Ferrari: Alonso “gives up” on pursuit of Button

2011 Korean GP team review

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Alonso drove a brilliant final stint before telling his team he’d “given up” trying to pass Button.

Fernando Alonso Felipe Massa
Qualifying position 6 5
Qualifying time comparison (Q3) 1’36.980 (+0.149) 1’36.831
Race position 5 6
Laps 55/55 55/55
Pit stops 2 2

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
Fernando Alonso 111.557 106.117 105.771 105.566 106.272 105.902 105.513 105.439 105.542 105.716 105.712 106.161 106.643 108.627 113.428 127.159 130.42 127.017 166.579 153.045 104.687 104.158 103.836 103.765 104.015 104.135 103.783 103.166 102.802 102.723 102.807 102.274 102.205 102.345 101.894 101.644 107.079 118.716 100.912 100.623 100.547 100.622 100.635 100.689 101.005 100.955 100.664 100.6 100.947 100.788 100.674 101.009 101.193 100.764 100.836
Felipe Massa 110.795 106.166 105.707 105.553 106.094 105.868 105.657 105.666 105.263 105.754 105.741 106.267 106.474 111.397 124.957 107.478 135.296 127.659 166.61 153.348 104.58 104.108 103.67 103.977 104.042 104.038 103.39 102.739 102.461 102.714 102.533 102.526 102.468 106.31 121.973 102.662 101.501 101.867 101.631 101.554 101.338 101.464 101.161 101.128 101.327 101.414 101.166 100.984 100.672 100.731 100.541 101.109 101.382 102.286 101.93

Fernando Alonso

Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Korea, 2011
Start tyre Super soft
Pit stop 1 Soft 20.978s
Pit stop 2 Soft 20.639s

Two laps from the end of the race Alonso was heard telling his team “I give up” – a remark that invited various interpretations.

Had he literally given up? Doubtful. Was he trying to lull Jenson Button ahead into a false sense of security? That seems even less likely.

Was he sending a message to his team about how much time he’d lost behind Massa earlier in the race? That sounds more credible, particularly given his words after the race:

“I did 20 laps, qualifying laps, to catch the group in front. When I arrived there I had a little moment close to the wall in the last corner.

“I asked the team how many laps were left, they said two. And I said, ‘with two, I cannot do it guys’ so we arrived a little bit too late into the battle.”

Alonso had been in pursuit of the leading quartet after being released from behind Massa on lap 34. He set three quick laps on worn tyres to come out comfortably ahead of his team mate.

From then on he drove a classic Alonso stint of mesmerising consistency – just look at his run from lap 39 to 51 in the graph above.

Had he not spent the first half of the race behind his team mate a better result might have been in the offing. But he qualified behind Massa – for the fourth time in the last six races – after failing to improve on his last run in Q3:

“We were losing too much time in the first sector, where we lacked top speed. On my last run, I immediately lost a few tenths at the first corner and after that, I could not make up the time, so I decided not to complete the lap.”

He passed Button at the start but lost a lot of ground at his first pit stop. He came out just as Michael Schumacher was passing by and had to slow to avoid the Mercedes.

Things could have been even worse for Alonso as Vitaly Petrov was shaping up to pass him on the next lap. Fortunately for the Ferrari driver, Petrov braked too late and slammed into Schumacher, removing the pair of them from the race.

Alonso, who had also braked too late as he and the Renault headed in to turn three side-by-side, narrowly avoided being hit by Petrov himself.

Fernando Alonso 2011 form guide

Felipe Massa

Start tyre Super soft
Pit stop 1 Soft 23.642s
Pit stop 2 Soft 21.08s

An impressive piece of late-braking by Massa at turn three briefly got him into third place on the first lap.

Mark Webber muscled past him two corners later, leaving the Ferrari driver in fourth.

Like his team mate, the first pit stop did not go according to plan for Massa. Several other drivers made for the pits at the same time and Massa had to be held in his pit box as they came by, dropping him behind Button and Rosberg.

Massa took Rosberg on lap 27 but but slipped back to fifth when Alonso stayed out longer than him in their second stint.

Felipe Massa 2011 form guide

2011 Korean Grand Prix

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    Image © Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo

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    51 comments on “Ferrari: Alonso “gives up” on pursuit of Button”

    1. I don’t think he meant that, but it was a very good showing from Alonso again. To think he was behind Rosberg halfway through the Grand Prix.

      Massa seemed a lot more competitive too. His last bit of the race was also very consistent.

      1. I think he dont meant it too. He might trying to send messagge to mclaren team, since they can hear each team radio(i think so. correct me if im wrong) so that mclaren will tell button not to push too hard, and alonso will try to take advantage on that to overtake button. He’s one of the best f1 driver, best driver dont give up easily. Well, ok maybe the last 2 laps sounds quite hard to do overtaking, so alonso doesnt want to be too confident, so maybe because of that he simply say he “gives up”, but he still pushing hard to get closer to button.

    2. It was certainly a pity that the Ferrari drivers got delayed at the end of their first stints (Massa got held up in the pits and Alonso had a few slow laps on cooked tyres), as otherwise we could’ve had a 5-way battle for 2nd.

    3. I haven’t seen Massa as racey as he was here for a long time. Now the title’s over he is unleashed?

      1. Let’s hope Massa will do like this at the start of the season…with a better car!!

        1. Massa is only fast enough to get in the way of his teammate. Like here and with Kimi and even schumacher. He can’t do anything beyond that as evident.

          1. and he thinks he’s doing an amazing job when he does that. Whereas if Kimi or Alonso were in the same position, they would fight for the win and leave massa in their mirrors.

          2. Massa scored more points than Kimi over their 2.5 years together…

            1. WDC, Kimi 1, Massa 0.

              I know what I’d rather win.

        2. @Eggry I hope so! It seems that the fury with Hamilton has given him a real kick up the backside.

      2. @bascb no, they been racing most of the season. Remember spa?

        it just assumed they are not. but really that assumption is more closer to the truth in the red bull camp.

        1. Well that’s probably because the Red Bull drivers have really only been in close proximity a few times in the whole year.

          For Ferrari, their drivers have been in close quarters at various points of Melbourne, Sepang, Shanghai, Canada, Hungary, Spa, Singapore, Suzuka and Korea.

      3. Can you unleash a kitten?

    4. Watching the race and seeing the gap Alonso pulled on Massa after Massa pitted followed by Alonso’s subsequent chase down of Button with that consistency, shows why he is one of the best on the grid. And I am far from an Alonso fan.

    5. I think Alonso told his team he gave up after some scary “almost spins” on last laps. He was pushing way over the limit that F150.

      1. Yep. Agreed.
        It was probably just à remark after such à near spin.
        We don’t know what was before and what came after.

        And then you have pressconference and at that moment Alonso is smart enough to direct some comments to his team, in à subtle matter

        1. He’s a smart cookie, Alonso. Love him or hate him, he’s hugely talented.

          His consistency was astounding – class (and I’m really not a fan of Alonso and his histrionics).

          Ferrari better give him a car to compete next year or i fear the love affair with the team may come to a nasty end….

    6. I doubt he meant that at all… its much more likely he gave up because his car was simply not capable.

      1. His pace seems to suggests it was.

    7. Trenthamfolk (@)
      17th October 2011, 20:11

      I don’t like Alonso, and would love to think he actually’ gave up’, but I can’t see it… I think his message got lost in translation, and his explanation in the paddock was honest and more than sufficient.

    8. In the past two years, I don’t remember many good races from Massa (only Bahrain and Hockenheim 2010 spring to mind), but I think this weekend he was pretty decent. Unfortunately for him, the fight for the podium is extremely competitive this year, so he may still have to wait a bit for his first podium since Korea last year (right?).

    9. My view is his “give up” comment had to with fuel. Just before, the team had told him to go to “full rich.” I speculuate that they told him the fuel risk and let him decide whether to go after Button in the end. He decided to call off the attack. Note that Alonso parked his car on the in-lap to perserve his test-liter (a new fad FIA needs to crack down on.)

      I don’t buy his explanation. It would be unacceptable for a driver to say with two laps I cannot do it. What if Button said that in Canada? What if Hamilton gave up in China? In this case, it seemed very valid scenario that Hamilton, Webber, and Button would get tangled up, or run wide in their battle enough to get a pass on one of them. After all, the man right ahead of him he is fighting for second in the WDC.

    10. I’m pleasant to see Massa doing well. I think FOM used ‘I give up’ radio with wrong edit…or intentionally? like ‘Destroy Ham’s race’ in Singapore. If Andrea said “Sorry, we’re out of fuel” prior to it, it is just confirmation not giving up.

    11. I think the ‘I give up’ just was on any full blown attack on Button ,Fernando had judged only a mistake by one of the three ahead would give him a chance to pass. We viewers might find it easier than the driver to make this particular judgement.

    12. It must be so frustrating for Alonso.

      He’s driving better than ever and literally has no chance against the Red Bulls and McLarens, because of the realtive lack of competitiveness from Ferrari.

      I mean look at Massa. He is pretty much where Ferrari stand at the moment. I think in those 212 points gathered so far, there is a pretty big ‘Alonso factor’…

      It’s so sad to see him waste his best years in these kind of cars like the F150 and the 2008 Renault model of the past.

      But indeed Renault and the unreliability of the Mercedes have had a big part the his championships. I think he drives better now than he did back then, and still…

      Life is life. :D

      1. Nobody forced him to leave McLaren. It got nasty in the end with Dennis, but he wasn’t practicing pacifism there. Even so, he could have walked into Coulthard’s seat in 2008, or at least in 2009 after punching the clock at Renault for a year, if he really had to run. Instead he decides to hang out with Flavio Briatore and drive his crummy car for two years. He could be a 4 time WDC easy with two different obvious paths–2008 and 2010 staying at McLaren, or 2010 and 2011 having moved to RBR.

        1. While a valid viewpoint, I think this is one too reliant on hindsight.

          From what I remember at the end of 2007, there were strong (and I believe valid) rumors that McLaren told Alonso his services were no longer required, i.e. he was forced to leave. Looking at Alonso’s available options at the time, Renault had indeed regressed in pace, but they were still the works team, significantly ahead of Red Bull. Renault also won 2 races in 2008 (albeit with one under some controversy), while Red Bull could only score a single podium. It’s easy to say Alonso could’ve stayed at McLaren or gone to Red Bull, but really, Renault seemed to be the best option at the time.

          1. If I remember correctly both parted on mutual consent.

            @DaveW to be fair; Alonso’s contract if I remember correctly was a 3 year deal until the end of 2009; so 2010 wouldn’t have been part of his McLaren deal

            1. Alonso also got a offer for 2009 from Honda, which he duly declined. Rest is history

            2. Raymond, ‘mutual consent’ would be the PR release talking. Whether or not it was truly ‘mutual’, we will probably never know.

              Good point on Honda – but I wonder if he would’ve been as patient as Button through the pre-Brawn offseason. Somehow, I’m not so sure.

        2. Erm, as others pointed out, McLaren did ask him to sort it out towards the last third of the season. Ron made it clear who was being backed in the team, and if you’re a WDC and then asked to be a second driver, that’s a bit much to take.

          Those who may jump to Ron’s defense, let us all remember, he’s the same guy who swore (amusingly all this happened in ’07) that McLaren never had anything to do with Ferrari’s data. Who can forget Montoya speak out about Alonso’s move to McLaren… “No…….”

          Ron has achieved much, but means are not exactly squeaky clean by any measure.

          Alonso is rated as one of the best drivers… by the drivers. That speaks volumes about his abilities than we could wax eloquent.

    13. Good run by both Ferrari drivers.It was nice to see the battle between Alonso & Massa.But I have to say he raced well 20 qualifying laps isn’t easy with his car which isn’t a sharp tool.

    14. I can understand the hard times Massa is going with the podium drought. One of the podium slots is always reserved for Vettel(except for Germany), of the remaining 2 slots there is a fight between 5 drivers which is a 40% chance. Except for British GP Ferrari never looked competitive. Which places the onus of how to overdrive a car by Alonso. His only good chancwe was at Canada when two podium contenders crashed, but that is when the other drivers in top teams took the remaining slots.

    15. I hope Ferrari can give Alonso a competitive car next year. True he over reacted while at Mclaren because there was no, “Alonso is faster than you”, to Hamilton’s radio. But his problems were only made worse by the press.
      He still is a fantastic driver, superior to Vettel, and deserves to be in a competitive car.

      1. He’s still a fantastic driver, but he’s about on the same level as Vettel.

    16. Ferrari is kept Massa longer in the pits, Alonso gets out of the pit for 20 seconds on the two stops and Massa got out of the first pit for 23 sec and in the second 21 sec Q _ Q

      1. Massa was kept in pits longer because there were cars in the pitlane at that moment, watch the replay. That conspiracy theory doesn’t work anymore.

      2. @wackyracer As the article makes clear there was a good reason why Massa’s stop took longer.

    17. However you read into Alonso’s comments he still couldn’t get past Massa. Whether or not he should be able to get round Massa as easily as he would like is another thing. You can argue that perhaps Ferrari favour Alonso more, who can blame them, but i’m sure that come next year they would be keen to have a stronger, more resilient Massa in order to give them a chance at the Constructor’s championship.

    18. Massa is recovering his pace which is wonderful, now Alonso will have to fight harder against the “true” Massa. This is going to be interesting. :)

    19. i hope Ferrari have the fastest car next year and we see the same Massa, but being even more competitive and same goes for Alonso; the best driver on the grid now

    20. Alonso may be referring to giving up on achieving a podium spot with only two laps to go, rather than just overtaking Jenson.

    21. After threatening Ron Dennis to go public with his knowledge of Ferrari secrets, is there any doubt Ron told him to get out? I still think Ron screwed the pooch in his handling of Lewis and Fernando and allowing the situation to devolve into nearly total mayhem. His “equal treatment” policy ended exactly as he planned, two drivers tied for second place!

      As far as Massa holding him up, maybe he should have called McLaren and demanded Button move over for him as well?

    22. I still can’t believe the rate at which he was catching Button. What a driver.

    23. In a way Ron’s policy of equal opportunity was responsible for the sour relationship. But what must have got to Alonso was the fact that a not so common rookie driver was able to keep up and some time out perform him, rattled him. Coupled with the demoralising press, and a few whispers from Briatore, he quickly lost all form of rational thinking.

      It would have been easy for Ron to have made Hamilton the number 2 driver. But seeing that he being black and plus the amount of racism he would have suffered rising through the ranks in a mainly white only sport, he probably feared he may have forever knocked out Hamilton’s confidence.
      I mean you can see how Withmarsh always uses every opportunity claim that Button is blessed with with unbelievable mental ability, implying that Hamilton isn’t, despite the fact that we all hear on the radio when they tell Button “pit to overtake”.

      1. I don’t think Whitmarsh is trying to imply Hamilton doesn’t have unbelievable mental ability — he’s got to find a way to praise Jenson for something, because Jenson definitely isn’t blessed with Lewis’s unbelievable raw speed. Whitmarsh’s statement basically feeds everyone’s ego (Jenson, “yeah, I’m not as fast, but I’m smarter”; Lewis, “only slow people need to be “race smart”, I’m the fastest guy out there”). So it’s a win-win to keep two WDCs happy.

        1. Lol… well, i don’t know if it is what it intended by Whitmarsh. However, your line of thought does go along nicely. Then again, Button has actually been the better of the two, and unquestionably so.

          Button had an uphill climb when he did arrive at McLaren, as before he came the team had booted out a WDC to make room for Hamilton and that speaks volumes about intent at McLaren. Button needed a competitive car and went to McLaren as a seat was available, Ferrari and Red Bull were both tied up with 2 drivers each already. Button hinted at “the climb” at McLaren in an interview to F1Racing in as many words, while being as politically correct about it as he ever could be. This doesn’t take away any from the fact that he arrived there not exactly as an equal driver. His WDC did help push a little weight around in order to get some attention in the team, but all that time McLaren had a clear number 1 and number 2, and if you think it was otherwise, i want what makes one think of equal drivers at McCrack.

          1. I totally agree that Lewis was (maybe not “is” anymore) the number 1 driver and JB was second. That Button has been the better of the two, especially this year, just proves the point that he is mentally the better driver. Then again, that Lewis is still out pacing him in qualifying shows that Lewis is faster.

            I’ve heard some arguments that Button gives more detailed feedback about car set up and what he needs, while Lewis is more laissez-faire on set up so that ultimately the car design (in 2012 and beyond) will end up being more tailored to Button’s strengths, which would bode well for Button’s continued success within the team.

            1. I’ve heard some arguments that Button gives more detailed feedback about car set up and what he needs, while Lewis is more laissez-faire on set up so that ultimately the car design (in 2012 and beyond) will end up being more tailored to Button’s strengths, which would bode well for Button’s continued success within the team.

              If Lewis wants to be as successful as Schumi then he’d better pick up these qualities.

              It’s also led me to think whether McLaren’s gamble on Lewis as no.1 since 2008 has contributed to the lack of performance from McLaren due to his lack of feedback. Look at Schumi at Ferrari – he turned the team around by understanding what he wanted and provided the team with the level of feedback to continually improve the car. If Vettel has these traits (and RB retain Newey) they I can see several years of domination if no other team can replicate the level of driver/team communication.

    24. If it was’nt his team mate he was behind, I wonder would he have been more aggressive. He had Felipe on the back foot a couple of times but did’nt seem to push it
      Although he was was aggressive enough with Felipe at Spa.
      I wish they would do that pitlane vote to decide the best driver on a yearly basis. Would be interesting.

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