Ferrari look for answers on missing pace

2011 Australian GP team review

Ferrari were one-and-a-half seconds slower than Red Bull in qualifying and needed an extra pit stop in the race.

Fernando Alonso Felipe Massa
Qualifying position 5 8
Qualifying time comparison (Q3) 1’24.974 (-0.625) 1’25.599
Race position 4 7
Laps 58/58 58/58
Pit stops 3 3

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58
Fernando Alonso 106.144 96.233 94.726 95.355 94.4 93.278 92.903 93.099 93.621 94.053 94.857 112.624 98.812 92.679 91.904 92.289 92.186 91.832 91.958 91.936 92.002 92.336 91.955 92.198 93.475 92.371 113.552 96.9 90.097 90.103 90.081 90.177 90.379 90.356 90.427 90.314 90.739 90.399 91.121 91.094 91.632 110.315 97.745 90.029 89.608 89.84 89.837 89.597 89.487 89.867 89.937 89.657 89.507 90.401 89.529 89.665 89.912 90.501
Felipe Massa 104.196 94.485 95.664 93.9 94.712 93.7 94.004 93.833 93.869 94.49 96.699 94.662 114.06 100.25 92.958 92.749 92.433 93.492 92.831 92.661 92.289 92.321 92.541 92.45 92.854 92.724 93.076 92.914 93.194 93.265 113.74 99.973 91.877 91.644 91.601 91.884 91.259 91.263 91.806 91.291 91.207 91.093 91.64 91.49 91.331 91.378 91.541 113.006 96.913 89.451 90.094 92.456 92.819 90.07 88.947 89.77 90.803 91.822

Fernando Alonso

For the second year in a row Alonso went into the first corner at Melbourne side-by-side with Jenson Button and it didn’t work out for him – although at least this time he didn’t end up facing oncoming traffic.

Alonso was edged wide onto the grass and slipped back from fifth to tenth.

He quickly mounted a comeback, picking off Kamui Kobayashi by going to long way around turn 11 on lap two. Then he used his DRS to take Nico Rosberg on the outside of turn one.

Alonso rapidly closed in on the battle for fifth between his team mate and Button. When Button made his ill-fated passing attempt Alonso pounced on his delayed team mate and made it through. But by now his tyres were going off and he made his first pit stop on the next lap.

He moved up to fifth which became fourth when Mark Webber made a mistake on a later out-lap, allowing Alonso to jump him in the pits.

Despite pressure from (the KERS-less) Webber, Alonso reeled in Vitaly Petrov in the closing laps, but ran out of time to mount an attack on the Renault driver.

Felipe Massa, Jenson Button, Melbourne, 2011

Felipe Massa, Jenson Button, Melbourne, 2011

Felipe Massa

Only a late improvement spared Massa the embarrassment of being eliminated in the first part of qualifying. After that scare he made it into Q3 and lined up eighth.

A good start put him fifth but he came under huge pressure from Button and had to defend so much he lost between one and three seconds per lap to leader Sebastian Vettel.

After Button went off the track trying to pass him, Massa lost his place to Alonso. After their first pit stops Massa lost further ground to his team mate.

Massa tried to make it to the end of the race by taking on hard tyres at his second pit stop, but gave up after being passed by Button and pitted for more softs. That dropped him to tenth, after which he passed Sebastien Buemi for ninth and was promoted two more places by the disqualification of the Saubers.

Team principal Stefano Domenicali said the team simply didn’t have as much downforce as they expected to: “We will have to study everything carefully to work out what prevented us from being as competitive as we had expected this weekend.

“Then we will have to react immediately, starting with the next race in Malaysia. One of the main themes is the level of downforce at the front: we must find out why we did not get on track what was predicted by the data.”

2011 Australian Grand Prix

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101 comments on Ferrari look for answers on missing pace

  1. i wont believe for 1 second that was the true pace of their car. I expect them to be back strongly in Sepang.

  2. Fixy (@fixy) said on 28th March 2011, 19:03

    I enjoyed watching Massa yesterday. It brought me back to better times.

    • James (@jamesf1) said on 28th March 2011, 19:43

      But he was pretty slow. I wouldnt be all that suprised if Perez were to replace him next season, given that Perez is in the Ferrari Development programme. If Perez continues like he has started, it’ll be bye-bye for Massa

      • When has Felipe Massa been quick at Albert Park?

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 29th March 2011, 8:12

        First of all, that Ferrari did not work all that well in Melbourne, the drives really had to fight the car.
        As Keith writes, Massa had a great start and a very tough job keeping an evidently faster Button behind.
        The stop to go back to sofst was a strange choice, but was that Massas fault? I must say he did not do that bad.
        Certainly the car pace as such is a far bigger worry for Ferrari at the moment.

        • Dolph_Lundgrenade said on 31st March 2011, 2:16

          Well, Massa was more than half a second slower in qualifying in the same car as his teammate so UH, Yeah, as much as I would like to see Massa do well (Webber too) I see Massa moving along next year… as far as the “burying” of Koboyashi’s career; i don’t think anyone is implying that, but he isn’t Ferrari material. Perez surely looks like he may be however and if he puts in some more performances this year I would very much expect a Mexican sponsor to be gracing the Ferrari in 2011.

      • The New Hope said on 29th March 2011, 15:10

        Wow, after one race everyone is burying Kobayashi’s career and elevating Perez to Ferrari. Let’s have just a bit of perspective here. It was one race, and they were disqualified.

  3. RIISE (@riise) said on 28th March 2011, 19:05

    I was surprised by the lack of pace in the race. Alonso and Massa were fighting the car all race, which probably suggests they couldn’t find the right balance. Still Fernando got a lot out of the car and was unfortunate to be caught up with Button at the first corner.

    They should get up to pace by Malaysia, let’s hope they don’t have the same engine trouble as last year.

    • Eggry (@eggry) said on 28th March 2011, 19:15

      They shouldn’t. After they fixed engine under approval of FIA, even under high pressure on engines, none of them(including Sauber and STR) never failed except FP of Brazil.

    • bananarama (@bananarama) said on 29th March 2011, 0:22

      Looking at Keiths post race analysis charts I think it looks like Alonso was the quickest man of the race from lap 28 to the finish. Sure, Vettel kind of cruised at one point and Hamilton had a broken car, but still, that lets me hope for the season.

      • Oliver said on 29th March 2011, 5:33

        Why break your car when you have a massive lead. Fastest laps are for those catching up or the extremely bored.

        • Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 29th March 2011, 5:59

          Like Kimi haha!

          Sorry, I had to say it.
          I still think it is impressive to bag the fastest lap, and Massa got him one in Albert Park. Albeit because of low fuel and fresh tires and the end of the race.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 29th March 2011, 8:14

        But Alonso did have the newer tyres for most of those laps (compared to Vettel and Hamilton), that would have certainly helped

        • tato said on 30th March 2011, 23:51

          no,because alonso was behind slower cars for the entire race and couldn’t manage to look after his tires ’cause he was pushing the car. He lost spots at the start, and was behind drivers like kobayashi,webber,button,massa to name a few. so not what you are saying is not true. He had to pit 3 times in order to be able to gain some spots by having a clear track (whic didn’t happen)

          • Coefficient said on 31st March 2011, 9:02

            Excuses, excuses. Bottom line is Ferrari ran a shabby weekend overall and were lucky to score the points they did. I doubt much will change before the big update kits start arriving in a few races time either as the Ferrari may suffer even higher tyre wear in Sepang.


  4. Philonso (@philonso) said on 28th March 2011, 19:05

    By Malaysia, or, if failing that, China; I’m sure Ferrari will catch Mclaren… Wasn’t expecting to say that pre-season. I think Mclaren pulled the wool over our eyes somewhat!

    • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 29th March 2011, 0:05

      I think McLaren pulled the wool over their own eyes to an extent. I’m sure the pace was their to unlock in the car from the get go, but they were plagued by tons of reliability problems caused by their “octopus” exhaust deforming, etc. Once they abandoned that red herring and focused on something more reliable and sensible, the true pace of the car was almost instantly apparent. That s till doesnt explain Ferrari’s apparent lack of pace though. It seems the tires definitely acted differently to what most teams and drivers were expecting, and very few drivers were actually able to unlock the potential of the tires. I’m thinking Vettel, Hamilton, Petrov, Perez, and maybe a handful of other drivers…

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 29th March 2011, 8:16

        Button did say so midway through the Barcelona test, that the car had the speed there to use, just the limited running did not give them any chance of starting to get work on a setup done.

        I agree that Ferrari looks like they had a problem with working the tyres.

  5. Stefanos Vasilis McLaren-Mercedes said on 28th March 2011, 19:05

    Massa defend his position very well against Button, but when Button passed him (illegally) then he let Alonso to pass him very easy. Shame on you Massa. Shame on Ferrari. He made Button’s race very difficult but when Alonso came closer he let him pas him. Do not ever say Mr. Massa that you are not second criver because that is what you are. SECOND DRIVER!

    • Stefanos Vasilis McLaren-Mercedes said on 28th March 2011, 19:07

      I mean second driver.

    • RIISE (@riise) said on 28th March 2011, 19:08

      Felipe lost a lot of momentum in that incident with Button, Alonso closed really quick and was just faster at turns 13 and 14. Fernando knew if he stuck the car down the inside Felipe wouldn’t bother defending it.

      • Stefanos Vasilis McLaren-Mercedes said on 28th March 2011, 19:13

        When Button cut road and passes him, Massa slow down. Then Alonso passes him easy. BUT before that Massa was a kamikazee against Button to keep him possition! Against Alonso he acted like a second driver.

        • Bren said on 28th March 2011, 20:04

          tho massa went defensive initially taking the inside line, leaving him vunerable at the next bend.

          he didnt fight to hard(cos that would be stupid to your MUCH faster team mate), but he did defend his position.

          not sure what the problem. oh no yes i do it involves ferrari and alonso.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 29th March 2011, 8:17

            Especially with the pitstops planned and Alonso needing a good inlap for his charge forward.

        • f1yankee said on 28th March 2011, 20:51

          actually, the tactically correct thing to do for massa would have been to let alonso by, then pit immediately. button’s correct response to this would be to pit, slot in behind massa, and continue the attack. by pitting alonso first ferrari nearly let button off the hook, as he could have chosen to give the place back at any time.

          i’m surprised button chose to take the penalty we all knew was coming, especially after last year’s alonso-kubica penalty.

          • Ral (@ral) said on 28th March 2011, 23:04

            Brundle and Coulthard immediately said it was a tactical call by Ferrari to get Alonso past Massa, because it meant Button would have to choose: either leave both Alonso and Massa past, or leave himself at the mercy of the stewarts. We all know which he picked and how that panned out.

          • Oliver said on 29th March 2011, 5:44

            Since when have Brundle and Coulthard been privy to Ferrari race strategy. This isn’t the first time they have distorted peples minds wth their assumptions. A commentator should not mislead the viewers, they should describe what ehy sea and not try to give to many reasons for it. If you take a 90 degree angle from the inside you lose momentum in a massive way.

    • Mike said on 29th March 2011, 12:02

      I tend to bag Ferrari as much as possible, but that swapping of position was nothing other than great team work.

      • paolo (@paolo) said on 29th March 2011, 13:14

        If Brundle and Coulthard literally commentated on what they could see without giving any opinion or insight then I think it would be a rather boring commentary!

        I could do that!

      • tato said on 30th March 2011, 23:53

        agree, now you can see the changes in the strategies by the changes the team did in the pre-season. also button should have known better and give the position back right after he passed massa.

  6. Eggry (@eggry) said on 28th March 2011, 19:07

    Disappointing qualifing, reasonable race pace, so you should not unerestimate them early. I’m sorry that it seems like Massa is still struggling. I think he was better than late part of last season but it’s not enough to protect his seat. He should pick up pace ASAP.

    I believe they will fire back at Malaysia, because it’s one of favorite vanue for Ferrari and Alonso. Maybe not enough to win but I think they will find out what the problem is and fix it.

  7. Feynman said on 28th March 2011, 19:08

    To have a car that can’t seem to heat its tyres in qualifying, but eats them up in a race … that doesn’t sound like a quick fix.

    • infy (@infy) said on 28th March 2011, 21:50

      I dont think they did 3 stops because of tyre wear. I think they did it to get infront, or stay infront of people on the same strategy, such as webber.

      If you pit first, you get out on quicker tyres than the person who pit after you. So for that one or two laps before the guy pits in response, you gain a bit of time because your tyres are way fresher. That allows you to jump him when he pits. The problem with the strategy is that the person you overtook will have better tyres towards the end of the final stint, which is okay because they still have to overtake you on track to get the place back.

      Now considering how many people Alonso had in front of him, an aggressive strategy like that made sense. When you are at the front with no threat of being jumped during your pit stop, a 2 stopper is the quicker option.

      You also have to remember that because they knew they were on a 3 stop, they pushed hard knowing they didnt have to look after the tyres. To make it work, going fast is all that matters. So yes, they did wear a bit quicker, but only because they were not trying to preserve their tyres like the rest were.

      • Shiro said on 28th March 2011, 22:54

        Ted Kravitz himself said the Ferraris were suffering alot of tyre wear during the race. Massa stopped no less than four times.

        • ftgtt said on 29th March 2011, 1:18

          no they didn’t ;alonso pitted three times in order to gain positions since he was stuck in traffic when he lost that many positions in the first lap. Alonso said that himself. And what do you expect? alonso was racing hard while vettel,hamilton and petrov didn’t have to push the tires ’cause nobody was behind them for the entire race. last but not least if you see the fastest laps alonso has three ouf the 5 fastest laps of the race while massa has the fastest one. which leads me to beleive that they have the fastest car in race tri but miss in the setup ofr the low temperatures played against them.

      • Jay said on 29th March 2011, 1:20

        I agree. Alonso needed a 3 stopper because he dropped so far back.

        I think if he had got out of Turn 1 and 2 in fourth or fifth, he may have been able to nurse his tyres a little bit more and maybe get away with a two stop.

        It seemed to me at the time that Alonso managed to get the most out of the hard tyres. Webber was struggling with it, Alonso drove the treads off the harder compound while he was reeling in Petrov, he was pulling almost a second a lap on the Russian who was on softs I believe?

        Ferrari will be back at Sepang. Its a 2 week window, enough time for the lot to figure out why they had such poor downforce in Melboourne.

        Sepang will be interesting, the heat will wreck havoc in the pit lane with respect to tyre wear!!

        • fullthrottle said on 29th March 2011, 14:02

          Marc Gene told the spanish telly that 3 stops was faster in the sim for them. Also, that they are lost with the pirellis since saturday…

  8. Surely Melbourne is an atypical circuit? Better to take stock after Sepang with it’s longer corners and higher temperatures.

  9. Fred Schechter said on 28th March 2011, 19:56

    I am reminded even more when I see the position map, that F1 cannot pit everyone at the same time. This is still a bad idea, though sadly it seems the tracks visited do not have the infrastructure to manage it (I’m looking at you tiny Monaco (but you can’t help it)). The rest of the tracks, seriously?! Split the pit crews in half, there are still more than enough people to change 4 tires and jack the car up (in NASCAR terms, that’s 6 people).
    If you don’t want to have team orders be an issue, then take away the REQUIREMENT for the TEAM to make a favorable decision over whom they must bring in at the most optimal time!


    but I digress,,,
    that’s it,,
    just here digressing.

  10. The Edge (@the-edge) said on 28th March 2011, 19:56

    the car looked good to me…maybe they should get a couple of decent drivers to see how fast it can really go before pouring millions into redevelopment

  11. djdaveyp85 (@djdaveyp87) said on 28th March 2011, 20:00

    It’s about time Ferrari got a fast second driver instead of a slow guy that is good at blocking people!

    • Button would agree with you on that.

      • infy (@infy) said on 28th March 2011, 21:53

        Alonso too probably. He seems to get stuck in the Massa-ve-train often :P

        • David BR said on 28th March 2011, 23:29

          Just kind of weird how the slow guy ends up in front of Alonso so often!

          • Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 29th March 2011, 6:09

            Yeah, maybe if Alonso were really the greatest he wouldn’t get himself into those positions in the first place. I genuinely hope Ferrari improve their pace and compete with Redbull, McLaren, etc. But I could care less if Alonso does well, he’s not the next Schumacher and he gets on my nerves.

  12. Todfod (@todfod) said on 28th March 2011, 20:02

    Other than the 1st couple of laps, Fernando was quicker than Felipe on almost every lap. Thats a scary statistic for Felipe.

  13. Bren said on 28th March 2011, 20:11

    there is talk (from jarno mostly) that pirelli changed their tyres at last minute. and it left it a lottery if your set up based on testing would do anything at all.

    it would answer why mercedes had no pace, ferrari couldnt heat up tyres, williams were no where. webber couldnt get it together for no apparent reason.

    also red bull seemed ok on its tyre wear, where as in testing it seemed to be harsh on them.

    so(perhaps?) pirelli bring a harder tyre wrecked any chance the teams who had cars that were geared towards conserving their tyres. it just meant they couldnt heat them up. where as cars which were hard on tyres then found them selves a bit more in the zone.

    just a theory.

    • Pirelli did not change the specification of its tyres at the last minute. They simply operated differently to what they had done in testing.

  14. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 28th March 2011, 20:29

    One thing that stands out from Ferrari, well Alonso, is the short amount of time it took him to catch Button. He was almost right on the back of him when Button decided to take his short cut.

    Pretty disappointing stuff all in all, expecting more from Massa but he did well to keep Button behind him and force the error.

    • Shiro said on 28th March 2011, 23:01

      Button was stuck behind Massa who himself was his ruining his own race by defending so much. Naturally after being in the dirty air of Massa for so long Button’s tyres wouldn’t be in such a good state.

  15. Alfie said on 28th March 2011, 20:43

    @The Edge, yes, here:

    1: Kamui Kobayashi – 314.2 (kph)
    2: Sergio Perez – 313.5
    3: Nico Rosberg – 313.4

    Then McLarens, Schumacher, Sutil, Maldonado, di Resta, Rubinho, Renaults, Buemi, then

    14: Fernando Alonso – 309.7
    15: Felipe Massa – 309.5
    16: Jaime Alguersuari – 309.5
    17: Sebastian Vettel – 308.3
    18: Mark Webber – 308.3
    19: Narain Karthikeyan – 305.1
    20: Vitantonio Liuzzi – 304.3
    21: Heikki Kovalainen – 303.5
    22: Jarno Trulli – 303.4
    23: Jerome d’Ambrosio – 301.6
    24: Timo Glock – 301.1

    Interesting is the Red Bulls are slowest of the established teams (guessing because of lack of KERS), and Narain Karthikeyan for HRT is fastest of the new teams (again, I think this is lack of downforce). The Virgins are a couple kph slower than Lotus so perhaps at high downforce tracks you will see a surprise.

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