Vitaly Petrov, Renault, Abu Dhabi, 2010

How Alonso lost the championship in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix analysisPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Vitaly Petrov, Renault, Abu Dhabi, 2010
Vitaly Petrov, Renault, Abu Dhabi, 2010

Ferrari snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in Abu Dhabi.

Fernando Alonso’s race hinged on a critical strategic decision to pit early, which left him stuck behind Vitaly Petrov.

How did Ferrari get the crucial call wrong? Find out in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix analysis.

Lap 1

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix lap 1 position change
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix lap 1 position change

There were fewer changes of position on the opening lap than usual. But one that did happen was highly significant – Jenson Button passing Fernando Alonso for third.

With Sebastian Vettel leading, that made it imperative for Alonso not to lose track position to Mark Webber. Finishing fifth instead of fourth would cost him the world championship with Vettel leading.

Unfortunately for Alonso, Ferrari’s preoccupation with Webber meant they lost out to several other cars.

Pit stops

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix pit stops
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix pit stops

Ferrari brought Alonso in on lap 15, four laps after Webber pitted. It’s easy to criticise strategic decisions in hindsight – particularly one as costly as this – so it’s important to understand why they did it.

Webber was delayed by Jaime Alguersuari following his pit stop and Ferrari tried to take advantage of that by pitting Massa two laps afterwards in an attempt to get him out ahead of the Red Bull.

But this didn’t work: Webber made it past Alguersuari on the lap Massa came in, and the Ferrari driver lost 1.4 seconds more in the pits compared to Webber.

Ferrari’s concern now was that Webber was going to do the same as he did following his early pit stop at Singapore – keep picking off the cars in front of him quickly enough to stay in touch with the leaders. Some of these – Vitaly Petrov and Nico Rosberg – did not need to pit again following earlier stops under the safety car.

At that point Ferrari knew they had enough of a gap over Webber to bring Alonso in and keep him in front of the Red Bull. In essence, they were wagering Alonso’s ability to get past Petrov and Rosberg against Webber’s – and the gamble failed.

Their thinking was probably also influenced by the loss of pace the front runners were experiencing on the super-soft tyres at that point in the race. Look at how Vettel’s lap times increased from laps eight to 13 on the chart below – from 1’45.337 to 1’46.667.

Ferrari called Alonso in on the lap after that – just as the super-soft tyres came back to life and the other cars’ lap times improved.

Race progress

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Alonso came out of the pits ahead of Webber but behind Petrov. He had some experience of the Renault driver’s defensive tactics from Istanbul, where Petrov frustrated the Ferrari driver for 40 laps before Alonso finally got through with a rather physical move.

He couldn’t risk such contact with the championship hanging in the balance – at least, not until things got really desperate.

Some speculated that Renault were especially keen to keep Alonso behind because they are Red Bull’s engine suppliers.

A more realistic explanation for why Alonso had such a hard time passing the R30 is that Petrov was one of only two drivers on the track who used a new engine for this race. He was the third-quickest car through the speed trap in qualifying, 3.3kph quicker than Alonso.

Lap chart

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix lap chart
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix lap chart

The other driver who had a hard time getting past a Renault was Lewis Hamilton, stuck behind Kubica, who also had a new engine for this weekend’s race.

It seems McLaren had no choice other than to bring Hamilton in when they did. It’s clear from the lap times graph (below) he was no longer pulling away from Kubica and the gap between them (graph above) was never sufficient for him to pit and get out in front of the Renault.

That left Hamilton stuck behind Kamui Kobayashi (who he quickly dispensed with) and Kubica.

At first Hamilton’s attempts to pass Kubica cost the Renault driver some time (see lap 30). But Kubica was soon able to settle back into his rhythm, lapping 0.5-1s faster than Alonso.

That meant by lap 46 he had enough of a lead over Alonso to pit and come out in front of him. It was another nail in the coffin for Alonso.

Fastest laps

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After being released by Kubica on lap 46 Hamilton banged in the fastest lap of the race – 1’41.274, just one second off the lap record set by Vettel last year.

But he couldn’t sustain this pace and Vettel upped his to keep Hamilton in check over the closing laps.

With Alonso still tucked up behind Petrov, it was mission accomplished for Vettel.

Rank Driver Car Fastest lap Gap On lap
1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’41.274 47
2 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’41.636 0.362 48
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’41.711 0.437 52
4 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’41.739 0.465 50
5 Robert Kubica Renault 1’41.753 0.479 51
6 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’42.196 0.922 52
7 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’42.227 0.953 52
8 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’42.311 1.037 52
9 Nico H???lkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1’42.397 1.123 51
10 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’42.573 1.299 50
11 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’42.669 1.395 50
12 Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari 1’42.673 1.399 52
13 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’42.695 1.421 52
14 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’42.725 1.451 52
15 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’42.727 1.453 49
16 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’42.733 1.459 53
17 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1’45.378 4.104 52
18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1’45.979 4.705 42
19 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1’46.126 4.852 50
20 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1’46.255 4.981 52
21 Christian Klien HRT-Cosworth 1’46.646 5.372 44
22 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’46.837 5.563 39

2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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155 comments on “How Alonso lost the championship in Abu Dhabi”

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  1. It’s easy to play captain hindsight as Keith might say, but Ferrrari failed today with strategy. But was it what decided the title? Did it decide the title any more than Alonso crashing in practice in Monaco or jump starting in China? Not really.

    Alonso, Ferrari and all their fans can be proud that they managed to fight back from 47 points behind after Silverstone and 41 points behind after Spa. Its just a crying shame that it ultimately wasn’t enough against the might of Vettel in a dominant RB6.

    1. Even in 2008 they did the same, only with a faultless race. But when you lose half of the season and reach the end in the lead, you can’t afford any more mistakes. Ferrari, Fernando especially, had made enough (Australia, China, Monaco, Great Britain, Belgium) and Abu Dhabi’s was too mush for them to win the title.

    2. captain hindsight

      Someone else has been watching the new season of South Park :-)

      I wanted to avoid that, as you say, because it’s so easy to criticise. Looking at the situation they were in on lap 13 it wasn’t an easy call.

      1. lol I actually hadn’t seen it on South Park. Its just you called EJ captain hindsight today in the live blog and I thought it was pretty funny.

        1. Ah, well I can’t claim credit for it!

      2. To be completely honest, the strategy call would have made absolute sense to Ferrari. For one thing, they were sure that the fresh tyres will be sufficiently faster to quickly dispatch Petrov and Rosberg, who were trundling along on worn tyres the entire race.

        Secondly, if most of us were given the post-pitstop scenario prior to the race, we would have said that it’d take Alonso 3-4 laps max to shove Petrov aside. Remember the ruthlessness on the first laps of Interlagos. So the strategy call wasn’t really wrong, it STARTED to go wrong once it was clear that Petrov put his defenses very neatly

        1. I agree – having seen/heard the commentary from BBC, Dutch RTL 7 and German RTL, they all thought Alonso coming in was the logical choice and Vettel and Hamilton staying out was going to compromise them. And then their tires started to come back and the race changed.

        2. it was never going to work. its tough to pass on that track and rosberg has the best motor in the business in the back of that car so he would of been near impossible to pass.

          ferrari fell for red bulls trick. they were clearly happy to sacrifice webbers title with a stupidly early stop in the hope ferrari were going to copy to cover him off, which they did and it worked a treat.

          it meant webber got screwed with backdoor team orders…again. but it did mean they won the title so was suppose correct. but they shouldnt have a pop at others for team orders cos this was worse.

          1. webber’s tyres were done i think. he had no pace whatsoever in any case, but i think they should have pitted him under the safety car. this would have left him ahead of rosberg at least. however, i can’t see that he would have been able to do anything about the mclarens or, obviously, vettel. i wanted webber to win but vettel has been brilliant in the last 4 races (he was merely very good in singapore) and webber threw it away in korea. so the right man won in the end.

          2. Agree with Tombo, Webber would have been hard pressed to get past Alonso via a later pit stop, yet alone Button. The danger for both Alonso and Webber was Button getting into third from the start, which he did. That exposed Alonso to losing one place and the championship, and made Webber’s task almost impossible given the McLaren pace – they were going to be out of reach quickly. So RBR had to almost immediately shift to supporting Vettel as a priority. Whatever: it worked!

          3. What RBR did was by no means sacrifice Webber’s title. Webber choked, he qualified poorly and had no pace, he even hit one of the barriers with his left rear tire, which probably only helped in them graining. He had to put and it put Ferrari in a panic, whilst Vettel, Hamilton and Button sailed off into the sunset.

        3. Well I found myself shouting “NO, NO!” when Ferrari called Massa and then Alonso in. It was clear for me that it was a mistake, Massa was doing the fastest lap at that time.

    3. It was such a bad mistake, and by Ferrari of all teams. When Webber came out behind Petrov and Rosberg, they should’ve realised that even if coming out ahead of Webber, Alonso would’ve had to overtake both of them to only have the McLarens and Vettel ahead. A bad and costly mistake by Ferrari, it seems their strategists wave worse nerves than their drivers!

    4. I used to have this theory that if you lost 2 points to the championship leader, you really lost 12 points because another race to eat into that lead had gone.

      In that sense, this race lost them the championship. In another, being so far behind lost them it. Or they just lost it over the whole season. It matters not.

      1. Icthyes you had a comment yesterday… somewhere in a small German town…

        Amazing, really.

        1. Not really sure what you’re on about but I’ll take that as a compliment!

          1. Oh my… it was a comment from F1fan

            And to that end, something tells me that when it’s all said and done, some small German town (Heppenheim) will be getting ready for a parade.

            My apologies…

    5. I said at the time Ferrari pitted Massa that it was a mistake, Mark was always going to get stuck in traffic, at least long enough to take him down the points. The fact Massa set the 2 fastest sectors on his in lap was also evidence that they had the pace to stay out a bit longer. Alonso should have been watching Vettle and not Mark.

      Yes hindsight is always perfect but Red Bull where rolling the dice when they pitted Mark, he had nothing else on… Ferrari, and more specifically Alonso had the championship on….

    6. Ads 21, you’re right. Ferrari and Alonso did their fans proud in 2010 by jumping back into contention from Monza. But they critically fell short of glory.

      I was really looking forward to Alonso’s 3rd title – it would have given his critics something to chew on! It seemed so easy from 3rd on the grid. This was in fact his worst race since the late-season resurgence. I know the strategy was a tough call, but someone with the experience of Alonso must prove himself exactly in situations such as these. Champions make their luck, it is often said, and that is more than what’s expected from a double world champion.

      Alonso, who is often compared to Prost, shouldn’t have bilndly accepted his team’s decision. Though Keith has presented all the facts, I still can’t accept that a two-time champion and a No. 9 in Autosport’s late 2009 All-time Greatest Drivers survey was a helpless puppet in the hands of a rookie called Petrov.

      I was resigned to the fact that Alonso had lost the title after the Spa crash, but he re-kindled our hopes only to fall flat at the last race. Finishing 7th from 3rd is poor for any driver, but shameful for someone of the professed calibre of Alonso and a 60-year old F1 team.

      Where is the Alonso who overtook Michael Schumacher at Suzuka’s 130R in 2006, or the rain master who made a fiesty move on Massa at Nurburging in 2007, or the one who held back a determined Schumacher at Imola in 2005?

      I know there are technical reasons behind everything – Keith would know them more than anyone else but there’s no taking away the fact that Alonso really failed. I’ve never wanted to say this, but as a disgruntled fan I cannot help but admit he was quite fortuitous this year.

      He was gifted the championship lead at Korea. Webber was off the pace at Abu Dhabi. What more could he and Ferrari have asked for? They should have pulled this one off. Poor, really poor from both the Prancing (but going nowhere) Horse and the Oviedo master.

  2. Great review. It gives you the tense sensation of watching the race live.

  3. Thanks for everything Bridgestone, but Kubica being able to pull away like that on old tyres, even if it was from Petrov, shows why your departure might be better for the sport. Here’s hoping the teams won’t whinge to Pirelli about how quickly the tyres fall off.

    Thanks too to you Keith, analyses like these, for free, set you above the rest.

    1. As you’re mentioning Kubica; how did he get away with crossing the line when exiting the pits? The stewards are always very tough when it comes to crossing the line at the pit exit, so why not this time?

      1. Not sure, but it probably has to do with the fact that Kubica didn’t cross the line onto the race track, he was on the run-off area. It may even be that the ‘line’ isn’t defined at that part of the track, or is on the other side of the run-off he crossed onto.

        Had a quick scan through the Sporting Regulations but nothing obvious comes up. If anyone has a better explanation do share it…

        1. I think the fairest solution to that problem would have been to black flag Kubica, then do the same to Petrov for being in the same team. Then giving Rosberg a black and orange flag because of Schumi’s accident.

          Not that I’m biased at all :P

          1. No, all that needs to happen is a Mercedes and Renault DQ for using cool fuel.

            Stands to reason.

          2. So funny Ads21! Pretty obvious your Espanol fan. Then Alonso end up 4th!! Hahaha

          3. I think the reason KUB wasn`t punished is that He appeared a good 3-4 seconds ahead off PET and so didn`t gain any advantage, and can you imagine the cries of FIA bias if the stewards had punished him. Plus towards the end of the race ALO was using massive run off lines too gain time. Just a thought but maybe the Sun setting an the resulting drop in temp made the super softs have a second wind.

          4. How about a Safety Car period for debris from Trulli’s wing? It would probably have given Alonso the chance to overtake Petrov and Rosberg. :)

            But as Gary Anderson says on Star Sports, “If” is “F1” backwards!

          5. lol.
            penalty for KUB for crossing pit exit line.
            penalty for PET for ‘weaving’ infront of ALO.
            penalty for HAM for ‘dangerous’ lunge at start.
            and penalty for ROS for ‘spinning’ SHU at start.

      2. It depends on the circumstances. Drivers are penalized for crossing the line only when doing so puts them on the track.

        Remember Alonso overtaking Massa in China? He was well outside the line — drivers often cut the line on that circuit.

        1. that’s pit entry though. some circuits allow the cutting of pit entry.

  4. Everybody has been hating on Ferrari’s race strategy with Alonso and the timing of his pit stops. However, what lap should he have come in on? In hindsight he should have stayed out a bit longer, but tyre degradation in the race was surprisingly low, which caught Ferrari out. I think Ads21 has a point to say that other faults throughout the season contribute, but then again RBR had plenty of reliability issues as well. For me it ultimately came down to the fact that Fernando could not pass Petrov. I think Ferrari or any other top team would think Petrov might put up a fight for 5 laps at most, and really the blame I would think is two fold: a) Fernando and b) the strategy.

    1. it ultimately came down to the fact that Fernando could not pass Petrov

      Hamilton had exactly the same problem with Kubica. Firstly Abu Dhbai is a rubbish track for overtaking and second the Renault had too much of a top speed advantage.

      1. Younger Hamilton
        14th November 2010, 22:18

        Abu Dhabi generates 2 Possible Overtaking opportunities as well as many others tracks that provide 2-4 Overtaking Opportunitites if there’s a problem with a track its the final sector no where else.Its no where as boring or rubbish as Bahrain is do you know how much money both tracks are making from Bahrain hosting a outstanding and once again epic season and Abu Dhabi deciding the championship and closing the season.

      2. I agree that Petrov did have speed advantage of 2.9 kph on the straights. However, if Fernando had passed Petrov and Rosberg he would have won the WDC. It really surprises me that despite how hard it might be to overtake at Abu Dhabi he was not able to make a move given his talent. Also Ferrari must have known that Petrov was faster, but they though it would not be a problem, so that is another failure on there half.

        According to the speed trap data Hamilton was .4 kph faster than Kubica. Though Kubica might have on average have had a higher top speed?

      3. Yes Renault had a top speed advantage, but you can’t compare Hamilton being stuck behind Kubica to make it all better. One can expect Kubica to give Hamilton a fight, but Alonso should have been able to find a way past Petrov. The fact that he didn’t is even more proof that he did not deserve this years title.

        1. But the same petrov kept him behind for 40 laps earlier in the season as well. And he had done solid defences from Hamilton and others as well.
          I agree that he was helped by his Renault engine offering better traction out of the corners and better top speed as it was new, but it is also about knowing how to use that and not drop it under stress.

        2. But didn’t you notice how Webber wasn’t even able to get close to Alonso even though Alonso was stuck behind Petrov? Nothing to do with the drivers – it’s the aerodynamics; the specifications need to change.

          1. Oh, don’t worry – the ‘sport’ is going into Mario Kart mode with SUPERBOOST next year anyway. Wait ’till you’re on the <<< marks, hit Button 2, and off you go!

            Unless they change that little piece of regulatory brilliance, this is going to be the last F1 race I watch of my own volition…

    2. I also think it was the strategy. But what I didn’t like was Alonso showing hand signs to Petrov. Petrov made a great race, driver dont have to step out just because you are in the championship fight!

      Regarding Alonso’s mistakes, he made A LOT this year! But so did Vettel (aside from his car problems, yes I am talking about driver mistakes) and so did Webber. Hence why the battle for the title was so intense and lasted for so long!

      When Raikkonen was at Ferrari they did everything to put him down and always supported Massa, until they fnally got rid of Kimi. I am not a huge fan nor a suporter of Kimi, even though I always admired his driving and I thought the guy was there to do his job. Ferrari didn’t knew how to appreciate that, so I am not feeling bad for them losing this title at all! Besides, Red Bull deserved this much more and Vettel too! In my honest opinion, Webber would have deserved it just as much as Vettel, especially because the team wanted him to be the second driver, even when he showed he can win and be a leader. But he wasn’t able to do more in Abu Dhabi, so it’s not really the team’s fault there, but only his.

      Congratulations to Red Bull & Sebastian Vettel! I hope that they learned from their mistakes this year, cause some could have been avoided!

      1. That hand waving thing by ALO was immature. But, after the race he spoke with an interviewer and he did say that Petrov drove really well and did not make mistakes. It was frustrating for him.

        I think ALO could control his emotions, particularly when the situation is not good for him.

  5. it is hard form me to belive that team as ferrari did not know how should their tires behave, sure they were graining on lap 13 but few laps later vet, ham and but were flying…multimillion dollar buissnes and mistake like that…i know my boss would not like something like that

    1. I think nobody knew what those tyres were going to do. Red Bull was planning a stop for Vettel as well, only to postpone it when the super softs started to come back to them.
      As in Canada, everyone was taken by suprise by the behaviour of the tyres.

      1. Even Bridgestone, who thought that the supersofts would only last 20 laps yesterday.

  6. Alonso lost the championship when he forced Massa to move aside in Germany.

    If Massa had won that race, he would have been far more confident in the remaining races. If he’d had that extra confidence, he would have driven closer to his full ability and taken a significant number of points — surely more than 7 — off the Red Bulls.

    1. I think if Massa stayed ahead of Alonso, that would have knocked his confidence knowing that he couldn’t beat his team mate that day.

      1. Well, actually he didn’t beat his teammate that day, so it made no difference :P

        1. You dont know that. He could have tried to overtake him again if he did not let him pass… you guys dont know anything about f1, do you?

    2. Agree with you completely Jonathan. Not only would Massa have had more confidence, he may have even won another race. Ferrari lost this race because of Karma, because they shot themselves in the foot, because they stole a win from a deserving driver and gave it to an @$$ who ultimately couldn’t win the championship anyway. Congrats to Vettel!!

    3. A really interesting comment, Jonathan, and one I agree with. Massa completely gave up after that fiasco. I actually would not stay at Ferrari now, if I was him.

    4. I agree with your comment. Massa just gave up from that point. I thought I noticed a satisfied smirk from Ron Smedley during his post race interview!

  7. Alonso and Ferrari win together, and they lose together. Alonso’s previous mistakes and misfortune has cost him the championship as much as Ferrari’s bad call today. It’s a shame that Alonso couldn’t win, but he has still driven very well this year and he is my driver of the year. Big congrats to Vettel.

    1. I agree. Fernando came within 4 points of winning the championship with the second best car of the year. I think Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton all made mistakes, but were still phenomenal this year. Although I’m gutted not seeing Alonso win it this year, I think Vettel definitely deserved to win this WDC. Congrats to Vettel, and hopefully, we see him next year in a little less dominant RB6 :)

      1. RB7 .. sorry :)

  8. Younger Hamilton
    14th November 2010, 21:55

    Some speculated that Renault were especially keen to keep Alonso behind because they are Red Bull’s engine suppliers.

    If this is True that Renault were helping Red Bull(Which is probable-Likely range) then this explains Kubica’s Ability to keep Lewis behind for the majority of the race due to realising that Lewis will have a massive effect on Seb’s Championship hopes by overtaking Robert and thereby catching Seb pushing into unreliablity problems or overtaking him and winning the race.Great Speculating Guys!!

    1. Not really, if Kubica had made an earlier pit stop he would have ended up behind Petrov, Alonso and maybe Webber.

      The Webber ‘overtake’ on Alguersauri however was clearly a different matter, but a no-brainer, as Brundle mentioned.

    2. I think Kubica and Petrov helped themselves with their driving, as it got them 5th and 6th places from starting 10th and 11th.
      Good job from Renault and their drivers

    3. How again does that explain something about Kubica’s ability?

  9. I blame Martin Brundle :D

    He went up to King Juan Carlos on his grid walk who explained to him that it was bad luck to talk about it before hand.

    1. I thought we’d already established it’s entirely Keith’s fault for accidentaly declaring Alonso word champion after Brazil.

      1. The above quote isn’t mine, but I felt like posting it.

        Either way, if I’m totally honest I expected Fernando to do it today, but that Schumacher incident changed everything.

        Speaking of, has anybody found a hi-res (wallpaper or larger) pic of the Schumi crash? I want to see just how close that Force India was to his helmet.

        1. I dont have a hi-res, but i do have a pic of it……
          It was lucky it didnt take his head off

    2. Younger Hamilton
      14th November 2010, 22:06

      He’s absolutely right everytime i predict a how a sport result is gonna go 50% of the time or over 50% im wrong so i said to myself from now on im no longer speculating how a Football or F1 result is gonna turn out.

  10. @lord stig

    passing petrov (or anybody besides lotus, hrt, virgin for that matter) in f1 os not something you shold base your strategie on, renault was too fast, it was not possible on this track to pass renault, lewis will tell you the same

    that is the reason ferrari blew up, totally

  11. I had no idea you could not overtake on this track, they should really finish with Brazil, much more exciting.

    What a shame for Webber, i think its all over for him now. Fernando will be back stronger next year.

    1. Apparently it’s more the problem of the cars and the turbulent air than the track design. There was a lot of action in GP2 apparently when they raced here.

      1. Not really. Even GP2 cars did not have that much of a race last year (altough it might have been better this year)

  12. Keith, I remember you did a ‘what could have been’ article a few races back, taking into consideration what the table would look like had Vettel not blown in Korea, Alonso spin out in Spa etc.

    Would be nice to see an update of that.

    1. Younger Hamilton
      14th November 2010, 22:11

      To be honest i think that ‘Vettel could been leading by whatever amount of points’ article was absolutely biased and out of order anything could of happened in those races,Anything is Possible i think for a blog like this You shouldnt be writing articles like that one but everyone whats with all the over-exuberant comments on him its like you wanna assault him or something.

      Dont Worry Keith you are most certainly NOT to blame for Alonso’s likely 3rd World title its his God damn Team’s strategy to respond to Webber’s call instead of evaluating Massa’s pace as well as the front runners

    2. PJ – will give it some thought, may consider something along those lines for a regular or semi-regular feature next year.

      I think it suffered from the perception as being an article that was written to advance Vettel as somehow a more deserving title contender, which it wasn’t intended as. As ‘Younger Hamilton’s reaction shows.

      1. I think it suffered from the perception as being an article that was written to advance Vettel as somehow a more deserving title contender, which it wasn’t intended as. As ‘Younger Hamilton’s reaction shows.

        As ever, those who are discontent with something tend to be louder. I’m pretty sure most of your readers percieved that article as it should have been :)

        I’d love to see articles like that on a regular basis. Keep it up Keith.

        1. I thought it was a great article Keith, my bias against Alonso aside it was an article that really helped explain and break down the championship up to the point. The fact is, this was Vettel’s championship to win on loose all season, and today he managed to win it.

        2. I’ll second that – I thought it was a great way to highlight the drivers’ and teams’ strengths and weaknesses.

        3. I think that article was a very good attempt at describing a parallel WDC. You were as fair to all drivers as one could have been.

          The perception that Vettel was a more deserving champion was bound to come as Vettel had indeed suffered a disproportionately high number of mechanical failures.

          But still, I think such articles are best left to fans of individual drivers to make their biased cases for their favorite drivers. I remember reading such tripe on fan communities of Kimi Raikkonen back in 2008. They claim that Ferrari favored Massa by making Kimi queue behind him at Germany 2008, utterly biased and juvenile stuff that was.
          While you tried to do as fair a job as possible Keith, it is never possible to be fair to all drivers. A topic best left alone or remained confined to the forums for debates among fans.

  13. To be honest and its been said enough times tonight. A championship is lost over the course of a season – Not just the final race. But credit to Alonso for staying in it till the end!!
    Least the 1/18 Ferrari F10 Alonso models have not tripled in value on ebay as want one for christmas :)

  14. As Ads21 said, I too don’t think that todays strategy lost him the championship any more than other errors in the year like jumping the start in china, also the drive through penalty in Silverstone and crashing out in Spa spring to mind. Yes Alonso has been the best driver since Hungary, His string of wins and podiums, the turnaround he and Ferrari did is something all Ferrari and Alonso fans can be proud of.

    But personally, not meaning any offence to his fans, I am glad he didn’t win the championship, because of what happened at Hockenheim. If he had won the championship the aftermath would be horriffic, it would drag our great sport through the mud with bringing up the whole cheating and team orders shambles over again and we would never hear the end of it.

    1. not really cos red bull clearly had no interest in webber winning title and surely thats worse.

      silverstone was insulting to webber and today pit strategy to try and dupe ferrari at his expense should be the last straw for mark.

      massa couldnt win an egg and spoon race let alone a title so moving him out way was harsh but needed. taking a wing away from your lead driver is just taking the ****.

      ferrari was silly with their pit call. but it should be Horner answering questions as to why they brought webber in then. there is no sensible answer to it. only to put him out of the way and hope ferrari followed. but is that team orders. no but team tactics that ended your other drivers title chances.

      1. The idea that they brought Webber in early to try to dupe Ferrari is rubbish – have you not looked at Webber’s lap times before the pit stops?

        1. funny, becasue Webber suggested otherwise, just I don’t believe his words, I think he just seek some kind of excuse.

          1. Webber is trying to make it look like he sacrificed for Vettel’s win. He was accusing the team of favoring Vettel the whole season and that the team was not emotionally behind him. Now, he says that he will fight for the championship next year WITH RedBull. What in the world is he thinking? Is he even getting a contract with redbull for next year?

          2. Webber is trying to give himself some false credit there. He had to take a risk to jump Fernando, and I’m pretty sure he wasn’t thinking about his teammate. Webber could cry as much as he wants regarding the ’emotional backing’ that Vettel received from Red Bull, but at the end of the day, Vettel is a far superior driver to him, and RB made the right decision by letting Vettel go for the win in the last 2 races.

          3. Did he? When?

            When the BBC interviewed him he said “Going for the harder tyre pretty early obviously hurt Fernando because he had to cover me off, so in a way it was a bit of a team effort I suppose, but obviously I didn’t get the result I wanted.”

            I’m not entirely sure that “in a way it was a bit of a team effort” meant Red Bull had intentionally used Webber’s pitstop to trick Ferrari. I think what Webber meant was that his pitstop had inadvertantly messed up Alonso, thereby helping Vettel to the title.

          4. I think what Webber meant was that his pitstop had inadvertantly messed up Alonso, thereby helping Vettel to the title.

            Yeah that’s how I understood it.

        2. I suppose it made a lot of sense to try it, it was a risk for Webber, but he had nothing really to lose and a lot to gain. Had he managed to come out ahead of Alguersuari he would have beaten Alonso.
          Still both would have had Petrov and Rosberg in front of them, so I feel there is some ground to think Red Bull used Webber to lure Ferrari away. It showed to be a successfull strategy to give Vettel the title as the only one of RBs drivers being in a position to do so after lap 8.

      2. You seem to be clutching at straws in your attempt to discredit Red Bull.

  15. In the end Herman Tinky and the inability of F1 cars to follow each other around his doodlings had the biggest impact on the result. That track is a shocker, it’s really hard to even tell where the cars are on it apart from at a couple of places.

    It was a great season in terms of drama and close results and everyones favourite driver had a slice of the action. But I can’t help but feel the close racing was manufactured in a way. For example, you’d have to rank both the Ferrari and Alonso as being in a different calibre to Petrov / Renault – and yet for 30 odd laps, with a title on the line Alonso couldn’t get past him and didn’t ever even really look like he could. This suggests to me that there’s still real problems with Tinkies designs, races being held in dollars ahead of passion countries and the cars themselves.

    1. Tilke is designing his tracks based upon thinking that slow corners before long straight provoke drivers errors and thus increase chance for overtaking.
      This perhaps works for amateur drivers in slow cars but not for F1. For high speed cars it is slipstream which is the essential condition for overtaking.
      Slow corners only brake this chance becasue the car in front accelerate too fast to be caught before nex corner. The higher the speed of the cars before the straight, the better chance for overtaking on the straight thanks to slipstream.
      Old school tracks like Interlagos, Spa, Suzuka etc will always provide more overtaking opportunity than Tilke tracks. This is why Bahrain etc are do dull races.

  16. Great article Keith… I’m still in a state of shock from Alonso’s loss but this explains it nicely.

    Vettel got a break when he needed it the most… and it’s about time.

    Congrats to all the RB and Vettel fans on the WDC and WCC wins.

    1. Thanks Alex – commiserations!

      1. The same from me Keith. I love your analyses getting the facts on the table to save us all from going into speculating the tops of our heads off.

  17. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me that Hamilton’s pitstop was too early.

    “It seems McLaren had no choice other than to bring Hamilton in when they did. It’s clear from the lap times graph (below) he was no longer pulling away from Kubica…”

    But in lap 22, just prior to his pitstop, he was still pulling away by 0.5 seconds. So delaying the pitstop by a few laps would have brought Hamilton in front of Kubica.

    1. Yeah, in retrospect it looks like perhaps they could have left him out a bit longer.

    2. maybe it was traffic ahead that decided – just guessing

      1. I suppose it was trafic and expected tyre degradation. They must have feared Hamilton could have ended up behind Rosberg had he stayed out for longer.

        1. Or maybe they thought Vettel couldn’t clear Kubica either. This from their live commentary shortly after Vettel had pitted:

          Ham: “How’s he [Vettel] so far ahead?”
          Pit: “Pace through the pit stops, Lewis.”

          Vettel spent the least time in the pits of any driver during the race, he got in and out seven-tenths quicker than Hamilton.

    3. Well he had problems with the tyres because he was asking for a new pit 20 laps after have already pitted.

      1. You know, he is always saying this. Right after this bought of crying, he set fastest lap on those terrible flat-spotted tires, which he had been hammering in Kubica’s turbulence for so long. In Australia, he was crying about his tires, then he suddenly started gobbling up the Ferraris. I think his expectations are different than others’

        1. Lol… He must have been the only driver suffering from tyre-wear yesterday. Or didn’t he know that he lost downforce when he was driving closely behind Kubica? Anyway, McLaren’s small strategic error made life a lot easier for Fattle. Otherwise, he had to defend Hamilton, who had nothing to lose, for the remaining part of the race.

  18. If I remember correctly, during much of the 90ties, Alonso’s expectation that Petrov wouldn’t defend much against a championship contender was the norm – I seem to recall people saying “needs to pass X, but surely X won’t interfere with the championship” about fights with at least Senna, Hill, Schumacher and Villeneuve. Those were of course also the time when maybe two teams could compete for a win in a race, let alone the championship. And 5th place would regularly be a lapped car, with the top a second or more faster.

    I think it is good that it changed, due to being much more competitive – behind the top three of this season, the fight for points has been going on between Williams, Renault, Mercedes, and early on FI (now more often Sauber in races), so those teams have much more clearly something to fight for in each and every race too.

    In that sense extending the points to 10 does help make the fight/race more competitive. Pity they can’t really do much overtaking on some tracks with these cars, but maybe next year will be a bit better.

    1. I fully agree. Great to see that the top 3 teams are in front only by constantly improving and only by a relatively small margin.
      The field is really competative right now, so let’s hope this continues next year.
      Renault and Mercedes might be improving next year, FI possibly getting back into it, Williams looking solid, Sauber being able to concentrate on next years car and both Lotus and HRT on a push to greatly improve next year with new technical support. And Wirth being able to use real data to improve his full CFD design. Only team i fear will lose out a bit is Torro Rosso, they need some new ideas.

  19. Vettel said the right thing long before the race: I leave the math to others – I just have to go flat out for this race. And he did, Alonso and Ferrari didn’t. They were thinking too much, focusing on keeping Webber behind Alonso, as if this was going to secure the title. Thus they more or less copied a very bad strategy of Webbers (which maybe could be justified with the problems he had).
    They started to drive defensive, because they were in the lead. Thus Alonso wasn’t even aggressive enough on Petrov – as he realized he couldn’t pas him, he could only hope for another Vettel engine blowup or brake issue. Webber also started to drive too cautious and defensive when leading the run for the title. Maybe Vettel only won it because he actually never was in the lead – or he was the only one not knowing it.
    If Alonso and Ferrari had focused on themselves, being aggressive and to bring Alonso home with as many points as possible he would have won the title. In F1 it seldom pays out to drive too defensive. We saw Button last year – he was in trouble sunday before the race in Brazil, because of a bad qualifying and most of the experts expected him to drive defensively to salvage just a little points and then do it in the final race. As we all know Button went flat out, made a lot of impressive overtakings and won the title that sunday.
    But a great result, made possible by Red Bulls policy of no TO, Mclarens improvement for this race, Buttons overtake of Alonso, Renaults great drives, Webbers problems and subsequent strategy and the safety car period after the crash between Schumi and Liuzzi – and how close was the Force India to Schumi’s helmet? That really got my pulse up, wow…Good to see him walk away from that.
    I also support the idea, that Alonso would have received active help from Massa had they not demoralized him in Germany. If they hadn’t done that Massa would probably have helped by taking effective points of the other front runners every now and then. So luckily the season’s result could indicate that TO isn’t only forbidden, it is also bad medicine for the total point score of both drivers in the team.
    And Alonso’s behaviour towards Petrov after the race confirms my view of him – great driver, but maybe not so great a human being:-)

    1. Well, I think massa is enough intelligent, and earn enough money not to be so much affected by one result. Massa didn’t have his year and that’s because the team lost confidence in his posibilities.

  20. The top three teams and their drivers had their chances to win the championship this year. They all made mistakes and had bad luck that frustrated them and their fans. But in the end Red Bull won it all hands down. They produced a car that was so superior that it allowed their drivers to make mistake and still win enough poles and races to sweep the season.
    They (Red Bull) have set a very high bar for all the teams in 2011. If Ferrari, Renault and McLaren produce cars equal to Red Bull it’s going to be a smokin season.
    Adios everyone!

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