“It was like destiny! Right from the morning, the day was a bit different. A sunny day…and I did the laps in the 1951 car”
ALONSO ON SILVERSTONE, 2011
“First, this year’s cars were built around the blown
di;users,” he replies, “so next year without that possibility,
everyone will start more or less from zero. So that will be a help
for us, because we were not very well developed on di;users.
“We also had problems with some of the stu; that we
reorganized, and like I said earlier, issues with the wind tunnel
correlation. We all made mistakes – with the design of the car
and the way we prepared for the 2011 season. But that, in a
way, is very positive because we’re sure that we will not have
those problems again.”
The man charged with turning around Ferrari is chassis
technical director Pat Fry, who joined from McLaren on July 1,
2010. Alonso may not have enjoyed his curtailed stint with the
British team in ’07, but clearly he has a lot of respect for Fry.
“I was happy with him. He was the guy who prepared the
2007 car at McLaren, so I had a close relationship with him,
and obviously it’s a huge help for Ferrari to have him now in an
important role. With many years’ experience in motor racing,
he knows how to deal with specific problems, and he brings
di;erent philosophies to Ferrari, in some of the areas where
maybe Ferrari was not especially developed or good. You can
learn from everyone.”
Meanwhile, Alonso himself continues to develop. He for one
believes he is better now than when he took those two titles
“Now I am a much more complete driver,” he declares.
“Maybe in a single lap or in a race situation, it hasn’t changed
too much. But in overtaking maneuvers, at the start, pit stop
approach, or in mental preparation to the race, I think in ’05
and ’06 I was much weaker than now.”
So it’s ironic that he hasn’t won the World Championship
since then. He came within a whisker in ’07 with McLaren and
in ’ 10 with Ferrari, but he’s not too bothered by the title drought.
“I know I could have more championships,” he says, “but
you can’t move forward by looking back. You need to look at the
present and future. I’m totally confident that a championship
will come sooner rather than later, because I’m in the perfect
team to do that. I have more motivation than ever, so it only
“Hopefully not much more time,” he adds, “because I’m 30
and I don’t know how many years I will be here. But I’m at the
peak of my career and I’m in the best team. I don’t have any
FERNANDO ALONSO / FORMULA 1 /
Former F1 vice-champ
has drifted off the pace
Alonso considers himself a more
complete driver than when he won
back-to-back titles for Renault.
doubts that championships will arrive.”
It’s intriguing that Alonso says he
doesn’t know how long he will be
around, given that this year he extended
his Ferrari contract until 2017, giving
both parties unprecedented security.
“I’m committed to Ferrari,” he states.
“The two years that I’ve spent here have
been a great experience. I’ve felt at home
from day one, and I still have this feeling
after two years. We share values, we like
competition and we like motor racing.
The Italian people, the Italian culture
and the way they deal with things is very
similar to mine.
“So the next five years I’m committed
to the team. That allows us to be
completely relaxed – not only me, but
also the team itself, so it can build a
long-term program with no doubts that
I’ll always be fully committed to Ferrari.
And it was important for me to have their
commitment to do this, because I’m
ready to give 110 percent for them.”
Fernando Alonso has racked
up six wins in his two years at
Ferrari. In the same period,
teammate Felipe Massa has managed
just five podiums and no victories,
and this past season, he didn’t finish
higher than fifth. No one seriously
expects him to be at Ferrari in 2013.
So why is a driver who came within
20 seconds of winning the ’08 World
Championship no longer good enough?
Massa’s life-threatening accident in
July ’09, when a spring shed by a rival
car struck Massa just above the eye as
his Ferrari was traveling at 162mph, is
one possible factor. It’s plausible he’s
lost something in his driving. There are
flashes of speed, but he’s very
inconsistent. Some who are close to
Massa privately even speak of noticing
changes in his character, although it’s
speculative to tie this to the crash.
Other factors? Well, he’s struggled
to get his tires up to temperature in
qualifying over the past two years
but that’s a Ferrari trait. Then there
is Alonso himself. Even Massa at his
’08 best would be expected to lag
behind the Spaniard, albeit not to the
extent that he has done.
Some also point to his lost victory
in Germany last year, which Ferrari
ordered him to give to his teammate.
But while that was a clear dent to his
confidence (coming a year to the day
after his accident) Massa was 0.5sec
off his teammate in qualifying and was
fortunate there were no McLarens
between him and the lead when Alonso
and Sebastian Vettel slowed each other
up on the run to Turn 1. In other
words, it was a one-off circumstance.
Massa is Ferrari’s weak link. Over
the last two years, we’ve seen enough
of him to say that, if he ever was a
top-liner, he isn’t anymore. Next year,
he must shape up or ship out and,
unfortunately, it’s hard to see him
having the tools to do the former.