Ferrari look for answers on missing pace

2011 Australian GP team review

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Ferrari were one-and-a-half seconds slower than Red Bull in qualifying and needed an extra pit stop in the race.

Fernando AlonsoFelipe Massa
Qualifying position58
Qualifying time comparison (Q3)1’24.974 (-0.625)1’25.599
Race position47
Pit stops33

Fernando Alonso106.14496.23394.72695.35594.493.27892.90393.09993.62194.05394.857112.62498.81292.67991.90492.28992.18691.83291.95891.93692.00292.33691.95592.19893.47592.371113.55296.990.09790.10390.08190.17790.37990.35690.42790.31490.73990.39991.12191.09491.632110.31597.74590.02989.60889.8489.83789.59789.48789.86789.93789.65789.50790.40189.52989.66589.91290.501
Felipe Massa104.19694.48595.66493.994.71293.794.00493.83393.86994.4996.69994.662114.06100.2592.95892.74992.43393.49292.83192.66192.28992.32192.54192.4592.85492.72493.07692.91493.19493.265113.7499.97391.87791.64491.60191.88491.25991.26391.80691.29191.20791.09391.6491.4991.33191.37891.541113.00696.91389.45190.09492.45692.81990.0788.94789.7790.80391.822

Fernando Alonso

For the second year in a row Alonso went into the first corner at Melbourne side-by-side with Jenson Button and it didn’t work out for him – although at least this time he didn’t end up facing oncoming traffic.

Alonso was edged wide onto the grass and slipped back from fifth to tenth.

He quickly mounted a comeback, picking off Kamui Kobayashi by going to long way around turn 11 on lap two. Then he used his DRS to take Nico Rosberg on the outside of turn one.

Alonso rapidly closed in on the battle for fifth between his team mate and Button. When Button made his ill-fated passing attempt Alonso pounced on his delayed team mate and made it through. But by now his tyres were going off and he made his first pit stop on the next lap.

He moved up to fifth which became fourth when Mark Webber made a mistake on a later out-lap, allowing Alonso to jump him in the pits.

Despite pressure from (the KERS-less) Webber, Alonso reeled in Vitaly Petrov in the closing laps, but ran out of time to mount an attack on the Renault driver.

Felipe Massa, Jenson Button, Melbourne, 2011

Felipe Massa

Only a late improvement spared Massa the embarrassment of being eliminated in the first part of qualifying. After that scare he made it into Q3 and lined up eighth.

A good start put him fifth but he came under huge pressure from Button and had to defend so much he lost between one and three seconds per lap to leader Sebastian Vettel.

After Button went off the track trying to pass him, Massa lost his place to Alonso. After their first pit stops Massa lost further ground to his team mate.

Massa tried to make it to the end of the race by taking on hard tyres at his second pit stop, but gave up after being passed by Button and pitted for more softs. That dropped him to tenth, after which he passed Sebastien Buemi for ninth and was promoted two more places by the disqualification of the Saubers.

Team principal Stefano Domenicali said the team simply didn’t have as much downforce as they expected to: “We will have to study everything carefully to work out what prevented us from being as competitive as we had expected this weekend.

“Then we will have to react immediately, starting with the next race in Malaysia. One of the main themes is the level of downforce at the front: we must find out why we did not get on track what was predicted by the data.”

2011 Australian Grand Prix

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    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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    101 comments on “Ferrari look for answers on missing pace”

    1. i wont believe for 1 second that was the true pace of their car. I expect them to be back strongly in Sepang.

      1. UKfanatic (@)
        28th March 2011, 21:24

        I hope so but they are behind Red Bull and Mclaren and on a secondary level renault so they are off about a sec

      2. Of course it was their true pace(at least around melbourne), So you think they were sand bagging? But yes I’m sure they will close the gap!

        1. I know where the missing pace went…. to McLaren.

          1. Wouldn’t be the first time McLaren had Ferrari’s pace. :D Anyone see Nigel this weekend?

    2. I enjoyed watching Massa yesterday. It brought me back to better times.

      1. But he was pretty slow. I wouldnt be all that suprised if Perez were to replace him next season, given that Perez is in the Ferrari Development programme. If Perez continues like he has started, it’ll be bye-bye for Massa

        1. When has Felipe Massa been quick at Albert Park?

          1. He was on the podium last year.

            1. True, the only luck he’s ever had there, I still remember he and Kimi self destructing in the 08 race and struggling in the 09 one, those were dark days.

            2. “He was on the podium last year.”

              Yes, he was. But he wasn’t quick. He avoided making mistakes in the difficult conditions, which promoted him to 3rd.

        2. First of all, that Ferrari did not work all that well in Melbourne, the drives really had to fight the car.
          As Keith writes, Massa had a great start and a very tough job keeping an evidently faster Button behind.
          The stop to go back to sofst was a strange choice, but was that Massas fault? I must say he did not do that bad.
          Certainly the car pace as such is a far bigger worry for Ferrari at the moment.

          1. Dolph_Lundgrenade
            31st March 2011, 2:16

            Well, Massa was more than half a second slower in qualifying in the same car as his teammate so UH, Yeah, as much as I would like to see Massa do well (Webber too) I see Massa moving along next year… as far as the “burying” of Koboyashi’s career; i don’t think anyone is implying that, but he isn’t Ferrari material. Perez surely looks like he may be however and if he puts in some more performances this year I would very much expect a Mexican sponsor to be gracing the Ferrari in 2011.

        3. Wow, after one race everyone is burying Kobayashi’s career and elevating Perez to Ferrari. Let’s have just a bit of perspective here. It was one race, and they were disqualified.

    3. I was surprised by the lack of pace in the race. Alonso and Massa were fighting the car all race, which probably suggests they couldn’t find the right balance. Still Fernando got a lot out of the car and was unfortunate to be caught up with Button at the first corner.

      They should get up to pace by Malaysia, let’s hope they don’t have the same engine trouble as last year.

      1. They shouldn’t. After they fixed engine under approval of FIA, even under high pressure on engines, none of them(including Sauber and STR) never failed except FP of Brazil.

      2. Looking at Keiths post race analysis charts I think it looks like Alonso was the quickest man of the race from lap 28 to the finish. Sure, Vettel kind of cruised at one point and Hamilton had a broken car, but still, that lets me hope for the season.

        1. Why break your car when you have a massive lead. Fastest laps are for those catching up or the extremely bored.

          1. Like Kimi haha!

            Sorry, I had to say it.
            I still think it is impressive to bag the fastest lap, and Massa got him one in Albert Park. Albeit because of low fuel and fresh tires and the end of the race.

        2. But Alonso did have the newer tyres for most of those laps (compared to Vettel and Hamilton), that would have certainly helped

          1. no,because alonso was behind slower cars for the entire race and couldn’t manage to look after his tires ’cause he was pushing the car. He lost spots at the start, and was behind drivers like kobayashi,webber,button,massa to name a few. so not what you are saying is not true. He had to pit 3 times in order to be able to gain some spots by having a clear track (whic didn’t happen)

            1. Excuses, excuses. Bottom line is Ferrari ran a shabby weekend overall and were lucky to score the points they did. I doubt much will change before the big update kits start arriving in a few races time either as the Ferrari may suffer even higher tyre wear in Sepang.


    4. By Malaysia, or, if failing that, China; I’m sure Ferrari will catch Mclaren… Wasn’t expecting to say that pre-season. I think Mclaren pulled the wool over our eyes somewhat!

      1. I think McLaren pulled the wool over their own eyes to an extent. I’m sure the pace was their to unlock in the car from the get go, but they were plagued by tons of reliability problems caused by their “octopus” exhaust deforming, etc. Once they abandoned that red herring and focused on something more reliable and sensible, the true pace of the car was almost instantly apparent. That s till doesnt explain Ferrari’s apparent lack of pace though. It seems the tires definitely acted differently to what most teams and drivers were expecting, and very few drivers were actually able to unlock the potential of the tires. I’m thinking Vettel, Hamilton, Petrov, Perez, and maybe a handful of other drivers…

        1. Button did say so midway through the Barcelona test, that the car had the speed there to use, just the limited running did not give them any chance of starting to get work on a setup done.

          I agree that Ferrari looks like they had a problem with working the tyres.

    5. Stefanos Vasilis McLaren-Mercedes
      28th March 2011, 19:05

      Massa defend his position very well against Button, but when Button passed him (illegally) then he let Alonso to pass him very easy. Shame on you Massa. Shame on Ferrari. He made Button’s race very difficult but when Alonso came closer he let him pas him. Do not ever say Mr. Massa that you are not second criver because that is what you are. SECOND DRIVER!

      1. Stefanos Vasilis McLaren-Mercedes
        28th March 2011, 19:07

        I mean second driver.

      2. Felipe lost a lot of momentum in that incident with Button, Alonso closed really quick and was just faster at turns 13 and 14. Fernando knew if he stuck the car down the inside Felipe wouldn’t bother defending it.

        1. Stefanos Vasilis McLaren-Mercedes
          28th March 2011, 19:13

          When Button cut road and passes him, Massa slow down. Then Alonso passes him easy. BUT before that Massa was a kamikazee against Button to keep him possition! Against Alonso he acted like a second driver.

          1. tho massa went defensive initially taking the inside line, leaving him vunerable at the next bend.

            he didnt fight to hard(cos that would be stupid to your MUCH faster team mate), but he did defend his position.

            not sure what the problem. oh no yes i do it involves ferrari and alonso.

            1. Especially with the pitstops planned and Alonso needing a good inlap for his charge forward.

          2. actually, the tactically correct thing to do for massa would have been to let alonso by, then pit immediately. button’s correct response to this would be to pit, slot in behind massa, and continue the attack. by pitting alonso first ferrari nearly let button off the hook, as he could have chosen to give the place back at any time.

            i’m surprised button chose to take the penalty we all knew was coming, especially after last year’s alonso-kubica penalty.

            1. Brundle and Coulthard immediately said it was a tactical call by Ferrari to get Alonso past Massa, because it meant Button would have to choose: either leave both Alonso and Massa past, or leave himself at the mercy of the stewarts. We all know which he picked and how that panned out.

            2. Since when have Brundle and Coulthard been privy to Ferrari race strategy. This isn’t the first time they have distorted peples minds wth their assumptions. A commentator should not mislead the viewers, they should describe what ehy sea and not try to give to many reasons for it. If you take a 90 degree angle from the inside you lose momentum in a massive way.

      3. I tend to bag Ferrari as much as possible, but that swapping of position was nothing other than great team work.

        1. If Brundle and Coulthard literally commentated on what they could see without giving any opinion or insight then I think it would be a rather boring commentary!

          I could do that!

          1. Jeffrey Powell
            30th March 2011, 8:43

            Yes quite right and I suppose you’d do it for slightly less money.

        2. agree, now you can see the changes in the strategies by the changes the team did in the pre-season. also button should have known better and give the position back right after he passed massa.

    6. Disappointing qualifing, reasonable race pace, so you should not unerestimate them early. I’m sorry that it seems like Massa is still struggling. I think he was better than late part of last season but it’s not enough to protect his seat. He should pick up pace ASAP.

      I believe they will fire back at Malaysia, because it’s one of favorite vanue for Ferrari and Alonso. Maybe not enough to win but I think they will find out what the problem is and fix it.

      1. Anyway their pit stop is too slow though the slowest of weekend was Redbull’s(also the fastest, I guess :D)

    7. To have a car that can’t seem to heat its tyres in qualifying, but eats them up in a race … that doesn’t sound like a quick fix.

      1. I dont think they did 3 stops because of tyre wear. I think they did it to get infront, or stay infront of people on the same strategy, such as webber.

        If you pit first, you get out on quicker tyres than the person who pit after you. So for that one or two laps before the guy pits in response, you gain a bit of time because your tyres are way fresher. That allows you to jump him when he pits. The problem with the strategy is that the person you overtook will have better tyres towards the end of the final stint, which is okay because they still have to overtake you on track to get the place back.

        Now considering how many people Alonso had in front of him, an aggressive strategy like that made sense. When you are at the front with no threat of being jumped during your pit stop, a 2 stopper is the quicker option.

        You also have to remember that because they knew they were on a 3 stop, they pushed hard knowing they didnt have to look after the tyres. To make it work, going fast is all that matters. So yes, they did wear a bit quicker, but only because they were not trying to preserve their tyres like the rest were.

        1. Ted Kravitz himself said the Ferraris were suffering alot of tyre wear during the race. Massa stopped no less than four times.

          1. no they didn’t ;alonso pitted three times in order to gain positions since he was stuck in traffic when he lost that many positions in the first lap. Alonso said that himself. And what do you expect? alonso was racing hard while vettel,hamilton and petrov didn’t have to push the tires ’cause nobody was behind them for the entire race. last but not least if you see the fastest laps alonso has three ouf the 5 fastest laps of the race while massa has the fastest one. which leads me to beleive that they have the fastest car in race tri but miss in the setup ofr the low temperatures played against them.

        2. I agree. Alonso needed a 3 stopper because he dropped so far back.

          I think if he had got out of Turn 1 and 2 in fourth or fifth, he may have been able to nurse his tyres a little bit more and maybe get away with a two stop.

          It seemed to me at the time that Alonso managed to get the most out of the hard tyres. Webber was struggling with it, Alonso drove the treads off the harder compound while he was reeling in Petrov, he was pulling almost a second a lap on the Russian who was on softs I believe?

          Ferrari will be back at Sepang. Its a 2 week window, enough time for the lot to figure out why they had such poor downforce in Melboourne.

          Sepang will be interesting, the heat will wreck havoc in the pit lane with respect to tyre wear!!

          1. Marc Gene told the spanish telly that 3 stops was faster in the sim for them. Also, that they are lost with the pirellis since saturday…

    8. Surely Melbourne is an atypical circuit? Better to take stock after Sepang with it’s longer corners and higher temperatures.

      1. I should say so.

    9. Fred Schechter
      28th March 2011, 19:56

      I am reminded even more when I see the position map, that F1 cannot pit everyone at the same time. This is still a bad idea, though sadly it seems the tracks visited do not have the infrastructure to manage it (I’m looking at you tiny Monaco (but you can’t help it)). The rest of the tracks, seriously?! Split the pit crews in half, there are still more than enough people to change 4 tires and jack the car up (in NASCAR terms, that’s 6 people).
      If you don’t want to have team orders be an issue, then take away the REQUIREMENT for the TEAM to make a favorable decision over whom they must bring in at the most optimal time!


      but I digress,,,
      that’s it,,
      just here digressing.

    10. the car looked good to me…maybe they should get a couple of decent drivers to see how fast it can really go before pouring millions into redevelopment

      1. You obviously dont know much about F1 or their Drivers. Alonso is rated as one of the best, if not the best driver on the grid.

        1. i think you need to change your browser settings; your sarcasm detector appears to be switched off…..

    11. It’s about time Ferrari got a fast second driver instead of a slow guy that is good at blocking people!

      1. Button would agree with you on that.

        1. Alonso too probably. He seems to get stuck in the Massa-ve-train often :P

          1. Just kind of weird how the slow guy ends up in front of Alonso so often!

            1. Yeah, maybe if Alonso were really the greatest he wouldn’t get himself into those positions in the first place. I genuinely hope Ferrari improve their pace and compete with Redbull, McLaren, etc. But I could care less if Alonso does well, he’s not the next Schumacher and he gets on my nerves.

    12. Other than the 1st couple of laps, Fernando was quicker than Felipe on almost every lap. Thats a scary statistic for Felipe.

      1. Massa can console himself with the fastest lap of the race.

        1. Yeah, but mostly due to changing tyres very late in the race.

            1. does any one know if there’s any speed trap data from qualifying?

    13. there is talk (from jarno mostly) that pirelli changed their tyres at last minute. and it left it a lottery if your set up based on testing would do anything at all.

      it would answer why mercedes had no pace, ferrari couldnt heat up tyres, williams were no where. webber couldnt get it together for no apparent reason.

      also red bull seemed ok on its tyre wear, where as in testing it seemed to be harsh on them.

      so(perhaps?) pirelli bring a harder tyre wrecked any chance the teams who had cars that were geared towards conserving their tyres. it just meant they couldnt heat them up. where as cars which were hard on tyres then found them selves a bit more in the zone.

      just a theory.

      1. Pirelli did not change the specification of its tyres at the last minute. They simply operated differently to what they had done in testing.

        1. Different track conditions and make up. Its a street circuit, and they tested on a very gripppy, high downforce perma circuit.

    14. One thing that stands out from Ferrari, well Alonso, is the short amount of time it took him to catch Button. He was almost right on the back of him when Button decided to take his short cut.

      Pretty disappointing stuff all in all, expecting more from Massa but he did well to keep Button behind him and force the error.

      1. Button was stuck behind Massa who himself was his ruining his own race by defending so much. Naturally after being in the dirty air of Massa for so long Button’s tyres wouldn’t be in such a good state.

    15. @The Edge, yes, here:

      1: Kamui Kobayashi – 314.2 (kph)
      2: Sergio Perez – 313.5
      3: Nico Rosberg – 313.4

      Then McLarens, Schumacher, Sutil, Maldonado, di Resta, Rubinho, Renaults, Buemi, then

      14: Fernando Alonso – 309.7
      15: Felipe Massa – 309.5
      16: Jaime Alguersuari – 309.5
      17: Sebastian Vettel – 308.3
      18: Mark Webber – 308.3
      19: Narain Karthikeyan – 305.1
      20: Vitantonio Liuzzi – 304.3
      21: Heikki Kovalainen – 303.5
      22: Jarno Trulli – 303.4
      23: Jerome d’Ambrosio – 301.6
      24: Timo Glock – 301.1

      Interesting is the Red Bulls are slowest of the established teams (guessing because of lack of KERS), and Narain Karthikeyan for HRT is fastest of the new teams (again, I think this is lack of downforce). The Virgins are a couple kph slower than Lotus so perhaps at high downforce tracks you will see a surprise.

      1. UKfanatic (@)
        28th March 2011, 21:29

        for some reason the sauber were illegal

        1. High downforce generating rear wing, which also generates less drag. Not performance enhancing my ass!

      2. I believe Newey does not care much about pure speed. RBR are trading speed in straight for high speed in turns which makes them killers

        1. And Rosberg being .1 of a KPH slower so his wing must have been illegal as well.
          Come on

      3. Poor Glock, I wish he were in a good car again, anyone here seen the great scrap between he and Hamilton from The GP2 race at Turkey in 06? It is fantastic.

        1. I totally agree, I’ve always wondered how come he does not get a seat at least in a mid-field team…

    16. That Lewis Hamilton guy’s very quick. I reckon him and Alonso would be a Dream Team!

      1. I second that! Like fireworks!

        1. After 2007, they hate each other never happen. also McLaren hate Alonso after the Ferrari plans being planted in there systems, and Hamilton said he will never leave Mclaren.

          1. All speculation on your behalf. Alonso has publicly said he has no problems with Hamilton.

            1. You will find they often have tea together after church.

            2. .. and biscuits and the old scone or two.

    17. I’m a massive Ferrari fan expecting great things but I was really disappointed this weekend. Must say well done to Vettel and surprisingly McLaren.

      Massa was really poor… again!

      1. Well, at least we can take comfort in knowing Alonso will have the full team behind him sooner than the other teams will decide who they will be backing :P

        Go go team Alonso!

    18. It’s one thing to have trouble heating the tires, but when you also have high wear in the race, that’s another. Domenicali even mentioned that they had both troubles and put it down to downforce. That is a troubling conclusion because tire heating/wear can often be down to suspension geometry, or settings for camber, toe, damping, etc—thinigs you can fix with a spanner. If downforce is the problem, the problems will be bigger at Sepang, and won’t be fixed until they can fiddle with the aero bits. Additionally, RBR will have their KERS working again next time, so RBR will ladel on even more downforce for Sepang.

    19. may i just bring up the fact that the promised new front wing, that i was looking forward to didn’t get put on the car this weekend, as they are still using last years front wing.
      Proof on Ferrari’s f1 website in 360 view on the car (video clip)

      1. It actually is a new front wing, but the differences are very minimal to their wing of late last season.

        I was hoping for a much more radical and advanced solution, like the Renault managed to bring at darn near every race last year!

    20. Ferrari issue was front end grip, and turning the tyres on (ie keep up temp). Throughout practice and quali you could see they had huge amounts of understeer. It was similar to the renault of 05 and 06. Alonso used to have an extra turn of lock at every corner DC was commenting on it, and it did look very strange. Ferrari have said they have lost front down force, and dont know where or how.

      A mate of mine was in the Ferrari box and talking to some engineers in the paddock over the weekend, they all said the same thing, the Ferrari is a quick car, just could not generate enough heat in the tyres at that track which inturn causes the car to slide and wear tyres out faster. Engineers were saying in the cold temps of barcelona they were flying on race pace. I think provided they fix this front wing issue, they should be on par if not quicker then Redbull during the race. I believe mclaren will fall back. Having a quick car at albert park doesn not mean your quick everywhere. Mclaren will struggle in the high speed stuff. they have a car with really good drive off the corners, and turn in, Button was all over massa when driving out of corners. Mid corner high speed is where they will suffer.

      1. The Ferrari suffered from both understeer and oversteer, unlike the Renaults of 05 and 06 which were planted at the back.

        As for McLaren falling back… that’s a load of rubbish.

    21. We were surprise for their lack of pace. Massa was racing well until Button passed him.Alonso lost huge momentum at turn 1.

    22. Hard to type with a phone. Forgive my typos.

    23. Breaking news: Ferrari find the source of their missing pace

      I left my 6 tenths behind the sofa by accident

      Fernando Alonso

      1. Lol! Very amusing.

    24. why do so much people hate massa on this forum fs! give the guy a break its the first race of the season and everyone is on about team orders and second drivers

      massa let Alonzo through so that button would have to let both ferraris through or get a penalty, (no team orders or second drivers its just common sense)

      all of yous critisise massa because he is slower than Alonzo but what about button he was nearly 5 tenths slower than Lewis in quali with no kers

      1. Actually even though I perpetuated that theory, it seems that Massa was just so slow from defending against Button Alonso got on his back and by now he knows what to do when Alonso is coming up behind him.

        The reason people aren’t criticising Button is because even with his drive-through he still managed to catch Massa again and pass him.

        1. I think Massa is generating a lot of comments because people are frustrated by his performances.

          He showed in 08 that he clearly has the pace to win races, but I think there is something missing mentally that doesn’t give him the killer instinct of drivers such as Alonso or Hamilton.

      2. I was very impressed by his performance defending Button (altough Button never tried to go inside, what a weak atack he made), but he has to do better in the next races; What’s he aiming for? Alonso will fight for the champiomship if a team gives him a fast car, but that´s not granted with Massa, and that has to change now.

        1. although, attack, championship… wow

    25. What happened to Alonso’s famed ability to set up a car? He “carried Hamilton in 2007” apparantly, worth “0.5 second a lap to Lewis”.

      The Ferrari looks like a pig and handles like one so i guess he must take some of the blame ?

      On the positive side its great to see him trying to tame the Ferrari, much more exciting than watching something go round on rails, however much faster that car may be..

      The worst thing for Ferrari is they must know that Alonso is driving the car faster than its ability and hes still 1.5 away.

      1. lol. Well said Alonso is indeed driving the ferrari faster that it is. It does not look good for Ferrari.

        I think we will see a different Massa this year. The way he defended against Button was very good. Sometime during the season we will start seeing him beat Alonso.

        1. ya he will most of all Ferrari was checking on tiers so now they know hard tiers worst beside they cannot ask Alonso to try because of point massa was behind so loss little in term of points we see what happens in sepang.
          RBR = i have no idea -.- their pace …. compare like other team = fly RBR = dragon fly

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