Alonso “under real pressure” says Whitmarsh

F1 Fanatic round-up

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In the round-up: McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh says Red Bull are putting Alonso “under real pressure” in the championship.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Alonso is under ‘real pressure’ (BBC)

Martin Whitmarsh: “Fernando is under some real pressure, more pressure frankly from Sebastian [Vettel] than us. But nonetheless we have closed the gap and we have five races to go.”

Alonso still tough to beat, says Horner (Adam Cooper’s F1 blog)

“Fernando is a very shrewd and formidable opponent. Over a season luck tends to balance itself out, and Sebastian’s had two DNFs because of reliability, Fernando’s been unlucky with Grosjean, who seems to be a common factor in some of the incidents, and the puncture that he picked up today.”

Domenicali bullish over development (ESPN)

“We need to stay very rational because, for example, we saw McLaren had an unbelievable pace in Singapore and everyone was saying ‘Oh, they are flying’ and this weekend obviously we didn’t see that kind of situation. We saw this weekend for sure that Red Bull was impressive, so we need to see what we can do in order to match their development or if this track was better for them. I don’t know, but for sure we need to know that the others are pushing a lot and we need to make sure we are keeping the same kind of pressure – positive pressure – on our engineers to make sure that we deliver the development.”

Red Bull say new aero device no ‘silver bullet’ (Reuters)

Christian Horner: “As with all these things, there’s never a silver bullet and I think it would be very difficult to say the car’s performance here is purely down to a rear wing.”

Maldonado keeps options open for 2013 (Autosport)

“At the moment, for sure, there is the chance to go to other teams. But we are considering remaining here, and it is still too early to say anything. The team, usually they confirm the drivers at the end of the season. So we are talking, we are negotiating…”

Button demands action after Romain crash No9 (The Sun)

“He’d either win or crash [in GP2] and it seems he has the same philosophy in F1. He needs to change his views.”

From Japan to Korea – News Bulletin (Ferrari)

“Facing a decidedly longer journey are Team Principal Stefano Domenicali and Technical Director Pat Fry, who flew this morning to Maranello.”

Video: Community joins famous faces at BRM day (Stamford Mercury)

“Sir Jackie [Stewart] drove a BRM P261 racing car at the event and Damon [Hill], whose father Graham was the first British driver in a British car to win the world championship in 1962 with the BRM team, drove the BRM P578/1, nicknamed Old Faithful.”

More on the event here. Thanks to Chris Harris for the tip.


Comment of the day

@Gwenouille hopes Kamui Kobayashi can hold onto his place in F1:

I’d be gutted if he were dropped by Sauber.

After all Perez is considered a great prospect and both have scored the same amount of points in their two years rivalry. And a guy named Grosjean ruined his gem of a qualifying in Belgium that could have brought a podium too.

I think that this podium may well mean much more to him than we think. After all, he was such a curiosity when in appeared in 2009: instantly hailed as the future Japanese drivers’ champion. He surely feels hugely relieved now, and I think he’ll tackle the next Grands Prix with great great self-confidence. I am sure there is more to come from him this year…

From the forum

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On this day in F1

Mosport held its last Canadian Grand Prix today in 1977. With new world champion Niki Lauda having quit Ferrari, Gilles Villeneuve was drafted in to replace him.

James Hunt was scrapping for the lead with Mario Andretti when they came across Hunt’s team mate Jochen Mass, who was a lap down. Hunt crashed while trying to lap his team mate, then infamously thumped the marshal who came to his aid:

Andretti’s engine failed late in the race which left Jody Scheckter to win for Wolf followed by Patrick Depailler in the six-wheeled Tyrrell P34 and the chastened Mass.

Image © 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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49 comments on “Alonso “under real pressure” says Whitmarsh”

  1. Chavez has been re-elected President of Venezuela for another 6 years so Pastor can relax knowing his seat will be paid for.

    1. Even if Chavez lost, I’m not sure they’d have completely dropped PDVSA’s involvement with Pastor. It’s still good for the country (I guess) that the Venezuela brand is being shown all over the world.

      Also, I don’t think Maldonado’d have been out of F1 completely. After all, he’s a race winner. Even if he has broke more wings than records, he has speed.

      1. Honestly, I think people were reading far too much into the build-up to the Venezuelan elections, mostly because they assumed that if Chavez lost, the contract between Williams and PDVSA would be cancelled, and Pastor Maldonado would lose his seat.

        Even if Capriles had won the election, it would be by no means a guarantee that the PDVSA contract would be cancelled. For all we know, Capriles would be as interested in Chavez in promoting Venezuela through Maldonado and PDVSA. As near as I can tell, he never said that cancelling the contract would be an election promise.

        Even if Capriles had won the election and cancelled the contract, it is still no guarantee that Maldonado would lose his seat. As Fer no.65 rightly points out, Maldonado is a race winner, and he’s also put in some strong performances throughout the season, which would certainly be enough for a team to justify keeping him in the sport. He’s had some high-profile incidents throughout the year, but if he can harness his aggression, he’s going to be a strong racer. At this point, Romain Grosjean is probably a bigger danger to the other drivers than Maldonado is.

        In the end, I think that people have seen the Venezuelan elections as a chance to get rid of an unpopular driver, and they have fit the facts to the theory, rather than having a theory born out of the facts.

      2. This. Wouldn’t made any difference.

      3. @fer-no65
        Sure PDVSA would go through major management adjustments but their involvement with F1 should not change as Maldonado is seen as a national hero.

  2. After Massa placing an unchallenged 2nd at Suzuka I do hope Ferrari will give up talking the car down, I am pretty sure that the other teams are clever enough not to fall for it and for the rest of us it is becoming tedious.

    1. Traverse Mark Senior (@)
      9th October 2012, 12:28

      You hit the nail on the head @hohum
      It’s extremely annoying that Ferrari (and their fans) are still putting this notion forward that the F2012 is a dog of a car. Aside from the Australian GP, it has been on a par with the Red Bull and Lotus. As for the argument that it’s Alonso’s superior skill that makes the Ferrari a car capable of winning races, has anybody ever considered that it could be Massa’s inferior skill that’s making a fast car appear slow?

      1. Indeed, Alonso is just an average driver who should not be in a top team. Hopefully he will be replaced once he loses this championship for Ferrari once again (after 3 years of Ferrari providing him with 2004 kind of material) and will be replaced with definite future world champions like Grosjean or Hülkenberg. Also he is a dishonest person who brings nothing but trouble to all teams he has been racing for. Drivers like Vettel or Button show us time and again how they can drag bad cars to victory, especially when starting from low grid positions. Lets hope for the best that Alonso will be out soon.
        (thats just a summary of the critizism that I use to hear from people who dislike him, not a direct response to anyone)

        1. Traverse Mark Senior (@)
          9th October 2012, 13:26

          You seem to have missed my point. Ferrari spend 99% of their time and resources on developing Alonso’s car and perfecting his setup. They spend the remaining 1% on Massa (if he’s lucky) and people then act surprised when he lags far behind Alonso. It’s not a coincidence that on the two occasions that Alonso has crashed out on the first lap, Massa has managed to pull a superb result out the bag.
          At Spa he started 14th and finished 5th and this weekend He went from 10th to 2nd. Proving that when the team put their weight behind Massa, he’s a driver capable of podium finishes.

          (thats just a summary of the critizism that I use to hear from people who dislike him, not a direct response to anyone)

          Hold on, if it’s not a direct response to me, then why did you reply rather than posting a fresh comment?…

          1. davidnotcoulthard
            9th October 2012, 16:45

            So are you saying that Massa is better of going back to Sauber next year?

          2. davidnotcoulthard
            9th October 2012, 16:45

            …better off

          3. Traverse Mark Senior (@)
            9th October 2012, 18:38

            If Sauber put an offer on the table, Massa would be a fool to turn it down. As things stand Massa is Alonso’s lacky, and as long as Alonso remains at Ferrari Massa will not be allowed (by Ferrari) to win a race. At Sauber he’d be able to race his own race and wouldn’t have to yield to anyone, also Sauber appear to have a decent car and a positive, healthy team environment (which is just what Massa needs to flourish).

        2. You’re trying to be sarcatic, but there’s a sliver of truth here.

          Alonso’s lack of championships for Ferrari is indeed a disappointment given the way they’ve synched their whole operations to his needs and for his benefits. And trouble does follow him around: all the main scandals of the past few years – McLaren spying, Renault crashing, Ferrari team orders – have all involved teams bending over backwards to given him (unfair) advantages. Is this coincidence?

          As for your attempted dig at Vettel and Button – pleased you followed their careers at Torro Rosso and BAR Honda so closely!

          1. As for your attempted dig at Vettel and Button – pleased you followed their careers at Torro Rosso and BAR Honda so closely!

            Indeed, that attempted dig was a miserable failure, given Button’s first win from 14th, and Vettel’s numerous points from the back (China 07, Monaco 08, Canada 08).

  3. Before anyone gives Keith a hard time for reporting “tabloid” nonesense, which is what the Sun does well. Its out there, its for us to debate and I’m sure it doesn’t represent Keith’s complete viewpoint.

    To be fair, when you read what the Sun reports Jenson as saying, he is questioning whether it really the job of the FIA to do something – or something Romain needs to address.

    However, if anyone can find where Grosjean said “stupid mistake” I’d appreciate it (seeing as he has not given the Sun an exclusive and therefore the quote is sourced from another interview). Even which is the Sun of Germany, doesn’t invent direct quotes that have not been said.

    Hopefully its something I missed, if not then the Sun sinks to a new level of deception. The closest I’ve seen to what they report as a quote – was “stupid crash”. Grosjean then went on to explain it was the surprising delta speed that was the problem, not particularly admitting fault or offering an apology.

    1. In fact I shouldn’t have worried. The Sun clearly knows nothing about F1. “Sebastian Grosjean“?

      1. They appear to know a bit about tennis though ;)

    2. For sure, tabloids are generally untrustworthy. But they’re not stupid enough to make up quotes and attribute them to someone who didn’t say them. That’s the fast way to a libel lawsuit.

      In the UK, the media is generally protected against civil suits because the courts have set an upper limit to the maximum that can be paid out to a plaintiff. The tabloids abuse this no end, because they know that if someone starts a civil suit against them, then all they need to do is drag it out to the point where the plaintiff’s legal costs approach – and even begin to out-weigh – the damages cap. That way, it becomes too expensive for taking action against the tabloids to be feasible.

      But if the tabloids run a story with quotes that they have totally made up, then no judge would ever allow them to drag it out to the point where they don’t lose anything. A quick settlement is usually in order, but this rarely happens because while the tabloids thrive on sleaze and scandal, they’re not dumb enough to be openly libellous. Especially in the way of the phone-hacking scandals; they’re still watching their steps.

      The bottom line is that if The Sun named and quoted Jenson Button as saying something, then we can be reasonably assured that he said it.

      1. Alexthelesser
        9th October 2012, 11:09

        So they’d be sued for replacing stupid crash with stupid “mistake”? I think not,

    3. Grosjean said “stupid crash” in an interview with Sky after the race
      Can’t remember if he said stupid mistake too though.

      1. I only saw ‘crash’ in the post race interviews. Clearly the Sun has changed this to ‘mistake’ to make the story better (in their opinion) – ‘mistake’ obviously admits liability and suits their bashing of Grosjean I guess.

        Having said that its probably because they’re just useless as they can’t even get Grosjeans first name right.

        @Prisoner Monkeys – don’t think you read the judge13’s comments properly – he said the Sun reported Grosjean saying “mistake” not Jenson.

  4. Can you imagine how long they would have banned Hunt in today’s F1? I’m guessing for a season… a different time.

    1. It seems as if it is the culmination of his frustration over the crash, when he reacts violently towards the steward trying to get him away from the track. Would You get a ban today – or would it be merely a Police review? At least he tries to apologise right after.

    2. @dusty-in-california @palle Since he apologised, he would have been banned for only 1race/community service

      1. it certainly looks like he apologized, but the marshal does not mention it when telling the story to Gary Grant, unless we count ‘Sorry, old man’ or a manager’s letter as a proper accepted apology.

        “If I said anything to him I can’t remember. Hunt gave me a “Sorry, old man” and headed back to the pits and I went back to my corner station. Someone else on the corner saw the cut under my jaw and the blood trickling from it. Next came a ride track side in the ambulance to Race Med. How did I feel? Wronged, blindsided, did that really happen? Ron Dennis came into Race Med to check on me and apologized. Never heard from James personally but his brother, who was his personal manager, wrote me a letter of apology.”


  5. Would someone please enlighten me as to why Alonso didn’t drive his car back to the pits after losing the LR tire? All I know is that the engine was turned off when he came to rest on the asphalt. No mention of that being intentional or accidental. Also, no mention of any damage to his car other than the flat tire.

    1. Because Suzuka is a good old fashioned circuit with gravel traps, so there’s no driving off when you make a mistake. Alonso ended up in the gravel, as did Perez. Races over.

      1. Alonso ended up in the middle of the track between T1 and T2, didn’t he?

        1. Quite right. I remembered seeing the cloud of dust when Alonso crossed the gravel trap and assumed that was where he ended up. However looking back at the photos he did end up on an asphalt area.

          1. and he could have kept the engine running with a boot full of throttle as he was spinning, or he could have pulled the clutch in.

    2. He stalled the engine apparently.

  6. I saw a little bit of Grosjean’s final year in GP2, and I don’t recall him “winning or crashing” all the time. My impression was that he put in a very mature season, and also steadily collected points for P4 etc. when he wasn’t the outright fastest.

    I do feel a bit sorry for Grosjean now. He’s made too many mistakes, and last Sunday’s was a very silly one, but the thing is that once you’ve been involved in a few too many incidents, people start taking count, and include every minor tap into that tally. Sunday people were speaking of 7 incidents, now it’s up to nine; it’s not as if he’s made nine swerve-across-to-Hamilton moves this year. The contact at Silverstone was very minor in a very crowded corner, and there was a little bit of wheel-banging in the first corner in Spain. In Australia it was more Maldonado to blame for his early exit.

    As for sorting himself out, I agree more with what Gary Anderson says: I hope he gets a good result real soon so that everyone can move on from this mess, because he is fast enough to challenge for titles in a good car. It’s a shame then, that Lotus seems to have lost some competitiveness recently, because a solid drive to P5 just isn’t as impressive as, for example, delivering Lotus’s first win.

    1. @AdrianMorse I fully agree with you and I also liked Anderson’s article. It’s not like all the collisions have been 100% Grosjean’s fault and stewards obviously see it this way, too. Spoiled kids, who don’t know how to behave or maniacs don’t become GP2 champions and they don’t score podiums in F1. It’s not like he’s enjoying the crashing. He’s still a fantastic driver and I think that Boullier should show more support for his driver in this difficult time.

    2. He’s looking like 2011 Lewis Hamilton, he needs a break to re-focus. Seems that he gets nervous when a crash is imminent even though its avoidable he can’t help but crash because there’s so much pressure and he can’t call it right.

  7. Interesting read here with Joe Saward doing the numbers on why a team would choose what driver (fast without much funds to go for points or driver with a big budget)

  8. I find it interesting how Maldonado presents himself to the public. His big self-confidence is usually characteristic to drivers such as Alonso and Vettel but you don’t see that kind of attitude from the midfield guys too often. In that Autosport article, he also says that “as you know, I have a lot of responsibility in this team because I am the top driver here.” It’s obviously true but I guess even Alonso wouldn’t openly say that about himself at Ferrari.

    1. His Ego is quite big, isn’t it?

      1. I’m just seeing some ‘lost in translation’ moments myself, as he clearly means he’s the team’s lead driver, which, of course, he is – and it has nothing to do with his money. He’s been a member of the team for 3 years, two of which have been spent driving the car every weekend.

        Big headed, yes, but totally truthful at the same time.

  9. I really can’t see Alonso putting up much of a fight now after Suzuka. The car just isn’t quick enough and he doesn’t have enough of a points advantage to hold off Vettel. As much as I like Vettel I don’t want to see him take another driver’s title.

    1. Let’s hope McLaren/HAM (or, if you consider it between ALO,VET anyway, BUT too) can get back some sort of challenge to keep VET from winning those races – at least that way it will be a bit of a challenge/uncertainty until the end then @smifaye!

    2. Well he does still have that 4 point advantage and McLarens were both off pace in the last GP due to set-up issues and gear-box issues so maybe hope McLaren can get a 1-2 and do Ferrari a favour and hope the ‘big updates’ in India can help Ferrari replicate some of their mid-season performances. Of course this is me dreaming as the Newey looks as if he’s pulled another masterstroke to allow Vettel to win from the front as usual.

    3. @smifaye, What about Alonsos’ vaunted half second per lap advantage (which he clearly has had over Massa), over 53 laps that would have had him finish six and a half seconds ahead of Vettel. Yeah, yeah, yeah but at least it should/could have been a close fight.

  10. bez_lightyear
    9th October 2012, 13:25

    I was at the BRM Day on Sunday and thought Jackie Stewart was in really impressive form. A lot of the drivers were – quite understandably – being quite careful with their elderly and no doubt priceless cars, but Jackie did a couple of practice starts and burnouts all along the street circuit. I was lucky enough to be standing on a corner with a view down Abbey Road and watched him take off towards me in the bright blue Tyrrell-Ford, tyres smoking and the whole car snaking as it struggled for grip. All in all it was a great day for motorsport fans & Bourne was completely chockablock with people.

  11. davidnotcoulthard
    9th October 2012, 13:38

    Yes, I would also be very, very gutted…….having seen, and been impressed with, his Toyota days (which were quite short, actually).

  12. Having a think about COTD – I reckon Kamui could be a bolter for the second Ferrari seat. With Europe’s financial system in chaos how many Ferraris will be sold there compared to Asia, where the economic situation is not as dire? KK would be a great number 2 to Fernando and occaisionally pull off a surprise. He’s done it with Sauber (2009 Abu Dhabi, 2010 Valencia, quali at Spa this year, the last GP podium…) so he would be ideal.

    I mean really could he do any worse than Felipe over the last two years? He would bring in a number of japanese sponsors to Ferrari and realistically is not any worse than either Massa or the two FI drivers who are constantly being linked with Maranello. I was hoping earlier in the season that if Webber had gone to Ferrari (which I still think he will regret in the long term) then KK would have been awesome in a Red Bull.

    Go on Stefano – even if it is for one season how brilliant would that be!

    1. davidnotcoulthard
      9th October 2012, 17:31

      You do know what Eddie and Rubens were “used” for in Ferrari, right(2nd driver, as shown in Austria 2002, and I don’t want to see that happen to KK)?

      1. Being number 2 at Ferrari as opposed to equal driver at Sauber? Which would you take? He’s pretty much No.2 at Sauber at the moment anyway given Perez’s incredible race performances at Malaysia, Canada and Monza, but he’s a flamboyant and aggressive racer that would suit Ferrari well. And he’d be cheap! I reckon he’d bring the fun back into Ferrari.

        Eddie and Rubens were number 2 to Michael, just as Massa is number 2 to Fernando right now. Realistically neither were in the Michael/Mika class, just as Massa is not in the Alonso/Lewis/Jenson/Vettel class. I’d put KK in the same class as Massa. I’d also say that whoever gets the Massa’s seat, even if it is Felipe himself resigning, knows that it will be number 2 to Fernando, which is probably why Webber did not go to Ferrari in the end. At least at Red Bull he has not yet been asked to pull over because “Sebastian is faster than you” as you pull away in the lead of a race half way through the season…

        KK is great. Hopefully he’ll be in F1 next year, as he would be missed A LOT more than Sutil is being missed right now for example…

  13. Good COTD. I hope he stays, I really do. I think it would benefit the team as well because putting two unknowns in the car makes for a very mysterious season.

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