Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Valencia, 2011

Ferrari: Alonso says Red Bull up to a second faster

2011 European GP team reviewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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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Image ?? Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo