Ferrari a “dog of a car”? Maybe not…

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    I know this is not an ultimate comparison, and there are circumstances (like tires used at certain stages of the races), but here is a comparison of fastest laps set between Alonso and Vettel. This is to show that Ferrari’s race pace was actually pretty good, almost throughout the year.

    Fernando Alonso vs Sebastian Vettel

    ALO 1’19.044 (2nd), VET 1’19.469 (8th)

    ALO 1’42.442 (3rd, behind MAS), VET 1’42.499 (5th, behind WEB) – same pace

    ALO 1’18.623 (4th), VET 1’19.090 (9th)

    ALO 1’44.090 (2nd), VET 1’43.964 (1st)

    ALO 1’30.277 (7th), VET 1’29.417 (2nd) – RB8 clearly faster (beginning of season)

    BARCELONA (good place to judge)
    ALO 1’27.390 (3rd), VET 1’27.768 (4th)

    ALO 1’41.152 (11th), VET 1’40.601 (7th)

    Just a few examples. One can get the picture that Ferrari was only slower in the very beginning, at least considering maximum race pace.

    Does anyone want to finish these stats?


    The ‘F2012 was a dog of a car and Fernando was performing miracles’ claim is only true for Melbourne and the first couple of races, in my eyes. Perez should’ve won in Malaysia, but the Ferrari was clearly quick in the wet too. Alonso was incredibly consistent all year, but like in India and Korea, when you’re less than 10 seconds behind Vettel and the Red Bull at the end of a 300km Grand Prix, your car is a good car.


    Red Bull was stronger in all races except Belgium and Italy where Red Bull have always struggled except in 2011. When people say “dog of a car”, I think they’re just referring to the first four races, after that they were just slightly slower. That’s how I saw it anyway.


    It’s Alonso who said that with a “slightly slower” car he would have been champion, and with an equal car, early champion…


    It’s not just the stats; if Fernando really is faster than Vettel who is in a better car, but Fernando is in a worse car, the laptimes might be similar, but the cars don’t have to be.

    It’s mostly early in the season, but you could also tell by Massa’s performance, their lack of pace in FP and Qualifying as well as how the drivers struggled with the car. I can’t pinpoint any occasions, but there have been times where both drivers were having a hard(er) time controlling the car.


    The problem is that everyone takes qualifying pace as THE reflection of a car’s pace, and when that then also hands them a stick to beat their unfavorite drivers with, people are quick to drop all context.

    In Sebastian and Mark, we have two of the best qualifiers on the grid, in a car that is completely designed to be quick in qualifying, so much so that it has to compete with the HRTs and Marussia’s over top speed. So is it really surprising to often see the Red Bulls further near the front?

    Is it then also really surprising that their race pace is often not as good, especially with a car which becomes handicapped when other cars are near it? Is it then also a surprise that the Ferrari’s, who seem to cruise past almost everyone on the straight, do better in races? Couple that with a bulletproof reliability on the side of the Italians and it pretty much evens out.

    It’s all about context.
    If you just want a stick to beat Vettel or a golden plate to serve Alonso on, then you can just ignore context and create your own version of reality in which the Ferrari is a dog.
    If however you care about a fair evaluation, look at the pro’s and cons of the cars and the characteristics, you will find that while very different, they are both very championship-potential cars in the hands of great drivers. And great drivers are who drove them.


    Effectively, the car was only really a dog for 4 races – and in one of them, the wet, coupled with the car’s natural affinity for water – made it more of a hound than a dog. Of the circuits after that, it was only weak in qualifying, really. However we have to add the proviso that it returned to its canine form in the Singapore and Hungarian Grands Prix, in the races.


    I don’t think the Ferrari has ever been a bad car – not during pre-season testing, not at the beginning of the season and certainly not in the second half of the season. I made a list of reasons why people thought the F2012 was a “dog of a car”:

    – Slow qualifying pace: the F2012 typically finished better than it qualified. This is simply the nature of the, likewise the RB7 (last year’s Red Bull) was a good qualifier. People generally think that a car’s qualifying pace is a direct representation of a car’s race pace, but in fact this couldn’t be less accurate. A thing that adds to this is that Fernando Alonso is generally believed to not be the best qualifier in the field. Also, I think that at the start of the season, the ‘rumour’ that the Ferrari was a bad car was ‘confirmed’ because both drivers didn’t make it into Q3 in Melbourne. This was actually due to a spin by Alonso, else he would have probably made it through to Q3. But apparently this was enough for some to keep the sentence “the F2012 is a dog of a car” in mind for the rest of the season.

    – Exagaration claims by team members: Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, Stefano Domenicali and Luca di Montezemelo have all claimed in the media (both pre-season and during the season) that the Ferrari was ‘a lot’ slower than the rest of the field. I think that you cannot base your opinion about the F2012 purely on team members – that’s where journalists come in. And as far as I know, no respected F1 technical journalist has ever branded the F2012 as a ‘slow’ car. I can’t help but wonder how a slow car could be quickest on the last day of pre-season testing.

    – Competitive field: the midfield has tightened up a lot in 2012. This resulted in some exciting and bizar races – 5 different constructors winning in 5 consecutive races. In other words: the standard deviation has decreased. And if a team build a car in 2012 with a gap to the quickest car that 10 years ago would have been good for 2nd place in the constructors’, then it would only be good for 5th or so. So… relatively it wasn’t a masterpiece, but absolute it is a fine car.

    – Uncompetitive Massa: F1 is a team sport, and if you want to look at how good a car really is, you don’t only look at the fastest of their two drivers. One cannot deny that Massa was epically slow in the first part of the season. And if you take the average of the two drivers, then you end up with an average that is below the true car’s pace (even if you reason that Alonso is some sort of miracle driver) again further stimulating the before mentioned illusion.

    So, I’m not claiming that the Ferrari wasn’t slower than, for instance, the Red Bull and the McLaren at the start of the season. What I’m saying is that the F2012 is often categorized as being slower than it actually is. The result of this is that many people think that Alonso has performed superhuman this season. And this reasoning has been bugging me all season long.


    As some of you may know – I did a qualifying championship, giving points for qualifying vs race – 25 points for getting P1, 18 for getting P2, etc – but for qualifying.

    I then did a conversion rate of the real points on the board, as a percentage of their qualifying points – I call this the conversion rate.

    Something that actually happened is that there was a stretch of races where Massa and Alonso had exactly the same conversion ratio. If we assume that Massa’s race pace compared to Alonso’s is the same as his qualifying pace compared to Alonso’s – not an unreasonable assumption – then it supports the claim that the Ferrari has very good race pace.


    It wasnt a dog, or still born or anything extreme. It was just a car that wasnt as quick out the box as the Redbull or Mclaren. By the time Ferrari was up to speed, it was the 3rd fastest car on the grid 90% of the tracks. But we’re not comparing oranges & apples here, the difference is less then the blink of an eye in speed.

    Effectively, the car was only really a dog for 4 races – and in one of them, the wet, coupled with the car’s natural affinity for water – made it more of a hound than a dog

    More of a Trout really ;)


    Scuderia Ferrari vs Red Bull Racing – F2012 vs RB8

    1.) Australia
    Red Bull were unquestionably quicker here; especially on light fuel loads. In qualifying the advantage was as obvious as in the race, although overall the Mclaren appeared to the quickest car of the weekend.

    2.) Malaysia
    Ferrari were quicker here in the rain. However, as soon as the circuit dried up Red Bull were clearly the faster car. Overall, I will give this to Ferrari.

    3.) China
    Red Bull were better here, in both qualifying and race. Although I’d say Mercedes and Mclaren were even handier than Red Bull on this weekend.

    4.) Bahrain
    Red Bull were miles quicker than Ferrari here. Only Lotus was faster than Red Bull in the heat here.

    5.) Spain
    Difficult race to compare. Alonso battled throughout the race with Maldonado for the race victory. However, Red Bull did not show their full potential due a poor qualifying and being stuck in traffic throughout the race. Overall. I will give Ferrari the benefit of doubt.

    6.) Monaco
    Webber took a pole to flag victory here, but Vettel only qualified on the fifth row of the grid. Massa and Alonso were much closer to each other. In the race; Alonso, Massa and Webber had comparable race pace. Here, I will give Red Bull the benefit of doubt.

    7.) Canada
    I’d call it a draw. Red Bull qualified better, but in the race Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso all seemed to have similar pace.

    8.) Europe
    Red Bull’s pace was better than Ferrari’s here. Alonso won due a few miracle overtaking maneuvers and Vettel’s alternator failing.

    9.) Great Britain
    Ferrari and Red Bull were evenly matched throughout the race in pace. Webber won at the end when overtaking Alonso on grained tyres, but this can be blamed on Ferrari’s strategy more than anything else. Overall, I will call this a draw.

    10.) Germany
    Alonso takes pole ahead of the Red Bull’s in the rain. In the race Alonso had to hold off Vettel and Button most of the way through, but Massa was actually lapping a bit quicker than he was in free air; hinting that the Spaniard might have been on a conservative strategy. Overall, I will call this a draw too.

    Hence fore, after the first 10 Grand Prix weekends of the season; Red Bull have had the quicker car on 5 occasions, Ferrari on 2 occasions, and on 3 weekends they were about on par.

    I will do the next 10 later.


    I don’t think the Ferrari was a dog of a car at all. Maybe it wasn’t the best car, but it gave Fernando a chance to fight for the title. He wasn’t going to win the championship in outright pace, but given the reliability it had it was quite the vehicle.

    Now a Caterham is a dog of a car, but to be honest this season was pretty good in terms of car performance. Sauber, Williams, and Force India each had something good about them.


    I can’t help but wonder how a slow car could be quickest on the last day of pre-season testing.

    While you make a good case, I still disagree, but the point I’ve quoted doesn’t say much. An easy stroll along wikipedia reveals Honda topped some pre-season tests in 2007, they scored a grand total of 6 points that year.

    Ben Furtula

    Yeah but Ferrari alway’s had good race pace it was just in qualifying that the Ferrari was at it’s weakest point. I agree with @dpod he might not of had the best car at any point of the season but he had the best reliability of any car besides Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus E20.


    Should you compare the laps when the one of the 2 drivers isn’t stuck behind another driver or having no reason to push?

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