Alonso fourth, Schumacher tenth in their battle from the back in Melbourne

Alguersuari kept Schumacher behind for 36 laps

Alguersuari kept Schumacher behind for 36 laps

Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher fell to the back of the pack at the start of today’s Australian Grand Prix after colliding on the first lap.

But while Alonso climbed back through the field to finish fourth Schumacher was only able to grab tenth place and the final point on the penultimate lap.

How did Alonso managed to make such better progress than Schumacher?

Schumacher and Alonso's time gap to the race leader

Schumacher and Alonso's time gap to the race leader (click to enlarge)

The graph above shows how far Alonso and Schumacher were behind the leader on each lap of the race. The data for some other relevant drivers is included.

Alguersuari, take one

The one driver who made the biggest difference was Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari. Alonso and Schumacher both pitted to discard their intermediate tyres on lap eight, one lap before Alguersuari.

As Alguersuari came out of the pits Alonso was able to drive past him – but Schumacher got stuck behind the Toro Rosso driver.

Although Alonso continued to move up the field by passing other cars, and plenty of changes of positions were happening further up the field, Schumacher could do little about Alguersuari. It took him 14 laps to find a way by.

Two laps later Alguersuari pitted for fresh tyres and Mercedes decided to cover him by bringing in Schumacher on lap 27.

However, as we have seen already this year, the driver who pits first has the advantage in this situation. Sure enough, Alguersuari got the position back from Schumacher – partly because the Mercedes drivers was now stuck behind Pedro de la Rosa.

Alguersuari, take two

On the graph above, Nico Rosberg’s dashed line shows the kind of pace Schumacher might have had without Alguersuari in the way.

This time Alguersuari stayed ahead for 22 laps before making a mistake, allowing Schumacher to muscle his way around the outside of the Toro Rosso at turn 15. Alguersuari ran him out to the edge of the track, unwilling to give the place up, but Schumacher finally prevailed.

It wasn’t the first time in the race he’d been troubled by one of the cars further down the order. Timo Glock cheekily re-passed the world champion at turn 14 earlier in the race.

Happily for Schumacher, de la Rosa proved much easier to pass when he caught him the second time. Peter Sauber cannot have been very happy at the ease with which de la Rosa surrendered the final points-paying position on the 57th tour, one lap from home.

Alonso’s progress

Alonso, meanwhile, had made his way past de la Rosa 44 laps earlier and never looked back. He passed Rubens Barrichello on lap 15 and took seventh off Mark Webber when the Red Bull driver went off on his out-lap the next time around.

The Ferrari driver gained three more places thanks to Vettel’s retirement, and the extra pit stops for Webber (who had re-passed Alonso) and Lewis Hamilton.

Granted, Alonso has a quicker car than Schumacher does at the moment. But when you think back to Schumacher’s famous drives from the back at Spa in 1995 or Suzuka in 1998 and then consider he spent 36 laps behind a Toro Rosso today, you have to wonder if he’s still a little race-rusty.

2010 Australian Grand Prix

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148 comments on Alonso fourth, Schumacher tenth in their battle from the back in Melbourne

  1. Gwenouille said on 28th March 2010, 17:46

    I’d say Button deserves some credit.
    Obviously because of the win, for the decision to switch to slicks, and he also had to come from behind after that magnificent move from Alonso and Schumacher! Look at the start in slow motion: to me Alonso is not past Button at all but he does as if he had the advantage and chooses the inside line, as does mr. Controversy Schumacher. Button had absolutely no choice and lost a few places, enough for Hamilton (starting 7 paces behind) to get past !
    OK Alonso did extremely well, but he has his part of responsability in his spin move.

    Very happy for Kubica: getting a podium agagin much feel great, especially with that mediocre car.

  2. sumedh said on 28th March 2010, 17:58

    Keith, why is there no mention of Hamilton and Webber in that chart?

    Also, two more things enjoyable about the Australian Grand Prix were

    1) Lesser Stewards interference. In a race with so many incidents, no penalties awarded was good. Drivers as stewards is well and truly working.

    2) Teams Radio. Rob telling Massa how to drive, Alonso’s “I don’t wanna know”, Lewis’s “Terrible idea” were all awesome!! More of it..

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 28th March 2010, 18:21

      why is there no mention of Hamilton and Webber in that chart?

      Because it’s not really relevant to what happened to Schumacher and Alonso. The full chart with all the drivers will be in the analysis later on.

    • Patrickl said on 28th March 2010, 19:01

      I don’t understand why Webber didn’t get a penalty though. He rammed into Hamilton twice.

      Especially a drive like Webber with a history of bad on track conduct should get a penalty for again roughing up his opponents.

      • BasCB said on 28th March 2010, 20:27

        I don’t think Webber deserves a penalty. He and Hamilton were just racing as hard as they could, trying to get past Alonso.

        He explained, that being a little bit to close he lost all aero from the front wing, so he just could not stop as he would have liked.
        The punishment was a loss of 6th place for a meagre 9th.
        I agree with Sumedh, really refreshing not to have drivers being punished for racing and passing.

        • Patrickl said on 29th March 2010, 10:19

          Well it’s nice that they don’t penalize drivers so harshly, but not long ago Hamilton did receive harsh penalties for similar accidents to the one that Webber caused in last race.

          It just doesn’t feel consistent if they keep going up and now with the harshness of the penalties.

          You can’t just give drivers a driver through for missing a corner one season and the next not even mention that it happened. Or give them a 10 place grid penalty for puntin the opponent out and now just tell them not to do it again (when Webber has in fact done things like that so often already)

          • sumedh said on 29th March 2010, 15:35

            2 wrongs don’t make a right.

            Hamilton’s penalty was wrong no doubt. But a wrong decision should not set the precedent for future decisions.

          • steph90 said on 29th March 2010, 15:39

            Now the stewarding has been changed slightly and Todt is in charge and it is still new I’m not sure how relevant it is to mention what happened under a different rule. I have to say I lived how the drivers were allowed to race and hope it stays like this

          • Patrickl said on 30th March 2010, 13:15


            I completely agree. If they keep the penalties like they were done over the last 2 races, I’d be fine with that.

            Still, it makes the penalties that Hamilton got look even more political.

    • KlBD said on 28th March 2010, 21:57

      Alonso bugging out was quite funny indeed xD

  3. Stefan said on 28th March 2010, 18:08

    I remember the Australian Grand Prix 2005, where Alonso got stuck behind Sauber’s Villeneuve for many laps. Back than the race was dry and perhaps just as hard to pass the guy in front of you as today (if you’re not driving a Red Bull, Ferrari or a McLaren).

    Btw I think McLaren took a risk with Button in favour of Hamilton by bringing him in lap 6 for slicks (to see how the tyres behave).

    The frontrunners really took a risk by not going in for new tyres, what a gamble it must have been from Renault and especially Ferrari. As an Alonso fan that last 9 laps were really breath taking, even more when Alonso said on the radio ”I don’t wanna know”, responding on the fact that Hamilton and Webber were coming at him.

    After Webber said sorry to Hamilton for the incident I think it’s fair to say Thank you Mark for doing that! Lol

    • Frans said on 28th March 2010, 19:15

      Button took the risk not McLaren, it’s already in the news. I remember one of the TV commentator said that even their (McLaren) pit was surprised when Button suddenly decided to come in and change to slicks…
      So it wasn’t a planned move to somehow make Button a guinea pig for Hamilton sake, but more of a gamble that Button took.

    • TrueF1Grit said on 28th March 2010, 19:32

      Its people like you who creat the stereotype that Mclaren favours 1 driver, it was Buttons descision, there was no favouritism, why would they pit someone to favour someone behind them? Surely, it would be the other way around.

  4. Interesting comments all round. I do think if we were going to see Schumacher make his mark it would be in a wet race scenario such as this, where experience can overcome raw pace. Granted he is still a bit rusty, but I think he has had his day.

    Re Alonso, he has never needed the fastest car to win championships. His consistent style and ability to somehow get an extra 0.5s a lap out of whatever he is driving.

    What was impressively different today about FA was his calmness – in the past he has often lost it when in this kind of scenario.

    Definately FA for 2010 champion.

    • HounslowBusGarage said on 28th March 2010, 21:50

      Yes I agree, Alonso looks astonishingly well suited to Ferrari and in total control of the team. himself and the car.
      Personally, I’m not keen on either of them, but Alonso looks well equipped for the Championship.

  5. vitaredux said on 28th March 2010, 18:56

    Driver of the day for me was Kubica, quietly showing what could be done with what, let’s be honest, isn’t the fastest car on the grid. Always well ahead of Petrov until he span out.

  6. F1Fan said on 28th March 2010, 18:57

    Funny how all the Webber fans disappeared. I have been telling you all for a long time that the guy is useless. What more proof do you want ? Another crash, no excuse this time either. I think he should be sent in for a mental evaluation.

    • Gwenouille said on 28th March 2010, 20:00

      Oooch, maybe a bit harsh ?

    • Calum said on 28th March 2010, 20:22

      He’s not useless, and though it doesn’t really matter through circumstances, he still scored more than his teammete!!

      Pity he couldn’t find the break pedal on the second to last lap :P

      • BasCB said on 28th March 2010, 20:32

        He must have some bad feelings for the team as well.
        Keeping him out on the inters for 3 laps more than the pack really screwed his race. Why did they not pit him with the others, letting Vettel stay in front to spread the strategy?
        The second pit stop cost him just as much as it cost Lewis.
        It shows, that Redbull has the speed to go for champions, but the team has to get better in the strategy department (Reliability is probably a trade off for the superfast Newey car)

    • Still here ! It might surprise you, but not all fans are fairweather fans. And besides Webber did a fantastic drive today – sure there were a couple of errors, but they were as a result of trying too hard. And wouldn’t you rather see that, than just follow the leader? Give credit where credit is due.

      • And I agree with BasCB, had Webber been pitted earlier, he would have gotten a far better result.

      • George said on 29th March 2010, 5:00

        I wouldn’t call myself a Webber fan, but I agree he had a decent race, fastest lap too. He has to take the blame for the crash with Hamilton but the earlier incident when Massa got by was fair I think, as Brundle said he needs to tune his agression down a bit in some situations, and he would score more points.

      • F1Fan said on 29th March 2010, 17:11

        Are you on drugs or don’t you care to look at the real numbers ? Here they are:

        1. Button, +3 places from race start
        2. Kubica, +7
        3. Massa, +2
        4. Alonso, -1
        5. Rosberg, +1
        6. Hamilton, +5
        7. Liuzzi, +6
        8. Barrichello, 0 (even)
        9. Webber, -7

        That is Webber, -7 !!! What are you talking about, him having a good race and all the other BS ?

    • WEBBER FAN said on 31st March 2010, 22:48

      Webber is great!

      He was fighting Hamilton and then hit him. THat’s what motor racing is. Stop slagging off mental people too. They have more sense and a better attitude than you.

      Go Webber!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      I think F1 fan should be sent to a cave where he can talk to his imaginary friends in peace.

  7. Ashok Das said on 28th March 2010, 19:21

    All in podium should thanks Alonso. When there are about 34 laps completed Hamilton change his tyre and was around 1.5 – 2 sec faster in each lap as compare to other running in front of him. Remaining 24 lap, with the new tyre on he was the best contender for 1st or 2nd place at least. If it was any other Hamilton might pass as he has already shown it during the race overtaking Masa, Roseberg, weber etc.

    But overtaking the spaniard was mere impossible. Alonso hold Hamilton for around 14-15 laps being 1.5 – 2 sec slower than Hamilton. Can anyone believe that?

    Alonso really is the best among current standing. I miss Kimi who is the real contender for this spaniard. Better hope next year.

    • He should pass him, but Weber was a kamikaze. It’s not easy to pass a Ferrari you know? Anyway, awful start by Alonso, and the recovery was Vettel out of the race, Weber doing stupid things all afternoon, Hamilton and Rosberg stoping two times. The rest of the grid behind him were no rivals for the Ferrari.

    • Saip said on 28th March 2010, 20:03

      Alonso is definitely the driver of the race for me. Unimaginably and inexplicably bad start from him…was expecting better owing to him being on the clean side.

      But what a race from thereon. From the last to 4th is unimaginable and at that time I was thinking why isnt Schumi making any progress? Doesn’t augur well for him at all, even without comparing him to Rosberg.

      And as you say, the last 10 laps were incredible. What a defense! Masterful, isn’t it? Given that Lewis was faster by nearly 2secs, he still managed to hold him off. Incredible. and I loved the way he said “I dont want to know” about Lewis’ position. I think it is an amazing insight on how these guys think once they are in the car. They do wonders with those machines…simply beautiful!

      He could have overtake Massa if not for the necessity to defend his position…who knows, if he overtook and became 3rd, Massa might not have been good enough to hold on to the 4th given Hamilton’s relentless attack. Good show by Ferrari overall..totally worth waking up in the morning!

      • Ashok Das said on 28th March 2010, 20:43

        @Saip I agree.
        Alonso during the race ‘he said’ “I dont want to know” about Lewis’ position.
        Don’t you think its a master act.
        And Alonso if he wants to over take Masa it might be easy and might be easy for Hamilton to overtake the duo. But all in podium, you all should be thankful to this spaniard.

        When Alonso is behind you and you and him both are in a competitive car, then you know what happen, Red bull still not sure wht happen to them in Baharin.

        I am really waiting for the next year.

        I think we all not posting this if Alonso has normal [not good/excellent] start.

      • matt said on 28th March 2010, 21:59

        If you watch the start carefully, you’ll notice Alonso pulled up slightly to the left of the other cars.

        This put his left rear onto the black painted strip, and I’m guessing this is why he got such massive wheelspin off the line.

      • F1Fan said on 29th March 2010, 16:22

        The driver of the race was Kubica, hands-down. No mistakes, maximized what the car could give him. 2nd for Renault is simply a stunning result. He surely is one of the top 5 drivers in F1 today.

  8. I’m writing this without looking at the data, but – outstandingly enjoyable race aside – I do fear for the dry races on the calendar. Superficially, it does appear that passing even in a considerably faster car is very, very difficult. It was apparent that Kubica could hold his position very easily, and likewise Alonso and Massa never looked like being able to pass one another in a straight fight, not to mention Hamilton running out of pace as soon as he got within 20 metres of the Ferrari.

    Schumacher being bottled up behind JA was unfortunate, but how much could he actually do?

    I’m concerned that reducing the width – and contact patch – of the front tyres was another step toward more aero-dependancy, and we are right back in the situation that the current regulations sought to change: the cars can follow each other, but that’s it. Massa was repeatedly slithering all over the track, but as soon as he reached full throttle, he was safe.

  9. Carol said on 28th March 2010, 22:33

    Well whether you like Alonso or not- he admitted himself that his tyres were not the best any more and there was no way he could have even tried to overtake Massa. Also apparently Ferrari have a new “team order”- the guys can race each otehr but for the last at least third of the race they are expected to hold position and not try anything that may end up in “not the best result for the team”- very sensible and very clear. And yes I do think he helped Massa get his podium as I do not think Massa could have held of Lewis and Mark.
    On the other hand- people complaining about Mark’s behaviour- he was simply totally over motivated in his home GP and wanted to show something- sadly it ended in a couple of daft moves on his part.
    The fact he got a reprimand and not a penalty? Totally correct- we fans moan there is no overtaking so we expect penalties to be handed out when they try it? CRAP! It seems the stewards now with ex drivers are doing a much better jon in the interests of the sport and hope this continues.
    As for the mix up with Button/Alonso/Schumacher- again no one drivers’s fault- but anyone can see that three into a corner does not go.

  10. KevinS said on 29th March 2010, 0:32

    Surely the coming together at the first corner was Schumacher’s fault by him not giving enough room to his right for Alonso and Button, whom he had a clear view of approaching the corner.

    • David A said on 29th March 2010, 1:20

      No, it appeared to be more Alonso’s fault, as the BBC tream said.

      • Jarred Walmsley said on 29th March 2010, 3:29

        Yep, definetely Alonso’s fault he didn’t give way to Button when it was obvious he had the racing line, all Alonso’s fault although I do respect his amazing drive from last all the way to 4th, but I think that Schumacher could have done alot better if it wasn’t for Alonso

  11. chris said on 29th March 2010, 0:49

    it’s still too early to judge Schumi’s pace but it’s starting to feel quite weird seeing him behind Alguesuari. i would expect him to be at least faster than Rosberg or to be fighting against the Feraris.that would spice thinks up even more. a bit disappointing till now. but than again where will he be at the end of the season?if he manages to end his “first” year on 3rd is that good for his image? it’s got that Lance Armstrong coming back taste all over it. returning after 3 years and teaming up with one of the best team leaders. he ended up 3rd in last years Tour de France. still faster than the other 197 riders who started. but the edge is off. Contador swept the tarmac with him…

    Keith maybe you can add this to the predictions topic:

    Predict how many laps will Vettel last in Malaysia?

  12. J.Danzig said on 29th March 2010, 2:18

    M.S and Nico are both doing well,sneaking up on things both running good races ,they,ll start winning soon,Nico will want to get some wins and obviously M.S as well. Fernando,s wearing a little thin with me at v momment,if he dislikes safety cars so much then when is he going to hand back his Singapore 08 trophy,even if he new nothing about it? that would be the right thing to,instead of letting P.K jr cop all the flak.P.K jr was a lost oppertunity for F1.

  13. warfieldF1 said on 29th March 2010, 8:20

    Smashing race on soooo many levels
    1 alonso caused the button/schumy accident at first corner but it was a racing incident and thankfully the stewards kept out of it.
    2 Alonso had a great result considering he was plum last at lap 1
    3 Kubica had a great result, i seem to remember some very agressive weaving to keep back a merc (need to watch the race again) which showed he was prepared to race hard and push the rules, again no steward involvement.
    4 could Vettel have lasted to the end of the race on that set of tyres, we have been told previousy the red bull is hard on tyres
    5 the 2nd pit stops…..this was an odd one. The undisputed king of strategy brought Schumy and Rosberg in for 2nd pit stops and it seemed to me that McLaren panicked and just followed, and Webber also. Certainly Hamilton wasnt complaining about tyres, i think they just thought “Ross is always right, we should do the same”………………….note for future, EVEN ROSS ISNT ALWAYS RIGHT!!
    6 is Hamilton loosing the plot without dad? Tyre burning in the hire car with local “hoons”!! Really?? This was all he could think of doing on a working weekend? Bit poor really.
    7 the thinking of Alonso; immediately he asked why people were stopping for second set of slicks; Hamilton in contrast seemed to take ages to figure out that the others were not all coming in for new tyres.
    8 Alonso telling his pit he didnt want to know anymore about Hamiltons progress towards the back of his Ferrari, hilarious.
    9 Mark Webber admitting he caused the crash and that he had apologised to Hamilton; not a clever move but he had the balls to admit it and speak to Lewis.
    10 Australia is usually a good race, this was no different and unfortunatly it is not a pointer for the rest of the season; except that the winner often becomes the WDC
    11 finally…..roll on Malaysia

  14. Ronman said on 29th March 2010, 8:53

    Alonso definitely is the driver of the race…. the passion and aggression are that of a true racer… in some shots her was right up there behind Massa, and you could actually see how much more aggressive and ultimately faster he was… but then his preservation sense kicked in…

    • Mash25 said on 30th March 2010, 11:23

      It’s funny how Alonso is so popular because of this race. As much as I like the guy, he screwed up the start for himself AND several other drivers! He did a fantastic job of catching up to Massa, then doesn’t bother to make an impression on him or most-importantly; kubica. What a waste.

  15. PJA said on 29th March 2010, 9:17

    A good call from Button to be the first driver to make the change to slicks. Again it would have been interesting to see how close it would have been at the end with Vettel if his Red Bull had not suffered reliability problems, would Vettel have been able to look after his tyres like Button did throughout the race?

    An impressive race from Kubica as well, he made up places at the start and then managed to hold off Hamilton and Massa during the race to get second.

    I am glad Ferrari let their drivers race each other and didn’t tell Massa to let Alonso through, like the commentators thought they should, even though he seemed quicker.

    It was a good recovery drive from Alonso, although he may think he could have finished higher, a fourth place finish after being last after the first couple of corners was a decent result.

    Does anyone know if Alonso had to give a place back to one of the Virgin cars on the first lap? On the BBC Forum they showed the onboard footage from Alonso’s car for the first half lap and I couldn’t tell if he had completed his overtake on the Virgin before they reached the yellow flags for the Kobayashi, Hulkenberg, Buemi incident

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