there, maybe positions gained from the start to the 3rd corner on a high downforce track in April (not including 2010)


I am really surprised James Allen took time for this totally pointless article. It’s impossible to judge Alonso and Massa in the same vein as some of the other comparisions recently made.

Massa was a team player at all times throughout his Ferrari career eg: handing Kimi victory at Interlagos in 2007 to secure the title. Then when you add in the number of times his strategy was compromised during races to benefit Alonso, this was a very regular feature in 2010, 11 and 12, though I felt less so in 2013, it makes the comparison valueless. Alonso comes out ahead of Felipe for sure, but this article portrays a massacre and its purpose is disrespectful to Massa.

Even leaving all that aside, there is no account taken of the physiological effects that Massa felt returning from a serious head injury and then having to deal with a political mover like Alonso.

In the end its a meaningless space filler. I’ve come to expect much more from JA on F1 than this type of pointless journalism.


Every article got its purpose. Whether we agree with content or not that is another issue. All in all Massa is a nice guy but that doesn’t make you F1 WCD. He was helped by Kimi in return, year later, and he failed on his own accord to promote himself to the F1 Throne. He had enough chances but didn’t make “the sale”.


Sad you have to make this pointless criticism of James’ article. Ironically it would have been MORE unfair of James to have NOT done a comparison article about Ferrari while doing them for all other teams.

I found it a useful article since I hadn’t realised ‘how badly’ Massa had done, even though he still did a good job attempting to fend off the opposition to help Alonso.

James is also right in that F1 is a tough world and, regardless of any reasons, if you can’t do well then someone else will replace you. Also Kubica points out it’s unlikely Massa’s injury had such a major impact (pardon the pun) on his subsequent performance.


” There is no account taken of the physiological effects that Massa felt returning from a serious head injury and then having to deal with a political mover like Alonso.”

I’m sorry, this is Formula 1.. the very highest level…nobody takes account of those things. If a driver can’t hack it he’s out. Same in other professions within the sport. Do you think F1 should be all about making excuses?

I see no reason whatsoever why Ferrari should be exempt from similar comparisons to the ones we have done with other teams, none of which you criticised. A caveat is clearly made at the top of the article that Massa was compromised by Ferrari orders and that the piece is therefore more of a guide.

I can’t do more than that.


A beasting, in anyone’s language. Yes Ferrari told Massa to defer to Alonso numerous times, but on all but a few occasions Alonso was genuinely faster, and once past, invariably romped away to secure a 2nd or 3rd. What Massa needed to do was finish 1 place behind Alonso, to be ‘the next best’, but he invariably was not sadly.


Four years together and the same old tired “team orders” line is trotted out. The only times Massa was ahead in the races was usually through a series of fortunate events that played into his hands, rather than sheer speed. In four years, I remember 4 instances where Massa was asked to move over, and at that stage he was clearly out of contention for the title.

I’m not an Alonso fan, I support the team and if Alonso moves on, good luck to him, but to diminish how comprehensively he has destroyed Massa in the last four seasons by dragging team orders into his terribly unfair. He has the full support of the team because he’s earned it, not demanded it.


Wow, Alonso only has 4 poles in 4 years at Ferrari. At a team like that, so much experience and so well funded. I’ve been watching since the early 80’s, and I don’t know why he’s so highly rated. He’s good, but not great.


Edit: Wow, Alonso managed 4 poles in 4 years at Ferrari. At a team like that, such poor cars and so badly developed. I’ve been watching since the early 80′s, and I can see why he’s so highly rated. He’s a great, 2012 really confirmed that. 🙂


“good but not great” bit like the last 4 Ferrari F1 cars really….


Don’t take this personally, but you’ve been watching and didn’t learn anything. How many points do you get for pole position?


How else would someone be expected to “take this”, other than personally?

I would like to know why you feel the need to stand up for ALO so vehemently?


Agreed. After the first 20 comments or so it started getting old.


It really wasnt personally. I get a bit frustrated when people attack him without giving examples. Or they talk about him and Massa like he got favours from Massa every single race in last 4 years.

How should I feel when people use Brazil ’12 as an example that Alonso benefited from a team order. Yes, Massa did help Alonso in Brazil’12, but I believe every teammate would have done that regardless of any team orders. Alonso was still with a chance and it was normal for Massa to help.


People will go crazy when a driver in a red car is told to let by his teammate.

I am a Ferrari fan, have been for at least the last 33 years (been a fan since 6yo) and I have seen tens not to say hundreds of team orders coming from teams that don’t have red cars and I never saw as much as 10% of the whiners that I’ve seen when it’s the red team.

I do like Massa a lot but I have only seen him move over for Alonso (a driver that I don’t particularly like) for maybe 3 or 4 times in 4 years.

You may say that 1 time is enough, that it’ll send the message stating that he is #2 but then again teams have to make sure that they optimize their points in every races and unfortunately Massa was never in a position that we could say that he had chances to get a win or even a podium when he was asked to move over.

Drivers have to suck it up and see that as a message that they haven’t been delivering and that they need to do a better job.


Excellent point. As far as I’m concerned, both drivers in a team are equal (more or less) when on the start grid. If Massa would’ve qualify on the first or second row..and got the lead of a race within 2 team in the world would ask him to slow down and let his teammate, who lets say is in 3rd or 4th, to pass him.

The only time was Germany 2010 when Massa would’ve probably won the race, but he was 31 points behind Alonso with half a season gone. I like Massa, but when your teammate got a 31 point lead in half a season, then I think the team was right to get behind the driver who still realistically had a chance to catch Webber at that time who was leading.

I would like to point out Australia 2010, when Massa finished 3rd and Alonso 4th 2 second behind Massa. Even tho’ Alonso was leading on points, Ferrari let them race.


You are right, it is an excellent point. Take Monza when Alonso had a Q3 failure started 10th. Massa was well ahead and if good enough, should have raced near Alonsos pace, kept cars between them, but he couldn’t and was hunted down.

I don’t think Massa would have won Germany 2010 though. He was a bit slower than Alonso lap after lap, lost his lead and the Red Bull in 3rd was also closing on them as well. I think Alonso would have made the move before it became a 3 way scrap. In no way did Massa do what he should have done in Germany which was blast away from Alonso and Seb to take the win from the front.

The way some people bleat on about Germany makes it sound like Massa was half a minute up the road and sacrificed the win for no good reason!


Alonso was clearly faster that weekend, but remember there was not drs in 2010, and no fast degrading pirelli tyres. Alonso tried to get past Massa after the first pit stop and wasn’t able. I think Massa probably would have won in Germany, and that’s why Ferrari used team orders. It was very difficult to overtake that year! (Alonso lost the title as a consequence of this. With drs in Abu Dahbi he would have been the 2010 world champion!)

Fernando "150%" Alonso

I also remember that race, especially the last laps. Alonso not only finished 4 th, behind Massa, he also defended BOTH against a charging Hamilton, and he did that being very smart. I remember the post race analysis. He let himself some room between his car and Masa’s for having space to defend against Hamilton. At that point of the championship, he was a team player.

P.S. I just want to apologize for the bad English, and i wanna say hello to all of you. I’ve been here since the spring of 2010, reading JA on F1 but this is the first post!


Thanks for your post


Poor Massa. These numbers are essentially meaningless with his nunber 2 driver status. His talent was surely dulled from the incident in Hungry in 2009. A true comparison would have been to pit him against Alonso in the 2008 car back in the day. He certainly had more than just an edge on the mighty Raikkonen that year.


Pre 2009 Massa is totally different to post 2009 Massa. Despite flashes of speed still not anywhere near the driver he was before his accident


Pure speculation.

Massa actually performed well initially after his comeback. It was later that his performance got worse.

You have to remember that the cars were a lot different in 2010 to those in 2008. Massa was known to rely on traction control more than most.

It’s interesting to see that in 2009 when the car was complete rubbish both drivers struggled badly, though after Massa’s accident Kimi had 4 podiums in a row.


So you’re basically saying Massa was good with Traction control (ie. pre 2009 as the cars in 2008 still had special software that acted similar to TC) and bad without traction control (ie after 2009). So he was bad after 2009… Not sure what you’re arguing pal?! Massa would have never won a race in that Dog F60 like Kimi did


I think one needs to take that with a grain of salt. No one knows how often Massa had to make room for Alonso or got the 2nd best option when splitting the strategy.

I think in any other team the two would have been closer matched.


Massa Ferrari time

2006 Schumacher vs Massa

Qualifying Schumi ahead 14 v 4

Race both finished Schumi 11 vs 3

Schumi ahead qualy by average 0.357s

2007- 2009 Raikkonen vs Massa

Qualifying Massa ahead 25 v 20

Race both finished Massa 15 vs 14

Massa ahead qualy by av 0.075s not including 2009.

2010 – 2013 Alonso vs Massa (from article)

Qualifying Alonso ahead 59 v 18

Race both finished Alonso 58 vs 7

Alonso ahead qualy by av 0.302s not including 2010-2011. Don’t have data on other years.

Looking at this I think Kimi’s going to have severe problems next year handling Alonso.


I agree with what you say and imply, but to a lesser extent.

Summarised into another words, what can you expect from Kimi, the guy who was made to look bad by even someone like Massa, whom, Massa himself was extremely embarrased by Alonso.. Just Imagine what Alonso would do to Kimi..


Massa was at his best and peak of his career (performance wise) during the years with Kimi, making Kimi look bad and Massa better.

And then we compare Massa to Alonso, the guy who destroyed Massa..

This makes Massa look bad and Alonso Invincible. Since Alonso joined Massa at Ferrari, Massa has been not so hot.

Some say it is the accident, some say #2-handcuffs… either way, his performance was not what it could and should have been.

I am rooting for Kimi to do well, but being a betting man I put my money on Alonso coming out on top.

But not by as much as your stats suggests.

And I sincerely hope so too, because with so many unknowns going into 2014, it will be more difficult to anticipate the outcome.

Performance gaps between teams will be bigger than recent years (making the 2014 championship potentially boring, unless there is a dramatic turnaround in performance the chasers), and I think the key points of enjoyment that can be derived from 2014 is inter-team racing.


These statistics are totally meaningless because Massa has been useless since his accident, whereas before his accident he was a very good driver.


Nice statistics !

It shows the incredible race performance of Alonso by outperforming Massa 58 to 7. Compare that to Räikkönen and Schumi.


Thanks for the time put into searching this madmax. Makes it an interesting reading and gives a bit to think about next year.


And this is with 2013, when Massa has been all the year using qualy set up. Before this season he was losing 48-8…


(mistake above) Alonso ahead qualy by av 0.302s from 2010-2011. Don’t have data on other years.


James , what do make of Montezemelo’s comment that Kimi has been brought back to Maranello to ‘take points from Fernando’s competitors’?


Ferrari got what they wanted: a number 2 driver.

I don’t know if anyone will ever know to what extent Massa’s accident at Hungary affected him. But, clearly he didn’t measure up to Alonso. How much of this was down to the team not really backing him, versus him just not performing well enough? Is Alonso just simply that much better than him, or was he just never quite the same after his injury?

I’m sure we all have opinions on this, but I don’t think there really is a definitive answer. Probably a bit of everything combined (injury, Alonso’s better, #2 status).


“Massa was comfortable (sic) outperformed by the Spaniard during that period”…

I’m not sure poor Massa would feel comfortably about it 😉


FM got mullered.



first of all, congats on the best blog of the year! The highest standards in my view.

What do you make of LCDM’s words: “He knows that he is in the second half of his career,” he said, referring to Raikkonen. “But he is especially strong in the race, and is able to take points from Fernando’s opponents.”

Luca didn’t say Kimi would fight for the title. You could think they have a no. 2 role for Kimi or just don’t believe he’s able to challange Alonso. Interesting…


Humouring Alonso, but also knowing Raikkonen doesn’t care what is said, he knows what he’s doing there and he will do his best


You are pretty spot on James!


It’s Monty’s usual trick of spurring both drivers on isn’t it.

It’s kinda like “Kimi your too old to pose a serious threat ..& Fernando your still the best but you have to remember Kimi is not bad in the race so watch out”

I’m sure in the back of his mind though he’s thinking “when Kimi starts beating you on track then we will see who are “the geniuses” “

Win win situation anyway you look at it.


@Bryce- I don’t think there will be much in it either way. Even if one wins more races than the other. The margins won’t be dramatic.

It’s the old story it depends how well the car suits a particular driving style. Given FA has been with the team over the last few years he has more intimate knowledge of what direction the car is being developed .So the pendulum is already slightly his way. But Raikkonen is the driver that adapts to any car faster than any driver I have seen in F1, Sauber, Mclaren, Ferrari and indeed Lotus he stuns people from the first turn of the wheel.


Wishful thinking from a big fan, or realistic expectations?

I hope he does well and proves me wrong, but think that whilst not much older than ALO, that slippery slope of age has already taken his edge.


Thanks for your reply, James, a very good point, I think. This Alonso humouring might turn into a double edged sword, however.

We’re in for a thrilling season. If someone runs away with the title like RB have done this year, there may still be plenty of good stuff going on at Ferrari. I hope Kimi and Fernando stay super motivated


Mental games going on there already but my feeling tells me Fernando will eat Kimi alive 😉


This is an article with useful insight in the post accident Massa era. Any info on how he fared against Kimi and Schuey?

In another note: The article could have been edited more in the vein of JA’s standards. There are a ton of spelling issues and grammar – some of us race fans care, you know.


Yeah, James, “borne”.


I’m not sure about the statement that Felipe changed after that accident, i think he changed after he lost the championship in 2008 and the crappy start the team had in 2009 before his accident, then coming back and finding out Alonso “the great” is his team-mate, that’s what got him.

Being the number 2 driver to Schumacher is different, he’s the calm, charismatic German hero who worked 4 years to make Ferrari the force it was from 2000 to 2004, Felipe would have been happy to be second to him a couple of years and seeing Raikkonen as a threat only on the circuit, never in the team was still ok to him, Kimi is too laid back and doesn’t want atention, so Felipe was still the favorite.

But Alonso, who like Michael is also charismatic, witty and a champion but with a clear passion to win, stole the team from him, or at least that’s the way he probably felt. He should have left Ferrari in 2011 for Renault(Lotus today) and things would have been different. But i’m guessing Ferrari is very comfortable.

I like to think he has the skill, at Williams with Bottas who is a next-gen driver, that’s were Massa will prove if he has what it takes. If not better get Bruno Senna back, sponsors love tossing that name around.


With the interesting comments today from Di Montezemelo saying Raikonnen has been hired as a #2 driver, it will be an interesting article in 12 months time to see who did better at Ferrari – Massa or Raikonnen.


Link please

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