2011 F1 driver rankings no.2: Fernando Alonso

2011 F1 season review

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Silverstone, 2011

Alonso celebrates his single win of 2011

Fernando Alonso’s second year with Ferrari was a fascinating case study in what a world class driver can achieve with a sub-par car.

Rare were the occasions when Alonso did not qualify and race the 150??? Italia close to the limit of what appeared to be its potential.

When either of the Red Bulls or McLarens slipped up, Alonso was almost always the first to capitalise.

Last year with (narrowly) the second-quickest car at his disposal, Alonso came within a strategic blunder of winning the world championship. This year the Ferrari was emphatically the third-quickest car out there, so the best he could usually aim for was the podium.

Beat team mate in qualifying 15/19
Beat team mate in race 13/15
Races finished 18/19
Laps spent ahead of team mate 847/1016

He duly brought the car home in the top three in more than half of this year’s races, while his team mate never placed higher than fifth.

A single victory came at Silverstone, and this was rather opportunistic, for it came in the middle of a row over the technical rules which temporarily removed part of Ferrari’s disadvantage. Alonso romped home to win by 16 seconds in slippery conditions.

But on ordinary Sundays Alonso had to make inroads into the top four as best he could. At Catalunya and Monza he achieved this with spectacular starts, squeezing through impossibly narrow gaps to claim the inside line for the first corner and take the lead.

It was a testament to Alonso’s impressive form that he often found himself battling for position with Mark Webber in the much faster Red Bull. They crossed swords several times in 2011, Alonso coming out on top at Valencia and the Nurburgring.

His domination of Felipe Massa was near-total, though this was scarcely a surprise after last year. Massa occasionally pipped him in qualifying but Alonso’s supremacy was never in serious doubt.

Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, Spa-Francorchamps, 2011

Wheel-to-wheel with the world champion in Spa

The Ferrari made its sole appearance on the front row in Canada, in Alonso’s hands. But he produced an oddly indifferent performance, being shadowed by Massa before dropping out in a needless tangle with Jenson Button.

He had a run-in with the other McLaren at Sepang, breaking his front wing. This was especially unfortunate for Alonso as Lewis Hamilton ultimately received a penalty for his over-zealous defending earlier on in their tussle.

Remarkably, Alonso remained in the hunt for the runner-up place in the championship until the final race, thanks to some particularly strong drives in the closing stages of the season. He beat Sebastian Vettel to second place in Japan and when the Red Bull driver failed to finish in Abu Dhabi, Alonso pressed Hamilton hard for the win.

Alonso only slipped to fourth in the standings when Mark Webber scored an improbable win in the final round.

Nonetheless Alonso ended up just 13 points shy of second-placed Button. He deserves the lion’s share of the credit for that achievement having seldom left a point on the table all season long.

Who do you think was the best F1 driver of 2011? Cast your vote here

F1 Fanatics on Fernando Alonso

The only driver to consistently squeeze so much out of their car aside from Vettel, often beating the faster Mclarens and Mark Webber to the podium.
David A

Pushed as hard as he possibly can and looked like he treated every lap as a qualifying lap. All he needed is a better car to battle for the WDC.
Dpod

Start, Barcelona, 2011

Alonso snatched the lead in spectacular fashion at home

I also think this was the best Alonso has ever driven. The 150??? Italia isn?t anywhere as good as the F10 of last year, yet he scored more points. He only had one win, but most of his wins last year were inherited after Vettel had to retire or Massa moved over.
Adam Tate

Always got the most out of his car. Made excellent starts, qualified consistently well, made some beautiful overtakes and gave Red Bull and McLaren something to worry about on occasions when Ferrari didn?t look at all competitive.

His win at Silverstone was no doubt aided by the rule changes, but that shouldn?t detract from what was a fantastic drive.
Dan Thorn

Fernando Alonso 2011 form guide

2011 F1 season review

Browse all 2011 F1 season review articles

Images ?? Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo

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91 comments on 2011 F1 driver rankings no.2: Fernando Alonso

  1. In my personal rankings I had Alonso third and Button second after quite a bit of debate. However on reflection I think I will change that round so Alonso is second.

    Both Button and Alonso were impressive in the races but Alonso also performed well in qualifying and some of those starts he managed were amazing.

  2. MGriffin90 (@mgriffin90) said on 16th December 2011, 18:25

    Always found the whole “Keith, you’re wrong!” thing a bit odd. He’s stating his opinion, not stating facts. I personally think Button was the second best this year, but I respect what Keith says because it is his opinion.

    I think a few people need to realise that…

  3. Leftie (@leftie) said on 16th December 2011, 18:28

    Never was an Alonso fan, but i’m deeply impressed by his last two seasons. In most cases he puts the car right on the edge of it’s potential, he’s deadly consistent on this edge and almost never puts a foot wrong. Very reminiscent of Schumacher performances in the beginning of last decade, isn’t it?
    The only driver who “outschumachered schumacher” as said by great Murray Walker.
    And 2010\2011 seasons were another proof that he’s a terrifying opponent for any driver on the grid at the moment, without a doubt.
    Well done, Fernando.

  4. ferrari4life said on 16th December 2011, 18:45

    For those that dont agree with this article, you dont have to agree. Alonso ended up 2nd bec if you put any of the top drivers in that ferrari, they wouldnt have been able to achieve any more than alonso did. Alonso realistically put himself in a position to win 3-4 times this year, one of which was canada which ended up with a “racing incident” and two where the car let him down. Not taking anything away from button he had wins that were equally amazing. I do believe also that Alonso can get more than 3 wins with the 2011 mclaren. His start at monza was spectacular, a move that you would have a way better chance of pulling off on a video game, let alone on the grass in real life. You may like him or you may not, but nothing you can say can take away what he was able to do with an inferior car. And one more point, if i may. Much as some fans might dislike some drivers, without alonso, button, michael, and maybe one or two other drivers, f1 wouldnt be worth watching. at least in my opinion.

  5. Mariano (@mariano) said on 16th December 2011, 21:11

    I’m a big fan of both Alonso and Button. Anyway, I think Fernando deserves the 2nd place in the rank. He has matured a lot and I’m glad about the way he behaves now both in and off the track.

  6. stephen west (@0050stephen) said on 16th December 2011, 23:34

    Alonso is a determined racer but not deserving of a # 2 ranking. The British press constantly compencate for the the likes of a Alonso/Senna, and when they underperform it’s usually the car fault. When with McLaren Alonso claimed his technical powers gave the car an additional .6 seconds / lap, he had two years to do that while with Ferrari. . No one wins titles in a bad car, ask Senna why he had the burning desire to drive for Team Willie in 1994? Button is more the number # 2 driver for the 2011 season.

  7. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 16th December 2011, 23:59

    As I said in the article about Button, I would have swapped him and Alonso round. There really is very little in it though. I just think Button’s race craft and style were absolutely on form this season. Unfortunately Alonso was never really in that position, but it would be unfair of me to deny Button that recognition just because Alonso didn’t get to showcase it as much.

    That said, this was a good year for Alonso. He continues to look completely at home with Ferrari and it is fantastic seeing him so proud of the team he is in. I remember back towards the beginning of the season, he would come out fighting on the Wednesday or Thursday with some positive remarks for his team and the weekend ahead. I guess that kind of died with any hope of Ferrari turning the F150 (sorry, Ford) around but nevertheless, I loved Alonso’s pre-weekend insight.

    The only time we really saw any weakness was in Korea when he remarked ‘I give up’. I was pretty stunned. It almost seemed like a needless dig at his team for allowing Massa to hold him up but given how Massa’s season was going, I wanted to see him fight too.

    A pleasure to watch, particularly those race starts.

    From a personal point of view, he left me with a memory I will treasure for years to come. He took first place from Vettel, if only briefly, at Monza. I was with the Tifosi at the exit of Parabolica and seeing them go as wild as they did really made me smile. Of course that was followed by my over-take of the year. All in all, a good 5 minutes! Thanks, Fernando.

  8. DORAEMON said on 17th December 2011, 17:11

    I know people in UK love JB and always rate him higher than what he really is. Only Brit overestimate JB. Alonso was much better than JB this year. I think everyone in the world except for Brit might agree with it.

  9. Thecollaroyboys (@thecollaroyboys) said on 17th December 2011, 20:52

    “Webber scored an improbable win in the last round”

    We are constantly told that he’s got the fastest car on the grid and what a duffus he is for not getting more wins. Surely his win should have been “probable”. Make up your minds.

  10. smudgersmith1 (@smudgersmith1) said on 18th December 2011, 16:44

    Sorry JB shaved it, he helped to develop a car that enabled him to beat Alonso , no doubt

  11. COME ON KUBICA said on 25th December 2011, 3:46

    No alonso fan but he wasn’t to blame in canade, jenson button took him out simple as that. Not a fan of hamilton at all but similar situations hamilton got in resulted in penalties, jenson should of really got one for that. Such a lucky race.

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