Alonso shines as Ferrari falter in 2011

2011 F1 season review

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Alonso led at Monza but it couldn't last

It did not bode well for Ferrari’s season that it took them three attempts just to come up with a name for their new car. The original title ‘F150’ was dropped following objections from Ford, who sell a pickup truck with the same name.

The 150??? Italia, as it was eventually named, may not have had the handling properties of a truck but nor was it a car with which Fernando Alonso could avenge his 2010 championship defeat.

There’s no disputing where Ferrari placed the blame for their lack of performance. While Alonso inked a long-term deal to stay with the team until 2016, technical director Aldo Costa was fired two days after the Spanish Grand Prix.

This had been a particularly humiliating race for Ferrari: a new rear wing was tried in practice, only for it to be swiftly banned by the stewards.

In the race Alonso brilliantly wove a path to the lead at the first corner and improbably stayed there until lap 18. But he finished a lap down as the 150??? Italia struggled on Pirelli’s hard tyres.

Ferrari team stats 2011

Best race result (number)1st (1)
Best grid position (number) 2nd (1)
Non-finishes (mechanical/other) 4 (2/2)
Laps completed (% of total) 2,148 (94.79%)
Laps led (% of total) 77 (6.8%)
Championship position (2010) 3rd (3rd)
Championship points (2010) 375 (396)
Pit stop performance ranking4th

The phenomenon recurred at most tracks: the Ferraris hovered around the third row of the grid, unable to get heat into their tyres quickly enough for a flying lap. On race day they generally fared better until they had to switch to the harder tyres.

Silverstone was a significant exception, and one which may provide an pointer to their 2012 form. At the race where the exhaust-blown diffuser restrictions were temporarily made much more stringent, Alonso took the lead and held it to the end of the race.

He may have been gifted the lead thanks to Sebastian Vettel’s slow pit stop, but Alonso was pulling away from his pursuers late in the race. With exhaust-blown diffusers significantly restricted next year, this bodes well for the Scuderia.

Another year to forget for Massa

Even when the car wasn’t up to the job Alonso was at his tenacious best. He consistently produced top-drawer performances and regularly put his Ferrari in among the McLarens and even the Red Bulls. He finished ahead of Mark Webber on several occasions.

Ahead of the Korean Grand Prix Alonso said he was “extremely happy” to have Felipe Massa as a team mate. Despite the gulf in performance between the two, Ferrari seem content to keep things that way for at least another season. Massa was out-scored by Alonso even more comprehensively this year (257-118) than last (252-144).

Massa had some misfortunes in 2011, not least the numerous collisions with Lewis Hamilton, most of which were not his fault. But they do not explain him scoring less than one-third of Ferrari’s constructors’ championship points.

Last year Massa’s problems were explained away by him not being happy on the Bridgestone tyres. But the switch to Pirelli this year appears not to have been the cure-all he was hoping for. He often had to use up an extra set of the soft tyres in qualifying, which further hindered him on race day.

Just one win: Alonso at Silverstone

With the championship a lost cause, the team used the final races of the year to develop their 2012 car.

Among the most conspicuous changes was a new front wing which vibrated violently at times, though seemingly only when fitted to Massa’s car. This prompted speculation Ferrari were trying to catch up ground lost to Red Bull in developing wings which move under pressure.

Ferrari have struggled to come to terms with the new-look Formula 1 – this is the second time in they’ve ended a season with a single win in the three years since the overhaul of the rules on car design. President Luca di Montezemolo has railed at the restrictions on testing and what he believes is excessive reliance on aerodynamics.

But with little change coming in those areas next year, Ferrari will just have to beat Red Bull at their own game.

2011 F1 season review

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Images © Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo

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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75 comments on “Alonso shines as Ferrari falter in 2011”

  1. He really shined. I just hope he would have a dominant car. as far as I know he never had dominant car right? 2005~2007 was great but always had strong opposite…

    1. @eggry I could be mistaken, but I thought I read a quote from him recently saying his 2005/6 Renaults were the best cars in the field in those years.

      He may be right, but he could also be a trifle modest. The R25’s strength over the MP4-20 was more reliability than performance. And in 2006 the Ferrari was clearly quicker in much of the second half of the season – consider the performance advantage they had at the final race.

      But if any team is going to produce a dominant car, I hope it’s one with two drivers of comparable abilities who are equally treated by the team. I don’t think either of those are true of Ferrari at the moment.

      1. Some comparable great cars should be great but as a Alonso fan I should say I’d like to see 2012 Ferrari is dominant if there is a dominant car! :D

        1. Come on, Alonso doesn’t need a dominant car to claim the title ;-)

          As much as I’d enjoy Alonso walking through a season winning almost everything single handedly, that’d get a bit boring after a while. I’d enjoy it even more if he could win a season like 2010, everyone knows he didn’t have the best car but he just performed best. Then the next season an easy title, showing Perez how its done and then a happy retirement with 4 titles. But thats enough dreaming for now, lets see how revolutionary their new car will really be (kinda doubt it) and if that revolutionary aproach really works.

      2. Agreed, the R25 and R26 were probably the quickest cars for the first half of 05 and 06, but by the end of both those seasons they were definitly second best.

      3. the renault in 2005 was a match for the mclaren, and reliability won the day.
        In 2006, the renault started with a better car than ferrari, but they(fia) again, made them change some parts of the car, just to equalize things, and almost made another artificial title for schumacher. Thanks god it didn’t happen.

        1. “artificial title” are you kidding me? the seven titles won by michael have been well deserved.

          Alonso won two titles because he had a great advantage in the first half of season, gaining a lot of points and then, when his car was the second one the rivals used to suffer from lack of reliability in their cars.

          1. the seven titles won by michael have been well deserved.

            Yes. And I thought it was bs when they changed all the rules and qualifying just cause a team had did a better job. Schum and Ferrari were testing manics and worked hard for those results.

          2. Not all of Michaels 7 titles were well deserved, 1994 certainly wasn’t his team cheated throughout with traction control and other illegal devices and he deliberately crashed into Hill at Adelaide because he knew his car was terminally damaged.

          3. @jsmith944

            Oops, you’re right. I was thinking of the string of he got at Ferrari. My mistake.

      4. But if any team is going to produce a dominant car, I hope it’s one with two drivers of comparable abilities who are equally treated by the team. I don’t think either of those are true of Ferrari at the moment.

        Amen to that

      5. But if any team is going to produce a dominant car, I hope it’s one with two drivers of comparable abilities who are equally treated by the team. I don’t think either of those are true of Ferrari at the moment.

        I can only wholeheartedly agree with that @keithcollantine, it would be great to see at least 2 drivers battle it out if a team manages to get their car a mile ahead of the rest.

      6. He should have 4 world championships. McLaren did him wrong in 07 (and lost the championship, nice going, mates), and Ferrari made a tactical error last year (off with his head!). Oh well. As for Massa, he’s way off his game, and needs to go.

  2. I just really want to see Ferrari back on winning form, as a passionate Scuderia Ferrari fan this season has been full of heartaches.
    Alonso is the man that will take Ferrari to championship glory.
    Forza Ferrari.

    1. john (@johnf1fanatic)
      21st December 2011, 7:54

      Looking at how Alonso drove this years car, I really hope gets a better car next year. Then he should be unstopable.

      Forza Ferrari.

  3. I hope Keith’s right about the ban on exhaust blown diffusers gives them some performance. As a Ferrari fan, the last three years have not been comfortable viewing – for many reasons.
    What’s more, I’m still a huge fan of Felipe Massa and believe he can have a very strong year in 2012, even if beating Alonso may just be beyond him. But we’ll see.

    1. I’m not so sure Silverstone is an indicator for something. It just meant the 2011 design Ferrari wa s as good a car as the RB when the diffusers weren’t used the way they were intended. Once all cars are designed to use the diffuser this way, all cars will be considerably different so they can’t be compared to this season anymore.
      Still, this years car had good straight line speed so they figured out a good DRS solution, seemingly good mechanical grip, so thats a good foundation to build a car on.

      1. You have to remember that due to the circumstances at Silverstone, Ferrari didn’t have to use the dry tyres, whcih may have helped alonso by quite a bit.

  4. “developing wings which move under pressure.”

    Ferrari did promise they were gonna copy the RB movable wing somehow, and I agree that that’s what all the flutter was about (pun intended).

    As far as Alonso goes, he was in there as if he had the car to do it and he did it consistently. And he stayed there until he wrung the car to its limits against the others. Other drivers were able to get more out of the car than it had this year (here and there), but Alonso did it every race. If Ferrari get their act together, the rest of the field is gonna be hurtin up against that guy next year.

  5. I honestly hope that Ferrari aren’t dominant next season, in the same way that I hope NO ONE team is dominant. I want a close, tightly faught champioship, with all of the top teams fighting for wins. The more title contenders, the better.

    I don’t want F1 to go back to the bad old days of 2000-2004.

    1. Hear hear.

    2. You mean 2001, 2002, and 2004.

    3. If a team had to dominant I would hope for McLaren or maybe even Mercedes, as they have team mates with the potential to challenge each other even if nobody else can.

      1. Quite right. The last thing we need is a domiant Ferrari, not least due to the certain knowledge that Massa will be sacrificed to ‘Project Fernando’.

        1. sadly too true

      2. I understand the concern, and I do of course have my own personal preferences as to who I’d like to be winning each race, but as a fan of the sport primarily I just hope for an open title fight between a few drivers that goes down to the wire.

  6. Did anyone else notice Massa was sent out on fresh tyres for untimed laps in qualy time and time again…. I never did work out why…

    1. A few of the times it was because he was in danger of dropping out of Q2, so they had to send him out in case other drivers went quicker. If they didn’t, he’d abort the lap to try save the tyres as much as possible for the next session.

    2. Yes, in commentary Martin Brundle would say “Massa’s felt the need to go out again”, as if under threat of being knocked out. But I doubt it’s the driver’s decision – the teams send them out when gaps in traffic, temperature and everything are “optimised” don’t they? Sorry if I sound like Ron Dennis…

      Maybe Ferrari were right all along to name the car after a truck.

      1. to name the car after a truck.


      2. Maybe Ferrari were right all along to name the car after a truck.

        Hush! even a Triple world champion didn’t able to survive when he said such thing! :P

        1. Gilles Villeneuve got away with describing one of his Ferraris as a “big red Caddillac”…maybe Prost thought a precedent had already been established for comparing Ferraris with poor handling, cumbersome road vehicles.

  7. It’s a shame to watch a championship like 2010 (which I belive was the best in F1 history) and then a year after ,to lose the excitement by watching the Red Bulls taking both championships like this. Although I am a Red Bull fan ,I hope 2012 ferrari and mclaren (perhaps also mercedes and lotus) catch the Red bulls in order to have an thrilling championship fight

  8. He was fantastic this season. Few mistakes and always in the edge of that average car.

    If he had this same level of performance in 2010, he would have won that championship easily.

    A pity.

    Last year Massa’s problems were explained away by him not being happy on the Bridgestone tyres.

    But the switch to Pirelli this year appears not to have been the cure-all he was hoping for.

    It is an eternal problem with Ferrari cars in the last seasons, isn’t it? But is amazing to see how Fernando have adapted so quickly to whatever tyres or cars he have to drive:

    From Michelin in Renault to a McLaren with Bridgestone. Back to Renault with Bridgestone; From Ferrari with Bridgestone to Ferrari with Pirellis.

    It shows how great this guy is, and how he can adapt to any circumstances, cars, tyres, team with no downfall in performance.

    What a fantastic driver!

    1. Alonso was suffered from Bridgestone rubber at first, 2007. Except it, his adaptation is quite impressive even though some best drivers managed the same.

  9. Hey Keith i thought that alonso finnished in 4th this year ???

    1. oops just noticed this is ferrari not alonso haha.

      1. You’d be forgiven for thinking that though.

  10. i feel McLaren will have a dominant car in 2012, they were very close to RBR. Ferrari will again be fighting for 3rd position with Mercedes.

    1. You can’t call it it’s dominant if they’re close to others.

      1. sorry, I misunderstood. Yeah, they were close to RBR at the end of the season so it’s promising. Still, I think Ferrari has a lot potential consider because they were quite good at some area and Silverstone.

        1. @Tifoso1989 @eggry i’d really like Ferrari to fight for the wins but so far what last few seasons have shown us is that they are not able to keep up the development rate or the upgrade rate as smoothly as McLaren. Every time McLaren starts a little off they respond and quickly start competing for wins; Ferrari on the other hand has had few niggles to sort for critical updates. I feel this non-testing phase of F1 is hurting them more than other top teams.

          Maybe they have figured out their weakness or maybe now they have the right people on the jobs but for now it seems they are going through and adjustment phase.

    2. they were close to Red bull because they managed to copy the exhaust blown diffuser from them this is what Adrian Newey said & he also said that the RB8 will be a surprise
      how do you figured out that ferrari will fight for 3rd position with mercedes
      we all have to wait until the first race in Australia to see which team will dominate
      don’t forget that in Formula 1 anything can happen and it’ usually does !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. As the year went by, it didn’t seem as disastrous as it is looking back: one only win. When I remember of 2005 although I didn’t watch that season I remember it as a horrible year for Ferrari, and their only win came just against the Minardis and Jordans. But they had some good moments, one of which was at the San Marino GP when Schumacher battled with Alonso for the win.
    Who followed that season can tell me if the car was the third best, as was this year, but the results don’t tell the whole story. Alonso was awesome this year, and put the car in places it had no right to be in.

    1. @Fixy
      The Ferrari was quite clearly the third fastest car, sometimes challenged by Toyota, Williams and Button in the Honda. The biggest problem that season were the tyres (that weird regulation without pitstops and the Bridgestones were just not good enough). The McLaren was probably the fastest car but 3 retirements while in the lead cost Raikkonen the title (two of them were mechanical failures, one of them was the famous last lap tyre blowing up at the Nurburgring). So I’d say performancewise that year was probably worse than this year.

      1. Direct cause of Kimi’s retirement in Nurburgring is suspension failure even though it was caused by vibration which was caused by tyre damage so there was no tyre blowing. Tyre damage was made by lock up but it happened to avoid back marker Jacques.

    2. Jacob Larsson (@)
      20th December 2011, 15:37

      I didn’t follow the 2005 season, but as far as I know it was because of tyres.

      FIA changed the tyre rules [spice it up after ’01, ’02, ’04?]. Tyres had to last the whole distance, so they only pit for fuel/punctures, etc.

      Ferrari used Bridgestone. McLaren and Renault used Michelin.
      Michelin had much better tyre performance.

  12. I seem to remember Williams was third car out there, but maybe my memory and my likes for that once great f1 team are hurting me

    1. They were Third fastest i believe during the Ferrari-Schumacher era sometimes being 2nd fastest trading with McLaren especially between 2001-2003

  13. i wish alonso gets a car at least equal than the best, to see how good he has become.

  14. in the last week alongside all the ferrari drivers Alonso was playing Santa Claus in the Factory & giving gifts to the children of the dependents of the scuderia

  15. Alonso has anounced that he and his wife Raquel del Rosario are getting divorced:

    Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, and Raquel del Rosario, lead singer of Dream Theater have announced their separation on their respective websites. “After five years of marriage, we decided to end our relationship as a couple,” they say in the statement.

    1. this is a tough decision to take especially from a driver who is in the pique of his career

      1. Really. That’s a pretty serious bump in the road. Hope it does not affect him to much or too long.

    2. Yikes! Wowww. Well that’s a shame. Hope he can eventually find someone who doesn’t mind jet setting all around the world in the lap of luxury. lol No serious, that’s a real shame. Very sorry to hear it :(

      1. we don’t know but maybe this will be for hi good

        1. To be honest, I don’t think it will affect him. He’s very strong willed and it’s hard to imagine him getting in a car and not attacking with all he has like he usually does. But you’re right, it’s a wait and see.

          1. i agree it wouldnt affect him, did we not see how strong he was when he was with mclaren, even when whole team was against him he did his best to be at front ….

      2. we don’t know but maybe this will be for his good

    3. It’s shame. I just hope this would not affect him…

    4. Lead singer of Dream Theater? Since when did my favourite band have their singer replaced by a Spanish female?
      I think rather you mean Morpheus Dream ;)
      Still, sad for Alonso. Hope he finds happiness elsewhere!

    5. Guess we’re not going to be seeing Fernando’s wedding ring on his finger for 2012,Keep an eye out next season!!!

    1. Ah, Maranello is really warm place. It’s shame Fernando divorced…

  16. Pound-for-pound, Fernando Alonso is the best driver in the sport today.

    End of.

    1. Are you talking about the famous talent/weight ratio?

      Seriously, what annoys me about Alonso is not so much his absolute belief that he is the best, but his demand that everyone around him also believes this and acts accordingly. If they don’t, he gets a touch of the tempers, as we have seen over and over again. He’s like an insecure lover who asks every ten minutes ‘do you still love me?’, until they get no response, at which point they flounce out of the room in tears.

      Yes, Alonso is good. Yes, he would merit another WDC. But I do wish people would stop going on as if winning is his absolute God-given right, just because of the enormity of his ‘natural’ talent.

      1. but his demand that everyone around him also believes this and acts accordingly. If they don’t, he gets a touch of the tempers

        Oh cool. I was vague when I said I was not thrilled with his persona. You saved me from any clarifications. lol

        1. Aww I did that backwards. Sheesh. Guess it’s easy to tell the noob around here lol

      2. that’s the normal thing if he consider himself more gifted than many drivers who are winning WDC thanks to their cars then winning is his absolute God-given right

  17. i hope that in Maranello are delivering him a truly competitive car to suit him, i want to watch a real title fight between the best drivers in the best cars.

  18. am i the only one here that think that alonso is still the best driver on the grid?

    1. no you are not

    2. Nope, definitely not!!

      And I still find it biblically surprising when anyone suggests otherwise!!!

  19. Disappointing to see such an uncompetitive Ferrari, really disappointing. Alonso really drove the hind legs off the thing, I’m surprised he didn’t succumb to reliability problems, given how much he was pushing. In my top 3 drivers of the season. I appreciated how he came out fighting at the beginning of each weekend with a morale boosting quip, always reported here.

    Massa. Massa…hmm. I gave him the benefit of the doubt last year but it now seems he peaked in 2008 and that’s the best we will ever.see. From a principle point of view I think his time at Ferrari isn’t doing him or the team any good. However, having such a subordinate driver on board does carry an obvious advantage.

    They’re not going to win the WCC anytime soon, but given how much FOM pay them, I doubt that matters much.

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