Crucial mistake delayed Alonso’s pursuit of Massa (Ferrari race review)

Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Hockenheimring, 2010

After failing to score at Silverstone Ferrari bounced back with a one-two at the Hockenheimring.

But the race will only be remembered for their controversial decision to order Felipe Massa to let Fernando Alonso by to win.

That might not have been needed had Alonso not made a crucial mistake which cost him an opportunity to pass his team mate earlier on in the race.

Felipe Massa Fernando Alonso
Qualifying position 3 2
Qualifying time comparison (Q3) 1’14.290 (+0.497) 1’13.793
Race position 2 1
Average race lap 1’18.553 (+0.063) 1’18.491
Laps 67/67 67/67
Pit stops 1 1

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Felipe Massa

Massa went from third on the grid straight into the lead as Sebastian Vettel was preoccupied with trying to keep Alonso behind.

When Alonso pitted Massa was 1.5 seconds ahead, an advantage which was cut in half as Alonso enjoyed the benefit of pitting first.

In fairness to Ferrari, they had to do that to protect Alonso from Vettel’s pit stop one lap earlier. Still, given what happened later, you have to expect they wouldn’t have been disappointed had it also put Alonso in front of Massa.

In light of Ferrari’s later explanation that Alonso was faster than Massa and they were concerned Vettel might pass them, it’s worth paying close attention to the variations in their lap times and gap between them.

For the first six laps after Massa’s pit stop Alonso was all over his team mate and clearly being held up by him. The Brazilian driver struggled with the switch from super-soft to hard tyres and was locking his brakes at the hairpin.

Then from lap 23 to 27 Alonso suddenly dropped back and Massa increased his lead over his team mate to 3.4 seconds. Vettel also dropped back, because Massa had improved his pace: he set fastest lap on laps 23, 24, 26 and 27.

After that Alonso began to catch Massa again but it took until lap 41 for him to get the gap down to a second.

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

Fernando Alonso

There is no doubt which of the two Ferraris were quicker in qualifying – Alonso was almost half a second faster than his team mate. The gap was a lot closer than that during the race.

After being delayed by Vettel, Alonso’s best opportunity to pass his team mate came on lap 21 when Massa had to pick his way past Bruno Senna at turn two.

Alonso slipstreamed up to his team mate, pulled alongside him on the outside as they approached the turn four hairpin and had his nose ahead for a few hundred metres.

Massa kept the inside line and held the position but Alonso emerged from the corner with his front nose underneath his team mate’s rear wing. But he chose to try to pass on the inside of the fast right-hander that followed – which was never going to work – and squandered his opportunity.

After that exchange Alonso appeared to back off and let Massa get away a little. At the time I wondered if he was saving fuel in order to be able to run to the end of the race on a full-rich mixture.

It seems he chose to do this at a time when the pair weren’t fighting their way through lapped traffic – which, as we’ve often seen, can present drivers with the best opportunity to overtake.

Alonso appeared to be in control of how far back he fell from Massa and how close he allowed Vettel to get. He then began to catch Massa again as the pair closed in on more lapped cars.

But on lap 35 Alonso’s Ferrari snapped sideways at turn ten. He caught the slide, but it put him onto the run-off area. This moment was not shown on the main television feed but was seen on the onboard camera channel.

That allowed Massa to increase his advantage to 2.7 seconds and, crucially, he was able to lap the Virgins before Alonso had reduced the gap again. For Alonso, what could have been a significant opportunity to get past his team mate was lost.

By lap 40 they’d both gone past Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi. Now Alonso sat around a second behind his team mate, matching his lap times.

But he was not under pressure from Vettel. The Red Bull driver caught Alonso by just 0.285s from lap 40 until the moment Massa was told to let Alonso pass.

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

2010 German Grand Prix

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195 comments on Crucial mistake delayed Alonso’s pursuit of Massa (Ferrari race review)

  1. Tim said on 26th July 2010, 22:17

    At Ferrari they like it complicated…

    And they do it so well at Interlagos 2007…

  2. Krosh said on 26th July 2010, 22:53

    In my mind the best racing-driver nowadays is Kubica. Unlike Schumacher, Alonso and others, he doesn’t need a excellent car to make great results. He has nothing, but just a Renault’s car that is worse than Mercedes’ cars and still can get in front of some cars of the top teams. Alonso is a driver like Michael, he won’t be able to win if he doesn’t have a great car and the whole team working for him.

  3. US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 27th July 2010, 0:35

    Keith, for some reason there’s no link to this article in the Articles In Full box, you can only navigate to it from the front page…

  4. qazuhb said on 27th July 2010, 1:25

    Please help me remember if Alonso’s maneuver that pushed out Massa entering the pit lane (I can’t remember which race it was) had any aftermath in regard to Driver Championship’s points, thanks. I haven’t read all the posts so if it was mentioned earlier I apologize in advance.

  5. Damon said on 27th July 2010, 9:22

    They should try and introduce something to try and prevent this, how about this? Team orders are allowed but the drivers are only allowed the points, with the team not getting any constructor points for using the option of team orders? I think it’s a good idea myself

  6. drezone said on 27th July 2010, 9:28

    alonso could’ve just made a move on massa and taken them both out like vettel did to webber in turkey and have the team blame massa saying he was in the wrong for not allowing room and defending his race lead. LOL.

  7. steph said on 27th July 2010, 9:40

    Keith (or anyone who knws), what were there average lap times on the softs and then the hards? Also, what was the average laptime before Massa gave the win to Alonso? Sorry if this is a fuss just I’d like to know how Felipe was doing up until the call. Thank you for anyone who knows and sorry for my awkward request!

    • xabregas said on 27th July 2010, 11:16

      The difference between the hards and the softs were 0’7 sec, at least thats what they were saying.
      As for Massa and Alonso, i was watching the race and paying atencion to the live timig and they were laping at 01:17 min.
      They were laping consistant times very close to each other but also we could see that Alonso could have been quicker had he clean air.
      Don´t remenber Massa being so competitive this year as he was in the german grand prix.

  8. chemakal said on 27th July 2010, 13:44

    SAME CIRCUIT, SAME CURVE, SAME TEAM ORDERS, DIFFERENT PLAYERS (KOV-HAM), DIFFERENT TEAM (BRITISH) = NO INVESTIGATION FOR MACLAREN. That’s year 2.008 when Hammilton won the WC by 1 point difference to Massa. Ron Dennis: “We have just informed Kov about Hamiltons pace” – Comments in Spanish but images very clear:

  9. LOL said on 27th July 2010, 21:06

    Have any of you reviewed lately the overtaking season 2008 of Hamilton to Kovalainen in Germany and the radio conversations? Surely not

  10. ELCROWLEY said on 28th July 2010, 22:09

    To the article’s author (and lot of people wants to learn something):

    About if Alonso was saving fuel…..He wasn’t saving fuel. Read….

    The Friday test day in Hockenheim, Ferrari has a meet with his staff and drivers. They agreed how to know who is the best/faster driver on the track.

    If one driver is behind of his team mate, the prosecutor driver to deserve to gain his position must slow down up to 3-4 seconds behind of his team mate. Leading teammate must drive as a hell once gap is 3-4 secs. Then the prosecutor driver must try to close the gap again to less than 1 sec. If he does, he deserves to gain the position.

    After that meet, Alonso to his nearest people said Massa ain’t a problem.

    Now, let’s see what happened on the track.

    Massa’s engineer told him Alonso is 3 secs (after increase from less than 1 sec to 3 secs) behind. He told him now it was his time to fight, he can win the race if he push as hell on the next laps.

    Once Alonso closed the gap again, Massa’s engineer told him the famous phrase “Alonso—-is —-faster—-than—–you—–Do you understand it?”

    That’s the phrase to say Alonso has demonstrated on the track he was faster than Massa so Massa must leave him pass.

  11. ELCROWLEY said on 28th July 2010, 22:18

    Because I’m not a briton F1 follower. I’m a serious F1 follower since lot of years ago.

  12. Stepney said on 28th July 2010, 22:28

    Good point Alexi,i also think running so close can overheat the engines,and we saw before Ferrari with Alonso having to back off enough to cool everything down,there is no doubt in my mind Alonso would have passed Massa,his usual tactic is to attack 10 or 12 laps before the end providing he is close enough.
    Keith thanks for pointing that out.

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