Ferrari: Alonso stars, Massa struggles

2011 Spanish GP team review

Ferrari’s weekend got off to a troubled start as they were forbidden from using the new rear wing which they ran for the first time in Friday practice.

Fernando Alonso Felipe Massa
Qualifying position 4 8
Qualifying time comparison (Q3) 1’21.964 (-0.924) 1’22.888
Race position 5
Laps 65/66 58/66
Pit stops 4 3

Ferrari drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):
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 59 60 61
Fernando Alonso 94.494 90.812 90.606 90.012 90.318 90.039 90.007 90.164 90.303 92.825 108.222 89.323 89.809 89.778 89.856 89.898 90.316 90.475 92.615 105.987 88.878 88.737 89.003 89.67 89.332 89.538 89.543 89.828 92.309 108.274 90.417 90.511 91.255 91.092 90.364 91.462 90.712 90.601 92.837 107.534 90.526 89.989 89.817 89.977 90.299 90.106 90.064 90.642 90.557 91.085 90.615 90.523 91.456 90.208 90.475 90.248 90.531 90.362 90.581 90.491 90.038
Felipe Massa 99.979 92.589 92.187 92.103 91.895 91.839 91.897 92.087 92.012 93.074 96.365 107.941 91.307 90.707 91.43 91.783 91.291 91.082 90.93 91.065 93.836 107.668 90.223 89.081 89.942 89.386 89.518 89.964 90.917 90.396 90.259 90.91 91.048 90.867 91.879 94.786 110.369 94.224 90.593 90.635 90.438 91.057 92.775 91.396 90.644 90.727 90.814 91.023 90.614 93.359 90.834 90.718 90.888 91.064 90.296 90.966 91.103 92.777
Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, Barcelona, 2011

Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, Barcelona, 2011

Fernando Alonso

With a new Ferrari contract in his pocket Fernando Alonso was in exceptional form on home ground.

He described his qualifying lap as “perfect”, splitting the McLarens to take fourth on the grid.

His start with both technically brilliant and gutsy. Alonso admitted, “we have worked so much on this area and you could see the outcome”.

The onboard replay showed he kept his finger on the KERS button even as Sebastian Vettel darted left and right in front of him. Alonso dived down the inside of Mark Webber to take a shock lead.

But the 150??? Italia wasn’t quick enough for him to pull away. By lap 17 he had both Red Bulls and Lewis Hamilton queued up within 2.4 seconds of him.

Having failed to save any soft tyres during qualifying – Ferrari send him out on softs in Q1 – he quickly burned through the faster tyres and was on hards before lap 30.

The car’s pace was even worse on these tyres, yet he managed to keep Webber at pay. The Red Bull got by at turn ten on lap 35 but Alonso neatly reversed the pass on the way out.

Four laps later he was in for another set of tyres and Webber jumped ahead of him by delaying his stop for another eight laps.

But with the two Mercedes holding each other up Alonso’s fifth place was safe.

Alonso said: “I tried to do the maximum, keeping the quickest ones behind me for around twenty laps, but after that, there was nothing I could do.

“It was very stressful having them filling my mirrors all the time and we tried as much as possible to copy or anticipate their moves. That meant doing over the half the race on the hards, which penalised us heavily and made the gap bigger than it is in reality.”

Fernando Alonso 2011 form guide

Felipe Massa

There was not much in the Spanish Grand Prix weekend that Massa will look back on with any fondness. He found his way into a gravel trap during practice and qualified the best part of a second off his flying team mate’s pace.

Massa looked particularly unhappy on the new hard tyres – bringing back memories of last year – and spun on the lap after he put them on during the race.

He had fallen to tenth, 46 second behind Alonso, when he parked up with a gearbox failure eight laps from home. He described it as “a fitting end to a terrible weekend”.

Felipe Massa 2011 form guide

2011 Spanish Grand Prix

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70 comments on Ferrari: Alonso stars, Massa struggles

  1. Eggry (@eggry) said on 23rd May 2011, 16:29

    at least Alonso’s start was amazing. but the later part of the race wasn’t. Now I’m very doubful about Massa’s future. If he don’t show anything special, Ferrari would end contrat before 2012.

    • The New Hope said on 23rd May 2011, 17:08

      Ferrari has to weigh the benefits of a clear number 2 driver vs. not always finishing in the points. They seem to need a clear number 2 who can also finish races in the points. Massa has been that guy, but may not be anymore.

  2. Slr (@slr) said on 23rd May 2011, 16:32

    Alonso was great in the first half of the race. If Ferrari got the strategy right by not wasting softs in Q2, he could have had a bigger impact on the result I believe.

    • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 23rd May 2011, 16:36

      He would have done a few laps more and that would have been that.

      • Dan Thorn (@dan-thorn) said on 23rd May 2011, 16:46

        I don’t think it would have made much difference. Ferrari were just too slow on the hard tyres…

        • Fixy (@fixy) said on 23rd May 2011, 18:17

          He tried to copy his rivals’ strategies, stopping on their same lap, and he would have won if all three rivals stopped on the same lap as him (which is of course impossible).
          After turn 1 I was euphoric and thought he had the pace, but within a few laps I knew what would have happened, although being lapped was too much for me to forecast.

          • bananarama said on 23rd May 2011, 19:14

            Probably Ferrari should have maximized their running on the soft tyres as those are the only ones that really work on the car. The next races with softer compounds should be a chance for them and I hope Alonso can take a good mount of points out of those.

            Helmut Marko said he thinks Ferrari is spying on them, listening to their radio and that they noticed and then tricked Ferrari into stopping for a new set of hard tyres early. If thats true I must say it is quite dumb that Ferrari tries to copy others instead of making their own strategies but on the other hand its a good idea to listen to the other teams radios, you can learn a lot from that …

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 23rd May 2011, 20:02

        Certainly looks like it would have only taken him a bit further, as he was over a minute behind in the end. If not for Rosbergs troubles, even the Mercedes could have had a go at him on those tyres.

        And if he had done that who knows weather they would have gotten into Q3 in the first place.

        • Solo (@solo) said on 23rd May 2011, 20:25

          Yeah Ferrari left one set of soft tyres unused. That was not smart at all considering they were bad with the hard.

          • damonsmedley (@damonsmedley) said on 24th May 2011, 17:11

            But if they did use that extra set of softs, I’m assuming they would have had to make an extra pit-stop. But then, it couldn’t have hurt him much more; he did finish 1 lap behind…

  3. Guy said on 23rd May 2011, 16:41

    I’m not sure I agree with the title ‘Alonso stars’ or that he was in exceptional form.

    As others have said, he certainly had a great start to the race but he did end up being lapped! I just can’t quite square being lapped with starring.

    • Dan Thorn (@dan-thorn) said on 23rd May 2011, 16:50

      The car simply wasn’t quick enough for him to do anything else. No doubt he will have tried to keep ahead of Webber but once he dropped behind that was that. With such a gap to the guys behind there was no sense in him pushing for something that was never realistically going to happen, so it would make sense to back off and save the engine etc…

      His qualifying lap was stunning and he drove his heart out at the start – he dragged more out of the car than it was capable of. Therefore I think the headline is perfectly true…

    • S.J.M (@sjm) said on 23rd May 2011, 17:01

      it was certainly a race of 2 halves for Alonso.

    • Gill said on 23rd May 2011, 17:16

      Its a Ferrai race review. He is being compared against Massa and considering the F150th Italia’a pace, he indeed was brilliant in qualifying with just .003 sec behind Ham. If you dont call that brilliant, what would u call ?

      • Fixy (@fixy) said on 23rd May 2011, 18:22

        F150th Italia

        F150th Italia 150° Italia.

      • Guy said on 23rd May 2011, 18:44

        He was lapped for goodness sake!

        Sure his qualifying and start were impressive but he was still lapped.

        I don’t buy the ‘blame the car’ line. The car got him, as you say, within microseconds of Hamilton in qualifying. If the car was good enough for that then a ‘star’ should be able to bring it home without being lapped.

        • Sure his qualifying and start were impressive but he was still lapped.

          Yet look at how good Alonso was compared to Felipe.

          The car got him, as you say, within microseconds of Hamilton in qualifying.

          There’s a difference between pace in qualifying and pace on a race day. Look at how quick Mark and Vettel were compared to everyone else on Saturday yet how close Lewis came in the race to beating Seb.

          • Guy said on 23rd May 2011, 22:02

            I’m not disputing the ‘Massa struggles’ part of the title, but I still maintain a true ‘star’ wouldn’t be lapped in a Ferrari.

          • HxCas (@hxcas) said on 24th May 2011, 1:41

            Anyone would have been lapped in a Ferrari due to Vettel and Hamiltons pace, Alonso did a great job but the pace just wasn’t there

          • Mike said on 24th May 2011, 7:19

            I be interested to know who could have driven it faster.

          • bosyber said on 24th May 2011, 9:22

            Both Massa and Alonso were about equally slow, too slow, on the hard tyres – that tells me it is due to the car. Before that, Massa was stuck battling Mercedes and lost a lot of time and basically wasted his soft tyres.

            Alonso didn’t, but the team (possibly with input from him?) failed the strategy, I guess they underestimated just how bad those hard tyres would work for them.

            Interesting bit if true what Marko says about tricking Ferrari with messages about strategy – that really shows Ferrari are at the moment too afraid to take risks. Let’s hope Alonso signing with them for so long leads them to finally start working on getting some guts and a ideas of themselves again.

        • Klaas said on 23rd May 2011, 18:58

          He qualified on softs, he stayed in front on much faster cars for almost half of the race and once he put on the super-hards the car was 2 seconds slower – it was all in the tires, Ferrari simply doesn’t have enough downforce to make them work. The qualifyng pace is usually different from the race and not only in Ferrari’s case.

          • BearTrap said on 23rd May 2011, 22:17

            Well, don’t you think it would be up to Mr. Alonsos “superb car-development skills” to improve the performance on hard tyres???? Since the day he joined Ferrari, we’ve been told, how great this guy is as a car developer. Don’t see any of that now.

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 23rd May 2011, 20:04

          Why not? it was clear for all to see, that he was punching above its weight in Q3 and in those first laps of the race.

          Ferrari just somehow were completely lost on those harder tyres. Look at how Massa faired and you see what the car was up to without Alonso.

          • Jay said on 24th May 2011, 2:15


            I suggest you try to start understanding the sport a little bit more before coming out here making stupid comments.

            Geezzz…looks like Fernando could never catch a break huh..that much hate…sad really.

        • Chris said on 24th May 2011, 10:27

          Well Guy I would love to see you driving the Ferrari. You are such a good driver, you wouldn’t have been lapped? The Ferrari just does not have the pace on the hard tyres. They were pretty fast on the Softs- although not as fast as Red Bull and McLaren, but Alonso was able to keep them behind for about the first 20 laps. Once he went to the hards it was backwards from there!

  4. west (@west) said on 23rd May 2011, 16:42

    That ferrari is a dog, and to be honest in witer testing they did the most milege than any other team but they ve failed to get it work, lotus and htr are closing on both ferrari LOL

    • timi said on 23rd May 2011, 16:47

      it’s nowhere near a dog. its just not a race winner.
      the 09 mclaren… now THAT was a dog

      • Rob said on 23rd May 2011, 17:14

        The 09 Mclaren won two races and finished on the podium five times. It was no more a dog than the 2011 Ferrari, by the looks of things.

        • timi (@timi) said on 23rd May 2011, 17:52

          started off worse than the 2011 ferrari though..
          thus, so far through the first 5 races of their respective seasons, the MP4-24 was more of a dog than the 150italia

          • Rod said on 23rd May 2011, 20:06

            Sorry for the ignorance, but what do you mean by a dog car? =)

          • Timi said on 23rd May 2011, 23:03

            Well it’s all relative, so a mclaren/Ferrari dog car is different to a force india dog.
            But basically a car developed that’s performing well below where one would expect a team to be.
            My original statement was right (in my opinion) because mclaren could only get 10th, 8th, I think even 12th at one point in the early 09 season.. Eventually they developed it enough to be a race winner, but originally it was a dog.
            Your statement could also be very true. If the ferarri goes on to do better than 2wins and 5 podiums then it won’t be as much a dog as the MP4-24 :)

          • bosyber said on 24th May 2011, 9:24

            But haven’t Ferrari so far started worse than in 2009? So the F60, which might not have been an outright dog, but which certainly wasn’t a speed monster, did better than this car.

          • Timi said on 24th May 2011, 11:08

            Yeah you’re right but no-one mentioned that ferrari!
            We’re comparing this to the MP4-24…

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 23rd May 2011, 20:08

      What gets to me, is that Ferrari seemed honestly suprised to be as far off Red Bull as they were in Australia.

      How can that have happened with all the testing done? Sure Red Bull was not showing its true pace, but neither did they in 2010 and everyone knew they were a lot faster.

      • bosyber said on 24th May 2011, 9:28

        I also don’t really understand it. It really feels like they were happy to be blind to it. Doing so many runs, I wouldn’t be surprised if Red Bull knew pretty well just how much they had on Ferrari.

        It really seems like they tested for the wrong things; while the McLaren testing seemed wasteful and unsuccessful, they might at least have gotten a good idea where the car had trouble.

  5. Martin said on 23rd May 2011, 16:45

    wish I knew where to see a legal video of the start…

  6. Todfod (@todfod) said on 23rd May 2011, 16:50

    What a difference in Massa’s and Alonso’s performances. For the 2nd race in a row, Alonso was faster than his teammate on almost every lap of the race. Since last year, Massa is rarely racing the Mclarens and Red Bulls. On the other hand, his teammate is always fighting the front runners, and is constantly pushing the car to its full potential.

    Ferrari has become a complete one man team, and they need to get rid of Massa if they ever want to fight Mclaren in the WCC. IMHO, Massa is amongst the weakest drivers on the grid currently, and based on his current form, I wouldn’t even give him a drive in a Force India.

    • Dan Thorn (@dan-thorn) said on 23rd May 2011, 16:54

      That’s a tad harsh. He’s been very good in the other races this year (Melbourne excepted) and every driver has a bad race now and then. He was also dealing with a gearbox problem later in the race which goes some way to explaining his poor pace, but I really don’t think he’s one of the weakest on the grid, especially considering that two races ago he was arguably in contention for a win…

      • Xysion said on 23rd May 2011, 17:17

        He did not have a good race in Turkey. He made numerous errors there and let us not forget that last year when he was floundering at least he did manage to outperform Alonso there. To qualify 9 tenths off your team mate is just pathetic.

        Massa is a spare part at Ferrari. Ferrari will never improve with him and I agree with Todfod Ferrari will never achieve much with him. Everyone though will always masque over his continuous poor performances with “oh, he is a nice guy” and “he is still recovering from the accident” or “Alonso is a horrible person”. From a cold pragmatic point of view Massa has been pathetic since 2010. He is regulary outqualified by his team mate by more then half a seceond which is unacceptable and throughtout a weekend makes numerous errors. But the worst thing is that he never takes the blame when he makes mistakes. It is always someone elses fault.

        • David-A (@david-a) said on 23rd May 2011, 18:44

          A ton of posts start with “As much as I like Massa”, and without pointing that out, this would have been no exception.

          But unfortunately the cold hard reality is that for the vast majority of the races since China last year, Massa has severely underperformed. He should really be in the position of someone like Button, up there fighting every week, even if he lacks the pace of his teammate. Instead he’s being passed by Saubers.

          • About a month ago Brundle and many posters on here were saying the old Massa was back. He was right on Alonso’s pace throughout Malaysia (even in qualifying) and has outraced him twice. He seems much better this year but Alonso is a class act. Even when 2010 was bad he generally put the car where it should have been. This was a bad weekend but I’ll say as I have said all along that he should be given until the end of this season.

          • bosyber said on 24th May 2011, 9:33

            Alonso would also have been passed by Saubers on the pace he had at the end of the race, which wasn’t much better than that of Massa.

            The difference was that Massa didn’t make that great start and got stuck behind the Mercedes guys battling eachother – that’s where the time difference happened. Not an excuse, but an explanation, for that difference in speed in the first half of the race.

            Spain still wasn’t easy with overtaking for most drivers, Massa didn’t do that much worse than Rosberg sitting behind his teammate for the whole race.

            Not saying Massa didn’t dissapoint either, but to say he was terrible: well, Ferrari also didn’t find a strategy to get him in a better situation, just like they didn’t help Alonso with those early pitstops to put him on hards for so long.

  7. JUGNU (@jugnu) said on 23rd May 2011, 17:50

    Very tough to imagine Alonso was only few 100ths of a second slower than Mclarens in Qaulifying. OK he did a great lap the real difference is around 2-3 tenths but still he struggled a lot in the race and at the end was lapped by a Mclaren.
    Alonso did everything he could, great lap, great start and holding others in the first stint. Some serious problems with Ferrari and also their stretgy makers.
    Would love to see him getting involved in Vettel VS Hamilton fights we are sure going to see more.

  8. Klaas said on 23rd May 2011, 18:47

    I have a feeling we’ll be seeing Sam Michael at Ferrari’s pitwall in 2012.

    • Ral said on 23rd May 2011, 19:48

      I think Mr. Michael will have a lot of the top teams vying for him and his knowledge of just how Williams managed to get that gearbox packaged quite so neatly.

      I wouldn’t mind if that knowledge went to Ferrari :)

  9. AlexT (@alext) said on 23rd May 2011, 18:55

    Another “plus” this season for Ferrari is that the pit crew is incredibly slow. Btw, are there any stats available on the pit stop times?

    • bosyber said on 24th May 2011, 9:39

      I saw some in the Spain race thread on F1technical; Renault really were quite bad with the pitstops especially for Petrov.
      Williams really showed they need to improve something there too by the way.

      Ferrari actually didn’t do really bad, but worse than McLaren and Red Bull, so that was no help to Alonso or Massa.

  10. John H said on 23rd May 2011, 19:26

    Crikey, Alonso was doing the same lap time at the end of the race as he was at the start!

    The Ferrari really didn’t like those hard tyres…. they should have ‘done a Jenson.’

  11. verstappen (@verstappen) said on 23rd May 2011, 19:31

    Does anyone know what the (coded?) message to Alonso meant? Safety car window is open
    – exactly that, the window of the safety car was open
    now is the time for you to crash and return the favour to Brazil?
    – something different, like if we have a safety car now, you come in at the first opportunity
    – or??

  12. Rod said on 23rd May 2011, 20:31

    In the last Massa’s stint he was on a similar pace to Alonso, he was probably managing to end the race at the same position he started, quite better than dropping down from 1st to 5th.
    I don’t think Massa is doing that bad, the fact is that Ferrari is not fighting for victories this year yet, a 3rd place was celebrated as a victory last race as if it was a Mercedes or a Renault.
    The bottom line is that Ferrari is doing terrible in all fields this year, from the car project, strategies, car reliability, pit stops, and drivers performance (at least one of them), they certainly have the money to do way better than that.

    • Mr draw said on 24th May 2011, 21:38

      Your quotes

      “I don’t think Massa is doing that bad”


      “The bottom line is that Ferrari is doing terrible in all fields this year, from the car project, strategies, car reliability, pit stops, and drivers performance (at least one of them)”

      contradict each other.

  13. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 23rd May 2011, 20:44

    A fantastic display of intelligence from Alonso on the opening lap. Great for the fans and great for us at home watching. I was really happy for him. He seems very happy where he is and that should be commended. He tries to motivate his team, that’s commitment.

    A shame for Massa, probably one of his worst weekends I’ve witnessed.

  14. BearTrap said on 23rd May 2011, 22:08

    Since the day Alonso joined Ferrari, we’ve been told how good he is in developing the car. Well, I don’t see any of that when they gets lapped by the four leading cars.

    • Laranja Mecanica said on 24th May 2011, 1:59

      A cheap shot. Alonso used to do an incredible amount of testing time in Renault (and Schumacher in Ferrari). Now testing is banned, there’s not much you can do to develop the car if you only are allowed to run the simulator.

      • BearTrap said on 24th May 2011, 6:56

        Really? But that’s just what Ferrari has been trying to tell us. That Alonso is the key to a better performance. You can’t deny that. Domenicalli called him the greatest asset of the team. Where are the results now of that asset?

        If testing were the only way to improve tyre performance, how come McLaren and Red Bull can handle the situation but Ferrari crumbles and Alonso gets lapped, with the biggest budget in the business???

        • bosyber said on 24th May 2011, 9:42

          Well, arguably, that start really was a good job, and without it he would quite possibly have been caught by the Mercedes guys before the end of the race. And him starting third was also a really good setup for that.

          If you look at the strategy and pitstops, and the lack of pace on the hard tyre, you could say that in the whole team, Alonso was about the only one that shone.

          • BearTrap said on 24th May 2011, 11:56

            You are all avoiding the real issue here. Hamilton is not infatuated with the hard tyres either, but look at him. He’s been blamed for wearing out his tyres, but now he’s about the only one who can keep up with Vettel, who also dislikes the hard tyres but makes the best of them.

            You can only blame the car to a degree. If the car is poor, you do something about it and don’t just complain. It’s up to the driver to give the correct input that helps to solve the car issues. Obviously neither of the current Ferrari drivers are able to do that. And don’t blame testing bans. It’s the same for everyone.

        • Klaas said on 24th May 2011, 14:08

          The only thing a driver can do in terms of developing the car is to give feedback to the engineers about which parts are working and wich aren’t. That’s what Alonso himself said. You can’t expect a driver to sit in the windtunnel and design the car. In the last race he did all that was possible (even from a physics point of view). Your goal is clear – to bash Alonso and for this you seem to bring even the most ridiculous arguments.

  15. MacBromb said on 24th May 2011, 1:58

    for sure Massa has to leave Ferrari, i guess even his crew at the team is a bad one compared to Alonso’s.
    On the pit stop… ferrari make a bad work on tire change for Massa, especially the last two races… its too much difference.
    We all know how Ferrari is, once they have a top driver they will put the other in a clear second position.
    Massa lost his chance and he is at the lower point of his career now.

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