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. Jay Menon said on 29th March 2010, 11:29

    I got the feeling the Ferraris stopped pushing after a while. They seemed to be happy to sit in 3rd and 4th to take the points and preserve the engines.

    I think Alonso and Massa knew that with the tyres they had, they weren’t going places. Good team play, Alonso dropped back and played the defensive game brilliantly, aided by turbulence of course, and Massa built a bit of a gap.

    Lewis struggled to get past Alonso, who showeed how good he can be defensively. Lewis was a good 1.5 Secs faster with the newer tyres but still couldnt get past.

    I have to agree that Drive of The Day was Robert Kubica. He did really well. I would Alonso second with Lewis thrid. Jenson did a good race as well, but it wasnt as exciting.

  2. more proof (if it was needed) that Schumacher’s not all that hes cracked up to be, great race by alonso, however and another podium for massa, although he should have achieved more.

    • macca77 said on 29th March 2010, 16:56

      Hi, reading the stats article I found out Schumi was one of the two guys that had to pit 4 times, also was the guy who passed more people for a position. So I think his performance during the race was very good, sadly the TV coverage during those two first races has been very weak and a lot of stuff that happens is not being showed.

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 30th March 2010, 0:24

        also was the guy who passed more people for a position

        But wasn’t he mainly just picking off stragglers? It’s not as if he was passing Ferraris, Red Bulls and McLarens.

  3. cecavac said on 29th March 2010, 17:02

    jenson,Massa and Kubica are exceptional drivers but in my opinion schumacher,Hamilton,Alonso are in differentleague.

  4. verstappen said on 29th March 2010, 20:23

    Jaime Alguersuari, Spanish. Engine: Ferrari
    Pedro dela Rosa: Spanish. Engine: Ferrari

    Not meaning this too ugly here, but with whom would these guys have a bigger fight? With their countryman, already fighting for the title in their enginesuppliers’ car?
    Or the 7-times world champion who came back, who everybody wants to fight?

    Don’t understand me wrong, I don’t suggest Ferrari asking them anything. I just want to point out that this might be the little difference which can be enough nowadays in F1.

  5. Alonso lost the race before the start, when he lined up the Ferrari on the slippery white lines at the grid. He lost traction as he put the power down, and as a result found himself in the congested trouble zone at the first turn.

  6. Chaz said on 31st March 2010, 16:42

    There were several enjoyable moments during the race and Glock and Alguersuari fighting with Schumacher were certainly part of it…

  7. wasiF1 said on 1st April 2010, 8:43

    Great recovery from Alonso but expected better from Schumacher hoping that he will deliver in the future races.

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