Ferrari: Harder tyres still the car’s weakness

2011 Belgian GP team review

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Alonso led the race early on but fell back after switching to the medium tyres.

Fernando AlonsoFelipe Massa
Qualifying position84
Qualifying time comparison (Q3)1’51.251 (+0.995)1’50.256
Race position48
Pit stops23

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

Fernando Alonso122.347116.493116.84116.562116.574116.752115.151118.283128.668115.238113.747113.399124.146172.367173.602170.287115.264114.302112.968113.134112.9113.082112.91113.09113.216113.196113.256113.439117.306124.663111.844111.956111.556112.036112.115111.914112.293111.364111.251111.183111.107112.041111.485112.588
Felipe Massa120.901117.067117.273116.521118.828116.516116.984117.354120.222130.014117.7116.319130.768153.117172.721169.835115.995114.464114.061114.441114.29114.997114.538114.988114.804114.87114.764115.014115.133119.313128.784117.37127.394112.153113.253111.942112.616111.81111.785111.765111.944111.564111.661113.116
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Spa-Francorchamps, 2011

Fernando Alonso

Ferrari kept their running to a minimum on Saturday morning, and Alonso had his worst qualifying result of the year. He lined up eighth, struggling to get heat into his tyres on a cool day.

He was knocked wide at the first corner as a result of the Bruno Senna/Jaime Alguersuari collision, but still had enough momentum to take fifth place.

On the next lap he took Lewis Hamilton for fourth. Three laps later he dived down the inside of Massa at Rivage for third, and took the place despite running wide.

After Vettel pitted, Alonso passed Nico Rosberg to take the lead, which he held until he pitted on lap eight.

Needing to spend as little time on the medium tyre as possible, Alonso didn’t pit under the safety car, hoping Vettel would not be able to run long enough on his soft tyres to make only three stops.

But Vettel did, and Alonso had to come in for mediums on lap 29. In the final stint he was up to a second off Vettel’s pace and was passed by Mark Webber and Jenson Button.

“It would have been difficult to do better than this fourth place today, especially given how much we suffered on the medium tyres,” said Alonso. “In these conditions, we are a second and a half slower than the best.”

Stefano Domenicali said: “We saw our car perform in two different ways, depending on what tyres it was running: very good on the soft, especially with Fernando, but definitely lacking with the medium.

“This explains how Fernando, who delivered an extraordinary performance, taking the lead and fighting for the win in the first stint, then gradually saw what would have been a very well deserved podium place slip from his grasp.”

Fernando Alonso 2011 form guide

Felipe Massa

Massa out-qualified his team mate for the second race in a row. He gained a place from Hamilton at the start, but when Alonso passed him on lap five it allowed Hamilton to re-take the place off Massa.

Massa was passed by Rosberg after the restart and then couldn’t re-pass the Mercedes:

“When I found myself behind Rosberg, I could not pass him, despite the DRS, because their top speed is very good. Furthermore, I was struggling especially in the slowest corners – the final chicane and La Source – and that stopped me from getting as good a tow as possible.”

A puncture forced him to make an extra pit stop on lap 32 which dropped him out of the points. He passed Paul di Resta and Pastor Maldonado, then took eighth off Vitaly Petrov who spun at the final corner.

Felipe Massa 2011 form guide

2011 Belgian Grand Prix

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    Image © Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo

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    Keith Collantine
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    25 comments on “Ferrari: Harder tyres still the car’s weakness”

    1. Eternal Newbie
      29th August 2011, 11:38

      Not only the poor hard tyre performance, also the bad strategic call and the badly timed SC worked against FA. He did a great job though.

      1. indeed, everyone but Vettel seems so complaint about their tyre adaptation, and with reason data show differences between drivers on the same machine, mercedes cooks their tyres mclaren the same and ferrari doesnt heat enough. About the safety car Vettel seems to get it everytime right just like lewis in 08, Monaco and now Spa. You’re right poor tyre performance, strategy and car performance are killing the opposition

    2. Ferrari gifted a free pit stop to Vettel yesterday. Aas I have said before, Ferrari is too conservative and reactive. They should be proactive./

      1. I was very surprised when they didnt come in for the free stop.

        1. Yes, but I think at the time, Ferrari maybe assumed that everyone would have two more stops, so they wouldn’t need a long stint on the mediums.

          Even for Massa, who gained track position from not pitting, lost that time – based on Schumacher, who did pit, and basically caught him by the end of the stint.

          1. I think that might have been their reasoning. And had they pitted that early, they would still have been worse off then Vettel as he did a lot better on the mediums.

    3. ‘Needing to spend as little time on the medium tyre as possible, Alonso didn’t pit under the safety car, hoping Vettel would not be able to run long enough on his soft tyres to make only three stops.’

      Not pitting under SC meant they spent more time on the hard tyre that they needed to. As the tyre was already a good few laps old. If they pitted under SC they would of been able to pit later. In fact more likely vettel under pressure would of tried the undercut and done the original 4 stops, as planned after sebs early stop.

      Also it would of put more pressure on seb. who when under pressure had blistered his tyres already. Under no pressure they lasted much better.

      These are basic strategy errors. and also quite alarming some others cant see it.

      They gifted seb the win. or at least gave him an easier run of it. From the SC period fernando was ALWAYS on a slower tyre than seb. How was he to compete with that??? They totally deleted there one advantage of better tyre wear.


      1. In fact, I wonder how is it possible that Ferrari screws up the strategy so often. I mean, who the hell makes those decisions? It’s like they know nothing of F1. And I’m surprised Alonso hasn’t a firmer take on it, I’d expect him to tell the team what they should do for him.

    4. Also fair play to ferrari. They were racing each other! so that puts to bed that theory.

      massa was unlucky with his puncture. but he took far to long to get by rosberg when everyone breezed past him

    5. Ferrari have been so frustrating this year with their tyres. I just hope next year is better.

      It was great to see Massa and Fernando having a proper scrap at the beginning of the race too. Felipe seemed really on it at that point. I remember at Aus there were some comments flying around that Massa had let Alonso through while he was battling with JB so I’m glad that Massa showed that he really is fighting hard. His race pace mostly wasn’t too bad either.

      1. Yes, that battle was great, and obviously they have great respect, because they left each other just enough room.

        It was a pity that battle led to Massa getting passed by Hamilton though!

      2. Massa’s pace wasn’t too much off Alonso’s. He just needs to pass other drivers more quickly: Alonso dived into him as soon as he saw him, Massa didn’t try to pass Rosberg for laps.

        1. At the start of the race, he wasn’t behind Rosberg for long at all, maybe 2 laps, between Vettel passing Rosberg and Massa catching him.

          It was Massa’s problems at La Source, as he mentioned in his comments, that cost him. If Massa had got a better exit from La Source on Lap 5, he probably would’ve passed Rosberg, and would’ve led the race. Instead, he was 4th by the middle of the lap.

        2. Felipe said that he was struggling in slow corners and he was having graining problems with the soft tyres early in the stints. It was so obvious…. he was exiting the chicane so far behind so when he was at la source the car in front had so much space. Until les combes he was closing the gap but he was unable to pass. Poor Felipe…. he had an ok qualy but the race pace was again poor.

          I think that Ferrari has tried to change the way they operate concerning their strategy due to the fiasco last year in Abu Dhabi. But their new operation in not so successful. Fernado have said that they new to take risks. Where is the risk in strategy?

          But the main problem is the heat into the tyres. Early in the season they couldn’t generate enough heat into the hard compound. At silverstone they were very quick in that tyre. So problem solved? I don’t think so….Now they have a different problem. They can’t generate that heat into the tyres in cooler conditions.

          Ferrari said that they started working flaw out for the 2012 car. I want to see the innovative and extreme car that they will produce (their own words). They have 44.000 tons of data about the pirelli tyres so IMO the least we can wait is enough heat into the tyres…. I say they will overcook their tyres…. lets see…..

      3. that was a bit of a strange moment, I think. I had the impression that for a moment Felipe hesitated whether to defend from Alonso and then he got on with it.

    6. I think the lack of dry running before the race was what really hampered Ferrari in this race.

      The car obviously has a narrow performance window on the harder tyre, and they weren’t able to have the chance to fine tune their strategy on the Friday. Felipe also said in his comments that the car was really struggling in the slower corners, and they had to make a front wing adjustment.

    7. botched up strategy with the pit call that did not come with the safety car and not getting in Fernando for another set of soft tyres effectively wasting the 3rd set

      Ferrari need to stop being reactive and read the situation well .. did they not know that they weren’t competitive on the medium compound. They should have minimized the running on the mediums !!

    8. Interesting how quick Massa was initially. I think confidence is a big part of it since his accident. As soon as Alonso got past him he was much slower.

    9. They made the mistake of not coming in during the safety car.

    10. themagicofspeed (@)
      30th August 2011, 13:32

      Yes, and get rid of the idiot responsible for Alonso’s strategy disasters he keeps having dumped on him.

      If they sorted out their strategy, shed the dead wood (Massa), persuaded Schumacher to return (i wish), and build the sort of car they built 5 times in a row between 2000-2004, they’d have it sorted. I fear this becoming another barren spell, like 1979-2000 when they didnt win a single WDC. The last time they won a title was 2008 WCC.

      1. It’s nothing to do with the strategy, the problem is the car isn’t quick enough on harder tyres and in cooler conditions.

      2. I fear this becoming another barren spell, like 1979-2000 when they didnt win a single WDC. The last time they won a title was 2008 WCC.

        I doubt it. They almost won the WDC last year, with the 2nd or 3rd fastest car on the grid. With Fernando around they do not need to deliver a car that is miles ahead of the rest. As long as the car has a decent chance of winning races consistently throughout the year, I’m pretty sure Fernando will deliver.

    11. I guess this kind of does away with the rumours regarding Pirelli’s choice of tyres then!

      Can’t say I noticed much of Ferrari during the race.

    12. it all went wrong for Ferrari an Alonoso though he drove a superb race but a bad time launching of SC and da old damn problem with da hard tyres fluctuated da performance of da car…. he was pretty competitive though…. hope Ferrari gonna overcome da obstacles

      and what to say about Massa…it was looking like dat he was busy was going backwards da whole time….i think its time to think over his position in da time…..would like to see a strong test driver for Ferrari not like Lucas of course but someone like HUlkenberg or Raikkonen…

    13. Massa did get unlucky with his puncture, but even if he didn’t, he looked like a sub par driver for atleast 3/4ths of the race. His overtaking is poor, he makes a lot of errors, his pace is slow, and he spends most of his time in a Ferrari battling with Saubers and Renaults while his teammate is fighting for wins.

      Why is this guy in a Ferrari? I dont think he is even worthy of a seat in Force India or Sauber

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