Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Melbourne, 2012

Alonso: Ferrari now “two to three seconds” faster

2012 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Melbourne, 2012Fernando Alonso believes Ferrari have improved their F2012 by two to three seconds per lap since the season began.

Speaking in the press conference ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix Alonso estimated the team’s improvement at “between two and three seconds, but obviously it’s a number that cannot be very precise”.

Alonso added: “I think the biggest improvement that we introduced was in Barcelona. The biggest update, which were mainly aerodynamics on the car.

“We knew that in the first three or four races when we were in China, Bahrain, the car was not doing what we were expecting and when we arrived in Barcelona everything became a little bit more normal for us and from that point all the updates was fine-tuning. But the Barcelona one was to make everything back to work.”

Alonso stressed that the close competition between the different teams this season made getting the most our of each weekend especially important:

“This year has been not easy. The grid is so tight so in one tenth you have four or five cars. In the races we all are more or less in the same performance.

“It’s not like last year where there were six cars and then another group of cars and then another group again. This year every detail counts, every pit stop counts, the start, so I think it’s a little bit more stress on the grid or between all of us.

“We’ve been in lucky in some moment of the championship, in some manouevres, in some incidents and we’ve been finishing all the races in the points which obviously helps for us. But we need to keep doing like this and hopefully have all season trouble-free.”

“I’m really happy with my last four or five seasons”

Asked if he’d changed anything in his approach in what has so far been a very successful season for him, Alonso replied that he believed he’d driven comparably well in recent seasons:

“I think so far the results are coming good and we’ve been lucky in some moments on some details of the weekends and we’re achieving a lot of points.

“But I have I think [had] a very good season like 2008, winning two races with Renault; 2009, with a car that normally [my] teammate was out of Q1, I was in a podium and things like that; 2010 when I arrived at Ferrari you asked me always if that was my best season, recovering until arriving in Abu Dhabi, leading the championship with that car; and last year you were saying that was my best season with ten podiums with a car that was quite far from Red Bull and McLaren.

“And this year is at the moment good things what you are asking me but, as I said before, two or three races some poor results, you will ask me why I’m not concentrating or something like that. So I will try to do always the best thing I can.

“I’m really happy with my last four or five seasons in Formula 1, especially even more with this one because, at the moment, we are taking care about all the details that in this championship seem quite important because, as we said before, the grid is so tight.

“So you need to be close to perfection, let’s say, every weekend, because if not you lose more positions than in the past. But apart of that, like I said, it’s more or less the same performance or same approach, or same preparation as the last four or five seasons.”

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Image ?? Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo

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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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32 comments on “Alonso: Ferrari now “two to three seconds” faster”

  1. Alonso is never not near the top of the standings, even if he’s not having a great season. He’s never not competitive, even in a dog of a car. He’s never not one of the best drivers on the track, no matter the conditions.

    Alonso will likely win the driver’s championship this year, and he’s shown time and again that we have yet to see the best of him.

    1. Bud weren’t we saying the same in 2010?

      I am not saying that he is not doing a great job, as good as ever this year, and has been doing great in the past couple of years, just that form can change and F1 is unpredictable. After all, at the midway point in 2010 wasn’t Hamilton leading the championship from Webber? The guys who finished in 3rd and 4th?

      1. Alonso in 2010 was stronger then Alonso now .
        in 2010 the Red Bull dominate the championship from start to finish (except Monza).
        but the championship was decided in the last race for the main reasons:
        1.Reliability red Bull
        2. RB Drivers taking point each other
        3. RB had some problem in managing the drivers and team orders.
        4. Alonso made some miracle in some races.
        RB 2011 was less dominant that RB2010 but the 3 topic problem (1,2,3)in 2011 disappears. With only point 4 in 2011 Alonso can’t bring the title home for Ferrari in 2011.
        In 2012 is completely different there is no Car domination, and Ferrari make usually better in second part of the season compared in the first part.
        But if u want to dream..u r free to dream

        1. I don’t think anyone can seriously claim that Alonso was performing better in 2010. Although he’s been performing at an extraordinarily high level since the second half of 2010 in the first half of that season he made quite a few big errors that ultimately cost him the championship. This season he’s been even better in terms of outright performance and relentless in his accumulation of points, the only points he can be said to have dropped this year have been down to strategy, that certainly wasn’t the case in early 2010.

        2. I have to disagree with you there, Frain. Alonso made some ridiculous errors in the early portion of 2010…

          He crashed in Monaco practice and missed qualifying, he illegally overtook Kubica in silverstone and refused to give the position back which netted him a penalty, he even crashed out at spa in the wet (while driving with a wet set-up on intermediates, if I recall correctly) and made a few more glaring errors that I dont remember. He also whined to the press frequently, and his focus and mentality was somewhat in question. He bounced back in the latter half of the season in a big way, but if he hadnt made so many errors himself in the early going, the championship would have been his easily. Also, you mention that the RB6 dominated the championship from start to finish, but that isnt true either. Vettel didnt lead the 2010 standings at any point until the very very end, and Webber certainly didnt have a stranglehold on the points table. Obviously the performance was there but the Ferrari proved to be so much more reliable and durable.

          Either way, the 2012 vintage of Alonso seems to be like the late-2010 Alonso, but further focused and distilled. Alonso, like Hamilton, knows that only being as consistent as possible will take him to WDC #3. Im not calling it his yet, but there’s no doubt he’s earning it so far.

        3. 5. Ferrari drivers NOT taking points from each other (as in 2011 and 2012)

      2. I agree…I think it is way too early to be handing the WDC to FA. As FA points out a few times, the field is that close that one has to be pretty much perfect all weekend to not pay dearly for being otherwise. Much can change and for example I think Mac is going to continue to show improvement from their recent upgrades and the last race that had rain throw everyone a curveball, even if it wasn’t on Sunday, means to me that Mac (and likely other teams that brought upgrades to Germany) haven’t shown yet their most recent potential. But I also think FM has better days ahead and could take some points away from FA’s main competitors, and SV should never be counted out. That’s the beauty of this season. It should come down to the wire based on the multitude of winners in the first half and the closeness of the field.

        My other comment…next year if in the pre-season testing Ferrari seems to have come up with a dog, and they say they need more time with it to understand it better, and everyone says that’s code for ‘we’ve come up with a dog’, perhaps it’s just code for ‘we need more time with the car to understand it better’.

    2. I agree, he’s doing a great job. I’m not sure however, that boasting about two 2008 wins is the best idea. After all one of those was a Singapore Grand Prix…

  2. Alonso brings more to the table and for that reason the recent success of Ferrari is about Fernando than Ferrari itself.

  3. 2-3 seconds over 10 races??? Seems a bit exaggerated to me. But then Alonso seems to be extracting much more out of the car than possible.

    1. @mahavirshah Well at the start of the season Ferrari were 1.5s off the pace of the front running cars, now they’re beating them. If Red Bull and McLaren have improved by 0.5-1.5s since the start of the season that’d make a 2-3s improvement for Ferrari.

  4. Not 2-3 seconds over the first 10 races, more like 2-3 seconds from the moment the car hit the track for winter testing till now.

    1. Yep, I just watched the press conference, and the question was “how much has the car improved since the test in Jerez”, not “since Melbourne”.

  5. Best driver on the grid without a doubt, hope he will get title this season as well as following to come.

  6. Alonso is the ultimate driver and if he holds on this season it will prove he’s one of the best… could you imagine if Kimi was given the F2012 in Melbourne?… he would of parked it… Ferrari have not been at the top of their game over the past 3 years but Alonso thru his determination and “never give up” attitude has made something out of each year…. even coming a strategy away from winning in 2010…

    My real query is if he wins this year, will it be the first pull-rod front suspension car to win a championship?… with everything going on with exhausts and engine maps this has been a forgotten part of the car… 8)

    1. That’s just your assumption(more like idolisation), I would think Alonso knows very much what Kimi is capable of in a bad car. They both are legends and have immense respect for each other, that is why they are not team mates.

      1. Kimi is a great racer no doubt… that wasn’t meant to be a shot but more a play on the Lotus story from Monaco…. I’m glad Kimi is back and he’ll win again for sure…. 8)

  7. Reads as kind of arrogant, yes, but probably justified. You can be humble, but it’s not a requirement.

    The F2012 was a terrible car, but it’s probably better than the Red Bull now. No idea what Ferrari did, but that is quite an incredible (almost difficult to believe) achievement.

    1. @damonsmedley I think it’s kind of similar to 2009’s McLaren. It’s not a car that is outright terrible, it’s a good car that’s either not understoor well, unpredictable or there’s one or two parts that don’t perform.

      That’s why Ferrari have gone from being a midfielder to a front runner in a relatively short period of time – they’ve only needed to improve certain areas and gain better understanding of the car. Obviously still a very difficult thing to do, and I agree they’ve done really, really well.

      1. Agreed. The car was a departure and they just needed time as they themselves said but few wanted to believe. I think if the car was terrible, as opposed to new and misunderstood, then we wouldn’t be seeing the improvements they have made, or we would be talking about said improvements having come from a totally revamped B-spec version, but we haven’t…they have found it in aero changes. And great talent in FA of course. And some luck as FA would attest to.

  8. Very honest interview by Fernando. 2 seconds is definitely an improvement by Ferrari. They were 1.5 seconds off and are now at par with the leaders. Fair assumption that the leaders themselves have gained around 0.5 seconds since Melbourne.

    I don’t necessarily feel that he was driving as well in 2010 though. Especially the first half of 2010 where he made number of mistakes – Monaco, China, Silverstone were the stand out ones. 2011, he was good. But, Vettel was without doubt the best driver of 2011.

  9. Given that top teams are usually said to develop at 2-3 seconds of ‘overall lap time’ (I know, seriously vague when you consider the variety of circuits.) per year, this boast is astonishing if true.

    So let’s look at the facts… in Australia, the first reference point we have for competitive lap times, Alonso’s Ferrari was 1.5 seconds off of pole position in qualifying. In race pace it looked more like a half second per lap deficit, judging by his finishing 21.5 seconds behind Alonso.

    Now, Alonso has 2 pole positions in a row, and the race pace to back it up. So if we assume that Red Bull Racing and McLaren are developing at a rate of 2-3 seconds per year, then they’ve also gained 1-1.5 seconds since Albert Park. In total, that shows an improvement of nearly 2 seconds a lap in race trim and nearly 3 seconds a lap in qualifying trim, for the F2012.

    Although there are a multitude of variables that arent accounted for here, it does lend credibility to Alonso’s claim. Scuderia Ferrari, I tip my hat to you… grudgingly.

  10. Alonso has been impressive on track this season, but he’s been even more impressive off the track in his media comments. He manages to be upbeat without being complacent, complimentary to other teams and drivers without sounding fake or, conversely, unduly worried. In fact he’s talking the same way he controls the race from the front: apparently within range for a challenge (as he suggested to Button and Vettel: couldn’t you get past me??) but actually just controlling the race perfectly to stay ahead. You can almost imagine him encouraging McLaren to catch up (which would indeed benefit him by takng points off Rd Bull’s drivers). And he manages even to be likable with all this!

    In short, awesome.

    1. according to moto GP commentators the italian press compared fernando’s supportive and positive comments when ferrari was slow to valentino’s negative and finger pointing comments when the ducati wasnt performing.

      that there is the difference. fernando never gave up in his team and he is reaping the rewards. Ducati dont feel the same love for Rossi and you can see why.

  11. This is the outcome of har work by the boys at Maranello! Alonso proved to them with the previous 2 seasons that he could fight for the title and that they just needed to give him a competitive car. The F2012 was not born a winner, Melbourne is proof of it but, they worked hard and now it is paying off!!

    I think we (Ferrari fans) are witnessing the rise of the Scuderia and I myself am very happy because of it! In the end, whatever happens, it has been a very happy first part of the season! Thank you Ferrari and thank you Fernando!

  12. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    26th July 2012, 19:51

    As it’s being said… F1 (especially this year) is unpredictable. Alonso is fairly at the top, but the big difference in points he is showing is just because of the valencia alternators problem. I’m not saying he wouldn’t be there (Keith marked in the other article he would still have some difference in points), it’s just that his driving is making what ferrari couldn’t do by themselves. You can say Massa is a bad driver but Ferrari’s results just show how well Alonso is driving the third car. If the other teams keep also improving (of course they will) the battle will be open until the very end, and the top place in the WDC can change even in the last race (2010) or in the last lap (2008)… Let’s see if luck is always on ferrari’s side. Alonso is still “owing” a bad luck moment this year (a gearbox failure, a lapped car crash?… who knows)

  13. I find it interesting that he left out 2007 – a sort of justification for his statistically worst season?

    Also I disagree with what he’s saying. This year Alonso has been phenomenal. Other than losing it in quali in Australia and running wide in China (and losing a few places if I recall correctly) I can’t name any mistakes he’s done. Sure, Alonso always performs well, but to me that’s really saying ‘I have always driven this well, 2007 was a worse season of mine’. I’m not saying that he hasn’t been fantastic from Hockenheim 2010 onwards, but this year he’s, I think, better as not only a driver, but as a team leader – his input in the development of the F2012 must have been considerable. As has been said, this is quite an arrogant thing to say, but that sort of arrogance is necessary for someone to take the disappointment of having a terrible start to the season on the chest, shut up publicly and spur the team on.

    Maybe Alonso is the same driver as he was before, but he’s a better leader than he was.

  14. Well, that is possible relative to the car they started the season with, but relative to the other teams, perhaps 0.5 – 0.8s. Ferrari were never in Caterham territory

  15. There is no one I would like to see win the championship more than Alonso in a Ferrari. His work ethic is good, his attitude is top class and his performance second-to-none. I think the car probably has improved significantly but he does such a good job of driving it he hides it well.

  16. Well I’m going to admit I don’t like him but he hasnt dropped the ball yet not even when speaking to the press.

  17. Aussie Aussie Aussie
    27th July 2012, 5:42

    Alonso is reaping the benefits of consistency. Mark Webber has finished ahead of Alonso this year just as often as Alonso has finished ahead of him – 5 apiece. (Webber ahead in Australia, China, Bahrain, Monaco & Britain; Alonso in Malaysia, Spain, Canada, Valencia & Germany). The difference is that when Webber beats him, Alonso is still close, whereas when Alonso finishes ahead, Webber has usually gone MIA. Webber will not be a WDC if he can’t minimise losses on his “off” days, like Alonso does. A good historical parallel is Niki Lauda’s championship victory over Prost in 1984, or Prost in turn triumphing over Mansell & Piquet two years later.

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