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.
|Best race result (number)
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|*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.
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
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- Vote for the best F1 driver of 2010
- 2010 F1 driver rankings part three: 8-4
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