Scuderia Ferrari or Team Alonso?

2011 F1 season preview

Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Hockenheimring, 2010

Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Hockenheimring, 2010

Halfway through 2010 Ferrari threw its weight behind new driver Fernando Alonso in his pursuit of the championship.

The notorious switch of positions in the German Grand Prix last year eventually ended an eight-year period in which the FIA tried to prevent the use of team orders.

It began after Rubens Barrichello handed victory in the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix to Michael Schumacher, and ended when the rule forbidding team orders was cut from the 2011 regulations.

Much ink has already been spilled on the rights and wrongs of it – what’s of interest here is what it means for Ferrari in their post-Schumacher era.

Alonso is the team’s favoured son and it’s equally clear he operates at his highest level when he doesn’t feel under threat from his team mate. This raises obvious questions over Massa’s role in the team.

If Ferrari were content to use team orders halfway through the 2010 season when they were illegal, how much earlier will they be prepared to use them this year now they’re legal again?

It’s in Felipe Massa’s hands to keep himself from being relegated to Barrichello status. To do it, he needs to keep Alonso in sight. But he often struggled to do that last year.

I’ve made the error of writing Felipe Massa off once before and I’m not going to make that mistake twice. But he has a long way to come if he’s going to recover from the pummelling Alonso dished out to him last year.

Massa repeatedly said throughout 2010 was that he couldn’t get the tyres to work. He wasn’t the only driver who struggled with the narrower front tyres on the Bridgestones – Schumacher had the same problem.

Ferrari showed their faith in Massa by extending his contract to the end of next season. But that’s no guarantee they’ll keep in him in the car if he fails to perform this year – after all, Kimi R??ikk??nen had a contract for 2010.

But that brings us back to where we started. If Ferrari really are now Team Alonso, then a Massa who’s not quite quick enough to beat his team mate, but isn’t going to rock the boat, could suit them quite nicely.

The 2011 season should tell us a lot about the new balance of power at Ferrari.

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103 comments on Scuderia Ferrari or Team Alonso?

  1. There’s something wrong with Massa’s motivation to win – I don’t see it. Alonso is often considered to be rude or unforgiving, but this is how you make titles and wins – there’s nothing wrong with that. The fastest usually wins and Alonso was the fastest in almost any event compared to his team-mate. If the real reason for Felipe’s under-performance were the tires, then we should see him adapting better to the new rubber, if he’s good / talented enough to extract the best from the new situation. If he fails, Alonso will be faster again – many regard him for his ability to use the best from the current conditions. So, let’s see. So far Massa and Button were the only two happy with the new tires, probably having their smoother style of driving in mind. Eagerly awaiting Australia, last year it was a pure show.

  2. Spa09 said on 7th March 2011, 8:44

    Massa is in totally different situation than 08. Alonso is using fuel mixtures for speed gap.(with number one status)

    There is no Q3 fuel load advantage now.(decided in q2 at 08)

    Every driver is on fumes at Q3.(more competition at Q)

    Alonsos race pace is superior.

    08 Domenicali was still using his “both drivers are equal” strategy.(team orders only if one was dropped from the title fight)

    Massas time was 08. Now he needs Alonsos bad luck for getting to title fight.(if he stays close enough)

    Massa and Rob are really great with Strategy, but now there is only little where they can influence in race weekend.

  3. Andy C said on 7th March 2011, 11:19

    For me, I think Ferrari will prefer Alonso if they have to make a choice.

    But ultimately its up to Massa to perform this year. If he doesnt, then why should they prefer him over Fernando(I’m a McLaren fan so not really that bothered).

    The onus is on Felipe to have a great start to the year. Ferrari will provide a good car to both driversm, then its up to them to do the best they can with it.

    Alonso quite simply did it better over the season (regardless of the team orders incident).

  4. Robbie (@robbie) said on 7th March 2011, 16:13

    If you go by the MS/Ferrari era then you know that they (Ferrari) are well capable of hanging one driver out to dry in favour of the other. But I actually have felt that since then they have treated their drivers equally. I also think that their decision last year to have FM let FA go by was a spontaneous one, as mid-race and mid-season they saw an opportunity based on their competitors’ positions that if FA got the 25 points for the win, it would bring one of their drivers up to where the Red Bull drivers were.
    FM was immediately insistant to the media that he was no Barrichello. And I agree. I don’t think they have the same thing going on with FM that they had with RB to favour MS. Not anywhere near. And I think that was evident by FM’s vehemence on this topic.
    So unless they have started to design their cars to suit FA’s needs over FM’s then I expect FM to have an equal shot to FA. Not that I expect FM to win that battle, but let’s face it…for half a lap FM was a WDC having done everything right when the pressure was at it’s greatest as that season wound down, and as LH did everything to lose the WDC only to just win it by a hair. FM has it in him. I just hope he has an equal chance, and I think he will still not be able to beat FA, but I hope FA would want to beat him fair and square, rather than because they hung his teammate out to dry. FM deserves to have a fair shot…that way if he loses out to FA again, at least the team will have honoured him with a fair shot and he can only look at himself in the mirror for ‘blame’. I hope not to hear a bitter FM dejected at being hung out to dry prematurely.

  5. More of a reason why I can’t stand Ferrari. Yet, F1 wouldn’t be F1 without Ferrari.

  6. a4p (@a4p) said on 23rd March 2011, 16:29

    C’mon you Briton guys! Alonso is one of the 10 greatest drivers ever existed, while Massa is nobody. Ferrari is 100% right in supporting Alonso and – frankly – nobody seems to give a damn about the application of team orders in Germany, except you from the Island.

    P.S. – Ferrari should be able to destroy RedBull by the end of the next season, so I was wondering… are you preparing another British team to play with? If not, then I’ll suggest you to do it as soon as possible, because the list of British F1 teams designed to (unsuccessfully) fight the Scuderia is pretty long, if we consider that the sport is only 60 years old.

    I have only one recommendation for you: don’t cheat. You don’t want another spy scandal again, do ya?

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