2013 F1 season driver rankings #2: Fernando Alonso

2013 F1 season review

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Hungaroring, 2013

The high point of Fernando Alonso’s season came at his home race. An attacking first lap put him on course to score a popular win at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Following that race, the fifth grand prix of the season, he had scored two victories and finished ahead of Sebastian Vettel on one other occasion. At the time it seemed Ferrari’s star driver had a genuine chance of a third world title.

But it wasn’t the case – that May victory was the last of his 2013 campaign, which he ended as runner-up in the drivers’ championship for the third time in four years. That obviously wasn’t his goal but it’s an outcome which reflects very well on his performance in a year when Mercedes and Lotus drivers could have beaten him to the runner-up spot.

Alonso headed this list last year after almost snatching the title despite having started the year with a car that was some way off the pace.

Beat team mate in qualifying 10/18
Beat team mate in race 15/16
Races finished 18/19
Laps spent ahead of team mate 799/968

It was always going to be a tall order for him to replicate that kind of performance. In particular, it was a surprise to see him lose out to Massa in qualifying as often as he did.

But while Alonso usually didn’t command attention on Saturday he invariably came into consideration on race day. He rose from ninth on the grid in Belgium to finish second, and repeated the result in Italy.

On rare occasions starting in the pack caught Alonso out. First-lap damage in Malaysia and India ruined both races – these were the only occasions he failed to score. However at Sepang the risky decision to drive past the pits with a broken front wing turned a damage limitation exercise into a written-off weekend.

The run of races from Belgium, Italy and Singapore typified Alonso’s season. Starting no better than fifth he finished second behind Vettel in all three, able to wring enough from the Ferrari to be decisively ‘best of the rest’ but unable to trouble Vettel.

He had second in the championship locked up before the final race despite his points-scoring rate dipping towards the end of the season as Ferrari seemed to fall further from the pace. Sixth on grid in America was a real triumph under the circumstances, and Alonso showed he’d lost none of his mettle by holding off Nico Hulkenberg on the final lap.

Wet qualifying in Brazil gave Alonso the chance to put the Ferrari higher on the grid than it belonged and he delivered with third place, and said he would have been higher on the grid but for a mistake. In the race he had to give best to the Red Bulls but fought Mark Webber all the way.

The small mistakes Alonso made in 2013 accounted for a tiny fraction of the difference between him and Vettel in the final standings. No one should be in any doubt he is ready to finally take that third world championship when he has a car capable of doing so.

Fernando Alonso 2013 form guide

How the rankings are produced

This is a ranking of how drivers have performed in the 2013 season, irrespective of their form in previous years. Among the data referred to in producing the rankings are notes on each driver’s performance at each race weekend, compiled data on car performance, direct comparisons between team mates and each driver’s form guide.

Over to you

How highly do you rate the drivers who’ve appeared so far in the rankings? Give your views on them in the comments.

You can also vote for your driver of the year here:

Image ?? Ferrari/Ercole Colombo

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39 comments on 2013 F1 season driver rankings #2: Fernando Alonso

  1. Patrick (@paeschli) said on 17th December 2013, 10:42

    “Alonso headed this list last year after almost snatching the title despite having started the year with a car that was some way off the pace.”
    I hate reading things like this, having the third best car in 2012 isn’t the same as having a car “way off the pace” …

    • Karthikeyan (@ridiculous) said on 17th December 2013, 10:46

      Also, that car didn’t come second in WCC

    • evered7 (@evered7) said on 17th December 2013, 10:50

      Looks like somebody missed the start of 2012 and the first few races until the Mugello test.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 17th December 2013, 10:51

      @paeschli As the quote you’ve selected clearly shows I did not say Alonso had a car that was “way off the pace” throughout 2012, only at the beginning of the season, something which is supported by the data.

      • Patrick (@paeschli) said on 17th December 2013, 10:57

        Yep sorry, I didn’t read it thoroughly. Sorry …

      • @keithcollantine you should actually amend that to say “way off the pace EXCEPT in the wet, where it was the car to have” Such as Malaysia and Silverstone.

        And the Ferrari car and team was definitely that one to have in terms of the combination of reliability and execution. For instance, in Valencia, it didn’t hurt to jump Hamilton in the pits under the SC because of McLaren’s botched pit stop (for sure Alonso wasn’t going to pass Hamilton on the restart), and then for Vettel to DNF due to an alternator failure.

    • Rockie said on 17th December 2013, 10:53

      Oh well he’s going the way of Hamilton where people refer to his 2007 season every time with Alonso it would be his 2012 season next year would be 8 years since he last won the championship!
      Next year would be a defining year for him as it would be win or bust.

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 17th December 2013, 12:45

      having the third best car in 2012 isn’t the same as having a car “way off the pace”

      It was 1.4 seconds off the quali pace of the red Bulls and 1 sec off the race pace.

      If that isn’t way off the pace…. then I guess Caterham and Marrussia are the only cars off the pace

      • Eric (@) said on 17th December 2013, 23:21

        @todfod

        That’s incorrect.

        It was 1.4 seconds off the quali pace of the McLarens. The Red Bulls were 0.6 seconds off that pace as well so the Ferrari was ‘only’ 0.8 seconds slower than the Red Bull.
        In terms of race pace they were all somewhat closer together but for single lap performance the McLaren was the car to have for most of the season.

    • WilliamB (@william-brierty) said on 17th December 2013, 13:58

      @paeschli – Yeah, because in terms of average deficit to pole position it was the fourth fastest car, if you look at last year’s car data. And even then, the laptime gains over the season were mostly confined to the findings of the Mugello test, a test that also improved Ferrari’s tyre management allowing then a strong mid-season. Ferrari’s season was book-ended by poor pace, with McLaren and Red Bull rather out-sprinting Ferrari’s lethargic development. The Spanish update package gave Ferrari a car closer to the pack, but by the summer break they’d fallen behind again. The F2012 was a rather poor car, and for that reason I don’t think you can trivialize what was a completely spell-bounding season from Alonso; a season I rate as the finest season performance for many years,

  2. caci99 (@caci99) said on 17th December 2013, 10:47

    No one should be in any doubt he is ready to finally take that third world championship when he has a car capable of doing so.

    I think that is what every body wants to see come 2014. Lets see these top guys fighting each other on somehow equal equipment. Not for the sake of who is better, but for the fun of challenge.

  3. TMF (@tmf42) said on 17th December 2013, 12:05

    he didn’t have the consistency this year but his brilliance was visible throughout the season. I hope we see a Ferrari, RB show-down next year. The ALO/VET rivalry is just epic to watch.

  4. Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 17th December 2013, 12:05

    So frustrating to watch Alonso always having to drive the 3rd-4th best car over the past few years. Ferrari have been hopeless since the 2009 regulation changes, only with the F10 did they look like they had the slightest clue of how to develop the car.

  5. zoom (@zoomracing) said on 17th December 2013, 12:55

    People often talks about Alonso qualy pace versus Massa, but I wonder if the reason for that, maybe not always but in some cases is that Massa only thinks about qualy while Alonso thinks only in the race. Also for Massa the only wat to shine is to beat Alonso in qualy because he can’t beat him in the races most of the times.

    • Danilo Schoeneberg said on 17th December 2013, 13:11

      Well, for starters Massa wasn’t ALLOWED to beat Alonso in the races as was obviously demostrated at Monza. Quali was his only way to shine.

      I think Alonso’s problem is 2012. He set the standard so high, I doubt he will ever match that again.

      • zoom (@zoomracing) said on 17th December 2013, 16:28

        Yeah like when they ordered him to let Alonso pass, he didn’t and yet Alonso finished ahead.
        Mate, Alonso is way better sunday driver than Massa, with or without “allowed” nonsense. The lack of racecraft on Massa’s side has been clear as water this year.

    • mnmracer (@mnmracer) said on 17th December 2013, 13:24

      You saw something similar with Vettel and Webber in 2012: Webber almost tied with Vettel on qualifying, only in 2012 -none of the other years, while on race day Webber was outperformed in 16 races.

  6. Toncho said on 17th December 2013, 13:44

    Ending second in the general standings with no first row in qualy to his name really tells the whole history of his season.

  7. Ok, people need to stop with this Alonso having a slow car each year. Ferrari hasn’t been really good in qualifying recently, alright, I’ll give you that, but the car has been quite competitive on race days. Last year Mclaren had massive reliability issues and this year Mercedes were miserable on race days. So you can’t really say they had the better cars, if those cars don’t deliver when it matters most. And Lotus were only faster than Ferrari towards the end of this year, until that I would say they were on par.
    I agree with that Alonso is a great driver who is doing an exceptional job, and I agree with this rating, but don’t tell that he is coming second with the worst car on the grid

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 17th December 2013, 20:07

      @leblep

      coming second with the worst car on the grid

      I didn’t say anything remotely like that.

      • @keithcollantine
        The term ‘worst car’ was obviously an exaggeration, ‘3rd or 4th best car’ to be more precise.

        That obviously wasn’t his goal but it’s an outcome which reflects very well on his performance in a year when Mercedes and Lotus drivers could have beaten him to the runner-up spot

        Alonso headed this list last year after almost snatching the title despite having started the year with a car that was some way off the pace.

        These lines are what I mean. Btw, I wasn’t talking only about you, I saw a number of other guys saying similar stuff.

      • Chris (@ukphillie) said on 17th December 2013, 23:08

        Haha, you need to stop responding to stuff like that Keith, just look at Joe Saward…

        He’s been correcting people for years, and we’re now watching his slow descent into insanity.

        Those that can read know what you said, no need to explain yourself because someone had a wild interpretation of your words.

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 18th December 2013, 9:08

          @ukphillie Unfortunately it’s often a case of the squeaky wheel gets the grease. I try to respond to positive comments as much as negative ones but when people are misconstruing what you say to have a go at you it’s hard not to.

  8. That qualifying statistic is quite surprising, I was under the impression that Alonso was soundly beating Massa in all aspects this season (as it has been before). Is there anything more to this? Perhaps qualifying on hard tyres? I know this hasn’t been Fernandos’ best year, but I haven’t heard much implying that Massas’ has been any better.

    Don’t want to come out as ignorant or anything, I’ve just been missing out on a lot this season given school and whatnot.

    • W (@yesyesyesandyesagain) said on 17th December 2013, 17:42

      I think a lot of it comes down to Massa fighting for his career and Alonso taking it easy as it became clear he had no hope of winning the WDC.

    • Swindle94 (@swindle94) said on 17th December 2013, 17:45

      If you look at history, Massa has always been an above average qualifier, where Alonso has not. Alonso and Ferrari might also do setup for race instead of one lap as well since they never really had a realistic shot at the front row for nearly the entire season.

      • If you look at history, Massa has always been an above average qualifier, where Alonso has not. Alonso and Ferrari might also do setup for race instead of one lap as well

        So while Massa is above average and Alonso hasn’t been as good as him as a qualifier, and with Alonso having a race setup, Massa failed to outqualify Alonso in any of the 4 years, including in 2012 when Massa was ahead of him in 3-4 races out of 20.

        And if you start with #2 nonsense, let me tell you that Massa was never not allowed to not race Alonso, till he was way behind ALonso in WDC (he was, usually).
        Something like Germany ’10, Britain ’11, uh Malaysia-Spain ’12 (till Ferrari was back near the front) and Spain/Monaco ’13, I’d say Massa was free to attack Alonso and he made a hash out of them. After it according to the Sky team atleast (and me checking it) Massa gets to test new parts and both do runs in P1 and P2. They compare laps and stuff to check the updates. Due to it, Massa loses a lot of tire-and engine-life than Alonso. Also, post the above races, Massa would have to give position, but its not as if he’s a lapdog. Why would he stay at Ferrari after Germany ’10, knowing Kimi did it for him in 08?

  9. spoutnik (@spoutnik) said on 17th December 2013, 18:19

    I hate to loose

    like he said, let’s hope a better 2014 year!

  10. “On rare occasions starting in the pack caught Alonso out. First-lap damage in Malaysia … ”

    The first lap damage in Malaysia wasn’t due to starting in the pack. He ran into the back of the pole sitter at T2 – his own error.

    Fernando’s a great driver and second best of the year, but he was second best due to quite a few uninspiring qualifying efforts and some very average races. Even in a race like Spa his P2 was more the result of a great start and a Ferrari that was a clearly above everyone on race pace with the possible exception of SV’s RB. He basically drove past the Mercs like they were standing still.

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