Ferrari: Alonso says Red Bull up to a second faster

2011 European GP team review

Fernando Alonso puts Ferrari’s deficit to Red Bull at eight tenths to one second after finishing behind Sebastian Vettel in Valencia.

Fernando Alonso Felipe Massa
Qualifying position 4 5
Qualifying time comparison (Q3) 1’37.454 (-0.081) 1’37.535
Race position 2 5
Laps 57/57 57/57
Pit stops 3 3

Ferrari drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/2011drivercolours.csv
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
Fernando Alonso 112.612 106.284 105.458 105.236 105.191 105.172 105.086 105.25 105.164 105.3 105.091 105.594 105.678 120.967 110.127 104.607 104.128 103.803 103.98 104.081 104.277 103.918 103.635 103.683 103.739 104.072 103.564 104.458 118.76 108.257 103.819 102.912 102.736 102.497 102.693 102.525 102.628 102.837 102.825 102.535 102.665 102.746 102.589 102.51 117.542 109.992 103.492 102.409 102.308 102.567 102.91 102.998 102.696 102.371 103.417 104.341 104.328
Felipe Massa 113.333 106.363 105.804 105.485 105.394 105.224 105.083 105.066 105.728 106.001 105.735 105.931 106.314 106.631 121.595 110.506 104.529 104.371 104.238 104.654 105.144 104.929 104.721 104.391 104.383 104.439 104.327 104.278 104.736 105.225 125.498 110.132 103.283 103.025 103.209 103.459 103.184 103.115 102.857 103.174 103.884 103.504 103.408 103.8 104.293 103.604 104.208 119.174 109.731 103.543 103.204 103.508 102.705 103.282 102.906 103.147 104.479
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Valencia, 2011

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Valencia, 2011

Fernando Alonso

Alonso was quickest on Friday but he had to do a second run in Q1 to get through. The team decided he could make it on a fresh set of mediums instead of using more soft tyres.

The gamble paid off but Alonso wasn’t able to improve his time in Q3 with the extra set of soft tyres he’d saved, and aborted the lap, leaving his fourth on the grid.

He made another rapid getaway in the Ferrari – not quite as fast as Massa, but he re-took his team mate at turn two: “I wasn?t 100 per cent happy with my start.

“Obviously we knew that the wrong side of the grid here is quite bad so I lost ground with Felipe who was fifth and also Jenson was very close to me, so I was sixth.

“I think the first 100m of the start was not very good, but in the first corner, everybody seemed to brake very early this time, so I took the benefit from it.”

Alonso chased the Red Bulls and passed Webber for second on lap 21. Webber got ahead of him at the next round of pit stops, but fell behind at the one of that.

Alonso briefly came under attack from Webber at the beginning of the last stint, but the Red Bull driver dropped back with a gearbox problem.

He said the team tried to minimise the time spent on the medium tyres as they felt they would struggle for pace: “We were expecting a lot of trouble, a lot of problems with the level of grip and in fact I think our best laps of the race were at the end on the medium tyre, so that?s also very encouraging for the next races.”

But he feels the gap to Red Bull is still too large for them to be able to complete for the championship: “At the moment, as we said, we?re one second behind, or eight tenths behind so if anyone thinks we can win a championship being eight tenths behind it?s because maybe they don?t understand Formula 1.”

Alonso was half a second slower than Vettel in qualifying and ended the race 10.8 seconds behind after 57 laps.

The team’s technical director Pat Fry said the team anticipated the difficulty of overtaking at Valencia and factored it into their strategy: “We were not so sure that the effect of the DRS would be enough to overtake cars that were significantly slower.

“That is why we did not try to chase after the others, always pitting early, thus lengthening the final stint on the softs which, even though they were very well worn, were faster than the first laps on the Medium.”

Fernando Alonso 2011 form guide

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Valencia, 2011

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Valencia, 2011

Felipe Massa

Massa started behind Alonso as usual but as in Canada the gap was small: less than a tenth of a second.

He pass Alonso and Lewis Hamilton on the run to turn one but had to back out of trying to pass mark Webber, which allowed Alonso to claim the place back.

That turned out badly for his race prospects as he had to wait for Alonso to pit at the first round of pit stops, causing him to fall behind Hamilton.

Other teams have had a similar dilemma this year when trying to pit their two cars when they’re running close together. Bringing in the trailing car first would allow him to leap-frog the car ahead, so out of fairness to the leading driver they tend not to do that, even if it could cost the trailing driver a place.

The same thing happened with McLaren in China, when Hamilton’s pit stop was delayed while Jenson Button stayed out, which cost him a place to Massa.

On this occasion it was Massa who lost out, falling behind Hamilton. Worse was to follow at his second pit stop, where a problem with the left-rear wheel nut cost him several seconds.

He cut into Hamilton’s lead in the final laps but didn’t have enough time to catch the McLaren.

Felipe Massa 2011 form guide

2011 European Grand Prix

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32 comments on Ferrari: Alonso says Red Bull up to a second faster

  1. Fixy (@fixy) said on 27th June 2011, 17:01

    Bringing in the trailing car first would allow him to leap-frog the car ahead, so out of fairness to the leading driver they tend not to do that, even if it could cost the trailing driver a place.

    It’s logical to favour the driver ahead. One lap doesn’t make a lot of difference, as Massa was more kind on the tyres and could have pitted one lap by Alonso in every stint. But this time he was slower and that’s why he ended so far behind.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 27th June 2011, 19:48

      I think in the end the problem in the second stop hurt him more, if not for that he migth have had a go at Hamilton in the end.

      • Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 28th June 2011, 20:37

        I agree, he seemed to have more pace and motivation than Hamilton at the end and would have atleast been on Ham’s gearbox by the checkered flag if it weren’t for that bad pit stop.

        Overall a good race by both drivers and a fantastic start! I don’t think anyone will catch Vettel, but I think the battle between Button, Hamilton, Webber, Alonso and Massa will only become more intense as the season goes on.

  2. VXR said on 27th June 2011, 17:02

    Yes, he’s probably right. Maybe even quicker! But it’s a team sport (as he knows only too well) so it’s up to his team to pull its finger out.

  3. VXR said on 27th June 2011, 17:08

    Maybe Pirelli can help recover that deficit?

    http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/92691

    Surely we can’t think that one Italian manufacturer will come to the aid of another?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th June 2011, 17:13

      This was always going to come up at some point this year, which is why I asked them about it in testing. Here’s what they said at the time:

      If there is a case we will decide with the FIA – and it would be with the FIA, it won’t be with the teams, because you risk then giving favouritism.

      You can imagine if one team’s managing the situation very well and others are struggling then if we make a change it’s more likely going to help the ones that are struggling – we’re certainly not going to assist the ones that are managing the tyres very well.

      So if we do make a change it has to be done in an impartial way, and that can only be done really by sitting down with the FIA and saying ‘in our belief, as tyre supplier, we’d like to make this change’.

      From: Pirelli will work with FIA to avoid favouritism

      What is curious is that Massa has said something like ‘if Pirelli bring hard and medium at Silverstone we’re screwed’ (not a direct quote, obviously). Pirelli previously said they would bring hard and soft to Silverstone.

      This suggests to me Pirelli have dropped hints about changing the tyre allocation to hard and medium and Ferrari are trying to put pressure on them not to because they feel it would be bad for them.

      Having said that, Pirelli did say pre-season they didn’t intend to bring hard and medium to the same race, which is why the colourings of the tyres are so similar (white and silver), so perhaps Massa is getting worked up over nothing.

  4. VXR said on 27th June 2011, 17:22

    I thought Massa was trying to say that Pirelli should bring the soft and medium tyres to Silverstone, rather than the soft and hard tyres?

    http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/92692

  5. Rob2 said on 27th June 2011, 17:28

    Another amazing drive by Alonso.

  6. TED BELL said on 27th June 2011, 18:55

    Pack it in Ferrari, start building a carbon copy of the RedBull and get it ready for next year. The season is over and Pirelli should come to the tracks with adequate amounts of tires so anybody can use as many as needed to quailfy and race without having to save a set for Sunday. Isn’t F1 being about the best, the best of everything? Why have a tire manufacturer whose tires are so fragile that the rules won’t allow a team to have enough of them to challenge in this case RedBull?? TIME TO POINT FINGERS AT PIRELLI AND DEMAND FOR BETTER TIRES THAT WILL LAST.

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 27th June 2011, 21:17

      Pack it in Ferrari, start building a carbon copy of the RedBull and get it ready for next year.

      Thats is exactly why they are struggling so much this year. No innovative ideas of their own. Instead they wait for the season to start and then just copy the new batch of Red Bull innovations.

      • Cacarella said on 28th June 2011, 0:26

        In fairness to Ferrari, they were the only team to not copy redbulls rear suspension configuration. But I guess next year they’ll need to change the shape of their sidpods to keep the critics happy.

    • Jarred Walmsley said on 27th June 2011, 22:06

      In fairness to Pirelli the brief they were given by both the FIA and the teams was to create tyres that weren’t as long lasting as the bridgestones which could run a full grand prix on a set of softs. So they are doing exactly what they asked them to do, so don’t get angry at them.

      • TED BELL said on 28th June 2011, 2:52

        Yeah you are exactly right, Pirelli have done what was asked of them. I just think its kind of stupid to see a tire manufacturer like Pirelli agree to make the kind of tires they do. Then due to the questionable rules be allowed to provide only enough tires that make some teams have to hold back because there isn’t a proper amount of “donuts” for the whole weekend. It just seems like a weird way to go about it. I suggest to end the restriction and see the results of unlimited amounts of tires.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 28th June 2011, 8:27

      So far off the mark regarding tyres it’s not even funny.

      Pirelli were asked to supply the tyres they delivered, the teams wanted a tyre less durable than the Bridgestones, with a greater difference between the compounds.

      Also, has it not crossed your mind that perhaps the strategy employed with the tyres is part of what makes Formula 1 what it is? A formula, a series of rules and regulations to test the teams as much as possible.

      • TED BELL said on 29th June 2011, 2:58

        What is funny to me is the fact that if the teams knew what they now know about the short comings of the Pirelli tires they would never have agreed to the way the tires are performing. Proof being now some teams remain in the paddock and run only a single last second attempt at pole for fear of not having enough tires for raceday.

        I suggest getting a decent history book about Grand Prix racing and read about Gilles Villenueve and what qualifying tires did to him. The point of Grand Prix racing is to challenge the limits of both man and machine and try to be the fastest. Poor vision of what racing tires should be and how they were used cost this great driver his life.

        Pirelli might be lucky and get away with this ridiculus situation concerning the what their tires have become. I question whether this direction is really best for F1. Maybe no one will be hurt.

        30 years ago another sad story was unfolding all because of the type of tires that the rules makers and teams thought were OK.

        • TED BELL,

          It’s the pathetic plight F1 is in that is the cause for this, Ted. For all the technological prowess it boasts, F1 can’t produce cars that can overtake, can’t generate races that are exciting. That is why the powers that be at F1 resort to stuff like not making tyres last. I find it odd too that while we say F1 is the pinnacle of every conceivable technology, we want tyres that shouldn’t last – because that is the only way F1 can generate some kind of excitement.

          Back in 2003-2006 when Ferrari was more or less dominant, and then Renault, the one thing I looked out for was the tyre poker and how the Michelin-powered and Bridgestone-powered teams fared against each other. At Hungary in 2003 Alonso scored his first win and even lapped Schumacher’s Ferrari thanks to the superiority of Michelin over Bridgestone at that track. But on some other tracks it was Bridgestone that was dominant.

          With limited testing we could have introduced multiple tyre manufacturers. It would have avoided this articificial control tyre madness, and given us something to look forward to considering the unique behaviour of the different tyres at different circuits.

          • Sorry, “Michelin-shod and Bridgestone-shod” rather than “Michelin-powered and Bridgestone-powered.”

            And I don’t mean to say tyres were the only reason the respective teams won, but the tyre characteristic blended with the strong points of the cars.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 28th June 2011, 8:30

      Not a bad result for Ferrari all things considered. It the F150 can’t even catch the RB7 at the start then there really is little hope for anyone outside Red Bull.

  7. Adrian Morse said on 27th June 2011, 19:21

    Both Fernando and Lewis have the tendency to overstate the advantage of the Red Bull, in my opinion. When saying that his car is .8s to 1s slower, and he qualifies within half a second of Vettel, it seems he’s implying that he would be .3s to .5s faster in the same car…

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 27th June 2011, 21:19

      Completely agree. I think they do not want to admit that Vettel is probably as quick as either of them.

      • Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 28th June 2011, 20:42

        I agree as well. I think it is also a mental game they are playing when they do that. Both Alonso and Hamilton are very proud individuals, but they are both pretty cagey racers and will try and eek out any psychological advantage they can.

        I am enjoying seeing how they respond and adapt in a season when they are clearly, and for the first time in their careers being dominated by another driver.

  8. OEL F1 (@oel-f1) said on 27th June 2011, 19:53

    Seems like only Alonso had the new three-plane front wing, which might be a reason to the larger than healthy gap in pace during the race. However, Felipe should still have been able to beat Hamilton, had the pit crew not screwed up yet another pit-stop for him.

    • Cacarella said on 28th June 2011, 0:27

      Felipe chose to run the two plane wing.
      The three plane wing has been around since the beginning of the year.

    • Eric said on 28th June 2011, 3:07

      The Ferrari pit crew haven’t been the sharpest of the grid lately. I remember in the Schumacher days the Ferrari pit crew were the best by far. Now it seems you are more likely to hear about a bungled pit stop as opposed to a good one. I think they need to get them practicing more. To work so hard on car design to gain fractions of a second and then lose it all on a bungled pit stop must be frustrating.

      • Aldo said on 28th June 2011, 14:53

        +1. I remember that during Todt years, Ferrari set a standard for pit crew quality. Now they look like headless chickens.

        • Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 28th June 2011, 20:44

          I wouldn’t quite say they are headless chickens. Yes they couldn’t match the 3.2 stop RedBull gave Vettel, but 3.7 is pretty darn quick. They only screwed up once, and of course it was with Massa. A pity as he was looking really good out there and likely would have taken Hamilton.

  9. Ben Bailey said on 27th June 2011, 20:19

    “Alonso was half a second slower than Vettel in qualifying and ended the race 10.8 seconds behind after 57 laps”
    I love how you point out Fernando isnt too good at maths Keith. .5sec behind in quali when he might have gone faster and average 0.19 sec per lap in the race. Im betting on an Alonso win next race as Adrian doesnt look too happy in this interview does he…
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/formula_one/13919927.stm

    • Ral said on 27th June 2011, 20:38

      What I think is interesting is that he is the first RBR person to come out and say that he thinks Mercedes and Ferrari will be less affected than RBR. Up to now, the party line from RBR seems to have been that they don’t really think it will put them back.

    • Copersucar (@copersucar) said on 27th June 2011, 21:49

      UK only media. Fake your ip, or don’t bother

  10. VXR said on 29th June 2011, 12:46

    Ferrari won’t be too happy with Pirelli’s tyre choice for Silverstone. But it could have been worse.

    http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/92720

    Soft and hard it is. But there was some concern at Ferrari that Pirelli would use the medium and hard tyres.

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