Pit lane pass hands advantage to Alonso (Chinese GP team-by-team: Ferrari)

Alonso clearly didn't fancy staring at his team mate's rear wing again

Alonso clearly didn't fancy staring at his team mate's rear wing again

How badly did Fernando Alonso not want to spend another race stuck behind his team mate?

We can judge that from his bold pass on his team mate on their way into the pit lane which the team sought to play down after the Chinese Grand Prix.

Felipe Massa Fernando Alonso
Qualifying position 7 3
Qualifying time comparison (Q3) 1’35.180 (+0.267) 1’34.913
Race position 9 4
Average race lap 1’55.356 (+0.82) 1’54.536
Laps 56/56 56/56
Pit stops 4 5
Chinese Grand Prix lap times

Chinese Grand Prix lap times (click to enlarge)

Felipe Massa

Massa went into the race as the championship leader but he was beaten in qualifying for the third race in a row.

Like Alonso, he switched to intermediate tyres on lap two. However while most drivers who did that switched back on lap five, Massa waited another lap, losing more time and track position.

Now 13th, he spent several laps trying to find a way past Rubens Barrichello. When the rain returned Massa headed for the pits but his team mate beat him in. Massa lost time having to queue behind Alonso, dropping him back behind Barrichello again.

He got past Barrichello and then Adrian Sutil – though both moves took several laps – and a slowing Michael Schumacher conceded eighth place to him two laps from home. But Massa fell from first to sixth in the championship battle.

Compare Felipe Massa’s form against his team mate in 2010

Fernando Alonso

Lost vital time on Friday with an engine failure but took third on the grid behind the Red Bulls. But two errors in the first two laps destroyed his hopes of victory.

First he jumped the start, something he accepted responsibility for:

I made a serious mistake at the start as my reflexes let me down and I left early. It?s never happened to me before and I am very disappointed with myself.
Fernando Alonso

Not long after that he, along with several other drivers, made he fateful early switch to intermediate tyres. Having pitted three times in the first six laps he was now behind his team mate, a position he might be rather tired of after the previous two races.

When the rain returned at the mid point of the race Alonso elbowed past Massa on the way into the pits, Massa having hit a puddle at the exit of the hairpin. Alonso shrugged off the move, saying:

If he was not my team-mate, there wouldn?t be so much talk about it and for me it was a normal move and it definitely won?t compromise our relationship.
Fernando Alonso

What was surprising about this move was that Ferrari were able to get Alonso’s tyres on his car at that pit stop even though they had, presumably, been expecting Massa, and not had much time to swap sets. You can bet if they had got their tyres the wrong way around a rival team would have protested.

Alonso made quicker progress past tougher opposition than his team mate did, picking off Sebastian Vettel, Adrian Sutil and Robert Kubica to finish fourth. A good result considering he had run as low as 17th, but one that would not have been possible without the second safety car period.

Compare Fernando Alonso’s form against his team mate in 2010

2010 Chinese Grand Prix

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38 comments on Pit lane pass hands advantage to Alonso (Chinese GP team-by-team: Ferrari)

  1. steph said on 19th April 2010, 17:43

    Seems Massa had a fair bit against him but he could ahve done more to stop Alonso getting ahead, that said he was very well behaved as it could have ended in a crash.
    Massa has been fairly close to Alo esp in qualifying this weekend but it speaks volumes that Alo is getting that extra bit from the car and putting in the stirling performances. I wouldn’t say Massa is doing badly but he does need to up his game.

  2. LehonardEuler said on 19th April 2010, 18:08

    I agree completely: If there’s no no1 in the team, then they must fight on track. Alonso lost lots of time behind Massa in the last races, this time he didn’t, and those are the rules.
    Besides, the pit lane entry is part of the track (this is new to me), so the pass was legitimate.
    I don’t see why this subjet is being such a fuzz…

    • Hallard said on 19th April 2010, 23:21

      Because if Alonso had gone over the curb and pushed a driver from another team off the track, just like he did with Massa, he would have ended up with another drive-through penalty. This was a cheap and cowardly move on Alonso’s part, and if he wants to get Ahead of Massa that bad, he should earn it with clean passes or better strategy calls. This kind of behavior is just childish, and puts both teammates at risk.

      • gee said on 20th April 2010, 4:07

        well Ham made the same move on vettel entering the pits(or vice versa, i can’t remember), and didn’t get a penalty. this was the same pit stop where they almost crashed and vettel pushing him to the garrages, and still no penalty. so i guess alonso’s move was legal because it was done before by two diffrent drivers in diffrent teams which was much worse pertaining to their behavior on entering and the run through the pit lane rather than alonso’s move

        • Antifia said on 20th April 2010, 10:36

          Ham missed the pit entry and did excursion thruough the grass to get to the pits. But he did that alone…

          • Roger Carballo AKA Architrion said on 20th April 2010, 11:22

            He passed Vettel the same way Alonso passed Massa. Go watch the replay.

          • Patrickl said on 20th April 2010, 17:42

            You got that backwards.

            Vettel was trying to pass Hamilton on the outside of the pitentry. Hamilton simply held his inside line.

      • Todfod said on 20th April 2010, 9:13

        @Hallard. Maybe you should take a better look at the replay. Alonso got a better exit off the last corner and was wheel to wheel with Massa while entering the pitlane. I would barely call his behaviour childish, as in the last couple of races he could have made life much harder for his slower teammate by pushing him to the limits when he was behind him. His move was not only good for himself, but was also great result for the Ferrari team, as there was no way Massa could make it up to fourth position.

  3. Hairs said on 19th April 2010, 18:51

    I don’t think the pit lane entry “overtake” is so much of an issue as that Ferrari were bringing both drivers in on the same lap. Another weird piece of thinking by the scuderia, or did they call one driver in, only to have the other driver radio back “I’m coming in too!”? They had two sets of tyres ready so it can’t have been a last second dodge into the pitlane by one of the drivers.

    • rampante said on 19th April 2010, 20:23

      backing up drivers for the 4 or 5 seconds is much better than another lap and losing 20 secs or worse going off with the wrong tyres.

      • Gerdoner said on 19th April 2010, 23:19

        And it’s not that unusual, actually you see it quite often these days. As rampante said it’s often better this way. Also, you reduce the risk of a spin because of the wrong tyres ;)

        • Dan M said on 20th April 2010, 1:43

          Tire changes are down to 3-4 seconds. Fuel is what adds the complication to stacking drivers (which obviously isn’t an issue).

  4. I thought it was an excellent move by Alonso. It was a bit painful to see Alonso being held up by Massa in the previous races as Ferrari (apparently) have this boring policy of not letting their drivers race after the last pitstop. Considering more rain was expected in China this might very well have been their last.

    And in the end it probably benefited the team as much as Alonso, if slightly at the cost of Massa.

    Drivers are supposed to be able to actually race each other like you would others, especially at this stage in the season. I hope to see the McLaren drivers battle it out like this at some point as well. They’re both good overtakers too, should be fun. :)

    • steph said on 19th April 2010, 21:51

      “And in the end it probably benefited the team as much as Alonso, if slightly at the cost of Massa.”
      Agree, agree 100%

  5. Patrickl said on 19th April 2010, 21:42

    “What was surprising about this move was that Ferrari were able to get Alonso’s tyres on his car at that pit stop even though they had, presumably, been expecting Massa, and not had much time to swap sets.”

    They were holding both sets of tyres in the pitlane since they needed to handle 2 cars at the same time anyway.

    What I found surprising is how Alonso ended up so close behind Massa (to allow that move at the pit entry) after Alonso had to undergo a drive through penalty.

    • steph said on 19th April 2010, 21:50

      “What I found surprising is how Alonso ended up so close behind Massa (to allow that move at the pit entry) after Alonso had to undergo a drive through penalty”

      Alonso’s much stronger pace and probably overtaking better while Massa was stuck. On the way into the pits Massa didn’t have the best of exits from the hairpin which allowed Alonso an opportunity.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 19th April 2010, 22:53

      What I found surprising is how Alonso ended up so close behind Massa (to allow that move at the pit entry) after Alonso had to undergo a drive through penalty.

      This was a consequence of Vettel holding up the cars behind him when the group came in for intermediates on lap two.

      Alonso entered the pits first, then Webber, then Vettel who had backed off a lot, with cars behind him unable to pass. (more here: Qualifying kings struggle in the rain (Chinese GP team-by-team: Red Bull))

      Also, Alonso made very good progress on his intermediates at the first re-start, picking off several cars before taking his drive-through.

      Massa also slipped up by not coming in for slicks when most other drivers did, on lap five. He waited until lap six. Alonso had to do his on lap six, because he took his drive-through on lap five.

  6. Nick said on 19th April 2010, 21:54

    Surprising error by Alonso who jumped the start. He really makes a lot of school boy mistakes.

    • Dan M said on 20th April 2010, 1:51

      The timing on his jumped start was so close I wouldn’t call it a mistake. Rather a bold attempt to predict the lights.

      Barachello lurched away from the starting line multiple times in the Brawn last year and hes got years more experience.

      Not to mention almost every other driver made some mistake:

      Hamilton nearly put his car in the same (car sized) gravel trap as he did in 2007.
      Webber hit his jack man.
      Rosberg surrendered the lead.
      Vettel got a horrible start.
      Button almost threw his win away on the last lap.

      • DanThorn said on 20th April 2010, 12:43

        I don’t know what other schoolboy mistakes you’re referring to – The jump start was poor yes, but it’s not like he makes a habit of doing things like that.

        • steph said on 20th April 2010, 12:58

          He’s had a couple of spins on the formation laps -Spain 08 and Germany 09 I think- but that’s nothing, not even in a race. I can’t think of any school boy mistakes in the last few years. My memory is poor though!

      • Patrickl said on 20th April 2010, 17:45

        “Hamilton nearly put his car in the same (car sized) gravel trap as he did in 2007.”
        That was Massa.

    • Carl27 said on 20th April 2010, 15:26

      How long have you been following F1? FA is one of the drivers that make less mistakes.

  7. MEmo said on 20th April 2010, 2:40

    “You can bet if they had got their tyres the wrong way around a rival team would have protested.”
    I don´t understand this comment: a rival team would have protested that Alonso got Massa´s tyres? Why? I think I´m missing something.

  8. kbdavies said on 20th April 2010, 15:07

    @Keith – what is going on with the gay comments and postings? Have you seen them?

  9. kbdavies said on 20th April 2010, 15:08

    @Keith – They were under the comment from “K” which you removed.

  10. Is it Alonso foult? I don’t know. But it is interesting.

  11. Tiren said on 20th April 2010, 17:35

    How long I wonder before Ferrari miss Kimi’s ‘just keep quiet and drive the damn car’ style.

    I give it three more races before huge fireworks.

  12. Tiren said on 20th April 2010, 17:39

    Btw Keith…love the site. Long time reader, first time writer…:)

  13. Critter42 said on 21st April 2010, 2:41

    OK – new poster here (expect to get flamed) but WTH …

    I think Alonso’s overtake of Massa into the pitlane was bold, aggressive, but ultimately outside the rules. Here’s why (someone correct me if I’m wrong) –

    As far as I understand things, the limits of the race track are defined by the white lines at its edge, and a car must keep at least one wheel inside those two lines at all times. From my understanding of the rules, any car which gains a place by driving outside those lines (eg by cutting a chicane) must then give up that place. This has happened numerous times.

    This is where my understanding of the rules get a little unsure, but isn’t the pitlane (& its entry) part of the racetrack and therefore governed by the same rules?

    Now look at the overtake – Massa and Alonso enter the pitlane entry nearly side-by-side (Massa slightly ahead), but as they turn through the left turn, Alonso puts all four wheels outside the white lines in order to get past (and then forces Massa wide when he rejoins). Surely this is driving outside the limits of the racetrack, and he should of given up the place gained … ?

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