Third title eludes Alonso in first year with Ferrari

2010 F1 season review

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Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Monza, 2010

Ferrari may not have won either championship in 2010, but by the end of the year they looked more purposeful and convincing than they had at any time since Michael Schumacher left the team.

Fernando Alonso and Ferrari proved a perfect match for each other and came within a strategic blunder of grabbing the drivers’ title.

But it was a year to forget for Felipe Massa who must question his future with the team after being put firmly in Alonso’s shadow.

Ferrari team stats 2010

Best race result (number)1st (5)
Best grid position (number)1st (2)
Non-finishes (mechanical/other)2 (0/2)
Laps completed (% of total)2194 (97.17%)
Laps led (% of total)168 (14.88%)
Championship position (2009)3rd (4th)
Championship points (2009*)396 (183)
*using 2010 system

The first race of the year was Ferrari’s season in microcosm. Alonso brushed Massa aside and profited from Red Bull’s problems to grab a maiden victory for the team.

But is was also something of a false dawn, as it took the team ten races to add a second victory.

There were a few missed opportunities along the way, particularly at Monaco. Alonso topped both Friday practice session but crashed ahead of qualifying, leaving him at the back of the grid and ruining his weekend.

Engine reliability was another early setback. The team had to switch V8s ahead of the first race at Bahrain, and Alonso suffered failures at Sepang (in the race) and Shanghai (in practice). The FIA later permitted them to tweak their engines to improve reliability.

But on the whole Alonso and Massa enjoyed a more reliable car than any other pair of team mates in 2010. Alonso grappled with a clutch problem before his retirement in Malaysia, and Massa’s qualifying in Singapore was ruined by a technical fault, but otherwise the F10 served them well in qualifying and races.

While Red Bull and McLaren stole a march on Ferrari in the opening races, the Scuderia stumbled as it hastily upgraded its F10 with the F-duct and exhaust-blown diffuser. After a controversial test at Fiorano – described by the team as being for “filming purposes” – they had mastered the new configuration and were much quicker at Valencia.

Alonso’s race was ruined but the unfortunately-timed arrival of the safety car. Ferrari denounced the Grand Prix as a “scandal” and a “false race”.

Those words might equally have been used to describe Ferrari’s handling of the German Grand Prix, when Massa was ordered to give up victory to Alonso, who had tried and failed to overtake his team mate.

Ferrari’s decision to test the rules forbidding team orders to breaking point may have been cynical but it was vindicated as the FIA chose not to strip them or their drivers of any points.

Over the second half of the season there were few occasions when Alonso failed to get the most out of the F10. He soaked up race-long pressure from Sebastian Vettel to snatch a win at Singapore and took the lead in the drivers’ championship after Red Bull hit trouble in Korea.

With Ferrari focussing their efforts on a single car as Red Bull continued to support both Vettel and Mark Webber, Alonso looked poised to snatch the title in Prost ’86/Raikkonen ’07 style.

But there was an astonishing twist in the tale. At Abu Dhabi the team were preoccupied with keeping Alonso ahead of Webber (radio messages made it clear this was Alonso’s priority too) which ultimately led to a fatal misjudgement in their race strategy. Alonso came home seventh and lost the title to Vettel.

Alonso may have failed to emulate Kimi Raikkonen by winning the championship in his first year with Ferrari. But everything about the Alonso-Ferrari relationship suggests their alliance is built to last and much more success will come their way.

The same cannot be said for Massa. Perhaps he struggled more with hard tyre warm-up than Alonso did, perhaps he’s not the driver he was after his horrible crash last year. Either way, it’s hard to envisage his future with the team unless his form improves considerably in 2011.

Ferrari’s 2010 season in pictures

2010 F1 season review

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Images © Ferrari spa, Bridgestone/Ercole Colombo, Red Bull/Getty Images

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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54 comments on “Third title eludes Alonso in first year with Ferrari”

  1. Great article Kieth, really enjoyed reading it.

    1. Keith, Massa had a qualifying problem in Singapore, not Sepang.

    2. I think the only driver Fernando will not accept in the Ferrari is Lewis ;-) He must still have nightmares thinking how he was “surpassed” in pure performance by this “rookie”. Sorry really for him , he has talents but he still needs a team mate to work for him to caatch a title, that’s why I really prefer drivers like Lewis, Kimi who don’t need nobody. They get what they deserve at the end without politics and calculations like Fernando.

  2. On the other hand, I think Felipe’s place at Ferrari is more secure now. Who else on the grid would be ready to be Fernando’s no.2?

    But I agree, Fernando – Ferrari is very very reminiscent of Schumacher – Ferrari combination. Fernando’s 2nd half was almost as good as his 1st half of 2006, where he scored 84 points in 9 races.

    His win at Hockenheim was tainted, no doubt, but his season after that went a long way in justifying Ferrari’s controversial decision to back Alonso.

    1. i don’t think that Felipe is really ready to be Fernando’s no.2.
      We all know what he can do, after all he came really close to winning a championship himself (which he would have deserved). But this year and in particular after the German GP he hasn’t been the same, he’s been fooling around in the midfield most of the time and pretty much made sure that he never was in a position to actually help Fernando. He’s hoping that the Pirelli tyres suit his style more and after all he has been with Ferrari most of his career now. But if Ferrari decide to support Fernando 100% next year, then it’s goodbye to the constructor’s championship and most likely goodbye to Massa too – he was ready to support his friend and mentor Schumacher for a year, but he’s not going to do it for Alonso.

      1. I agree. I think Felipe is seriously looking to improve his performance. It may well be the case that the Pirellis will suit him better.

        I certainly hope he does improve. It would be nice to see him and Fernando competing with each other, and overtaking when faster, assuming the moveable rear wing really works. Didn’t Domenicali say that the drivers start equally next year and it is up to them to beat each other?

        1. I hope so; but Massa still agreed to let Alonso by.

    2. So this should be the moment of truth for Massa. Will he admit, that staying at Ferrari means doing te Rubens thing and accepting to play second fiddle, or will he quit in time (only where to go?)

    3. Who else would be ready to race at Ferrari as Fernado’s #2???

      I think these guys would like to have a shot at it….
      De La Rosa
      Di Grassi

      1. Absolutely right! Heaps of class B drivers…

        1. except i’d move Kobayashi out of that list

          1. because he’d be no help to Alonso driving a lap down

      2. Are you assuming your list would willingly play 2nd fiddle or would want to be the other driver?

        I’m not convinced Sutil or Kobayashi would willingly play 2nd fiddle. I would add Piquet Jr to the list as He has previous experience.

        But I think any of the drivers not at Renault, Red Bull, or McLaren would happily drive for Ferrari as the other driver just to show what they can do in a competitive car.

        1. Well, most of these drivers would sign up thinking that they are good enough to a least give it a shot to be #1 (not to mention they get to be Ferrari drivers….it is quite historic to say you were a Ferrari, McLaren, or Williams driver). Also, a Ferrari #2 probably has more opportunities and doors opened at the end of the season than a Sauber #1…..

          The point I am making is that Massa has a GREAT seat and has a chance to be faster than Alonso. It’s up to him and his pace to be #1 or #2. this isn’t (yet) a situation where Alonso is #1 and whoever shows up is number #2 no matter what.

          Ironically, that is how Massa got his seat at Ferrari when he signed up to drive with Shumacher….

          1. Also, I wasn’t convinced that Sutil would even have a seat next year. I am positive that Sutil and Kob would get in that Ferrari without even blinking. To them, it’s a chance to win races and beat Alonso. They are top-notch drivers that view themselves as the best… them, their car is why they are slower and I’m sure they would jump at the chance.

  3. If you don’t understand English about what is written in this article about Massa & Alonso then just looks at the picture that were taken from Hockenheim,those tells you more then words.

  4. Sorry for Massa, but he has had his chances. Even if the Pirrelis are to his liking does anyone believe he will get the upper hand on Alonso. And with team orders now allowed, Ferrari will put all efforts on Alonso.

    1. Yep!

      It’s the Right Thing to Do(TM)

  5. Get the feeling that Massa’s either going to have to settle to be Alonso’s #2 or find another ride. Alonso stole the show at Ferrari and reminded us how good he is after 2 years in the wilderness with Renault. But Alonso being Alonso, controversy seems to come hand in hand with him. But that only makes him more interesting.
    Il admit that Im no fan of Fernando, but as a racing driver he’s one of the few on the grid that i have the upmost respect for and think is capable of winning a race when only given half a chance. Always a canditate for WDC each season and that wont change next year.

    1. I agree. Whether you like him or not.. or whether he is the protagonist or the antagonist, you cannot deny that he is a formidable opponent and a ruthless driver. Hope to see him in a stronger Ferrari next year..

  6. Wouldn’t it be funny if Massa moved to Renault and won the WDC there?

    1. It sure would. Would it be possible is a different story.

    2. Massa can’t win squat with the current crop of drivers.

      1. Butterfly, you must not remember back to Germany. Or a little further back when Massa scored the majority of his wins with all the current top drivers of today in the field.

        And Keith, you said, “but by the end of the year they looked more purposeful and convincing than they had at any time since Michael Schumacher left the team.”

        Really? I have to disagree with this completely. In both 07 and 08 Ferrari won a total of 8 races, with both drivers winning and both drivers very high in the final standings. In particular in 08, they swept the constructors championship and were it not for an inspired and lucky Hamilton, would have won the drivers as well. They were a smooth running, race winning machine. This year by comparison they have had to resort to cheating and luck to get a majority of their only 5 race wins, and have incurred considerable controversies in doing so, not to mention their many, many mistakes and difficulties. To say Ferrari looks better now than at any time since Schumacher is to pronounce a false dawn.

    3. “Wouldn’t it be funny if Massa moved to Renault and won the WDC there?”

      Would be great if all dreams came true

    4. As long as he wins a title, he can go even to McLaren (main opponents of Ferrari).

  7. Ferrari may not have won either championship in 2010, but by the end of the year they looked more purposeful and convincing than they had at any time since Michael Schumacher left the team.

    Raikkonen won the title in 2007 in his first year with Ferrari so this sentence makes no sence…

    1. That’s not entirely true. Until China, the 2007 title was for Hamilton to lose. Full marks to Kimi for making the best of the last two races, but you have to admit he was also extremely lucky to have won the championship that year.

      1. Exactly. It was more of a title lost by Lewis than wony by Ferrari.

      2. But even in 2003 Schumacher won without the advantage he had in 2002-2004, and in 2007 and 2008 Ferrari won many races and put themselves in contention till the last race, like this year. So if 2010 was proposeful, even so 2007 & 2008 (and maybe 2006 even though less).

    2. Ferrari won the championship in 2008 just because they had a suprior, reliable machine in the start of the season.This has nothing to do with determination. Nice article Keith.

  8. Ferrari may not have won either championship in 2010, but by the end of the year they looked more purposeful and convincing than they had at any time since Michael Schumacher left the team.

    Which reflects that Ferrari do seem to rely an awful lot on picking the best driver in the field for their successes. Since Pironi’s championship campaign (tragically cut short) you can see a direct correlation between Ferrari having the best driver in the field and fighting for the championship; Prost, Schumacher, Raikkonen (debatable but at the least near enough as to make no difference) and now Alonso. Of course, that goes for most teams, but we have the exceptions of the theoretically inferior Villeneuve and Alonso (at the time) winning in 1997 and 2006. What this shows is that Ferrari rely more on having the best driver at the time rather than having the best car*, more than other teams (contrast with Red Bull this year, Brawn last year, McLaren nearly in 2007, Renault in 2006 and 2005, though Ferrari nearly did it in 2008).

    *They would have been nowhere in 1997 if it wasn’t for Schumacher

    I guess my point is, without wanting to overstate its significance too much, is that for all their history, trading on their name and “team first” attitude, more often than not it’s the guy driving the Ferrari rather than the Ferrari itself that’s the most important component. The contrast between this and last year shows this.

    1. I sort of agree. Ferrari rarely hire champions as they prefer to maken their own but before Alonso arrived at Maranello they put a lot of emphasis on needing a lead driver. They do need a strong driver I think but perhaps that’s also a reflection on their team principal.

    2. I’d rather say this of McLaren.
      2007 – Hired champion Alonso (#1)
      2008 – Kept title-contender Hamilton
      2009 – Had champion Hamilton (#1)
      2010 – Hired champion Button (#1) an kept champion Hamilton

      Ferrari hire, in my opinion, a good driver but not necessarily the best, even though Schumacher and Alonso are exceptions. Alesi, Berger, weren’t as strong as Senna, Prost and Mansell, but Ferrari knew they were good and wanted to give them a try. If they knew their car was going to be rubbish, they would have searched for a driver capable of making the difference.
      Raikkonen came from a difficult year at McLaren with no wins, Alonso was double champion, and McLaren hired Alonso. Ferrari hired the driver with chances but without, still, any results.
      Even so Massa, although some might argue he was chosen to play second role to Schumacher, he improved with the Scuderia and became a contender. Alonso had left McLaren but Ferrari didn’t hire him.
      In 2010, after an year without results, Ferrari chose a great driver, capable of winning (they needed the result immediately, not waiting like with Massa) and directing the car’s evolution.

  9. Im just curious when will this Alonso hype end. They clearly had the best overall package but failed to deliver.

    2011 will be a lot harder for Ferrari because it´s no “dream team 2” and the never ending after MS era transition will again change it way by KERS, Pirelli etc. We saw what happens if they cant work with older F1 cars. They came up with F60. Im guite sure 2011 will be a hard task for Ferrari.

    F10 was clearly about going back to F2007 , F2008 etc. and then copy past other teams inventions. But the downforce and tyre usage etc. were there. 2011 its a whole new ball game for Ferrari.

    Is F1 now taken out from betting, surely no one is going to bet on Massa etc. for WDC?? Well im not.
    (team orders)

    1. They clearly had the best overall package but failed to deliver.

      I’m trying to think of a plausible scenario in which you could possibly have missed those two dark blue-coloured cars with the big angry cow on the side.

      1. That’s a COTD right there.

      2. HAHAHAHAHA that made me laught really hard and im on officee..

    2. @Spa09. I’m actually wondering if you even watched a race all season. Ferrari had the best car on the grid???? You could argue they were the second best car on the grid.. but the best? Dont make me laugh dude.

      When will the Alonso hype end? I guess when he loses all his talent and moves to an uncompetitive team.. till then.. I’m sorry you will have to deal with it

    3. The only way to add any credibility to your claim that Ferrari had ‘the best overall package’ is to admit that Alonso is the best driver in F1..

  10. Well we have different opinions. I think Ferrari had the best overall package for WDC+WCC after FIAs permission to fix the engines.

    They had the lead coming to last race with reliable and fast F10, but they failed to deliver. I believe the car was more than capable for bringing the 5th.But they got stuck behind Petrov and couldnt overtake. And thats why they failed with best overall package and best possible shot for WDC.

    About the WCC well Massa was crushed like a bug at Germany surely he didnt give 110% for the team even he had the tools.

  11. “Ferrari may not have won either championship in 2010, but by the end of the year they looked more purposeful and convincing than they had at any time since Michael Schumacher left the team.”

    i dont think so keith, your kimi hate is really showing through here. The only reason alonso looked good this year is because Ferrari are back to team orders again, Kimi never had them. In fact, the opposite…the Ferrari garage was heavily against him. 2008 was hilarious as Ferrari was pulling for Massa bigtime, but ultimately failed LOL. its still hilarious to hear Massa call himself the champion in 2008.

    1. Yea, I reacted to that paragraph as well. I have to agree with Nick here.

    2. You’re obviously a fan of Kimi Räikkönen. Fair enough. That does not mean everyone who does not share your high opinion of him “hates” him. Regarding 2008, Massa didn’t out-score Räikkönen by accident and nor was this fanciful conspiracy theory of yours at work either.

    3. Gotta disagree with u there Nick. I’m a huge fan of Kimi as well. But there was no hate from his garage in 2008. His lack of consistency and motivation was very apparent in 2008, and there is nothing that ticks Ferrari off more than a unmotivated driver. They did support him more towards the end of the season, but only because e was leading Kimi on points… just like Fernando was leading Massa this year.

      1. disagree. Austrailia 2008, kimis car has a problem in qualifying…JUST LIKE MASSA in 2007….hmm, thats odd.

        Kimi beats Massa in Sepang(hilariously so, payback for chopping him at the start) and Spain. Massa complains about car, somehow car handling starts to change towards Massa even though Kimi is leading the championship. Kimi complains of car handling and eventually REMOVES the upgrades, and is FASTER than Massa.

        Also, Massa is always last to qualify AND with 3-4 laps less fuel. How is that not strategy preference? End of the year Kimi outpaces Massa easily. Singapore, Spa, Fuji, China, France, Montreal, Silverstone…and would have at Brazil…but all of a sudden Massas parts are BACK ON Kimi’s car to slow him down so Massa can win.

        Anyone who says Massa wasn’t favoured NEVER watched the races, he had his own entourage at EVERY RACE. His Manager was John Todts son. Now look at Massa, no favourtism and he is back to being a 2nd rate driver.

        1. Sorry .. I saw the whole of the 2008 season intensely. What you got there is a bunch of conspiracy theories regarding their car upgrades.. none of which is really true.
          Ans Australia 2008 was just plain ol simple coincidence.

  12. Adam, you cannot compare the competitiveness of the 2008 car with the 2010 car. The most important thing you are missing in your argument is the RB6. In 2008 it was pretty much a two horse battle.. in which the Ferrari looked like the better car all season. In 2010, they were nowhere close to the RB6, and trailed Mclaren for almost half a season as well.

    Ferrari had a strong 2nd half to the season and almost took the title if it wasn’t for a strategic error. If it was Kimi and Massa driving this season, there would be no driver fighting for the WDC all year. And that is why they look purposeful.. because although everything wasn’t as strong as it should have been this season.. they still almost did it. And next year looks much more promising than the last..

    1. Dont know how my post got here.. it was a reply to Adam Tate’s post

  13. Yes great article, if I were a Ferrari fan I’d be so excited at Alonso’s arrival, he dominated Massa even before team orders came into it, in a way that Raikkonen never achieved. He seems perfectly simpatico with the team and may well win several more titles with them. He’s probably good for non-Ferrari fans too – the blatant use of team orders and Alonso’s lack of grace (e.g. toward Petrov in the last race) earn the team the comedy villain status they’ve not had since Schumacher. Altogether now: “Booo!” :)

    1. I agree. The team has captured a certain ‘comedy villian status’ again with the arrival of Alonso. I think this was due to a number of factors including the huge fanbase Kimi Raikkonen garnered over the years and the fact that Ferrari were not as dominant as they had been.
      In my opinion, Ferrari handled Alonso in the only way you can. By giving him the team’s sole, 100% support from beginning to end. Fernando I don’t think has ever looked as comfortable as he has done this season driving for Ferrari, even during to lean moments.
      I can remember even during his championship winning years at Renault, Alonso would occasionally suggest in the media that he was not getting the support from the team that he deserved. At Ferrari, we never heard such things from him.
      As long as the Scuderia develop a car for 2011 that has the same tendancies as this season’s machine, then Alonso is a big big threat next season. You would be a brave person to bet against him!
      What spoils it sometimes though is Alonso’s and Ferrari’s dark side, or win at all costs mentality. For such a superb driver, to see Fernando waving furiously at a bemused Vitaly Petrov made painfull if rather amusing viewing. It was almost childlike in its embarrassing best.
      Hockenheim showed in pure technicolour how far Ferrari were going to go to keep the tantrums and their title ambitions on track

  14. We need all sorts of teams in the championship – fair, cunning, rule bending, rule breaking, back markers, whining, etc… that spices up things and I like it that way.

    Everyone played their cards in their way, and the best came out on top. No complaints; I enjoyed the season :)

    In spite of all the team order, driver preference accusations Ferrari still deserve the credit for giving a tough time for RBRs until the last race (in terms of drivers championship, I mean) and I don’t care how they did that – be it RBR’s poor reliability or they choosing Alonso their No.1 early (I just think it is early, not wrong – they should have done that anyway considering Massa’s form) ;)

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