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. Hardly urging the team to “use Massa” – I was expecting a little more than this…

  2. Mr. X said on 18th November 2010, 5:24

    Would you think there is a conspiracy that Torro Rosso & Red Bull ordered to hold back Webber in order for Vettel to win? You may include the Renaults as well on holding Alonso.

    • The thought of Vettel having 5 other cars helping him is a scary one.

      But I reckon there was no foul play involved. Just a series of mistakes from Ferrari and a very fast Red Bull car in Vettel’s hands.

      • brendan said on 18th November 2010, 10:40

        they certainly made life easier for some harder for others. even kubi got right out of the way. which was pretty disgraceful.

        but f1 has been like that for years. even if it like team orders isnt allowed.

        it just is how it is. Remember williams and mclaren in 97.

  3. Where’s Ross Brawn when Ferrari needs him, eh? ;)

    When Ross was around, race strategy was their greatest strength. Before he arrived and now that he’s left, it’s become a bit of a weakness for them…

  4. Peter said on 18th November 2010, 7:35

    I remember after Alonso came out of the pits that Martin Brundle said in commentary that given past experiences Vitaly Petrov would most likely make a mistake anyway and Alonso would have been past. To Petrov’s eternal credit he proceeded to throw egg on everyone’s faces by driving what was pretty much an immaculate race. Alonso just didn’t have the speed to get past the Russian’s Renault and indeed it seemed that it was the Spaniard who was making mistakes born out of frustration.

    As for the world championship, the history of F1 is littered with “what if’s”. IF Lauda hadn’t crashed at the Nurburgring he probably would have won in 1976. IF Pironi hadn’t crashed in practice at Hockenheim he probably would have won in 1982. IF Mansell didn’t have a tyre explode here in Adelaide in 1986 he would have won in 1986. IF Webber hadn’t crashed at Korea this year he might have been the Red Bull driver who won the title this year.

    All that really matters is the driver who is in front at the end of the season and in 2010, for better or worse, that driver is Sebastian Vettel. Personally I think he’ll be as strong or stronger in 2011, provided RBR are still as strong. He’s a worthy champion IMO. I just hope, as an Aussie, that Mark Webber doesn’t have a down year in 2011 and can go 2 better.

    • It is only fitting that RB are both constructors and drivers champions as they’ve been at least the equal fastest car at every circuit except Monza and Montreal.

      They’ve made their fare share of mistakes, as drivers and as a team, that has let in Macca and Ferrari with a chance that they shouldn’t have really had.

      I feel that Webber’s bad start at Spa really did him in mentally as he was never his imperious self of earlier in the season after that race. Mistakes started creeping in at almost every race thereafter and he was generally slower than Vettel. Singapore and Brazil were his only good races after Spa, neither of which he won, of course.

  5. Alonso was using OLD engine – Monza and Brazil – almost three races age, whereas both Petrov and Kubica had fresh, brand new engines.

  6. Dextrous said on 18th November 2010, 9:21

    Im an Alonso fan and what i dont understand is why Alonso gave up the fight from the start itself, he should have fought for his postition at the Start he just gave it away so easily that was his turning point …..that was my biggest surprise

    • That was understandable, given his lead in championship. At the end they played it too safe with their strategy but I don’t think it would have been wise for Alonso to try too hard to retake the position from Button at the start. Why risk crashing when a 4th place finish would do?

  7. Federico said on 18th November 2010, 9:48

    Hi! Your analysis JCCJCC is correct in my opinion.
    It’s also interesting your final question,and i try to give you an answer.
    If you see the time table, for example the two comparison made from F1Fanatic, of Ferrari and Renault lap time,you see that Alonso is faster than Petrov to the 7th laps until the 13th laps, but he slow down to -1.9 seconds at the 7th laps to -0.1 seconds, and on laps 14 Alonso is slower than Petrov for about 0.15 seconds.
    So i think that if Alonso were stayed out he remain beheind Petrov, so the championship will be lost at any case.
    Mybe the solution were to stop when there was the saefty car, but it was a big risk.
    Finally I’am sorry for my English i am italin…:)

  8. “Would you think there is a conspiracy that Torro Rosso & Red Bull ordered to hold back Webber in order for Vettel to win?”

    Getting Webber in front of Alonso might have been a bit smarter to help Vettel,wouldn’t you think ?

    “You may include the Renaults as well on holding Alonso.”

    Renault apologised for Vettel’s engine producing Papal Smoke in Korea and might have had to promise to preserve a fresh engine for RK/VP for the last race, before they could extend their contract with RB.
    If that engine would have kept humming to the finish in Korea it would have been a totally different race in Abu Dhabi with SV leading FA by 17 points and MW by 18 points.

    Or maybe Renault just didn’t feel like helping the chap they assisted to become a double WDC and has left them twice since.

    Who knows?

    • brendan said on 18th November 2010, 10:48

      red bull can hardly blackmail renault who else would they use?

      the new renault boss has something in for alonso. he has made some rather dumb comments over the course of the season. i remember one being ‘alonso was not motivated’ is he having a laugh!

      anyone that saw lewis and fernando bang wheels for 16th place at silverstone in 09 know exactly the best 2 drivers on the grid are!

    • Papal Smoke? That’s hilarious. Bernie, is that you?

  9. david smith said on 18th November 2010, 13:49

    Who cares now….its history – Roll on 2011.

  10. Muriel Smith said on 18th November 2010, 17:21

    Hi Keith … well I did tell you a few weeks ago that virtually ALL THE RACES IN FORMULA 1 ARE FIXED AND MANIPULATED and the championship decider in Abu Dhabi on Sunday was no different … in fact it became glaringly obvious to me on Saturday that the lap times in the last two qualifying sessions were undoubtedly massaged and adjusted to produce a start grid that would play-out perfectly for the master manipulators (who virtually control every aspect of F1) and their co-conspirators with what they had pre-planned for the race … yep the MMs’ certainly excelled themselves this time … all orchestrated and executed with ruthless precision to not only prevent Alonso from winning the drivers’ championship this year but to ensure that Vettel did win it and that Hamilton and Button were either side of him on the podiums so that McLaren would clinch second in the constructors’ championship!

    Almost gone are the days of the loose wheel nut and/or tampering with the actual cars before the race or during the pit-stops … no the MMs’ have had to become much more subtle and (Shu)machiavellian in recent years and in Alonso’s case they’ve relentlessly stymied all his efforts and continually tried to break his competitive spirit because he’s just too good … they tarnished his reputation in Budapest 2007 and he has been branded ever since as a dirty rotten cheat … it’s significant too that only Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds were found guilty of fixing the outcome of a race while Alonso was their driver (and as a result were both unceremoniously dismissed from Renault) … and we know how they were supposed to have allegedly ‘fixed’ said race don’t we … the only reason that particular episode hasn’t been referred to more often (to try and further cast aspersions and sully Alonso’s reputation) is because the MMs’ don’t want to draw too much attention to it lest people realise what really goes on in F1??

    Ohh talk about ‘the pots calling the kettles black’ … the constant hypocrisy and double-dealing that abounds … the scheming and plotting … the sheer arrogance of their underestimating our intelligence and making the sore mistake of taking us all for idiots … and by all I don’t just mean the fans … I wonder what the sponsors would think if they found out the truth … the King of Spain … all the Sheiks and Princes in Abu Dhabi … all the people who have invested huge amounts of their cash and energy into the sport … like I said before Keith the truth will out in the near future and a lot of people are going to flush with embarrassment and reproach themselves … it’s a can of very nasty worms indeed because we’re talking virtually every race for decades … they’ve just gone one step too far this time and the day of retribution looms!

    A few weeks ago I sent you (and many other influential F1 people) the irrefutable proof of Alonso’s innocence and Ron Dennis’ guilt with regard to the Hungarian pit-stop incident back in 2007 … clearly you all chose to ignore it because before the race in Interlagos we were once again shown on our TVs Alonso stationary (like the proverbial sitting duck) at that pitstop with Hamilton behind him (and Dennis and Whitmarsh looking round from the pit wall) while Martin Brundle reminded us that Alonso deliberately held-up Hamilton’s last flying lap and that there was no love lost between these two team-mates, etc … a totally indefensible and outrageous lie that keeps getting churned out whenever Alonso has any success or is possibly in with a chance of winning the title (grrr!).

    And next season of course they will have the nerve to keep showing us (over and over) the footage of Alonso shaking his fist at Petrov at the end of the race … any other driver vying for the championship and it would have been ‘understandably venting their frustration on Petrov after being trapped behind him for the last 37 laps’ … but because it’s Alonso they will ‘milk it for all it’s worth’ and use it against him at every opportunity … I myself (as I’m sure many other pro-Alonso fans would agree) can completely understand and empathise with why he temporarily lost his cool at that moment!

    What follows is my own personal take on the qualifying sessions and the race in Abu Dhabi and I can confidently state that you will find no other race analysis like it anywhere … I’m not sure about where your loyalties lie Keith (you could be one of many who are in Ron Dennis’ pocket and/or helping to do the MMs’ dirty work … whether knowingly or unwittingly??) … even so I think you will find my analysis very informative and eye-opening … I’m hereby accusing the MMs’ of Formula 1 Motorsport (whoever they might be?) of blatantly fixing the outcome of the final race in Abu Dhabi … let’s start with the final two qualifying sessions and dissect how the MMs’ managed to adjust the lap times of the top dozen or so drivers so that they could slot-in their carefully chosen ‘pawns’ exactly where they wanted them … the following list applies mainly to the pawns and key players in this race:

    1st: Vettel (so that he could sail to victory and the drivers’ crown unimpeded)

    2nd: Hamilton (no problems with grip or his car this weekend because McLaren need him to gain a podium to
    clinch 2nd in the constructors’)

    3rd: Alonso (there was no way that he could have got 3rd position because he was stuck in traffic and had to slow to find space on his last flying lap but 3rd is where he had been allocated by the MMs’)

    4th: Button (certainly didn’t have an undriveable car or problems with grip this weekend for the same reasons as his team-mate Hamilton)

    5th: Webber (second time only that Webber was not on first or second row this season … he claimed that he ‘couldn’t find the pace’??? … last time he was 5th was to keep Alonso behind him while Vettel charged ahead)

    6th: Massa (too little too late from Felipe and still he wasn’t able to assist his team-mate in any way, shape or form?)

    8th: Schumacher (in the German Mercedes car and strategically placed for his pivotal contribution to the MMs’ plan which would come before the end of the first lap)

    9th: Rosberg (another fast driver in the second Mercedes car and also a fellow Countryman of Vettel’s and indeed Schumacher his team-mate’s?)

    10th: Petrov (in the Renault which is a cousin car to the Red Bulls as both are powered by Renault engines … the Renault cars are known to have really good traction and have recently gained speed from significantly (and to my mind suspiciously in this race?) successful ‘upgrades’?? … this young Russian is hoping to retain his seat for next season … enough said?)

    11th: Kubica (first time all season out of the top ten??? … this so that he could choose the harder tyre which would effectively take him far enough in the race to gain a 23-second lead over Petrov and/or Alonso and thereby come out from his pit-stop ahead of them … Kubica was additional insurance in case Alonso somehow managed to get past Petrov and Rosberg … his main role was to steal that crucial 4th place from the championship leader Alonso by the end of the race)

    15th: Hulkenberg (not a key player in this race but another German used last time out to slow Alonso … what a long way off from his pole at Interlagos only 7 days previously … notable too that he drives for the British team Williams???)

    16th: Liuzzi (the crash king and arch deployer of the safety car for the MMs’ … I’ve lost count of how many incidents he’s been involved in or caused this season which have invariably brought out the SC … his contrived crash in Interlagos when Alonso was directly behind him didn’t quite go to plan and stop Alonso from nabbing the 3rd podium so in this race he will be working closely (a bit too closely some might say after) with that maestro of machinations himself Michael Schumacher who will cunningly park his car on the track and await Liuzzi’s ‘unavoidable collision’ with it?!?)

    And there you have it Keith … the scene was all set for Vettel’s victory and Alonso’s downfall the day before the race but just before I get to the actual race here are some interesting (and perhaps very telling) pre-race comments:

    Martin Whitmarsh: “Fernando wasn’t expected to be in the mix at this stage of the season” … said in discussion with Christian Horner??

    Eddie Jordan: “Vettel would make a great world champion and ambassador for the sport” … for about the tenth time this season?

    Martin Brundle: “I hope there’s not an incident at the first corner which will eliminate half of the different permutations and calling the race winner” (he says this even though it was he and David Coulthard who demonstrated to us that in Abu Dhabi it’s the widest and easiest first corner on the calendar?)

    Brundle again: “Kubica is starting on the harder tyre and could become quite a problem for the strategies working for Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari … he may well run a lot longer and could interfere with the run of play because the top ten are all on the softer tyre”

    The following is the race from my perspective to show just how well the MMs’ ‘arrangement’ panned out … how would I describe it best … like putting together the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle … or a dominoe effect … no I think it has to be compared to ‘moving the pieces (especially the ‘pawns’) on a chess board one by one to ultimately checkmate the King … Alonso’:

    Lap 1: Button passes Alonso before the first corner (as intended) so Alonso is 4th … Schumacher deliberately spins his car just after coming around turn 5 (please note: it was subsequently confirmed that there was no contact with Rosberg as was first assumed) and comes to a stop on the left-hand-side of the track facing the oncoming 15 or so cars that are all hurtling round the bend and jockeying for position … every single car manages to avoid Schumacher’s car either on the right side of the track (sometimes two abreast) or a few of them straightening out just after the turn to veer across the very ample run-off area on the left.

    I repeat … that’s 15 cars all steering clear of the stationary Mercedes with the help of a very wide track and run-offs but who drives straight into MS (when you can actually see in slow motion that he too could have swerved left to avoid it) … our old friend the crash king himself Antonio Liuzzi … the MMs’ had to ensure that there was enough debris scattered on the track so that the safety car would be called out … this allowed Rosberg and Petrov (among others) to pit under the safety car for their harder tyres … Martin Brundle immediately tells us that: “Rosberg could become a nuisance along with Kubica later on for the leaders” … also that “the safety car has really added some spice to the race now”?? Please note that turn 5 was the only corner where they could make the crash look realistic and convincing.

    Lap 3: Behind the safety car Kubica now up to 10th … Rosberg 17th and Petrov 18th after their pit-stops … the camera goes to Liuzzi and Schumacher who are smiling and chatting as they return along the pitlane to their respective garages … they wave at the spectators above and Schumacher gives Liuzzi a friendly pat on the shoulder as they part (job done!) … Ted Kravitz explains to us why Webber didn’t pit early under the safety car as he did in Spa and it was “because he needed to be aggressive and attack Alonso on the restart and try to get some distance on him”, etc. Safety car in at end of lap 5.

    Lap 6: Kubica up to 9th, Rosberg 16th and Petrov 17th.

    Lap 9: Webber in 5th sandwiched between Alonso 4th and Massa 6th.

    Lap 10: Rosberg up to 13th … we are told “Webber has no pace and is not making an impact on Alonso … the Ferraris’ are quicker”.

    Lap 11: Hamilton is 2nd close behind leader Vettel.

    Lap 12: Webber pits for harder tyres and Brundle declares “he’s going to slot back in behind Sutil, Kubica and maybe even Rosberg and they are going to hold up his progress … ohh he’s behind Petrov as well … Mark Webber’s in trouble … the traffic is going to absolutely wreck Webber’s race”.

    Lap 13: Massa comes in so as to (presumably) get out and hold up Mark Webber but he actually emerges behind Webber?

    Lap 14: Alonso does a flying lap to pit and get out ahead of Webber … which he succeeds in doing.

    Lap 17: Alonso now 12th and Webber 13th while Vettel and Hamilton are both going longer on their tyres so as not to get caught up in traffic … they need a 22-second gap … Rosberg has already stopped and is now 24-seconds down the road.
    Lap 22: Alonso (who has been trapped behind Petrov for the last 8 laps) gets a message to say that it’s critical to pass him (but we all know from last year how difficult it is to overtake on this circuit??).

    Lap 30: Ted Kravitz says: “the faces in the Ferrari garage look like a black Monday as they can see their championship slipping away from them … it was all so silly because Ferrari didn’t need to do what they did … if they had just stayed out and mirrored what Hamilton and Vettel did they would be in a much better position now”.

    Lap 37: Alonso up to 9th due to Hulkenberg’s stop but trailing behind Kubica by 20-seconds … Brundle says: “remember that Renault would probably like to see a world champion today who is powered by one of their engines and at the moment Kubica and Petrov are doing a fine job of holding Alonso back … or rather Kubica could do so in a while.

    Lap 39: Button pits and comes out behind Hamilton (and Kubica who has still got to stop) … Button needs a podium for McLaren to come second in the constructors championship.

    Lap 41: Ted Kravitz now in the Red Bull garage says: “Dr Helmut Margot has done the math and will be sending a crate of champagne to Petrov for helping them out with Alonso … everything’s going Vettel’s way and the title is slipping away from Alonso”.

    Lap 43: Alonso’s engineer Andrea radios him to urge: “use the best of your talent … we know how big it is … use it!”

    Lap 47: Kubica finally pits 23-seconds ahead of Petrov … he comes out ahead of Petrov and Alonso.

    Lap 48: Brundle says: “what an impact Schumacher and Liuzzi’s contact down there in turn 5 has had on the world championship … bringing out the safety car which allowed some of the mid-fielders to pit early and put them into play”

    Lap 51: After 50 laps of Webber trailing behind Alonso he suddenly gets a radio message urging him to try and get past Alonso??

    Lap 55: Vettel wins (as was always intended from day one), Hamilton and Button conveniently get their podiums for McLaren’s second in the constructors and Kubica, Petrov and Rosberg coming home 4th. 5th and 6th proved to be three well-chosen and stalwart safety buffers who succeeded in denying Alonso his drivers’ championship crown … job done!

    All this thanks to the cunning and covert strategies devised by the MMs’ and their co-conspirators who were counting on Ferrari to react to Webber’s pit-stop … Mark of course played the part of the pied piper to get Alonso to follow him into the pits … he never intended to win this race or even try to get past Alonso and he certainly never had a rat’s hope in hell of winning the drivers’ championship himself … neither did Alonso who got well and truly stuck behind Vitale Petrov for the last 35 laps of the race … the whys/wiles and wherefores are many and I haven’t got time to discuss them here but will end by telling you that:

    Mark Webber post-race told Lee McKenze: “we came in early for the harder tyre which obviously hurt Fernando because he had to cover me off … so in a way I suppose it was a bit of a team effort but I didn’t get the result I wanted”. Notably Webber didn’t put in an appearance at the Red Bull celebrations later in the day as far as I am aware … make of that what you will??

    It was also conspicuous that Felipe Massa was nowhere to be seen after the race and wasn’t asked for his opinion … nor any of the Ferrari team members (if I remember rightly?).

    And so Keith … the ‘pied piper ploy’ won the day for Vettel (and Red Bull) and ‘I rest my case’ … I’m now in the process of circulating this information to as many people as possible but at a later date it will be edited and amended to become a chapter in my book … until my tome is published I will continue to collect even more compelling evidence and unputdownable fodder for the fans next season … like I warned before Keith inevitably the MMs’ will come to regret their cheating and corruption and many F1 personnel will be losing their jobs and livelihoods as a result of it … what a boring and tedious final race when it could have been spectacular … a tragic waste of talent out there on the track that we weren’t allowed to see … very sad??

    Regards … Murial

  11. Murial/Muriel (can’t even be consistent with the spelling of his/her own name), what are you on ? Can I have some ?

    Simply put, Nando struggles against a rookie, again. The end.

  12. I must say I agree 100% with Muriel Smith.
    This circus is manipulated against Alonso to such an extent that even FA himself is manipulated to manipulate his own self.
    But there are no manipulatorS,there is actually only 1 GRANDMASTER MANIPULATOR and I even know who it is:MY OWN SON,7 years old,go figure!!
    The wednesday before the race in Abu Dhabi I sneaked up on him while he was playing in the attic and saw with my own eyes how he was preparing the race.
    He had aligned his collection of matchbox cars and continuously made Vettel win and Alonso lose in the most cruel ways.
    From what I saw Nando didn’t stand a chance:everything had been prepared to the finest detail to make him lose the WDC.
    After the race I asked my son if he was also involved in the 2007 manipulation,but he denied and told me you can only be Grandmaster for one year and can not be re-elected and that in 2007 it was his now 10 year old brother,you know,my other son,obviously..
    ,

    • John H said on 20th November 2010, 20:18

      Are you sure he’s your other son?

      • good point.In such a manipulated world nothing can be considered 100% sure,not even your own kids.
        I have also warned my nextdoor neighbours about their son,because I was told he did something funny to Timo Glock in the very last corners of Interlagos in 2008!

  13. “red bull can hardly blackmail renault who else would they use?”

    I know,but they really tried to put the screws on with this advert ,that appeared the monday after the korea race ,in all the newspapers:

    “Energy drink F1 racing team looking for top class engine for F1 season 2011.
    All candidates can apply except from french origin.

    Candidates can present themselves with their engine at:

    Bradbourne drive,Tilbrook
    Milton Keynes
    Buckinghamshire MK7 8BJ(as in ..)
    Great Britain

    P.S. please knock,because the bell is out of order “

  14. Stefan said on 20th November 2010, 8:37

    It’s very simple, if Alonso would’ve pitted during the Safety Car just as Rosberg and Kubica, Alonso would’ve been in front of them.

    Still don’t understand why they focused on Webber, he had to win to become champion while Webber (5th) was behind Alonso (4th) and Vettel was leading the race.

  15. Stefan said on 20th November 2010, 8:37

    I mean Petrov, not Kubica!!!

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