Alonso defends decision not to change broken wing

2013 Malaysian Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Sepang, 2013Fernando Alonso defended the decision not to change his damaged front wing which led to his retirement from the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Alonso broke his front wing on the first lap of the race by hitting Sebastian Vettel’s car: “We were very unlucky,” he said. “After making a good start, I touched with Vettel at the second corner. It was a surprise to find him there, almost stopped and I don?t know what speed he was doing.”

He admitted the decision not to change the front wing was taken as he and the team wanted to wait until the track had begun to dry and he could use the pit stop to change to slick tyres as well:

“Despite the fact the car was damaged, it didn?t seem to be too bad and, together with the team, we decided to keep going, because if we?d stopped immediately and then again on lap three or four to fit dry tyres, we would have dropped too far back and definitely lost the chance to finish up the front.”

But the wing failed almost immediately after he passed the pit entrance, sending him skidding into a gravel trap. “It?s easy to criticise this decision, but at the time it seemed like the right one,” said Alonso.

“It was certainly a shame, because here we could have fought with the Red Bulls, but circumstances didn?t help and apart from the wisdom of the decisions we took, bad luck really played its part, when you think how many off-track excursions there were in Australia without any consequence and even here when the cars first went out on track.

“Now we are already focusing on the coming races in China and Bahrain, where we hope to do better than last year, so that we arrive in Europe with as many points as possible.”

Team mate Felipe Massa was held up behind Alonso in the first corners and finished fifth. Team principal Stefano Domenicali said the result left a “bitter taste” after his cars lined up second and third on the grid.

2013 Malaysian Grand Prix

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104 comments on Alonso defends decision not to change broken wing

  1. mark p said on 24th March 2013, 17:17

    If the wing came straight off the would pit, if it was raining they would pit if track was dry and race started dry they would pit. Conditons were changing they took the gamble it failed. If none of ths happened he may have seperated vet and web from what happened. in the long run that webber and vettel have this argument may be more advantageous down the line….if is f1 spelt backwards.

  2. Ben (@scuderia29) said on 24th March 2013, 17:42

    Hindsight is a wonderful thing….

    at the time i knew it was risky but i could see why they kept him out, his speed wasnt actually that bad and was still able to fight with webber, had they pitted him then…and then again a few laps later he would have been so far behind that its very doubtful he would of made it to the points. Massa’s race pace want amazing (he was running a slightly different strategy to the car around him though) would have been interesting to see if Alonso would have had the pace to fight the red bulls, we’ll see in china!

    • John H (@john-h) said on 24th March 2013, 18:11

      We all know that the front wing going under the car is one of the most dangerous situations in F1. Forget optimal strategy, Ferrari should have got him in on safety grounds alone IMHO, not least because he was endangering other drivers.

      • @john-h – exactly. Brundle said on the commentary that front wing failures are behind only brake failures and suspension failures I believe (although I need backed up on the latter) in the “I’ve just **** my pants” scale!

        • Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 25th March 2013, 9:01

          i agree with all of what you said, imagine at the time of the failure Mark Webber was in front of him !!!! thanks heaven he wasn’t

  3. Hindsight is a wonderful thing….

    The second he passed the pit entrance I was wondering if I could recall a dumber decision in Formula 1. I couldn’t come up with any before he went skating and I can still only think of Briatore’s decision to crash Piquet.

    No hindsight here, it was terrible, terrible idea from the word go! Had it been the final point needed in the championship sure, but to give away points like this? Absolutely crazy!

    • Ben (@scuderia29) said on 24th March 2013, 19:11

      @poul were points possible had he pitted though? he would have been at the back…and a long way behind even the guy running in 21st, a few laps later he would have had to pit again for slicks…im really not sure he could have come through to finish in the points

      • Mike Dee (@mike-dee) said on 24th March 2013, 20:45

        I am almost certain he would have scored some points. Five retirements plus the inevitable overtakes of the Marussias and Caterhams alone would have put him 13th.

    • SilverArrow said on 25th March 2013, 19:55

      @poul – Absolutely agree. I was thinking the exact same. As a Ferrari fan seeing him carry on really hurt.

  4. I think he’s one of the finest drivers on the grid, but this is a bizarre thing to say. How can you defend that? It’s incredibly dangerous.

  5. magon4 (@magon4) said on 24th March 2013, 19:48

    What about blaming Vettel for his mistake that caused the problem in the first place?

  6. eink (@eink) said on 24th March 2013, 21:14

    Vettel was hard and will see more Senna-Prost this year having similar cars. I think Alonso learnt that today. Not to stop was dangerous. Ferrari should be told.

  7. Alonso’s point is that the team took the risk of not scoring 1-2 (max 4 points) and instead trying to fight for podium in the difficult situation they were put in. After all at the time the call had to be made, Alonso was holding his second place with the broken wing for a whole lap. So he probably lost 2 points because of this decision but the bigger deal is that he lost 15-25 points because of a stupid mistake in the wet and some bad luck. But that’s it, he’s not the only title contender who will face trouble this season.

  8. Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 25th March 2013, 9:22

    Ferrari should get a penalty for this nonsense. Utterly ridiculous that they let him drive on with a wing dragging on the floor.

    To even think of defending this ridiculousnus makes it even worse. Webber almost got collected by this act of sheer stupidity and arrogance. What if Webber had been slightly further ahead and Alonso had T-boned him?

    If they don’t have the brains (or too much arrogance to allow them to think) then FIA should do it for them. They were right in banning Renault for letting the car go away with the wheelnuts on poorly. Not just by accident, but as a part of their pit stop routine. They accepted the possibility of a wheel not being locked.

    The decisision to drive with an illegal car should be punishe much more severely. As is they tend to keep away with this nonsense.

    The only time I remember someone getting penalised was when Vettel drove on after ramming Kubica. His wheel as off and he drove on for an extra lap on 3 wheels behind the safety car.

  9. James T said on 25th March 2013, 13:35

    It’s funny that Ferrari should say this now, because I remember hearing it live on radio 5 live yesterday (watching RTL for the video), and shortly after the crash they cut to Jennie Gow, who said:

    “James it was fascinating, as the car of Fernando Alonso went past the pit entry and decided not to come in, I saw one of his mechanics lift his arms on both sides, put them back down as if to say ‘why didn’t he come in?’ It was very Italian, it was a brilliant moment…”

    Check it out here:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01rfx55
    at 23:40

    So not everyone at Ferrari agreed with it.

    In my opinion, staying out was not an option. I was extremely surprised to see him go past the pit entry and start a new lap. I wasn’t very surprised to see him crash out seconds later.

    • From an engineering point of of view I will gladly upgrade your opinion to a fact. With one out of two fixtures entirely broken the width of the total fixtures decreased from maybe 30 cm to around 2 cm increasing the force on fixture two by a factor 15…. easily. Now add that it was actually moving way more than the design allows….

      Even without applying the risk of someone else hitting the thing at 300 + km/h the decision was nothing short of idiotic. For someone existing in the same physical world as the rest of us there is simply no excuse. That’s what the mechanic displayed.

  10. 23kennyboy23 said on 25th March 2013, 14:05

    I think he would have gotten max 5 points. A calculated risk I’d say. That said, I’m surprised he was even allowed to stay out on safety grounds/

  11. kimithechamp (@kimithechamp) said on 25th March 2013, 18:01

    If it were another team, any other team, the FIA would have handed a penalty to them. Terribly unsafe to drive around with that much of your car so close to falling off at any moment. Then it happens right in front of the front runners spreading sharp bits everywhere in the breaking zone going into turn 1. What a royal “crap” job from the whole lot. Damn good thing it was a wing and nothing with a little more weight (Massa…)

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 25th March 2013, 20:59

      @kimithechamp Given your username I’d’ve thought you’d remember McLaren doing essentially the same thing with Kimi Raikkonen at the Nurburgring in 2005 and not getting punished.

      If the stewards want a driver to pit because of a potentially dangerous fault on their car, they use the black and orange flag. As was done with Robert Kubica at Monza in 2009 when he had a broken front wing on his BMW.

      In this case, there simply wasn’t time. There was maybe 20 seconds between Alonso passing the pit lane entrance and crashing out of the race.

      • Keith, please explain how you can compare a flat spot with a heavy load bearing wing missing some 93% of it’s integrity?

        Did McLaren take it too far at Nurburgring? Absolutely, but it was a much slower progressing issue that took 20 laps to evolve of which most were not “certain disaster” unlike this.

        • kimithechamp (@kimithechamp) said on 25th March 2013, 21:56

          What Poul said.
          Additionally, my stance would be, why did the FIA not direct the stewards to force Ferrari to pit the car? Obviously the wing was an issue LONG before Alonso passed the pit lane entry. How many laps does the FIA need in order to figure out the wing is CLEARLY a danger? He was already driving nearly on top of it around turn 5 I think (load of the car on the right hand side allowing the wing to slide further under the left tire) sparking like wild… only a few ways to get sparks like that and I’d think with their expertise the FIA, Ferrari, and Alonso would all have a pretty good idea what’s going on.
          Although the differences in the situations are well highlighted by Poul, I’d also point out the Massa indecent happened well after the 05 Kimi one you reference, and I’d think Massa’s has certainly highlighted the importance of the rules for unsafe cars on track.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 26th March 2013, 6:51

            Its likely they did not get any chance to do that @kimithechamp. They would have waited for Alonso to pit after that first lap, as without doubt millions of watchers expected to see.
            Only he did not pit, and about 20 seconds later it would become an academical question.

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