Alonso’s DRS failure the first of its kind – Ferrari

2013 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso’s DRS failure during the Bahrain Grand Prix was caused by a mechanical breakage, according to Ferrari.

Alonso’s DRS jammed open after he overtook Nico Rosberg on lap five. He pitted to have the wing closed on lap seven, but it failed again the next time he used it, forcing him to return to the pits again and not use DRS throughout the rest of the race.

The team said it was the first such failure for the device in three years of operation. Ferrari believe Alonso would have been able to challenge Sebastian Vettel for victory had it not been for the failure.

Team principal Stefano Domenicali said: “It’s hard to recall a race where so many things went wrong.”

“The DRS failure prevented Fernando, who yet again produced a great performance, from fighting Vettel for the win.”

Domenicali added the team must place “renewed attention” on reliability, which has been a strength of their cars in recent seasons.

“We must also continue to develop the car and increase our understanding of the tyres, which is more crucial than ever this year,” he said. “In these first four races of the season, we have not managed, for various reasons, to bring home the points that were within our grasp.”

“That’s why the gap to the top in both classifications seems quite large, but we must not be discouraged by this, quite the contrary, because we have seen so often, both in our favour and against, how things can change in a hurry.”

2013 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Image © Ferrari/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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49 comments on “Alonso’s DRS failure the first of its kind – Ferrari”

  1. Ferrari believe Alonso would have been able to challenge Sebastian Vettel for victory had it not been for the failure.

    making it all too obvious that reliability is needed to be on top too.

    But the car is fine, if not for their issues (the DRS, and the FW cockup), Alonso could well be about 40 points up in the championship

    1. that was his fault in malaysia.

      It was his fault too for opening DRS for 2nd time.

      1. Whilst it was Alonso in the end who pressed the button to activate his DRS the second time, I think it was down to Ferrari to tell Alonso not to press the button as I don’t think Alonso was going to know for certain that the team had not fully fixed the problem.

      2. Think about it logically. If something breaks, and you don’t know the root cause (and you think it’s a one-off, like Ferrari clearly did) you are not necessarily going to expect a second failure. The second failure of the DRS after it was initially corrected only looks like a poor decision due to hindsight. It was impossible for Alonso to know what caused the issue. If he had known, he wouldn’t have opened it again (as you should note that he didn’t for the rest of the race!).

        1. thinking about it logically, if something breaks and you slam it with brute force in place in 5second time, it will not work again! watching the rear view shots it was obvious that wasnt the case of something jamming ,the linkage to the actuator broke (it was able to push the flap up, but no linkage to pull it back in) , because at full speed it opened even more. everyone with a bit of technical knowledge and logic could have atleast an idea of what was the problem by the rear camera shots and that it would not work by just manualy puting it in place…
          I think Ferrari knew 100% that it will not work again…
          it could be easily a mistake that Alonso opened it again, now they are so used to using it that he could just presed the button without even thinking about it… can happen to everyone! :D

          1. as stated thats down to the team to tell him. He would of had no idea what they did to it. Infact he has said he thought it was tyres going off. So in the confusion of calling him quickly, thinking they had fixed it etc perhaps the message hadnt clearly got through to fernando.

        2. @Gaz, it is not just hindsight. My immediate thought after the first failure was that he should avoid using it until the lap of his next planned pit-stop. That way, if it failed again, he wouldn’t lose time having to come in again.

          This failure was unlike Schumacher’s in Canada last year, because Mercedes couldn’t close his DRS slot when Schumacher came into the pits, but this time the Ferrari mechanics were able to close it easily with their hands. That’s significant, because when DRS was introduced, it was said that it could never get stuck open, as the pressure of the air going over the rear wing would force it closed. Now we can see that that isn’t the case.

          1. I agree that would have been best to keep it closed for the race (or at least test it on a in-lap to minimise lost time). Ferrari either a) decided to try it again based on a calculated risk, or b) were completely ignorant to what caused it and the likeliness of it happening again.

            My initial reaction was to avoid re-opening it too, but there’s risk associated to that also. We consider keeping it closed to be the best option because we already know the outcome (i.e. that it broke again). It is possible that they could have kept it closed all race and then tested it on the final lap, only to find out it worked perfectly all along and they cost themselves numerous places by not using it.

            Ferrari made a decision (informed or not) to game and it did not pay off. Win some, lose some.

        3. And even more logically, if he does not use it a second time he might still be able to grab serious points. If he does use it and it fails he will not receive points.
          that he did receive 4 points only makes clear that this was a great misjudgement by the Ferarri team

      3. To be honest Candice, I wrote a neutral “issues” to avoid the debate on who was at fault for them really (as it would detract from what I was saying).
        Its undeniable both incidents cost them / him points whether it was the team, the car, the driver, the supplier of parts, Vettel braking when Alonso did not expect, the FIA for having DRS at all, Pirelli for the tyres they deliver or whatever.

      4. That’s the same thing as saying that Alonso himself should have pitted in Malaysia. He actually thought it was the rear tyres and would you really know for sure that the DRS could work again if they didnt try again, long shot I know but in the end the real error is to have hit Vettel in Malaysia and to have fitted a faulty DRS mechanism on Alonso car.

    2. @bascb Lets say it was not a ‘Grande Weekend’ for Alonso.. he he

      1. @noob

        The Ferrari looks like a very competitive car this year.. So there is a good chance that Alonso will have a few more “Grande Weekends” :P

    3. it all happens in f1 so one should complain, nothing is lost so no panicking, in these circumstances it is bound to happen. how can we blame alonso or ferrari when the fault goes to mechanical issues, but ferrari should look into these coz this is something which ferrari is not famous for!!! so make the car more reliable

  2. These things are too obvious, but they remembered only when something goes wrong… Strange things. Considering the status of Ferrari – it’s not peculiar for them.

    1. Or anyone in F1.

  3. If Ferrari will follow Mclaren’s path of reliability and integrity issue, RBR would be too lucky again.
    Must admit RBR has really impressive team for a 3rd year in a row.

    1. That’s why Webbers wheel came off ?

      1. Who cares when vettel is on rails

      2. petebaldwin (@)
        24th April 2013, 13:06

        As long as the mistakes keep affecting Webber, Red Bull won’t be to worried.

        1. Which is clearly why Red Bull are triple Constructors Champions. All this talk about Red Bull not being bothered with how Mark does in a race is such nonsense.

          1. I honestly have a hard time believing anyone could truly be serious when they say things like that. Even on a team where one driver is favored over another — take Ferrari, as an example no one would argue with — what they want is for BOTH drivers to finish well. The ideal is a one-two finish every time. So why would they not “be to [sic] worried” if problems are affecting one of their drivers?

            (And why am I even wasting time saying this when it’s been said so many times before? Good question…)

          2. Of course they care. Every team does – to varying degrees. There’s absolutely no doubt though, in my mind, that if Webber had taken the kinds of liberties that Vettel does, he’d have been booted.

          3. I never understand how the Reply button works here.. I digress…

            @thedag I do find it surprising that in a sport we complain about not being enough of a meritocracy, that so many would expect or want Webber to have the same relationship with Red Bull that Vettel does.

            And to take that a step further, we’ve seen Mark take lots of liberties, on team radio and in broadcasts, as well as in the car and no one has been fired, suspended or reprimanded.

          4. @thedag

            What kind of liberties has taken Vettel that Webber has not taken?

    2. Agreed with @aka_robyn – it’s just so blindingly obvious Red Bull don’t give a **** about Webber and hence the comstrcutor’s championship because they’re preoccupied with giving Vettel a car with twice the grip of everybody else because he can’t drive without it…

    3. but the red bulls doesn’t have the speed with the tyre wear like ferrari in the long run, let them be fast for the 1 lap in qualifying, who cares??? ferrari does that in the long run, the reliability, ferrari has waht it takes to win the championship, just look at merc. they are fast real fast….but only for that 1 lap which nico does….heheheh

  4. Frankly, I can’t see how Alonso could have challenged for the win. Vettel could have gone much faster – someone said after the race that they could have easily done a two-stop race, which means that Vettel could have pushed a lot more on the three-stop. And indeed, his fast lap for the record books was 2 seconds faster than the other laps in his third stint.

    1. Actually you only have to look at Webbers race and see what happens to the tyres when they are not being used in cruise mode to see how Vettels whole race strategy could have been upset by an aggressive challenge from Alonso, who seemed to have the pace needed.

      1. Alonso finsihed 37 seconds behind Vettel, an extra pit stop cost him 21 seconds, so now he’s only 16 seconds behind. Now take into account that he had to clear a lot of traffic without DRS, and you’ll realize that Alonso easily could’ve challenged Vettel fro the win.

        1. @kingshark likely, but I think the 21 secs you have said is a bit rich (more like 17/18) and that you haven’t factored in that Vettel didn’t push at all in the final stint apart form his traditional fastest-lap setting.

          1. @vettel1
            Bahrain has one of the longest pitlanes in F1, 17-18 seconds would be in and out time only, 21 seconds is correct if we include pit time.

            Vettel wasn’t pushing, maybe, but Alonso destroyed his tyres when stuck behind traffic that he had to pass with slipstreaming and late-braking rather than DRS.

          2. @kingshark – still, I don’t think it’s quite that: the whole pit time is around 21 seconds but remember you spend around 17 of those driving at 100 km/h and of course it takes time for the cars at full racing speed to travel the length of the pit lane also at 280km/h ish (around 2/3 seconds by my estimate) so really you’re looking at probably 18 seconds lost I would say.

            That’s not really the main point though, it’s mainly the Vettel pushing aspect of it. I think he probably had quite a lot in reserve judging by how he was able to prolong the life of the tyres. Absolutely Alonso would’ve been in contention, but I think this was Vettel’s win anyway – Alonso’s failure just made it significantly easier!

        2. I’m not Ferrari fan but I have to admit that their contemporary F1 design is a race-pace monster. It was unbelievable how fast that car was without DRS. Without the problem Fernando would be a winer for sure.

          1. I’m not so sure, because yes it is very competitive in the races but so was Vettel on Sunday, so I’m not sure Alonso could’ve got back after Vettel re-took him.

          2. Redbull and Vettel were very fast in Bahrain and it is very likely that Vettel would’ve still won the race if Alonso dint have his DRS issues and the extra pitstop… But i dont think Vettel would have dominated the race as he did if Alonso was chasing him hard… It would’ve been a much more close affair.. and sadly we dint get to see that .. Hopefully we will see the two battle it out for the win in many of the coming races…

  5. I was surprised at both decisions that have effectively ruined Alonso’s races this year – to carry on using the front wing in Malaysia, and also at the fact they went ahead and used the DRS, taking a gamble that it would work after simply jamming it shut by hand. Last year’s reliability (within the team as much as the car) and this year’s car would have made for a monstrous start. Still plenty of races to go, though…

    1. Let’s hope they don’t have to rename it ‘La inaffidabilità’ once we get halfway…

    2. @electrolite Could they have changed the rear wing???

      1. @noob – nope, not only would that cost a lot of time if they had been able to anyway it is simply not really posisble in a race situation and I think may even violate parc fermé rules, although I’m not sure on the last part.

        Simply though, this is two errors from Ferrari that were entirely preventable in three races – that’s got to reflect badly on them…

      2. @noob no, even if they could have, I don’t think so.

  6. This incident is very much alike to Schumacher’s one in Canada, last year, when his DRS jammed and refused to close. F1 cars are extremly complex machines, it’s almos inevitable for something to go wrong, at one point. Still, I belive Ferrari has the fastest and the most reliable car, they just lack the focus, which is very frustrating…

  7. I was worried, was thinking Alonso was having just bad luck. Cancelling the rabbil foot I was going to send him

  8. Domenicali added the team must place “renewed attention” on reliability, which has been a strength of their cars in recent seasons.

    I wouldn’t say Ferrari have had any real reliability issues this season at all: in Malaysia Alonso made a mistake which was then heightened by a poor decision on the pit wall, and in Bahrain Ferrari again shot themselves in the foot by not telling Alonso not to activate DRS when they surely knew it was irreparable.

    So actually, reliability is not the focus here: the quite frankly baffling decisions the team has been making should be the focus – it’s all of their own doing!

    1. @Vettel1

      You are right about Malaysia.. it had nothing do with reliabilty .. it was a combination of Driver and Team error…

      But I think you are missing the point while talking about Bahrain… Ferrari have since identified that it was a mechanical breakage of a component in the DRS device… Which in my book should defenitely be considered as a reliabilty issue.. Maybe the decision to open the DRS after the first stop was a questionable one (eventhough I tend to disagree with that notion as it is very easy to judge that in hindsight)… had the DRS not failed there would nt have been a need to make the decision to use or not use DRS.. so the focus should be on reliabilty first ..

      Also I dont quite understand how you can say Ferrari knew surely that DRS was inoperable.. I dont think there is any evidence so far to suggest that Ferrari knew it would nt work and still decided to try it out… I dont think any team on the grid would make a decision to operate something knowing fully well that it is not gonna work…

      1. @puneethvb

        Also I dont quite understand how you can say Ferrari knew surely that DRS was inoperable

        Well if I were in their position (and this isn’t simply a benefit of hindsight statement, I actually did think this during the race) I would’ve told Alonso not to operate DRS, as they would have been able to see from the rear wing camera that a mechanical part had malfunctioned (I believe it was the actuator).
        Even simpler than that though, if you hit something back into place logic would tell you it was broken!

        With regards to Bahrain though, I honestly think that was just an isolated event and not an inherent reliability problem such as Red Bull’s alternators last year for example. I imagine the component has hardly changed since DRS was introduced in 2011, so the main focus here should not be an investigation into reliability (as that was not a race-ending failure) but rather the operations of the team, who have made two crucial mistakes in the last three races which have cost Alonso what one could assume would be a hefty amount of points (by my reckoning, a 3rd and a 2nd/3rd – factoring in he had pitted early so maybe would have lost out to Räikkönen – provided he finished behind the Red Bull’s on both occasions).

        Considering Alonso has lost three championships by less than 4 points, a possible 26+ points loss by entirely preventable problems with a simple call from the pit wall surely won’t sit well with Alonso.

        1. @Vettel1

          What i was trying to point out that your statement meant Ferrari knew the DRS would fail again and still went ahead and used it… Which off course was not the case .. Maybe they underestimated the extent of the damage but it does nt make any sense to think any team can be that stupid to try using something which they are sure wont work…

          Yes it was nt a race ending issue but I am sure alonso or any other driver for that matter would nt be happy with such an issue…. and there is no guarantee that it will not re appear again… . Renault did not have any issues with alternators for many seasons and all of a sudden last year they had multiple failures… so it is very important to make sure that failure is investigated properly..

          The decision making has been below par so far this year compared to last year when they were very good(except probably in Canada where they made a bad strategy call IMO).. So that needs addressing as well.. But I am sure that will be sorted out soon…

  9. It was Alonso’s first mechanical problem in a year and a half. Already Ferrari and Alonso complaining. Massa is the guinea pig, not Alonso.

    Malaysia he made two mistakes. First, hitting Vettel, then failing to pit despite the team being ready for him with the wing. He’d be leading the championship if he drove flawlessly like Vettel.

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