Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Shanghai, 2011

Can Ferrari turn their season around?

2011 F1 season

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Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Shanghai, 2011
Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Shanghai, 2011

What’s been the biggest surprise of the season so far?

McLaren winning round three after struggling to complete a race distance in testing? HRT getting within range of Virgin?

Ferrari’s lacklustre start to 2011 must be up among them. The team which nearly claimed the drivers’ championship with Fernando Alonso last year lagged behind Red Bull, McLaren and Mercedes in Shanghai.

What’s gone wrong – and can Ferrari turn their season around in time to compete for the championship?

Winter champions

Ferrari’s pre-season preparations looked ominously successful to their rivals. The red cars notched up almost 7,000km of running in testing.

Much of it was trouble-free, aside from a fiery moment for Felipe Massa in Valencia.

But since the season proper began Ferrari have seldom troubled the likes of Red Bull and McLaren.

The qualifying gap

The qualifying gaps tell the story: Alonso was 1.4 seconds off Sebastian Vettel’s pace in Melbourne, a second away in Sepang and 1.4s again in Shanghai.

Ferrari’s attempts at a solution so far have been to conduct yet more testing. In the last two races the team sent the car out in practice covered in aero paint and doing fixed-speed runs as they try to work out why its aerodynamics aren’t working as they should.

While the likes of McLaren and Mercedes have converted to Red Bull’s approach of using pull-rod rear suspension to improve the flow around the rear of the car, Ferrari have daringly stood against the new convention. So far it seems not to have paid off.

But the signs are that if Ferrari can solve their single-lap performance problems they should be competitive.

Massa ran the same strategy as Vettel in Shanghai and ended the race just ten seconds behind. And Alonso was on course for a podium in Sepang before he hit Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren.

The team are also suffering relative to Red Bull and McLaren because of the affect the qualifying rules have on tyre allocations this year.

The less the teams use their softer tyres in qualifying, the better shape they are in for the race. But while Red Bull and McLaren can ordinarily get through Q1 using only hard tyres, Ferrari have had to use a set of softs to ensure they reach Q2.

This further weakens their position on race day. Once they can make it through Q1 without sacrificing a set of softs they’ll be in a stronger position.

Alonso and Massa

The fascinating sub-text to Ferrari’s stalled start to the season is the balance of power between their drivers.

Alonso had the beating of Massa quite comprehensively last year and there were few who expected the situation to be any different this year.

Rumours abound that Massa, like Kimi R??ikk??nen before him, will not see out the final year of his current contract, which expires at the end of 2012.

Three races in and the pair have been surprisingly well-matched so far. Alonso retains an edge in qualifying but Massa has beaten him in the last two races.

The teams head to Istanbul next – a happy hunting ground for Massa and scene of one of his few triumphs over Alonso last year. The team will bring a raft of updates in a bid to end their four-race podium drought.

Ferrari’s resources are simply too great for them to stay behind for long. It’s not a question of if, but when, they’ll be back at the front again.

Whether they can do it soon enough to stay in contention for the championship is the crucial question.

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Image ?? Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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145 comments on “Can Ferrari turn their season around?”

  1. well judging from last year, ferrari shouldn’t be fighting for the championship.. right? ..RIGHT?

    as you said.. with the amount of resources they have available i expect to see them back on the podium soon, if not at turkey.

    1. Here’s a thing, why dont ferrari qualify in Q3 on hards, get them out of the way in a short 1st stint of the race, and then use 3 more stints of fast fresh soft tyres. We have seen that on certain tracks grid position is not as important as race strategy.

      1. They won’t have three sets of softs left. At best, they’d have 2 cause they’d need to use one set in Q2. Surely.

        1. You’re right. But don’t call him Shirley!

        2. What about that – use hards in Q1 and get through with the improved car, qualify on hards in Q2 and they’ll likely be around 12th place. Then use Webber’s strategy and get hards out of the way in the first stint, and then 3 stints on softs. They wouldn’t lose too much time at the beginning of the race anyway, as they shouldn’t be faster on hards as Renaults, Mercedes and Saubers are on softs.

        3. I think he’s suggesting they eliminate themselves in q1 to try and pull a Webber. The reason that strategy worked so well for Webber however was the fact that many of the top cars were doing a 2 stop strategy, but mainly because the RB7 is simply faster than anything else out there still. For Ferrari to attempt that strategy they would need race pace that they simply don’t have yet.

      2. Fair enough! Could Mclaren do this maybe?

  2. I think people are still looking at the Massa-Alonso purely on what the race results show.

    Australia, Alonso was unlucky at the start of the race being pushed out by Button which set him well back but the way he pushed through the field was brilliant, he was closing in on Massa and Button massively before the whole corner cutting incident so would’ve took him anyway.

    Then Sepang, where Alonso was supreme, Massa was only 1 second ahead of him by the end of the race even after Alonso ran round nearly a whole lap with a damaged front wing then a 27 second stop.

    China, Massa was the better driver and got the result. Fair play to him, I have never said he was a bad driver, on the contrary I think he’s brilliant sometimes.

    So, It’s 3-0 in qualifying and 2-1 in race performances. This suggests not much has changed, if the car comes good expect Fernando to continue where he left off last season.

    This is not a fanboy comment as some people may find it, it’s just the way I saw the races.

    If Ferrari can turn the car around and get it up to pace by Turkey I think they have the superior driver line up to score a lot of podiums. Here’s hoping.

    1. Quite comprehensive analysis I couldn’t have done it better. :D

      You absolutely have a point regarding the Alonso vs. Massa battle.

      As for completing the catch-up I think this season is going to be decided for Ferrari very soon. If they can really be on par with the front-runners in Istanbul or as a last resort in Barcelona, they will at least have the same slim hopes of WCs they had last year. If they can’t, then it really is over for 2011.

      It’s all about the points. Fernando is right at the point, where he was last year after Silverstone 40-some points behind the leader. Slim chances – but he converted them last year. If they can’t come up with the required extra downforce, that deficit is going to be 60-some after Barcelona.

      Then they should really begin to think about 2012…

      1. But 40 points at this early stage in the season isn’t as big an ask to make up as it would be after Silverstone… That’s 6 races to make up ground, and however unlikely it may seem at this stage, Alonso could be leading the chapionship by 40 points after Silverstone this year. My point is simply that it’s far too early for Ferrari fans to start panicking, and far too early for Red Bull and McLaren fans to start resting on their laurels.

    2. I think people are still looking at the Massa-Alonso purely on what the race results show.

      At the end of the day, race results are what matter most. Because it’s all well and good to point to Alonso’s performance in Malaysia before he hit Hamilton, but that was his mistake and his alone. You can’t just pick and choose which parts of a race you want considered when assessing a driver. Alonso made a mistake, which has to be taken into consideration when evaluating his performances. After all, there are no championship points awarded to whoever had the best race until they hit another driver.

      1. I agree, however, I think his points are more important points towards how the rest of the season will play out between the two Ferrari drivers. I think the details RIISE has brought up are relevant to what we should expect as things progress and frankly, it seems to show that Alonso is still much faster than Massa. BUT, we could still see more like Shanghai, which I frankly hope for. I want to see Massa return to his old form and do it before he’s asked to move over again (legally now).

        1. Agreed. There are mistakes that are the driver’s own fault which are relevant, but other technical problems at times which don’t reflect the skill of the driver. Take for example the first two races last season where Vettel suffered serious mechanical failures causing him to lose two probable race wins… also Hamilton’s wheel failure in Barcelona which was a definite 2nd place. Those race results don’t reflect the skill or pace of the driver. Alonso’s misjudgment in Malaysia is definitely relevant to the driver comparison between he and Massa however.

      2. And the race results are converted into championship points, where Alonso (your favourite driver, we all know) is still ahead.

    3. Agree with Riise. China was the only race so far where Massa was actually stronger than Alonso. After a couple of races, I’m pretty sure Alonso will be back on top of him.

      Ferrari on the other hand, have a monumental challenge in front of them. Honestly, I doubted Alonso’s title hopes after the British GP 2010, but the fightback we saw from him and Ferrari last year proved that we can never really right them off. This year their problems are at the start of the season, and they still haven’t been identified them. If Ferrari start coming up with updates that work and solve their aero problems within the next 3-4 races, then I feel they still have a chance. But if they do not have the potential to fight for victories by Valencia, then I think they should throw in the towel as Vettel would probably have extended his advantage to atleast 80 to 90 points.

      1. Vettel would probably have extended his advantage to atleast 80 to 90 points.

        Hamilton could be right in there as well. I think this could be a 4 way fight this year between the two Red Bulls and the two McLarens. Vettel certainly has a comfy buffer though.

        1. I have a feeling it will be a two horse race mid season onwards – Vettel vs Hamilton. But lets hope you’re right.

        2. I disagree. With the tire changes, more pitstops, and DRM this season will not be so easy for anyone to dominate. Mercedes and Renault are definitely competing up there as well. We could see this season being a championship battle between as many as four or five teams.

          As more teams upgrade their cars to Red Bull styled designs, the leading field will become thick with cars driving within 1 second of each other.

          Small errors in tire strategy or pit stops can send a leader to end up midfield. It was amazing at how closely grouped the cars were at the end of the Chinese Grand Prix. And the race could have been won by any of five drivers. If the race would have been two laps longer, Webber could have won. If Mercedes had realized that their new setup was burning more fuel, Rosberg could have won. If Jenson Button had remembered that his pit crew does not wear blue jumpsuits, he could have won.

          Since I have many favorites teams, I really don’t mind who wins or loses, I just want it to continue to be exciting.

          1. Oops, I meant DRS, not DRM. Digitally ID’d music has had no impact on Formula 1 this year, as far as I know.

    4. he’s brilliant sometimes.
      This is the problem with Felipe. He can be brilliant in some races. No consistency.

      1. Find me a driver who is consistently brilliant all the time.

        1. The old Schumacher, not the OLD Schumacher

          1. Last Pope Eye (@)
            26th April 2011, 8:16

            hahaha right

    5. Not sure I can agree on Sepang. First off it was Alonso himself that cost him the podium by screwing up and running into Hamilton. He was 12sec a head of Massa lap before his incident.

      Massa was under no pressure so just controlled his pace towards the end. Alonso got fresh new tires with that new front wing. So he had tires that was 7 laps fresher then Massa. So Alonso was gaining over 1 sec per lap to the leader while Massa lost almost the same amount. So after the wing switch it was -12 Alo vs Mas, after +17.

      At the very end Massa picked up the pace because Alo was getting close.

      Alo screwed himself in Sepang and Mas did what he needed to get and stay ahead of Alo. Mas 2, Alo 1. Coulda, woulda, shoulda don’t count. Next time maybe Alo will not ruin things for himself (AGAIN).

      1. Also, Massa was ahead of Alonso in the first stint, and was slightly faster than him, before the team sent him back down the field.

        Considering the time taken to pass Webber, Alguersuari and Perez in the 2nd stint, and the poor Ferrari strategy to keep him out a lap to block Vettel, the 1 second gap at the end of the race was a bit unfair to Massa.

  3. In just so want Massa to comprehensively beat Alonso this year before moving elsewhere… I think Alonso’s a fine driver, though by no means the complete package he’s claimed to be by his fans, but the preferential and even dismissive treatment over a driver who would have won the 2008 championship had it not been for the team’s incompetence really grates. Massa really has done enough to deserve better from Ferrari.

    1. Alonso is considered the complete package by most F1 fans, not just his own fans.

      1. Just taking this year: starts: poor, overtaking: mediocre, beating team mates: between fail and so-so, over-driving under pressure.

        Alonso really gets the softest ride of the ‘better drivers’, lots of compensatory excuses for poor performance, tolerance of a whole series of attempts to gain advantage off-track over his team rivals, his team pulling some seriously out of hand stunts to help him (Singapore 2008), appeals to be let past on track… I’m seriously not having trolling against Alonso, I’m just saying what it seems like to me. Since 2007 he hasn’t really shone enough to merit such distinction. And somehow I think even if Massa does beat him soundly this year, there will be some excuse for how such a cosmic disturbance could happen.

        1. even if Massa does beat him soundly this year

          We know that isn’t going to happen. Even Massa knows he cant beat Alonso over the length of a entire season.

          1. Okay, I’m going to persist with this a bit more. Massa’s confidence was stuffed last year after Hockenheim. Undoubtedly he doesn’t qualify as well as Alonso, but he can turn this around during races as we’ve already seen. So for a start I don’t see why this makes Alonso a better driver this year so far. As for the rest of the year, I’ll be brutally honest – I suspect Massa will continue to outperform Alonso on and off for a few races and then get pulled back by the team if and when the Ferrari starts to compete with the other leading teams. So in answer – your probably right, I don’t expect Massa to beat Alonso by the end of the season. But not because he’ll be slower in races.

          2. Come on David. If Massa is leading Alonso on points halfway through the season, do you actually think Ferrari will let their leading point scorer play number 2? I seriously doubt it.

            Lets face it. Since last year, the only reason Massa finished in front of Alonso in a few races was because of Alonso’s stupid mistakes and not because Massa was actually quicker than him. (Turkish GP 2010 and China 2011 being the only exceptions in the last 22 races). While I hope Massa can improve his performances, I think one race is not enough for you to seriously think Massa is going to outperform Alonso.

            Lets not forget that Alonso hasn’t had the smoothest start to the season. On the other hand, Massa is proud of his performances so far… and yet Alonso leads him 26pts to 24pts. It just shows the difference in the level of competitiveness between Alonso and Massa.

          3. OK Tod, let’s agree to differ and wait this one out! ;)

          4. do you actually think Ferrari will let their leading point scorer play number 2?

            If they still think Alonso is the better bet for the championship, then yes.

            Alonso is incredibly fast, yes. But just as Massa was struggling with last years car, Alonso might not have it so easy if everything isn’t quite suiting him.

        2. I’m just saying what it seems like to me. Since 2007 he hasn’t really shone enough to merit such distinction

          That Alonso is not the driver he was in 2006 is a complete myth. In 2007 he was much better than people give him credit for. In the second half of the 2008 season he scored more points than anyone despite having the 4th fastest car. In 2009 he was driving a car that was by the final race the slowest car on the grid yet still managed to get a podium in Singapore.

          Admittedly Alonso didn’t cover himself in glory in the early stages of last season but bounced back with an emphatic second half of the year which proved exactly why he’s seen as the best driver on the grid.

          1. Alonso actually isn’t the same driver he was in 2006. Dont get me wrong, I thought he was very solid in 2007, great in the second half of 2008 and in the second half 2010 we saw him in top form.

            What made him such a fierce competitor in 2006 was his ability to keep his cool, and make virtually no mistakes over the entire length of the season. In every race he maximised the car’s potential in qualifying and the race. Last year, he lost the championship because of all his first half blunders, and it seems like he is off to a similar start this year as well. I dont think he has lost the ability, but he has lost that mental strength he had when he was a a semi-underdog status.

          2. I think he is feeling the (ferrari) pressure. And he definitely already expected to have a 3rd title by now…
            he is anxious…

          3. I expect the only reason for being the top scorer in the 2nd half of 2008 was the infamous singapore incident though.

          4. I expect the only reason for being the top scorer in the 2nd half of 2008 was the infamous singapore incident though.

            How about his consistent top 5 finishes and other win in the other races?

        3. did you miss last season?

    2. For all the hopes and dreams, and the anti-Alonso rhetoric, I think we all know that Massa doesn’t have the goods on Alonso, just like Button doesn’t on Hamilton and Webber doesn’t on Vettel.

      For all that his fans harp on about his almost-championship winning year in 2008, and “will he recapture his form” comments, the truth about Massa is that his form is actually very consistent – not a great driver, with 2008 being a “rogue” event, when he had the fastest car and a team mate who clearly couldn’t care less, having won the previous year.

      1. I guess we’ll see. At least we’ll know if Massa does beat him, it won’t be because Alonso didn’t care or was facing team bias or the car wasn’t adapted to him first and foremost.

      2. And I’d point out I’m not anti-Alonso, I’m just anti-anti-Massa.

        1. Last Pope Eye (@)
          25th April 2011, 13:02

          hahaha, nice one.. good to see Massa beat Alonso this year. :)

  4. I trust Flavio, who should become team principal of Ferrari as soon as possible instead of the uninspiring Domenicali, that they can forget this season already, get their wind tunnel sorted and start designing the 2012 car now.

    1. Are you saying you want cheats in the Ferrari team being both manager and Driver

      Massa is the best of the two and he does not cheat to win

      1. Will you shut up about cheating, Senna cheated to win, as did Schumacher. It shows that you are passionate enough to go that extra mile to win. It’s why Massa is useless when he has to pull out a result.

        1. Hamilton has cheated.(remember liegate?)

          1. Mouse_Nightshirt
            25th April 2011, 22:11

            Doesn’t make it right, just makes it even more pathetic.

        2. Yea sure I will shut up about cheating when drivers act like sportsmen

          1. Massa is the best of the two

            Ok, it’s time not to take anything Les says seriously :P

      2. How is Alonso a cheater? He doesn’t weave or intentionally hit other drivers, all he has done build the team around himself. He was able to do that by outpacing Massa in the same machinery last year. At the moment Ferrari support their drivers equally, so there’s definately no favourable treatment for either driver.

        1. Alonso wants team mates to let him past, Alonso goes to team principles to tell them to scupper the other drivers chances, there are more incidents surroundin Alonso than ever surrounding Senna and the great MS.

          Take off your blinkers and see Alonso for what he is, the greatest F1 cheat ever

          1. My “blinkers” are off, and what I see is one of the best, if not the best pound-for-pound driver in Formula One today, possibly ever. If you can’t see that Alonso is quick, then that’s your problem not mine. Alonso is like a modern day Senna or Schumacher, I highly doubt you counted every controversy and incident all three drivers have been involved in.

          2. I don’t care what you think about Alonso but stop saying spaniard in your comments, yes he is spanish but nationality shouldn’t come into the equation if you are soooooooo legal and sportman. So please I know it’s going to be difficult for you, but “try” to “think” before you write. thanks again.

        2. I wouldn’t use the word ‘cheater’, but blackmailing your team boss in order to get preference over your team-mate is about as low as a driver can go.

          1. I would use the word cheater, as you say no driver has ever sunk as low as Alonso

            I like sportsmanship, its one thing using gamesmanship but to cheat outright as the Spaniard has done should see him out of sport NOW.

            The greats like Fangio and Mansel must cry at what he is doing.

            #Also remember Alonso is on the internet and did not care about what he said to Ron Dennis his qote was “I dont care what people think of me I am in this to win at any cost or any way”

            What a true sportsman and person !!!!!

          2. To slr
            The best pound for pound driver is and this is my opinion Seb
            Your blinkers cant be off if you support blatent cheating as a mile stone for how good a driver is!
            Ok the cheating Spaniard is a modern day Senna or MS, but they also were cheats, Ms cheated yes, but he was also a great driver, Alonso is quick but he is not true champion material.

            The man to watch is Seb, I think he will smash MS record for wins

            Another prediction I would make is Alonso wanting to leave Ferrari and go to Red Bull if Ferrari do not get there act togeather,
            lets be honest Alonso wants the best car, No.1 status and not having to fight for championships, just look at his sour grapes when Hamilton was a rookie and outpaced him in the same car.

            Alonso is not a sportsman he is a give me give me.

          3. The team boss was no saint. :)

          4. Alonso is quick but he is not true champion material

            Les, I suggest you get a copy of the 2006 season on dvd and then watch it. Vettel might have won his first WDC, but he still didn’t win it in convincing style like Alonso did in 2005.

            And really dude.. cheating?!? If you are going to play the moral angle… what do you have to say about Seb taking Mark’s wing at Silverstone last year? Was that a champion’s decision?

      3. I would say that it is not much beter than a manager and driver that is deceitful and lies to the FIA. Or steal for that mater.

      4. Maybe that’s why Massa so rarely wins?

    2. You really want that man at Ferrari?

      Well if you do, good luck to you..

      I dont believe Dominicali is to blame. And as a fan, I think you need to be a bit more supportive. The wind tunnel is new, and the car isnt that far off the pace of McLaren.

  5. It’s not a question of if, but when, they’ll be back at the front again.

    It’s not a question of if or when, but will: will they be able to get back to the front in time to mount a challenge on either title?

    1. will = if

        1. will = if

          1. Last Pope Eye (@)
            26th April 2011, 8:40


      1. Speaking as an English teacher … no. My statement is no an if-clause; therefore will does not equal if because I did not use a modal verb.

        1. Oh dear…

          PM is right on this one, I used to get confused with this but my Uni lecturer put me right.

  6. If you remeber from last year, it was Red Bull and Ferrari who were dominant in the first half of the season, with McLaren trailing behind. After half way through the season, McLaren managed to find their form, hence why we had 5 drivers contending for the c’ship.

    I reckon this is what is happening with Ferrari at the moment. They have been off the race pace for the first few races but will bounce back mid-season after some hardcore development back at Maranello.

    1. Maybe. Last year they had a good basic design and the introduction of the copied non-flexi-flexi-wing early mid-season boosted them into second, thereafter they didn’t make the next jump to catch Red Bull and faded. So you have to wonder (a) will they be able to come up with something sufficiently innovative to give 1.5 seconds or whatever, or sort out the theory-practice gap with the present aerodynamics and (b) whether they can stave off Mercedes and Renault, for example, who also look stronger this season.

  7. I seriously hope Massa gets on the podium in Istanbul. Did Ferrari ever say what they thought was wrong with Alonso’s car in China?

    1. Did Ferrari ever say what they thought was wrong with Alonso’s car in China?

      The driver.

      1. The bad start (clutch setting) and the poor pitstop didn’t help though

        1. Last Pope Eye (@)
          26th April 2011, 8:43

          The needs overhaul not the clutch, lol

  8. Ferrari have daringly stood against the new convention [by retaining pushrod suspension]. So far it seems not to have paid off.

    Perhaps not, but it wouldn’t account for anything like the gap between Ferrari and Red Bull/McLaren.

    Ferrari’s use of flo-vis paint suggests the team are having problems understanding why their aero package doesn’t work as expected. If they understood their aero package but were simply disadvantaged by retaining pushrod suspension they wouldn’t need flo-viz and fixed speed runs. The aero package has to work as a whole. The problems experienced by, for example, McLaren in 2009 appeared to stem from the airflow not reaching the rear of the car in the state it was expected to. This suggested problems towards the front of the car, not the rear. If this is Ferrari’s issue then pushrod suspension is unlikely to be a significant part of the problem.

    Other teams have run into problems with a lack of correlation between windtunnel data and what happened on track. Usually the solution has been found in recalibrating the windtunnel. The really worrying thing for Ferrari is the lack of correlation between pre-season testing and what happens on race weekends.

    1. Agree especially with the last point. Ferrari’s problems suggest McLaren were right about committing so much of their time and energy pre-season to correlating the wind tunnel, computer modelling and track data, including tyre info – presumably in part because of the large number of changes over last year.

    2. I think they bought a windtunnel that produces date in inches, and they still think those numbers are centimeters

  9. The Real Question is
    Can Alonso turn his season around? XD

    1. Only if he cheats and gets Massa to let him past.

      1. I guess that put him the in the same league as Fangio, Hamilton, Schumacher, Hill, Riakkonen, Senna, Prost, Mansel, OHH my goodness, what is this? This is most of the world champions.

        1. For most of them it wasn’t cheating as team orders were legal.

          Technically Alonso wasn’t cheating, he was only demanding his team to cheat.

        2. Raikkonen?

          1. Brazil 2007.

      2. Thanks Les for letting us know what type of person you are.

        1. Like to think of myself as a genuine fan who does not like cheating.

          And I think up till now this has been a very exciting season

      3. Not that Massa would ever benefit from a team-mate letting him past of course. (China 2008 when it was almost embarrassing how slowly Raikkonen had to go to allow Massa past).

        1. Exactly, Raikkonen had his engine practically to cruise mode. And even then Massa struggled to catch up.

          Short memories huh?

  10. To answer the question: “What’s gone wrong – and can Ferrari turn their season around in time to compete for the championship?”

    Not much and yes they can.

    Plus the next four races are going to be ‘tyre eaters’ in much the same way that Sepang was. Just getting your car to use its tyres better could be all you need to do.

    1. Gotta agree with you. The next three races should be more about tyre management than anything else. Fernando however, needs to make the most of his opportunities. Another Malaysia like mistake will come back to bite him later on in the season.

  11. a small correction
    mass was better than alonso in the last three races.
    Alonso passed Massa only in mellbourne due to cutting path of Jason Button.

    for those who remember 2008, when Massa and Hamilton competed in a tournament, you know that Fellipe only had trouble with Bridgestone, but now it is another story

  12. I don’t think Alonso’s heart is in it any more.

    1. No because he is getting beat and does not like the taste, he has not the guts to fight back and wants championships handed to him, I think F1 would be better off without him

      1. That’s a bit silly.

        Of course Alonso’s heart is in it. He has been surprisingly upbeat considering Ferrari’s misfortune.

        He’s not stupid enough to think that everything can always go his way.

        1. hold hold on…. Les has a point. We all know and heard about his stunt when Ron announced Lewis as his team mate in 2007 and also his eagerness to pack Kimi out of his contract, so that he could enjoy less rivarly in Massa.

          Look up on youtube for the crashgate interviews… he shamelessly admitted he enjoyed the win even it was proved the race was staged.

          1. Last Pope Eye (@)
            26th April 2011, 8:48

            I agree 100%

    2. Yea, he seems to have lost interest, just doesn’t seem to have the belief and determination he’s had in the past…
      not surprising considering the results though, it can be hard to shake demoralisation in such situations!

  13. What’s gone wrong – and can Ferrari turn their season around in time to compete for the championship?

    Then, later

    Whether they can do it soon enough to stay in contention for the championship is the crucial question.

    Haha I like Keith’s way of writing. He looks like he’s going to give you the answer to the question but then he doesn’t and ends with the same question!
    At least this way is very good at letting you use this information as a base to express your own opinion and does not force you to think in the same way as the writer.

    1. Let me be clear – I definitely think they can!

      1. *cough*2009!*cough*

        1. I think it’s evident they’re fairing up better at the moment than they did at the beginning of 2009 ;)

          Plus Raikkonen just wasn’t in it.

          1. Plus they stopped development very early on.

      2. bigbadderboom
        25th April 2011, 16:41

        It’s not a resources issue so the can, but i think the problem is more about the harmonics within the team. Dominicalli is demanding impovements and Pat Fry is trying to stay calm and making statements like “not time to panic”. Alonso for whatever reasons simply looks unmotivated, and massa is getting the better finishes. Maybe they are struggling to get the whole team to gel properly, without a unified team improvement will be difficult!

      3. I think this article is a little premature to be fair Keith, yes they are on the back foot slightly but we’ve only had 3 races, and they are still 3rd in constructors and 3rd pairing in drivers. It’s not all doom and gloom yet.

        The big test will be Istanbul, to see if they have been able to get on top of their wind tunnel data discrepancies.

      4. if we look at last year, we can be sure they are capable. Winning the title is another matter. Because they are in the same shape as last season, but this year red bull is much stronger. Even mclaren looks good. So i agree with you keith, but i don’t count them for the title this year even if they are able to improve.

      5. Yeah, I also think they can. Sure, the car is off right now, but they were off the pace about 1/3 to 1/2 of last years races as well. And not having the pressure on as much seems to work well for Massa so far.

        I hope to see Ferrari mixing it in sooner rather than later. Especially if Red Bull does not hurry up with fixing their KERS issues.

  14. Of course they can get to the front. If McLaren can go from a hideous testing season, where they covered half the laps of RBR and Ferrari, to being a threat on saturday and sunday, Ferrari can. As far as the car being too conservative, maybe, but a month ago we were saying the McLaren design was an ill-advised lark and the Ferrari a solid all around car. The question mark Keith didn’t raise is the effect of the Abu Dhabi situation, which meant that there was probably circular firing squad deployed in Maranello. More to the point, maybe this is not still an organization where people have confidence in leadership to take bold, controversial action in a crisis, like you might need now, with basic design concept issues at hand. Add to that the fact that half the pit wall remain in the doghouse thanks to unexpedient behavior at Hockenheim. And of course, no other team has a big-mouthed Italian politico lashing them in public after every bad result. If you had some fraying ends there, it would not be surprising. This is going to be down to Alonso. He wants number one status, and he has it now quite clearly. This means creating cohesion and confidence in the team, and talking over Domencali if he has to.

  15. Rumours abound that Massa, like Kimi Räikkönen before him, will not see out the final year of his current contract, which expires at the end of 2012.

    But I don’t think Massa will get millions of money if he leaves after this season.

    As a Räikkönen fan is must say Ferrari just needs Räikkönen back!

    1. If Felipe isn’t good enough then why would the guy Massa beat during their time together (and who has been out of F1 for a while now) do any better?

      1. Because Massa is only any good if he’s in a car that can (easily) qualify on pole. If he’s not in P1 after the first lap he’s pretty much going back through the field.

        So unless Ferrari produce the fastest car of the lot, Raikkonen will be their better bet. Much like Alonso.

        1. If that was the case, Kimi would have shown the way to Felipe in 2009. Instead, Felipe was the best of the rest in 2009 (for the first half).
          Kimi clearly lost motivation after 2007. And even an embarrassing loss to his team-mate in 2008 couldn’t encourage him to do well. Kimi was past his sell-by date.

          1. Kimi’s car broke down on all of the first few races. And if his car managed to keeo going, they put him on full wets on a dry track …

          2. Hate to dig up the same old bones, but Ferrari also forgot to fuel Felipe’s car.
            Kimi didn’t help by crashing out all by himself in Australia either.

          3. Kimi suffered from just 2 mechanical failures (the same as Massa), plus the wet tyre on dry track blunder. Not “all of the first few races”.

  16. The last few sentences of the article sum it up really. Ferrari will get back into it.

    I think Montezemolo needs to keep his gob shut though. He makes me cringe when he feels the need to add the pressure on.

  17. To summarize the Winter Championship of Ferrari can we say that they had a “Slow Reliable Car” ?

    They just put on miles and got over confident by their reliability. Or may Reliability was their biggest problem last year so they address that issue first and best.

    Either way Maranello is bleeding. I am sure they will bounce back but the question is will it be too late this year that the catch up will seem difficult ?

  18. I think the lesson learned from China is that qualifying is rather unimportant. Why Ferrari would bother to fix their qualifying pace, I don’t understand.

    Indeed it would help if they could save a set of options in Q1, but other than that, why bother?

    If you look at the race pace, all the cars are pretty much on the same pace. There is barely a tenth between them.

    I’m convinced it’s the tyre’s maximum pace that’s limiting the cars. Of course better downforce and such will make for some differences, but Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes all seem to lap around at pretty much the same laptimes.

    If you take the laptimes, fuel correct them and then compare the stints it’s eerie how close they all match up.

    Massa was on Vettel’s tail all throuhg the race. Until the last few laps when he couldn’t make his tyres last anymore. Vettel couldnt get any closer to Rosberg or further away from Button either. The top field was within a few seconds after a series of stops, time and time again.

    1. think the lesson learned from China is that qualifying is rather unimportant. Why Ferrari would bother to fix their qualifying pace, I don’t understand.

      Qualifying definitely isn’t as important as it was last year, but solving their hard tyre issues during quali should definitely be on their list. That extra set of fresh options can be quite a game changer.

      Maybe Ferrari should start focusing on clutch settings to make sure their drivers get off the line like rockets. That would be an easier thing to fix I would think.

    2. I’m not sure qualifying is so unimportant. What seems crucial is leading after the first corners (particularly stopping Vettel from escaping into the sunset) and being able to control the race from there. True the field is much closer, but that means things like not having to battle and wear out tyres, dictating pit stop timings (or having preference over a team mate) and so on are all much more critical too. The fact is when it’s so close and overtaking is easier due to the tyre differences, KERS and DRS, everything matters more. Qualifying is one more factor, not everything for sure, but not ignorable either. At least that’s the impression after China, could all settle down more.

      1. Just saying that Ferrari is not 1.4 seconds back or even 2s as people seem to assume (based on Qualifying) performance.

        A better start, for once not messing up a pitstop here and there, and they could pretty muich be winning races like Hamiltons showed.

  19. We’ve only had three races so far this year, and I really don’t think that’s enough to write an obituary for Ferrari’s season.
    Two good races, and the first three results will be forgotten. Alonso to win in Turkey and Massa at least second in Monaco or Spain, and the red team will be back in contention.

  20. Happy birthday Felipe! from your best buddy, Fernando! LOL

    “Hi Felipe and all my very best birthday wishes!” Alonso wrote on the Ferrari website. “You have got there a few months before me as, in July it will be my turn to turn 30, so you’ll be able to tell me if it’s something special to reach this age.

    “Joking apart, I want to tell you that I’m happy to be alongside you at Ferrari; I think we make up a good duo, respecting one another and working well together, in the knowledge that the interests of the team come before those of the individual.

    “Now I hope we will soon a have a car good enough to see us fight for the top places, after which it will be down to the two of us to try and win.”

    Just so you know, Felipe.

  21. Is it REAAAALLY that bad of a season start (besides the points gap in the championship)?

    Ferrari looks incredibly strong during the races, much like last year. Yes, they qualy pace isn’t really up there, but Red Bull has been dominating Saturdays since March 2010.

    All in all, I don’t think it’s so bad. Massa’s race in China was very good and Alonso was running close to Vettel at one point in Sepang.

    They were in worse shape last year.

    1. They were in worse shape last year.

      No, I don’t agree. They were one-two in the first race last year, then threw away a lot of point in the next three races (Alonso’s spin in Melbourne, qualifying in Sepang, Alonso’s jump start in Shanghai).

      1. and his Monoco FP3 shunt !

      2. I think the car is in worse shape than last year. It looks like they aren’t capable of qualifying higher than 5th this year. Ath the beginning of last year they had the potential but made too many mistakes, this year it doesn’t look like they have the potential, and again, Alonso is making mistakes. Si I would actually think they are worse off than last year.

      3. not at the beginning but afterwards. At Turkey last year they were miles behind in terms of racepace.

  22. They seem to be as quick adjusting to a pull-rod suspension as they were with adjusting to mid-engines!

  23. When Alonso wiped out his wing on Hamilton’s car, it looked like a true beginner’s mistake – hard to believe given his experiece. Has anyone seen any telemetry published that might give insight?

    1. If, as you seem to be implying, Hamilton had lifted, you can bet the stewards would have come down on him like a ton of bricks.

      1. No, I’m not implying anything. The facts, from what I could see on TV, were that he was about a foot laterally out of place and going visibly faster while still accelerating out of a turn. The telemetry gives details of power applied, wheelspin, steering angles, etc. I’m just curious.

        1. What do you mean by ‘out of place’?

          1. That he needed to be about a foot further to his right – iow, he was still about a foot too close to the centreline of the car in front.

        2. I think Alonso said something about his Ferrari taking too much speed into the corner, can’t remember why, but he didn’t blame LH.

    2. Hamilton was on worn tyres, Alonso goes in too fast, he loses downforce because of his proximity to Hamilton and ends up too close and with no means to steer out of harms way.

      1. All true – a question of judgement of time, speed, distance and the way your car reacts. Every driver wants to get the best of the draught, but again my original post queried what looked like a true beginner’s mistake and Alonso is not a beginner. Either he just plain blew it (and misjudgement can happen) or there is a technical compounding factor – an above normal loss of downforce in the turbulence, lack of reaction by the Pirellis, or whatever. He knew he was catching up fast, I don’t think he wanted to hit the car in front but just get past it, and something went wrong. What?

        1. I think that Hamilton moved a little bit to the right while Alonso was passing him,..look at the footage and you’ll see,..
          Not that I’m defending Alonso, but it could also be Hamiltons fault 10%,… ;)

  24. The race pace seems to be good but it’s the qualifying pace that’s not right for them. They need to work on aerodynamic so that they can find out the problem. Massa drove well so far this season.He need to continue this momentum throughout the season in order for him to stay with the team in future.

  25. Ferrari’s dominance has come to an end. They dominated for so long due to their awesome engine. Not the case anymore. Anyways, its nice to see Alonso the crybaby losing.

  26. I agree with Keith saying that Ferrari can turn around their season. They have the resources and engineering staff capable of doing that. But their problem stems from technical regulations not in harmony with F1.
    The closest thing to F1 is aerospace industry. Bringing an airplane to service from drawing board goes like this: CFD –> WINDTUNNEL –> TESTING IN FLIGHT. CFD gives you a measure of approximation. In wind tunnel you’re going a step further but flight test is the real thing. During test you obtain exact data to compare your two previous design steps.
    That’s why the most successful testing in preseason goes to McLaren. They measured MP-26 in every way imaginable. They collected so much data that in their case further testing would be welcomed but not necessary.
    McLaren got their act together in round three because of their shrewd approach to testing. Ferrari will struggle a bit but they’ll come back.
    Hopefully not soon enough ;-)

    1. I dont think Mclaren would call it successful. They were panicking and probably kicking themselves, and if it wasn’t for the three week extended break they wouldn’t have been able to get their act together in time. Red Bull and Ferrari probably had the best approach, but it just didn’t work out for Ferrari.

  27. I have the impression that Ferrari have the material and human resources to be back in good shape, and in a couple of races.
    But I also have the impression that having a driver poisoning the air at the box after every lap of practice will undermine their chances. For some people, it seems that Alonso’s years at McLaren never happened.

  28. Let’s be real here. i have written some comments about alonso in no way attacking another driver and the moderator have blocked them!.
    he is a loser who wants this web-site to have comments only pro -hamilton.get a life loser,this page might get hacked.!!

  29. I’d be interested to know:
    Ultimate Qualifying pace vs FLAP and/or ave race lap time per team / driver. Wonder if any have a bigger gap than Ferrari?

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