Ferrari: Alonso edges Vettel for second

2011 Japanese GP team review

Alonso was on top form as he held off Vettel for second while Massa had another run-in with Hamilton.

Fernando Alonso Felipe Massa
Qualifying position 5 4
Qualifying time comparison (Q3) 1’30.886 (+0.082) 1’30.804
Race position 2 7
Laps 53/53 53/53
Pit stops 3 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
Fernando Alonso 104.201 101.568 100.96 100.661 100.326 100.436 100.732 101.4 100.339 102.254 117.115 99.735 99.927 99.892 99.649 99.791 99.596 99.608 99.939 99.634 101.518 116.64 98.807 109.051 137.918 147.789 153.389 98.863 98.59 98.575 98.136 98.056 98.058 98.242 97.773 98.039 99.683 114.239 97.575 98.088 98.62 98.117 97.4 98.035 98.312 97.027 97.442 97.2 96.911 96.682 96.85 97.062 98.137
Felipe Massa 103.669 101.29 101.021 100.637 100.643 101.917 100.901 101.348 101.402 101.334 103.299 116.802 99.191 99.55 99.795 99.61 99.776 100.351 100.575 100.881 102.003 101.916 116.455 110.853 130.206 146.47 152.791 99.425 98.166 98.311 98.661 98.36 98.554 98.999 98.357 100.61 117.709 99.477 99.481 99.601 100.076 98.444 98 98.536 98.733 98.411 98.577 98.463 99.459 97.8 98.313 98.332 98.126

Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, Suzuka, 2011

Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, Suzuka, 2011

Start tyre Soft
Pit stop 1 Soft 21.147s
Pit stop 2 Soft 21.319s
Pit stop 3 Medium 20.731s

“I seem to have a season ticket for fifth place this year,” said Alonso after qualifying there for the seventh time this year. Unusually, one of the four cars in front of him was that of his team mate, for only the third time in 2011.

Alonso ran behind Massa at the start but passed him at turn one using DRS at the start of lap six.

As usual the 150??? Italia made best use of its tyres towards the end of a stint, which brought Alonso within range of the leaders.

He used that trait to stay out four laps longer than Sebastian Vettel at the end of his third stint, postponing his switch to medium tyres. That allowed him to come out of the pits in front of the Red Bull driver.

He came under considerable pressure from Vettel but aside from moving off-line on the approach to turn one, had to do little to defend his position.

Towards the end of the race Alonso also closed on leader Jenson Button, but crossed the finishing line a second behind the McLaren.

Alonso said: “With Sebastian it was difficult to keep him behind as at that part of the race he was quicker than us. I tried to defend the position in braking for the last corners and into the first corner as well, where the DRS was active.

“After we had done this job we saw we were catching a little bit Jenson, so we tried in the last couple of laps but, as we saw later on, Jenson was taking care about tyres, about his car, so it was impossible to fight for victory this time.”

Fernando Alonso 2011 form guide

Felipe Massa

Start tyre Soft
Pit stop 1 Soft 21.313s
Pit stop 2 Soft 21.214s
Pit stop 3 Medium 21.1s

Massa made no attempt to defend him place from Alonso at the start of the race, prompting claims he’d been told to let Alonso pass, which Ferrari were quick to refute.

Massa caught the struggling Lewis Hamilton during his second stint and attempted to pass him on the outside at the chicane on lap 21. Hamilton, who later claimed not to have seen Massa, squeezed him hard and knocked part of the front wing off the Ferrari.

Hamilton pitted at the end of the lap and Massa responded the next time by, picking up a place from the McLaren while simultaneously losing one to Mark Webber.

After both had switched to medium tyres Hamilton came back at Massa, passing him in the DRS zone on lap 38. Unlike with his team mate Massa made an attempt to defend his position but the result was the same.

The pair were then held up behind Nico Rosberg, which allowed Michael Schumacher to get out of the pits ahead of the Ferrari driver, pushing Massa down to seventh.

Massa fumed over Hamilton’s driving after the race – the pair have collided several times this year and twice in the last two races: “My car was definitely damaged by [the contact].

“When I looked at it after the race, I saw there was a bit of the front wing end plate missing and the floor was not on properly on the left hand side and I could feel it in the way my car was behaving.

“I think the footage speaks for itself: he was struggling with his tyres and I had almost come alongside him and for no reason, he moved over and hit me. I let you be the judge… It?s pointless for me to say any more about it.”

Felipe Massa 2011 form guide

2011 Japanese Grand Prix

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47 comments on Ferrari: Alonso edges Vettel for second

  1. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 11th October 2011, 13:32

    Good result for Alonso, great to see him on the podium again. The pass between Alonso and Massa did confuse me, not sure what’s going on there to be honest.

    I almost wanted a penalty for Hamilton, just for the drama :D

  2. Rod (@rodgr) said on 11th October 2011, 19:19

    For those Massa haters, maybe you want back one of those great replacements Ferrari brought in during Massa’s recovery from his accident.

  3. Atticus (@atticus-2) said on 11th October 2011, 22:09

    One short note about Massa.

    I agree with those who said he lost his edge after Hungary 2009. It’s pointless bringing up examples of drivers not losing theirs (Schumacher, Silverstone 1999; Hakkinen, Adelaide 1995), because each driver reacts in a different way. One loses it (Panis, Montreal 1997; and I don’t agree with you in the case of Moss), one doesn’t. Massa did.

    As for firing him, I have an argument for him staying which could be strange at first.

    What if Fernando Alonso’s out-of-this-world performances are at least partly down to him having a ‘second driver’!?

    I mean, look at it, he was excellent in the Minardi, where he had virtually no opposition from his teammate (some Yoong), he excelled at Renault only after Trulli ‘somehow’ lost his way halfway through 2004 – remember how Alonso crashed out in Monaco spectacularly, when he had a chance of winning; only Trulli was ahead of the two Renaults. Pressure. And how he turned the tides in his favor – Trulli went asleep at the last-but-one corner in Magny-Cours, handing his podium finish to Barrichello.

    He kept Fisichella under total control in 2005-06.

    …And again cracked under pressure from a teammate of his calibre, a certain newcomer, rookie Lewis Hamilton while crushing out of the Japanese GP at Fuji, while in command. Pressure again.

    I think Ferrari can guarantee Alonso’s unearthly performances exactly with having Massa alongside him. Alonso just needs this preference and responsibility which is a must in this commanding role. It makes him able to extract this level of performance from him.

    Which is truly fantastic. I would be disappointed to see him lose out Jenson to 2nd place in Keith’s end-of-the-year 2011 driver rankings.

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