Alonso’s role in Ferrari strategy revealed in pit messages

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Abu Dhabi, 2010

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Abu Dhabi, 2010

The discussions on the Ferrari pit wall that led to crucial decision that cost Fernando Alonso the world championship have been revealed.

The exchange of messages between Alonso and his race engineer Andrea Stella, which was not broadcast during the race, shows the team’s preoccupation with Alonso’s position compared to Webber.

It also shows how Alonso urged the team to use Felipe Massa to hold Webber up.

The radio transcript, published by Corriere della Sera, shows how Ferrari made the mistake of reacting to Webber’s pit stop instead of keeping Alonso out.

Lap 9

Alonso is 1.7 seconds behind Jenson Button and 1.4s ahead of Webber, who is 0.8s ahead of Massa.

Andrea Stella: “You gained three tenths on Webber. Felipe is closing in too.”

Lap 12

Webber pits.

AS: “Webber has stopped and Vettel is also losing ground on Hamilton.”
Fernando Alonso: “If you see that Felipe can overtake him in a lap call him in.”
AS: “We are thinking about it, concentrate on Button.”

Lap 14

Massa pits.

FA: “How did it work with Felipe?”
AS: “He came out behind Webber”

Lap 15

Ferrari tell Alonso to pit on lap 16.

AS: “OK, come in [to the pits] now.”
FA: “OK”
AS: “You will come out close to Webber. You are in front”.

Lap 17

Alonso is 1.1s ahead of Webber and 1.5s behind Vitaly Petrov.

FA: “What’s the situation?”
AS: “We have to overtake the Renault in front, he won’t stop any more. After that it’s Rosberg.”

Lap 22

Alonso is 0.5s behind Petrov. None of the cars that were in front of him before he pitted have come in yet.

AS: “I know you are giving everything but it’s critical to overtake Petrov.”

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179 comments on Alonso’s role in Ferrari strategy revealed in pit messages

  1. Byron R said on 17th November 2010, 19:19

    Did everyone notice at the end of the race in the RedBull pits, all the Renault engineers celebrating with RB .We know they use Renault engines ,but they were just as excited as RB. Kubica and Petrov helped decide the victor.

    In addition , how do you think Massa feels now? Hockenheim for nothing.

    • That was just the Renault guy(s) that are assigned to RedBull for their engines. They are factory Renault guys (not the ‘team’ Renault) guys and they were there all year….

    • RaulZ (@raulz) said on 18th November 2010, 15:10

      Well, Massa should feel bad. The team (despite if that was good for Alonso) make a movement in order to Massa get position from Webber. So the idea was to benefit Massa. At the end he couldn’t because he wasn’t enough fast, even with Jaime stopping Webber.

      Yes, he should feel bad. Even when he wanted to help Alonso, he could because of being slow. As allways.

      I hope next year he had better pace, but this year, please don’t invent stories about what would have happened if he had won in hockenheim.

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 18th November 2010, 15:27

        All the same, he should have won at Hockenheim. He was ahead, and Alonso couldn’t get past him.

        It would have been wonderful to see him win that race, one year after his crash at the Hungaroring. Instead the race was ruined, and ultimately for no good reason.

  2. During the race Ted Kravitz said that Massa’s wheel (right rear I think) was slow to go on and he would probably have jumped Webber had it not been for that. Nothing seemed to work out how Ferri wanted it to.

    The strategy was wrong and the completely msised the big picture despite Stefano earlier saying they had to stay calm they did exactly the opposite.

    I don’t really blame Alonso for not passing the cars. He’s a good overtaker usually but the Renault was quicker through the speed traps meaning the Ferrari would be at a disadvantage coming up the one of the best overtaking spots at this track and Vitaly just wasn’t making any mistakes. If this had been Interlagos they may have been able to get away with it but they just totally disregarded their rivals.

    I did enjoy this part though:

    Fernando Alonso: “If you see that Felipe can overtake him in a lap call him in.”

    I have to say I’m always impressed by Alonso and how he has the capacity to focus on strategy and what everyone else is doing in the middle of a race.

    • I am right with you on this Steph. Impressive to see Alonso planning this from the car. Just to many things did not work out for them in Abu Dhabi, maybe it is about Karma after all.

    • marmad said on 17th November 2010, 20:31

      Adrian Campos once said that Alonso had an IQ higher than 150…maybe his brain is an almost perfect computer (he makes mistakes, like everyone). Anyway, Ferrari’s ‘strategy errors’ lost Alonso the World Championship. I congratulate RBR team, the best estrategy and the best car. Ferrari needs to start planning for the future now.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 17th November 2010, 21:42

      During the race Ted Kravitz said that Massa’s wheel (right rear I think) was slow to go on and he would probably have jumped Webber had it not been for that.

      Looking at the race chart I’m not sure:

      Massa’s pit stop cost him 1.5s more than Webber’s did, and he went from being 0.8s behind Webber to 2.6s behind him. So even without the pit stop problem he probably would still have been behind.

      What was crucial in this was Webber getting past Alguersuari (having spent more than a lap stuck behind him) and setting the fastest lap of the race up to that point on lap 14 while Massa was making his pit stop.

  3. Gridlock said on 17th November 2010, 19:22

    I’ve slowly come to the conclusion that we were robbed of perhaps the most thrilling final race ever by a pitiful excuse for a motor racing circuit.

    Ironically Ferrari were certainly robbed of a WDC by the toy race track of one of their biggest customers.

    Imagine that race with the same stakes at Interlagos or Imola. It would have been one for the ages. Instead we get a 2 time WDC in a Ferrari stuck behind a rookie in a Renault for 40 laps. Herman Tilke should be ashamed.

    • tharris19 said on 17th November 2010, 19:52

      Twenty-four cars on the same track different speed, different stategies, RBR won. Nobody was robbed, mistakes and circumstances dictated this race.

      • JCCJCC said on 17th November 2010, 20:26

        I agree with both of you. I think that we were robbed of a thriling final race, imagine this race in a decent circuit (one where overtaking would be possible) Alonso in that position, having to overtake 2/3 cars on the track to became champion… great race would be to assist…

        I don’t agree that Ferrari have been robbed, the circuit was the same for everyone, they knew it was hard to overtake, so they should decide the tactics accordingly…

        • I think that every time we watch a race at that circuit we are robbed of a little something…no matter what

      • Mistakes and circumstances dictated the whole championship.

  4. Bullfrog said on 17th November 2010, 19:31

    Did they publish what was said between Massa and Rob Smedley while he was stuck behind Alguersuari for 40-odd laps?

  5. Has anyone done an analysis of whether Alonso would have stayed in front of Kubica/Rosberg/Petrov had he stayed out like Button did? Obviously it would hard to predict how long Alonso’s soft tires would have lasted, but if he had stayed our for 10 more laps, with expected lap times based on fuel burnoff, would he have come out in 4th?

    • JCCJCC said on 17th November 2010, 20:23

      I did.
      If his soft tyres lasted he would need 10 more laps to get enough advantage to pit and return to the track in front of Rosberg. If he did so, he could with new tyres set good laptimes, and keep the distance to Kubica in order to pass him when he pitted.

      • chaostheory said on 17th November 2010, 23:23

        I wonder what Kubica wouldve done if he had Alonso behind? They are like good friends and so on, couldve been interesting :)

  6. brendan said on 17th November 2010, 20:35

    ‘It also shows how Alonso urged the team to use Felipe Massa to hold Webber up.’

    wheres that then? he wanted massa in front of webber. but surely thats common sense.

    it was just a bad team and in that involves alonso call. it just didnt work out. i think webber was used to dupe ferrari but thats just my opinion it really doesnt matter in the overall scheme of things.

    • daniel said on 17th November 2010, 20:48

      i think ferrari focused on the wrong car.. they were so worried about webber.. and it shows in this radio communication.. they lost all sight of the renaults and mercedes.. use massa to hold off webber.. why?? webber is behind you allready.. your doing what you need for that.. figure out a way to get in front of your competition..

  7. Brakius said on 17th November 2010, 21:10

    I kind of looked at it as Red Bull somehow knew Ferrari were focusing on Webber and used Webber to distract Alonso, by pitting early, allowing Vettel to win the championship. Given the poor quali attempt from Webber I think they felt Vettel had the best chance, as he did.

    Well played strategy for Red Bull. Ashame Ferrari did not run their race, but let Webber dictate it for them.

  8. Kris H. said on 17th November 2010, 21:35

    Does anyone recall Alonso getting quite loose on his in-lap? I think he almost hit the wall. Perhaps the Ferraris were going to struggle on the softs more than most. Okay, maybe they’d recover like the others, but all it took was Webber getting past and it was game over. I still think we’re all benefiting from hindsight and that none of truly know what may have happened.

  9. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 17th November 2010, 22:26

    Wonder why Alonso never asked for Vettel’s situation… and why didn’t the engineer tell Fernando that some guys were ahead of Webber and didn’t need to pit again.

    Maybe if he knew about that, he’d have choosen to stay out.

  10. ESPN Reported that the Petrov & Kubica are using their last engine which is new. That is the main reason why the Ferraris & Mercs had a hard time overtaking them (or can’t overtake them) – they have fresh engines.

  11. Both Alonso & Webber should have pitted under the safety car, given their respective quali positions such a move could have paid big dividends.

    • that would of been a massive risk at the time.

      but in the long run would of given alonso the position he needed.

      But making that call at that time would of been huge. Tho i did think it as soon as the accident happened and i saw rosbeg go i thought he would be the problem, not petrov.

      esp as early in the stint fernando seemed happy to just be a second or so in front of webber i didnt to me seem enough

      it was only when he started putting the hammer down and close in on button, who was also closing in on vettel/lewis that i started to relax all seemed ok webber was delt with it appeared time to push on….and then they pitted him… i was screaming at ‘tv leave him out! what about rosberg!’

      but nevermind they will learn. remember ferrari in 97, 98 and 99 made very similar errors to lose world titles

      • what they should of done was pit massa under SC allowing him to run to the end and interfere up front like kubica did.

        imagine massa ahead of lewis, one of 3 things could of happened

        1. massa in his uselessness wouldnt of held him off more than a lap.

        2. held lewis up enough to back him and others back into the pack

        3. Lewis would of got frustrated and taken himself out.

        would of made it more interesting anyway!

        running fernando and massa on same strategy made no sense really.

    • Steven said on 18th November 2010, 1:36

      The problem then is that with Alonso down the order, the other front runners, and Webber, would have stayed out as long as possible on the softs to build enough of a gap. As we saw, the softs were working for almost 30 laps, so it is conceivable that Alonso could have ended up behind all the other front runners.

      Agree though that Massa should have been in and pitted, as he would have ended up in a position to really interfere

  12. Pablo said on 18th November 2010, 1:54

    The problem to overtake Petrov is…. Petrov isn´t Piquet Jr!!! Justice is what we saw last sunday….im so happy for Ferrari (yes, im Ferrari-fan, but team orders is for loosers….and alonso show to the world that he is a spoiled child and a looser). Forza Ferrari, only for Felipe

    • brendan said on 18th November 2010, 10:38

      ferrari did the team order not alonso. FACT.

      Dont ever remember fisi or jarno letting him through. tho in the same seasons montoya gave kimi at least 2 wins in 05.

      you need to support someone mate if you dont like team orders.

      • David A said on 20th November 2010, 2:48

        But Fernando urged the team to make the order, so he did play some part in it.

        And Montoya didn’t give Kimi anything- Raikkonen was just faster than him. Montoya was so poor that year that he threw his car off the road twice in the closing laps to lose 2nd at Turkey to Alonso.

  13. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 18th November 2010, 2:05

    I have said it & the whole world knew it the team concentrated more on Webber then the front runner.

    I think Alonso should concentrate more on his racing them his team-mate? Imagine Kimi in that situation?

    • brendan said on 18th November 2010, 10:35

      kimi tatically wasnt in alonso or michael’s league.

      • bosyber said on 18th November 2010, 18:40

        and just maybe, it would have meant he could have gotten 4th and the title. I think that is the point. Sometimes thinking a lot isn’t what is required, but instead just focusing on simply doing the best job (on track) works better.

  14. Give me a drive next season huh huh huh, talking of massa, alonso, webber, ham, but, Y not talking about me!!! huh huh huh give me a drive, mwahhhhhh

  15. Regis said on 18th November 2010, 2:45

    Why has nobody talked about Red Bull’s team order to Torro Rosso’s Alguersari letting Webber past.

    How come this blatant team order hasn’t been talked about anywhere?

    Webber would not have been able to get past him just like Massa, or even Alonso behind the Renault.

    He lost a few seconds sure for a lap or two but still the Torro Rosso let him past… This is a team order and it should have made headlines somewhere.

    I don’t get it

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