Ferrari: Alonso “gives up” on pursuit of Button

2011 Korean GP team review

Alonso drove a brilliant final stint before telling his team he’d “given up” trying to pass Button.

Fernando Alonso Felipe Massa
Qualifying position 6 5
Qualifying time comparison (Q3) 1’36.980 (+0.149) 1’36.831
Race position 5 6
Laps 55/55 55/55
Pit stops 2 2

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
Fernando Alonso 111.557 106.117 105.771 105.566 106.272 105.902 105.513 105.439 105.542 105.716 105.712 106.161 106.643 108.627 113.428 127.159 130.42 127.017 166.579 153.045 104.687 104.158 103.836 103.765 104.015 104.135 103.783 103.166 102.802 102.723 102.807 102.274 102.205 102.345 101.894 101.644 107.079 118.716 100.912 100.623 100.547 100.622 100.635 100.689 101.005 100.955 100.664 100.6 100.947 100.788 100.674 101.009 101.193 100.764 100.836
Felipe Massa 110.795 106.166 105.707 105.553 106.094 105.868 105.657 105.666 105.263 105.754 105.741 106.267 106.474 111.397 124.957 107.478 135.296 127.659 166.61 153.348 104.58 104.108 103.67 103.977 104.042 104.038 103.39 102.739 102.461 102.714 102.533 102.526 102.468 106.31 121.973 102.662 101.501 101.867 101.631 101.554 101.338 101.464 101.161 101.128 101.327 101.414 101.166 100.984 100.672 100.731 100.541 101.109 101.382 102.286 101.93

Fernando Alonso

Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Korea, 2011

Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Korea, 2011

Start tyre Super soft
Pit stop 1 Soft 20.978s
Pit stop 2 Soft 20.639s

Two laps from the end of the race Alonso was heard telling his team “I give up” – a remark that invited various interpretations.

Had he literally given up? Doubtful. Was he trying to lull Jenson Button ahead into a false sense of security? That seems even less likely.

Was he sending a message to his team about how much time he’d lost behind Massa earlier in the race? That sounds more credible, particularly given his words after the race:

“I did 20 laps, qualifying laps, to catch the group in front. When I arrived there I had a little moment close to the wall in the last corner.

“I asked the team how many laps were left, they said two. And I said, ‘with two, I cannot do it guys’ so we arrived a little bit too late into the battle.”

Alonso had been in pursuit of the leading quartet after being released from behind Massa on lap 34. He set three quick laps on worn tyres to come out comfortably ahead of his team mate.

From then on he drove a classic Alonso stint of mesmerising consistency – just look at his run from lap 39 to 51 in the graph above.

Had he not spent the first half of the race behind his team mate a better result might have been in the offing. But he qualified behind Massa – for the fourth time in the last six races – after failing to improve on his last run in Q3:

“We were losing too much time in the first sector, where we lacked top speed. On my last run, I immediately lost a few tenths at the first corner and after that, I could not make up the time, so I decided not to complete the lap.”

He passed Button at the start but lost a lot of ground at his first pit stop. He came out just as Michael Schumacher was passing by and had to slow to avoid the Mercedes.

Things could have been even worse for Alonso as Vitaly Petrov was shaping up to pass him on the next lap. Fortunately for the Ferrari driver, Petrov braked too late and slammed into Schumacher, removing the pair of them from the race.

Alonso, who had also braked too late as he and the Renault headed in to turn three side-by-side, narrowly avoided being hit by Petrov himself.

Fernando Alonso 2011 form guide

Felipe Massa

Start tyre Super soft
Pit stop 1 Soft 23.642s
Pit stop 2 Soft 21.08s

An impressive piece of late-braking by Massa at turn three briefly got him into third place on the first lap.

Mark Webber muscled past him two corners later, leaving the Ferrari driver in fourth.

Like his team mate, the first pit stop did not go according to plan for Massa. Several other drivers made for the pits at the same time and Massa had to be held in his pit box as they came by, dropping him behind Button and Rosberg.

Massa took Rosberg on lap 27 but but slipped back to fifth when Alonso stayed out longer than him in their second stint.

Felipe Massa 2011 form guide

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51 comments on Ferrari: Alonso “gives up” on pursuit of Button

  1. Eddie (@wackyracer) said on 18th October 2011, 11:09

    Ferrari is kept Massa longer in the pits, Alonso gets out of the pit for 20 seconds on the two stops and Massa got out of the first pit for 23 sec and in the second 21 sec Q _ Q

  2. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 18th October 2011, 13:35

    However you read into Alonso’s comments he still couldn’t get past Massa. Whether or not he should be able to get round Massa as easily as he would like is another thing. You can argue that perhaps Ferrari favour Alonso more, who can blame them, but i’m sure that come next year they would be keen to have a stronger, more resilient Massa in order to give them a chance at the Constructor’s championship.

  3. Alain (@paganbasque) said on 18th October 2011, 14:45

    Massa is recovering his pace which is wonderful, now Alonso will have to fight harder against the “true” Massa. This is going to be interesting. :)

  4. scuderia_fan85 (@scuderia_fan85) said on 18th October 2011, 16:15

    i hope Ferrari have the fastest car next year and we see the same Massa, but being even more competitive and same goes for Alonso; the best driver on the grid now

  5. vho (@) said on 18th October 2011, 16:43

    Alonso may be referring to giving up on achieving a podium spot with only two laps to go, rather than just overtaking Jenson.

  6. After threatening Ron Dennis to go public with his knowledge of Ferrari secrets, is there any doubt Ron told him to get out? I still think Ron screwed the pooch in his handling of Lewis and Fernando and allowing the situation to devolve into nearly total mayhem. His “equal treatment” policy ended exactly as he planned, two drivers tied for second place!

    As far as Massa holding him up, maybe he should have called McLaren and demanded Button move over for him as well?

  7. RumFRESH (@rumfresh) said on 18th October 2011, 19:00

    I still can’t believe the rate at which he was catching Button. What a driver.

  8. Oliver said on 18th October 2011, 20:26

    In a way Ron’s policy of equal opportunity was responsible for the sour relationship. But what must have got to Alonso was the fact that a not so common rookie driver was able to keep up and some time out perform him, rattled him. Coupled with the demoralising press, and a few whispers from Briatore, he quickly lost all form of rational thinking.

    It would have been easy for Ron to have made Hamilton the number 2 driver. But seeing that he being black and plus the amount of racism he would have suffered rising through the ranks in a mainly white only sport, he probably feared he may have forever knocked out Hamilton’s confidence.
    I mean you can see how Withmarsh always uses every opportunity claim that Button is blessed with with unbelievable mental ability, implying that Hamilton isn’t, despite the fact that we all hear on the radio when they tell Button “pit to overtake”.

    • uan (@uan) said on 19th October 2011, 16:59

      I don’t think Whitmarsh is trying to imply Hamilton doesn’t have unbelievable mental ability — he’s got to find a way to praise Jenson for something, because Jenson definitely isn’t blessed with Lewis’s unbelievable raw speed. Whitmarsh’s statement basically feeds everyone’s ego (Jenson, “yeah, I’m not as fast, but I’m smarter”; Lewis, “only slow people need to be “race smart”, I’m the fastest guy out there”). So it’s a win-win to keep two WDCs happy.

      • Lol… well, i don’t know if it is what it intended by Whitmarsh. However, your line of thought does go along nicely. Then again, Button has actually been the better of the two, and unquestionably so.

        Button had an uphill climb when he did arrive at McLaren, as before he came the team had booted out a WDC to make room for Hamilton and that speaks volumes about intent at McLaren. Button needed a competitive car and went to McLaren as a seat was available, Ferrari and Red Bull were both tied up with 2 drivers each already. Button hinted at “the climb” at McLaren in an interview to F1Racing in as many words, while being as politically correct about it as he ever could be. This doesn’t take away any from the fact that he arrived there not exactly as an equal driver. His WDC did help push a little weight around in order to get some attention in the team, but all that time McLaren had a clear number 1 and number 2, and if you think it was otherwise, i want what makes one think of equal drivers at McCrack.

        • uan (@uan) said on 20th October 2011, 23:54

          I totally agree that Lewis was (maybe not “is” anymore) the number 1 driver and JB was second. That Button has been the better of the two, especially this year, just proves the point that he is mentally the better driver. Then again, that Lewis is still out pacing him in qualifying shows that Lewis is faster.

          I’ve heard some arguments that Button gives more detailed feedback about car set up and what he needs, while Lewis is more laissez-faire on set up so that ultimately the car design (in 2012 and beyond) will end up being more tailored to Button’s strengths, which would bode well for Button’s continued success within the team.

          • vho (@) said on 27th October 2011, 16:20

            I’ve heard some arguments that Button gives more detailed feedback about car set up and what he needs, while Lewis is more laissez-faire on set up so that ultimately the car design (in 2012 and beyond) will end up being more tailored to Button’s strengths, which would bode well for Button’s continued success within the team.

            If Lewis wants to be as successful as Schumi then he’d better pick up these qualities.

            It’s also led me to think whether McLaren’s gamble on Lewis as no.1 since 2008 has contributed to the lack of performance from McLaren due to his lack of feedback. Look at Schumi at Ferrari – he turned the team around by understanding what he wanted and provided the team with the level of feedback to continually improve the car. If Vettel has these traits (and RB retain Newey) they I can see several years of domination if no other team can replicate the level of driver/team communication.

  9. ob1kenobi.23 (@ob1kenobi23) said on 18th October 2011, 21:50

    If it was’nt his team mate he was behind, I wonder would he have been more aggressive. He had Felipe on the back foot a couple of times but did’nt seem to push it
    Although he was was aggressive enough with Felipe at Spa.
    I wish they would do that pitlane vote to decide the best driver on a yearly basis. Would be interesting.

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