Ferrari: Alonso beats Red Bulls despite cool weather

2011 German GP team review

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Falling temperatures at the Nurburgring did not help Ferrari – but even so Fernando Alonso was able to beat the Red Bulls.

Fernando Alonso Felipe Massa
Qualifying position 4 5
Qualifying time comparison (Q3) 1’30.442 (-0.468) 1’30.910
Race position 2 5
Laps 60/60 60/60
Pit stops 3 3

Ferrari drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60
Fernando Alonso 103.129 100.439 98.576 98.505 98.047 98.509 98.1 97.998 97.647 97.676 98.196 98.461 99.462 99.054 98.237 100.19 115.061 97.667 97.236 96.977 96.679 96.726 96.394 96.897 96.258 96.457 96.565 96.368 96.252 96.49 96.602 98.281 113.237 95.821 95.369 95.469 95.295 95.217 95.213 95.356 95.412 95.886 95.076 95.568 95.656 95.214 95.111 95.468 95.119 95.127 95.366 95.81 97.993 111.807 95.081 94.936 95.108 94.683 95.154 94.626
Felipe Massa 105.272 100.133 99.57 99.264 99.453 99.176 99.249 98.927 99.075 99.74 99.873 99.275 98.435 99.402 100.121 100.399 100.979 114.156 97.299 98.994 99.121 96.804 96.566 96.559 96.68 96.833 97.398 96.664 96.953 96.886 96.842 96.683 97.054 97.093 96.857 97.2 97.201 97.296 97.355 97.338 99.032 114.209 95.569 95.527 95.53 95.36 94.986 94.89 94.715 95.304 94.609 94.85 96.559 95.753 95.272 95.654 95.292 95.036 97.67 116.594
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Nurburgring, 2011

Fernando Alonso

Alonso looked strong throughout practice but he ended up fourth on the grid, extending his unbeaten streak against Massa this year.

He dived down the inside of Sebastian Vettel at the first corner for third, but understeered wide at turn two on the following lap and lost the place.

Alonso quickly got back on Vettel’s tail and on lap eight he was back down the inside of Vettel at turn one again to claim the place back.

Now he could set about chasing the leaders, and hacked half a second per lap out of them so that by lap 12 he, Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber were covered by less than a second.

Alonso’s second pit-stop was the third-fastest of any driver during the race – and it briefly propelled him into the lead. But Hamilton pounced and drove around the outside of the Ferrari to claimed second place. Even so, this was still a net gain for Alonso of one place gained from Webber.

His final pit stop was even quicker – the second best of the race – but it wasn’t enough to get him into the lead. He emerged back in second, ahead of Webber, for his third podium finish in a row.

After the chequered flag Alonso was told to stop as he was on the point of running out of fuel. He had enough for the FIA to test a sample and he was not penalised – nor, happily, for accepting a lift back to the pits on Webber’s sidepod.

Stefano Domenicali said the cool conditions compromised the car’s performance: “We have confirmed that we are also competitive in weather conditions that are not favourable and this is important.

“Certainly if we had had temperatures that aren’t even like summer – but at least like spring – I think that we could have had more chance!

“What we can do instead is to improve the way in which the car gets temperature into the tyres: it’s an aspect that is increasingly important, as we clearly saw yesterday at the second pit stop.

“We had managed to get Fernando out onto the track ahead of both Webber and Hamilton but he couldn’t defend as he would have liked from the Englishman’s attack – simply because the tyres were too cold.”

Fernando Alonso 2011 form guide

Felipe Massa

Massa spent the opening laps trying to find a way past Nico Rosberg for fifth place, while being urged on by Rob Smedley on the radio.

The Mercedes was the quickest car in a straight line all weekend and it took Massa until lap 12 to get by. He finally got the job done on the way into turn one.

He then began catching Sebastian Vettel and four laps later Massa passed the Red Bull at the chicane – just before Vettel headed for the pits.

Massa held the position after he pitted on the next lap and spent the rest of the race keeping Vettel at arm’s length. He was successful – until the very last lap.

With both drivers needing to make the mandatory change to medium tyres on the last lap it came down to a battle of the pit crews. But a problem with the front-left wheel nut on Massa’s car cost him the place, leaving him fifth.

Felipe Massa 2011 form guide

2011 German Grand Prix

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    Keith Collantine
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    64 comments on “Ferrari: Alonso beats Red Bulls despite cool weather”

    1. This race reveals the Achilles heel of the RB7, once behind another reasonably quick car their faster cornering speed is limited by the car in front while down the straights the Ferrari and Mercedes powered cars have higher speeds to prevent the RB from attacking. Ferrari and McLaren are likely to win more races on tracks with long straights and tight corners unless MW improves his starting or SV goes back to qualifying on pole again. Hungary of course is made for the RB7 so expect business as usual there.

      1. It was a common feature of the RB6 and even RB5 (Vettel v Button in Turkey springs to mind) as well.

        I wonder if Ferrari performing better than expected in cooler conditions may actually lead to them being able to deal with scorching temperatures worse? I don’t think they’ll be too compromised but we’ll see.

      2. If u guys notice at the start.. usually massa always had good start compare to alonso. massa almost beat vettel at the start. vettel swerve to left to avoid massa through.

      3. Good point, but more than that. They are good on heavy fuel, which of course may be related to their aero sensitivity, which speaks to a ride-height control advantage. Anyway, here, if Hamilton didnt successfully arm-wrestle the lead back from Webber in the first stint, you would have seen Webber run away and then “control” the race, forcing Hamilton and Alonso to run off their tires pursuing him, even with better “race pace”. We would now be talking about another apparent RBR walk-over—and conjecturing about the true McLaren or Ferrari race pace. We have suspected since China that the car is beatable over a race distance from behind—if a pursuer has everything go his way and drives like a genius.

        Also, and another problem exacebated by turbulence, is that their KERS system is apparently not designed for full-race use. It overheats easily, even in cool temperatures. They have a system designed for a car that wins from the lead—after the intial phases of the race, it is only there for emergencies. Vettel’s system packing up after following Massa for a long time was totally predictable.

        So their achilles heel really, broadly speaking, is that the car is not desgined for a fight. If they cannot run in clean air, from the front, the car becomes ordinary. It doesn’t even have a KERS that can help fight for a position, and it actually becomes a liability because of its engine-braking effect.

        1. If you look closely, Massa had a strong start and he was to get the position, however he got stuck behind Vettel who was losing his position himself.
          The consequence was getting passed by Nico and scrweing up his race. A real shame.

          1. Very true Rod, he might have even joined the battle for the lead, he looked strong all race by keeping Vettel behind.

        2. It’s not true that Webber would have pulled away from the lead. Webber was leading after the first round of pitstops and he could not manage to just pull away and control the race. The RB car was simply not the fastest this weekend.

          I don’t think “not designed to fight” is the right way to put it. It just relies on aero efficiency first and foremost and that is of course quite heavily compromised when running behind other cars. It wouldn’t be as aero efficient, and therefore as fast over one lap, if Newey had compromised for cooling purposes, so in that sense aero dependency does become a bit of a liability in traffic. But if you equate aero dependency to “not designed to fight”, then none of the F1 cars are.

        3. @DaveW quite so, my view of Lewis re-taking the lead was that he attacked down the straight before Webber had a chance to put a gap between them and the McMerc. just powered by, taking Webber by surprise as no doubt he was at full throttle at the time and wasn’t expecting an attack until the braking zone.

    2. So Ferrari managed the 2nd and 3d quickest pitstops for Alonso and one of the worst for Massa. Poor guy. I mean, I’m sure they don’t do that on purpose, but everything does seem to be going against him at the moment and in favour of Alonso.

      Still, the fact that Ferrari managed to race the Red Bulls at all despite the temperature must be a massive boost to their confidence. I mean, it’s been what.. 5 years now that the Ferraris have had trouble with cold and wet conditions?

      1. It would have been in Ferrari’s and Fernando’s best interests for Massa to have had a smooth pitstop and beat Vettel out, limiting the points which Vettel would have scored.

        However, even if Massa had a smooth pitstop, I reckon Vettel would have slipped by on the last lap anyway. Ferrari take too long to get the harder compound tyres up to temperature.

        1. Yup, I agree, that’s why I said I’m sure they didn’t do it on purpose.

          Psychologically, this might actually have helped Massa a little bit. I mean, he can go away and say “It wasn’t my fault that Vettel got past me. Everyone can see how that happened, I kept him behind me all through my 3d stint. See: I am a good driver, I have just had some bad luck”.

          As opposed to if he had come out of that last pitstop ahead of Vettel and like you say James, have to try to keep Vettel behind on cold tyres which the RB car gets up to temperature a bit quicker.

        2. Putting a move on Massa when he had cold tyres could have been more dangerous than attacking when Massa was in full control, don’t you think?

        3. Which underlines how big a gift it was for Ferrari that Vettel stubbornly stayed out. If he came in earlier, he may have easily undercut the Ferrari. He was much faster. Even if the didn’t get the undercut, he would have been up to temperature and had a good chance to beat Massa on the last lap. The ideal strategy was to come int 2-3 laps before the end. Waiting until the end was dumb. Even if he did pass Massa, he would have exposed himself more to pit error to lose the position.

          Vettel actually ignored the team’s radio instruction on the penultimate lap to do whatever Massa didn’t. It was really foolish of him and if Ferrari didn’t screw up Vettel would be getting some criticism for an undisciplined decision.

          1. Right again DaveW, and it was the same for Webber, instead of saving his tyres he should have been attacking and changing to the prime once their times equalised as they obviously had many laps earlier.

      2. I wonder if the pitstop issues for Massa has to do with the way he enters and exits the box?

        Alonso looks like he flies in and stops at the right time, while Massa sort of slows down and parks smoothly, then slowly pulls away once done.

        1. If that was it I’m sure the Ferrari engineers would have already beaten it out of him. They practice this type of thing a lot.

          I was quite impressed by Massa. I doubt he would have fought with the top three. But I think he would have been able to hold on to them if he’d had a clear race. His pace wasn’t too bad.

          Purely Looking at the graph of the lap times it strikes me that his second stop should have been a bit earlier. However, I can’t remember who he was fighting against at the time.

        2. The pit times shows that until the last three laps, the best stop at Ferrari in the race was Massa’s first, 3.2 seconds. Alonso did 3.3 twice. The team screwed it under pressure in the last stop. Speaking to a Brazilian TV network, Massa as usual refused to blame the team in public (an enormous difference with Alonso…) but suggested that when he engaged first gear one of the mechanics was moving in front of the car. I don’t know what he said indoors, but to the brazilian press he said that it was a mistake and full stop.

      3. I do feel for Massa a bit, its as if the pitstops that do go wrong for Ferrari lately end up being his.

        But otherwise I think he did a very good job fighting off Vettel.

        1. Yeah, if he didn’t have bad luck he’d have none at all, unfortunately.

          Still, his pace was very good, and it would have been interesting to see if he could have stayed with the Top 3 if he wasn’t stuck behind Rosberg.

          1. I think he could have hung on, he had a great start till blocked by Vettel and getting stuck behind Roseberg.

            He did a great job keeping Vettel behind too. I just feel so sorry for Massa sometimes, loosing the WDC by a point in 08, his horrible accident in 09, the team orders controversy last year, and now all these terrible pit stops where the team lets him down. He had a better start than Alonso and a quicker fastest lap, if they’d give him some more attention he’d really start taking some points off the RBR and McLaren boys, because despite the deck stacked against him, he is improving lately.

        2. He certainly did. Very good defending.

      4. yes they have had issues since 07/08 with heat the in tyres.

        yet alonso was brilliant at managing them at korea last year? so its a strange one really.

        its due to having a car that is good on its tyres. the down side is it takes too long to warm up. remember his out laps at monaco, so slow! but it came back to him big time later on.

        Saying that fernando is always fiesty on the opening laps of a race. again hard to explain.

        1. yet alonso was brilliant at managing them at korea last year? so its a strange one really.

          It’s two sides of the same coin. Recent Ferraris have taken longer to get their tyres up to working temperature, but make them last better in races because they’re gentler on the rubber. Not so great in qualifying or in the first few laps of a stint, obviously, but the pay-off is better long-run pace.

          Occasionally, a Ferrari driver fails to ever switch on the grip from the tyres and goes slowly for most of the race. See Massa in Melbourne last year.

      5. Agree regarding Massa’s luck. But I heard some disappointment from Smedley when he said Rosberg was going to ruin their race, like he knew Massa would have taken a lot of time to pass him… he was too cautious for me.

    3. I think this is Ferrari showing now that thy have pace for all conditions. Alonso have been mighty consistent over the last 5 races. That’s 3 seconds and 1 win, I’d it wasn’t for his crash in Montreal he could have had 2 wins.

      Although Lewis had a really good race, Mclaren have lacked consistency thus far, and I feel they are still not settled. The weather da outer Lewis And he made the most of it.

      Massa was having a good scrap but te team let him down…they were probably burnt after the super high pressur stops the pulled for Alonso..

      Anyways, this coming weekend will be the real acid test for the prancing horse if youd like…Hungary has RBR written all over it.

    4. Fernado did great job, so did Felipe. If Alonso was not asleep when Lewis overtook him from outside he could have won the race. This was a big mistake in my opinion.

      Rosberg destroyed Massa’s race, but I think that a podium was realy difficult. Finally it’s pity for him because is already 4th or 5th times this season that Ferrari mechanics made a mistake in his pit stop.

      Overall a great race for Ferrari, but they were really unlucky.

      1. He wasn’t asleep. He had cold tires. Read dude.

        1. Yet Hamilton did not get passed in a similar situation (Webber on warm tyres)

    5. Great drive by Alonso, but what was the stuff about fuel and being told to pull over at the end of the race (on the in lap)?

      1. Good question – I’ve added a line on that.

      2. They needed enough fuel (1 ltr) for the post race checks. So they told him to park the car.

      3. Wallbreaker
        25th July 2011, 15:52

        They told him to do so to have at least one litre of fuel for the FIA for the mandatory check. Maybe they made the same mistake as McLaren in Silverstone where they thought it would rain and calculated with less fuel.

      4. He did not have enough fuel to get to the pits and for the fuel sample: cars ought to pass fuel test after (each?) session. If they don’t make it with a certain amount of fuel on board then they will be disqualified, like Buemi has been demoted to 24th after a defect in fuel in qualifying.

      5. Thanks guys, I agree with Keith, it was great to see Alonso getting a ride on Webber’s Red Bull. (And he didn’t even sneak a look in the cockpit!) I just asked because of Hamilton’s issue over fuel in the previous race – so you can basically cross the line with 1 litre in the tank, pull over and it’s okay?

        1. Well, when Hamilton had to park to preserve his test-liter in Canada there was a suggestion that McLaren were cheating. In fairness, it seems cheeky to meet the fuel-test rule by violating the rule on returning to parc ferme or making the car immediatey available for weighing, inspection, etc. Running out of fuel should not be the “force majeure” that excuses your failure to return to parc ferme.

    6. In Spanish news paper La Marca, quote of the day is Alonso on Vettel saying: “It’s easy to win races when you have a car one second faster”.


      I think Seb is looking forward to Hungary and try to beat more competitve Ferraris and McLarens, eventually by pulling two or three overtanking moves on front runners to get his respect back…

      1. Fat chance!

        1. “two or three overtaNking moves”.Freudian slip?

      2. I hope so :D

      3. Vettel and overtaking? Perhaps in the pitlane yes.

      4. Over tanking move? like the one in spa 2010 over button’s tank

    7. eua1972 (@)
      25th July 2011, 16:07

      In relation to the need to use both tyre compounds during the race. We saw Massa and Vettel changing tyres in the penultimate lap, but do you know if it applies to all drivers, even those that have been lapped? This could be important in a race like yesterday’s when all but the top 6 drivers were lapped.

      1. All competitors must use both grades of tyre in the race, whether they have been lapped or not. The only exceptions are when it has been declared a wet race, or when ‘intermediate’ tyres are used.

      2. Actually, I was looking at that when Brundle and Coulthard mentioned this in commentary. I think they said the penalty was 20 seconds for not coming in for the other compound? If that is the case, I think Massa would have been better off not coming in for those hard tyres and just driving the nuts off his car instead and taking the penalty. That’s not taking into account the botched pitstop, but assuming a perfect pitstop.

        1. Surely they were talking about time lost not a penalty or everyone would 2 stop on softs and take the penalty.

          1. Yeah, I can’t imagine a 20s penalty is quite right, but I’m sure that’s what I think I heard them say :p

            I didn’t record the race, or I could have tried to find out. Not exactly a punishment watching this race again :)

        2. A pitstop takes more than 20 seconds. Doesn’t make much sense to hand out a penalty that costs less than an actual stop.

          If so, then indeed it makes no sense at all for Massa and Vettel to make that final stop.

    8. Usually their weakness have been tyre temperature, it’s very positive result. even Massa show he still could fight with big guns even though not fast enough. Hungary is typical Red Bull circuit but also we saw Ferrari was second fast last year. Now it looks like Ferrari and Mclaren could beat Red Bull even in aero-oriented circuit, so We will see. I think Ferrari has more possibility than Mclaren, but still Red Bull would be the favorite.

      1. If it rains and that gives Mclarens again a great chance to qualify on top, we could see similar race to Nurburgring.

    9. Interesting to see the lap-time difference when Massa was stuck behind the merc. Rob Smedley was not lying when he told Massa his race would be ruined if he did not get past.

      1. I was annoyed by Rob Smedley’s way of instructing Massa. Like Massa doesn’t know his race chances are slim if stuck behind a slower car.

        1. Rob Smedley has always communicated with Felipe as if he is trying to teach someone new to racing what they need to do – it has worked for him on the whole throughout his career at Ferrari; perhaps he responds better to his engineer talking to him like a Dad would to his son. In the same way Button and Hamilton’s engineers talk to them in different ways: Hamilton’s sounds like he is constantly trying to reign him in and control his urges, while Button’s doesn’t need to because he seems to be more conscious of thinking ahead in terms of controlling tyre wear for instance.

          Just a non-expert opinion, but I don’t feel the relationship would last long if Felipe though Rob was patronising or talking down to him…

    10. I think Domenicali said the magic word: attack!
      Ferrari need to attack every race, which I guess translates as ‘attack Vettel’. If they (and McLaren) can push him down field in qualifying or in the first lap or so, it’s just about possible they can reel him in. Poor Sebastian! Hungary looks like being a critical point of the season.

    11. BBC weather website says rain in Hungaroring is expected next week.

    12. The penalty is time penalty when race is red-flagged and not restarted. DQ when race is run to the finish like it’s usually done.

    13. The move of Massa on Nico was very aggressive a different Massa.He raced well though his team couldn’t finished him in a place where they should have had.

      1. It was an electric pass, 2nd best of the race if you ask me, only behind Hamilton’s pass on Webber in the same spot. I think Massa was angry, he clearly could have passed in the chicane on the way into that lap were it not for the local yellow from the Buemi-Heidfeld crash.

        1. Yeah I agree,the way he forced Nico to go off track on the asphalt shows that he still have the claws in him.The one on Webber by Lewis is classic,superb & the best of the day as you said.

          1. UKfanatic (@)
            26th July 2011, 16:04

            Hamilton is Senna like on every sense, Webber was too soft and Alonso was to deep, but on the brakes. this season we are just missing an in track normal conditions winning overtake anyway another great race

      2. I just think that it was not a “different” Massa. But the old Massa. The same one who kept him self to Ferrari’s eyes years ago.
        If you look at his Sauber seasons he had a aggressive driving style.
        He knows that this is a key year for him even though his contract will end until next year, he just cannot run on a big gap from Alonso.
        If he don’t deliver good points to the teams on his last two years in Ferrari he’ll hardly get a good contract for 2013 and he’ll be just like Barichello struggling with poor cars until retirement comes.

    14. UKfanatic (@)
      26th July 2011, 16:02

      This cool gp was very diferent from previous races by many reasons, which provided us some new information

      1st- Vettel has the same overtaking problems as webber, now that he spent all race behind other car on the same strategy.

      2nd- Mclaren are the team that uses the tyres harder, heating up very quickly (maybe because of the suspension)

      3rd- Ferrari may have lost but it didnt seem to mind the cool temperatures exactly what this arcticle points out, the typical Ferrari excuse in the last 4 years.

    15. Great race from Fernando and Felipe… Well done.

    16. Ferrari didn’t win, but they got confirmation that their speed is there, and for both drivers. Really liked what Massa showed (well, I agree with Rob Smedley that getting past Rosberg sooner would have helped).

      Sad about that last pitstop, but considering Ferrari got the three fastest pit stops here (one for Massa, not just Alonso) and was fast in the UK too, their new system for it looks to be working on the whole team.

      Guess they won’t dislike that rainy weather Hungary has quite as much now as they would have dreaded it before; they might be better in the blazing heat, but they can get around and Red Bull isn’t too happy with the cold either it seems.

    17. A good result for Ferrari, it’s good to see them do well. Lovely stuff between Massa and Vettel on the last lap, got my heart racing!

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