Tag Archives: Fernando Alonso

Ferrari intentionally give Massa gearbox penalty to hand Alonso 7th, on clean side of Austin grid

A late gearbox penalty for Felipe Massa has dropped him down to 11th on the grid for the Grand Prix of America.  Crucially, this means that Fernando Alonso has been elevated to 7th on the grid – the clean side of the track.

Rival teams have reacted with fury, as Ferrari attempt to give Alonso every advantage possible, after a disastrous weekend so far for the Italian squad.

Ferrari didn’t even need to actually change the gearbox on Massa’s car – they simply broke the seal on top of it.

It remains to be seen will Red Bull attempt a similar situation with Mark Webber, but it is highly doubtful, knowing the Aussie.

Alonso problem revealed as broken rear anti-roll bar

Fernando Alonso struggled to make an impression in today’s qualifying session.

Later, the Ferrari team revealed on Twitter that the problem had been caused by a broken rear anti-roll bar:

It looks like there was a mechanical failure on the rear of Fernando's car, possibly 
the rear anti-roll bar.

Later, team principal Stefano Domenicali noted that the fault occurred during Fernando’s first lap in Q3.

Alonso will start 10th on the grid, with teammate Felipe Massa up in 3rd.

2012 half-way driver rankings: 2nd – 1st

In the last of 4 articles, I rank the 24 drivers from the 2012 season so far in terms of their performances.

After the three previous articles, we are left with Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. Without delay, here is the final post:

(Note: I can’t post any pictures for the moment because of my useless internet connection, sorry about that)

2nd: Lewis Hamilton

Previous ranking: 6th out of 28

Review from previous ranking: “Wonderful passes in China and Germany were a demonstration of how good a driver he is.”

2012 has seen a new evolution in Lewis Hamilton – no longer is he getting caught up in unnecessary crashes, or off-track whingeing. His pace is further improved, and with a new consistency, he may be able to finally make his way back to the top.

In the opening races, what surprised me the most, amidst the action-packed racing, was Hamilton’s consistency. Three third-places in three races didn’t set the world on fire, but allowed him to slowly move up the standings. He then began to suffer from a series of misfortunes – none of which were his fault – and he has not been able to recover his championship position yet.

He has, though, been able to show us why he is such a feared driver. He remained calm to pass Fernando Alonso in Canada, taking a well-overdue victory, then decisively held back the Lotuses in Hungary. Nothing dramatic, just well-disciplined racing.

His form against Jenson Button is as impressive as ever: 9 times he has qualified ahead of Jenson, by over 0.4 seconds on average. He keeps this pace into Sunday, beating his fellow Brit 7 times so far, and unsurprisingly holds a good lead in the championship.

Hamilton is the only driver to get into Q3 for every single qualifying session so far this year, and that speaks volumes.

1st: Fernando Alonso

Previous ranking: 1st out of 28

Review from previous ranking: “While his championship challenge failed to materialise, he pushed maximum performance out of a lifeless car, and put that Ferrari where no other driver could.”

The last time I did this review, I was unsure whether to put Alonso or Vettel at the top. There is no such doubt this time.

Roll back to Australia, and you can see how dreadful a car the F2012 is. I am adamant that no driver in the field could control it – not even Alonso, who his the grass and spun into the gravel in Q2. Nevertheless, he survived, and managed to beat the Lotuses and Saubers in the race, a seriously impressive drive.

Despite the horrible car, it only took one more race for Fernando to take control of the championship. Where other drivers faltered, he powered through the soaked Malaysia track, luckily holding off the charging Sergio Perez. Since then, Alonso’s fearsome pace has been undeniable.

I can only describe his thrashing of Felipe Massa as a total massacre. He has out-qualified the Brazilian in every single quali session. He has beaten Massa in every single race this year. He has spent all but 15 laps ahead of the other Ferrari. All of this has combined to make Alonso the undeniable leader of the Ferrari team.

He has been willing to take risky strategies to win more races. He took tyre gambles in Canada and Silverstone, and though neither fully paid off, they displayed his fighting spirit. It took until the final few laps for the Spaniard to surrender the lead in Montreal and Britain.

After his initial struggles, he has been able to compete in Q3 9 times, compared to 4 times by Massa. Despite an incredibly inferior car, he has been able to pull out a 40-point lead in the championship, the most astonishing feat I have ever seen in my time watching Formula 1.

With this season, I has absolutely no doubt that we are in a golden age of F1. We have some of the best drivers ever seen in this sport’s illustrious history, and leading them all is this spirited and incredibly talented Spaniard. At this stage, for Alonso never to get a third title would be a tragedy.

Alonso takes dominative victory at Hockenheim

Fernando Alonso has taken his 3rd victory of 2012, as he continues to assert his authority over the rest of the field. The Ferrari driver crushed the opposition, dominating the race from start to finish. Sebastian Vettel pipped Jenson Button to 2nd on the second-last lap, but is under imvestigation for an illegal pass.

The Saubers took 5th and 6th places, taking an alternate strategy, while Felipe Massa, Romain Grosjean, Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton all suffered disastrous races. Here is what happened:Fernan

At the start, Alonso held his lead against Vettel, while Nico Hulkenberg defended against Michael Schumacher. First-lap carnage resulted in Felipe Massa, Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean all pitting for repairs.

Lewis Hamilton had slipped down to 10th, and it soon became clear why – his rear left tyre was flat, and the McLaren crawled back to the pits.

The Saubers were 10th and 11th, and Kamui Kobayashi made a brave move on Perez. However, he appeared to hand the place back several laps later. Once clear, he moved past Paul di Resta for 9th. Meanwhile, Hamilton continued to complain of a damaged car, but still set times comparable to the frontrunners.

Teammate Button was making progress, taking Nico Hulkenberg and Michael Schumacher in a matter of laps. By the first set of stops, he was comfortably 3rd, and being told that he could win the race.

Further back, champions Raikkonen and Schumacher went wheel-to-wheel, the Mercedes driver making a daring move, passing the Lotus for 5th. However, he failed the pace to stay ahead, and was re-passes several laps later.

After pitting, Mark Webber was released into 11th position. He struggled on the prime tyres, taking his time passing Pastor Maldonado and Paul di Resta, both of which were off the pace. He tried a move on Kamui Kobayashi, but the Sauber driver defended his position well.

The battle for the lead began to materialise, with Vettel closing in on Alonso, and Button keeping a wary eye on the two, 5 seconds down the road. Interestingly, the lapped Lewis Hamilton began to come into play.

Going faster than the Ferrari or Red Bull, Hamilton passed Vettel on the straight, to the annoyance of Sebastian. Soon after, he was all over the back of Alonso, who didn’t feel the need to let him past. This allowed the top 3 to bunch up before the second round of pit stops.

Button was the first of the trio, taking on the primes once again. Both Alonso and Vettel pitted in response to the McLaren, but Jenson’s move had already placed him in 2nd place.

While Hamilton had passed the leaders, and assisted Button in his battle, he had run out of steam himself. Pushing for so long had ruined his 1-stop strategy, and was forced to pit from 16th place. With 10 laps to go, he gave up, and pulled into the garage to reture. Meanwhile, Webber was having a similarly torrid afternoon, stuck in 10th place and not going anywhere.

The Caterhams duelled for 20th place at the hairpin, with Heikki Kovalainen eventually winning out.

Up front, Fernando held firm against the McLaren’s charge, and soon Vettel began to hassle Button for 2nd place. With heavily worn tyres, he couldn’t stop Vettel’s assault, although the Red Bull took to the run-off area to take the position – something that may be investigated by the stewards.

While this battle was going on, Alonso had pushed out a sizeable lead, and comfortably took the chequered flag, having dominated the whole race. Vettel led home Button by 3 seconds, while Kimi Raikkonen’s 3-stop strategy failed to pay off.

Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez impressed with 5th and 6th for Sauber, taking different tyre strategies to the rest of the field. Michael Schumacher, running a 3-stopper, chased them down at the end, but was forced to settle for 7th. Webber was a disappointing 8th, while Nico Hulkenberg and Nico Rosberg concluded the top 10.

Alonso now leads the driver’s championship by 34 points to Webber, with Vettel only 2 points behind his teammate. Kimi Raikkonen, with 95 points, is now ahead of Lewis Hamilton

Perez penalised for impeding Raikkonen and Alonso

Sergio Perez will drop 5 places on the grid for tomorrow’s German Grand Prix.

The Sauber driver was found to have impeded both Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso during Q2. He finished the session 12th, but will now drop down to 17th position for the race.

The stewards stated that the penalty was imposed “due to the driver being involved in two similar offences in the same session.” After the incident with Raikkonen, the Lotus driver complained to his team over the pit radio.

Perez is the fourth driver to suffer a grid penalty this weekend. The other three are Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg and Romain Grosjean, all for unscheduled gearbox changes to their cars.

 

Alonso takes commanding pole position in soaked qualifying

Fernando Alonso will start from pole position for tomorrow’s German Grand Prix. The Ferrari driver mastered the wet conditions, beating his rivals by nearly half a second.

The Red Bulls were 2nd and 3rd, but Mark Webber has incurred a gearbox penalty, and will drop to 8th place. Michael Schumacher impressed for most of the session, eventually taking 4th. The McLarens struggled in Q3, while Felipe Massa languished back in 14th. Here is what happened:

Q1

With the threat of rain imminent, most drivers went straight out onto the track as the session began.

Fernando Aonso was first fastest with a 1:16.7, but the two McLarens went faster by several tenths, with Hamilton leading the charge.

Both Sebastian Vettel and Romain Grosjean were informed that their laps were negated, as they took advantage of the run-off area at turn 1. It didn’t faze Vettel though, as the Red Bull moved up from 15th to 5th.

As Hamilton improved on his time by 0.1 seconds, and was joined by Kamui Kobayashi, the imminent rain clouds convinced most drivers to conclude their runs early. Kimi Raikkonen was one of the few to stay out, slashing over half a second off Lewis’ time, still on the medium tyre.

Several off-track excursions left Grosjean in the drop zone, but the Lotus driver moved into 12th place with 2 minutes to go.

Sergio Perez and Nico Rosberg went 2nd and 3rd, pushing Michael Schumacher and Mark Webber near the drop zone. Incredibly, both them and Vettel struggled massively trying to improve – the Red Bulls only 10th and 13th, and Schumacher jumping up to 17th in a last-gasp lap.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:16.741

19) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:17.620

20) Vitaly Petrov – 1:18.531

21) Charles Pic – 1:19.220

22) Timo Glock – 1:19.291

23) Pedro de la Rosa – 1:19.912

24) Narain Karthikeyan – 1:20.230

Q2

As expected, the rain fell for Q2, and intermediates were the way to go.

The conditons caught out most of the drivers, particularly Romain Grosjean, who slipped and slided across the track lap after lap. The rain got worse as the session continued, so those who set their laps early were at an advantage. This left Hamilton and Schumacher comfortably on top.

However, the worsening conditions caught out several top names, particularly Grosjean and Felipe Massa.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:39.789

12) Sergio Perez – 1:39.933

13) Kamui Kobayashi – 1:39.985

14) Felipe Massa – 1:40.215

15) Romain Grosjean – 1:40.574

16) Bruno Senna – 1:40.752

17) Nico Rosberg – 1:41.551

Q3

The rain eased slightly for Q3, but the two McLaren cars exited the pits still on full wets. A spot of standing water caught out Nico Hulkenberg on the back straight, the Force India spinning into the gravel trap, but managing to keep going.

Fernando Alonso’s 1:44.7 put him on top, until Vettel pipped that time by a single tenth. Hamilton was set to challenge for top spot, but nearly lost the McLaren at turn 8.

On his next lap, Lewis improved on Sebastian’s time by half a second. Schumacher then took an astonishing 1.7 seconds off that, but Vettel swiftly retook the top spot.

Mark Webber then took another half second off that time, then Alonso slashed another 0.7 seconds off the fastest time. Entering the final lap, Vettel and Webber moved within several tenths of the Ferrari, while Schumacher remained 4th. As the McLarens timed their last laps poorly, they were unable to challenge the frontrunners, leaving Alonso to improve again on his time, and take a commanding pole position.

Nico Hulkenberg took a career-best position of 5th place, with Pastor Maldonado just behind. Button and Hamilton were 7th and 8th, with Di Resta and Raikkonen finishing up the top 10.

Since Mark Webber has incurred a gearbox penalty, he will drop 5 places to 8th place.

Points standings after British Grand Prix

Driver Standings

Driver Points
1 Fernando Alonso 129
2 Mark Webber 116
3 Sebastian Vettel 100
4 Lewis Hamilton 92
5 Kimi Raikkonen 83
6 Nico Rosberg 75
7 Romain Grosjean 61
8 Jenson Button 50
9 Sergio Perez 39
10 Pastor Maldonado 29
11 Paul di Resta 27
12 Michael Schumache 23
13 Felipe Massa 23
14 Kamui Kobayashi 21
15 Bruno Senna 18
16 Nico Hulkenberg 7
17 Jean-Eric Vergne 4
18 Daniel Ricciardo  2
19 Timo Glock  0
20 Charles Pic  0
21 Vitaly Petrov  0
22 Heikki Kovalainen 0
23 Pedro de la Rosa 0
24 Narain Karthikeyan 0

Constructor Standings

Team Points
1 Red Bull-Renault 176
2 Ferrari 137
3 Lotus-Renault 126
4 McLaren-Mercedes 122
5 Mercedes AMG 92
6 Sauber-Ferrari 60
7 Williams-Renault 45
8 Force India-Mercedes 44
9 Toro Rosso-Ferrari 6
10 Caterham-Renault 0
11 Marussia-Cosworth 0
12 HRT-Cosworth 0

Points standings after European Grand Prix

Driver Standings

Driver Points
1 Fernando Alonso 111
2 Mark Webber 91
3 Lewis Hamilton 88
4 Sebastian Vettel 85
5 Nico Rosberg 75
6 Kimi Raikkonen 73
7 Romain Grosjean 53
8 Jenson Button 49
9 Sergio Perez 39
10 Pastor Maldonado 30
11 Paul di Resta 27
12 Kamui Kobayashi 21
13 Michael Schumacher 17
14 Nico Hulkenberg 17
15 Bruno Senna 15
16 Felipe Massa  11
17 Jean-Eric Vergne 4
18 Daniel Ricciardo  2
19 Timo Glock  0
20 Charles Pic  0
21 Vitaly Petrov  0
22 Heikki Kovalainen 0
23 Pedro de la Rosa 0
24 Narain Karthikeyan 0

Constructor Standings

Team Points
1 Red Bull-Renault 176
2 McLaren-Mercedes 137
3 Lotus-Renault 126
4 Ferrari 122
5 Mercedes AMG 92
6 Sauber-Ferrari 60
7 Williams-Renault 45
8 Force India-Mercedes 44
9 Toro Rosso-Ferrari 6
10 Caterham-Renault 0
11 Marussia-Cosworth 0
12 HRT-Cosworth 0


 

Unstoppable Alonso takes emotional Valencia victory

Fernando Alonso has taken the victory in a dramatic European Grand Prix.

Despite starting 11th, the Ferrari driver blitzed his way up the field, and took full advantage of Sebastian Vettel’s woes to dominate to the flag. The Lotuses were in contention all race long, but Romain Grosjean retired with a mechanical issue, although Kimi Raikkonen inherited 2nd after a safety car period.

Michael Schumacher took his first podium since his F1 return, while Mark Webber sliced up the field from 19th to 4th. Lewis Hamilton was set for a podium finish, but clashed with Pastor Maldonado with only 2 laps to go. Here is what happened:

Vettel pulls out an unassailable lead

Vettel pulls out an unassailable lead

At the start, Vettel held his lead comfortably, while Kamui Kobayashi and Romain Grosjean made good progress. The Ferraris made good progress from the midfield, with both Massa and Alonso moving into the top 10.

While Grosjean harassed Hamilton for 2nd place, Vettel began to pull out an astonishing lead, at over 2 seconds per lap. Jenson Button lost 3 places at the start, but passed Michael Schumacher on lap 3 for 12th place.

It quickly became clear that the Mercedes drivers were struggling to keep their tyres cool. Both Rosberg and Schumacher began to slide down the order.

Grosjean pushes his way past Hamilton

Grosjean pushes his way past Hamilton

By lap 10, Grosjean had had enough of staring at the McLaren’s diffuser. He pulled an incredible move on Lewis at turns 12 and 13, to take 2nd place.

Both the leader and Romain pitted on lap 17, the gap having been extended to over 15 seconds. Further back, Schumacher decided to stay out, and formed an enormous queue of cars behind him – at one point, there were 9 cars all battling for position.

This type of action was always going to end in tears. Kamui Kobayashi attempted to squeeze past Bruno Senna, but tipped the Williams into a spin. Senna suffered a puncture and broken front wing, while Kobayashi sustained minor damage. The stewards decided that Bruno was to blame for turning in on the Sauber, and handed him a drive-through penalty.

Ricciardo and Kovalainen clash, sending out the safety car

Ricciardo and Kovalainen clash, sending out the safety car

Vettel’s lead had extended to over 20 seconds, when the first of several incidents unravelled his race. A clash between Heikki Kovalainen and Daniel Ricciardo brought out the safety car, and reduced the Red Bull’s lead to dust.

On the restart, an unknown car failure caused Sebastian to coast to a halt, throwing away what was an almost certain victory.

This left Grosjean in the lead, albeit briefly. Fernando made a sensational move on the Lotus into turn 1, and inherited the lead after the Red Bull’s retirement.

Senna is tipped into a high-speed spin by Kobayashi

Senna is tipped into a high-speed spin by Kobayashi

To make matters worse, Romain was next to fall prey to mechanical issues, suffering a driveshaft failure.

Amidst all the drama, Vitaly Petrov had made progress up to 10th place in the Caterham. However, he was quickly swamped by Schumacher and Webber, and later clashed with the Toro Rosso of Ricciardo. He slipped to 13th, ahead of his teammate.

Maldonado harpoons Hamilton with 2 laps to go

Maldonado harpoons Hamilton with 2 laps to go

As the race entered its final few laps, Kimi Raikkonen closed right up behind Lewis Hamilton. The McLaren’s tyres were swiftly falling apart, and an extremely slow pit stop during the safety car period had ruined his chances of the race win. With this, Kimi pushed his way past, and moved into 2nd place.

With his tyres fading fast, Hamilton was now a prime target for Pastor Maldonado. He took to the run-off area to make a move, but smashed into the side of Lewis’ car with only 2 laps to go. Hamilton was out on the spot, and was absolutely furious. Maldonado continued on with no front wing, but slipped to 10th position.

But, the drama still wasn’t over. Only a few laps after passing Petrov for 10th, Michael Schumacher had sliced 10 seconds out of the leaders’ gap, and blasted his way into 3rd place. Mark Webber had recovered brilliantly from his 19th grid spot to take 4th position.

It was probably the most emotional win ever for Alonso

It was probably the most emotional win ever for Alonso

Despite this, there was no stopping Fernando Alonso. After crossing the line, he pulled over in one of the most emotional and memorable celebrations in recent history. He stopped on track, celebrated with the fans and stewards, and laid a Spanish flag across the track.

He delayed the podium celebrations considerably, but nobody was complaining. With this win, Alonso has now streaked into the lead of the driver’s championship, and has considerable momentum going into the British Grand Prix in two weeks time.

Canadian Grand Prix analysis: McLaren nearly cost Hamilton dearly

Formula 1 has set another record – this time it’s 7 different race winners in a row from the start of the season. If this goes on for another two races, then it will be an all-time record for consecutive winners.

But, we were very close to not seeing this new record at all. As viewers noticed on Sunday, McLaren very nearly ruined Lewis Hamilton’s race win…

Another close shave for McLaren

McLaren’s strategy call of a 2-stopper was always going to be risky, considering how well others could conserve their tyres. However, the team appeared to massively underestimate their opponents.

On the pit radio, they stated that they believed that Vettel and Alonso could not one-stop. This risky call grew more and more doubtful, as the duo continued to stay out.

By the time they had realised their mistake, Lewis had a lot of time to make up. Luckily, he was up to the task, and snatched victory in the dying laps. But, even after the Red Bull and Ferrari, Hamilton was lucky Grosjean didn’t win the race.

By falling behind Paul di Resta at the start, the Frenchman lost about 10 seconds, and a (mathemeatically) probable victory. Fortunately for McLaren, his start-line mistake spared their blushes.

Radical Ferrari back on track

A risky strategy left Fernando Alonso in control of the race – and he nearly held it to the end.

The F2012 is already a far cry from the dangerous beast that thrashed its way through the corners in Melbourne. The deficit to the frontrunners was slashed in half a few races ago, and thanks to Fernando’s pace, the Maranello squad are back in contention for race wins.

Unfortunately, this is only the case for one of their drivers. Felipe Massa qualified and started close to his teammate, but ultimately fell prey to the track’s challenging Turn 1.

Still, it has become clear that Ferrari are back in the title hunt. When Alonso led the championship after Malaysia, it was called a miracle. For that to still happen only 5 races later is simply incredible.

HRT’s dash for glory falls short

As the midfield and frontrunners become increasingly assimilated, the trailing three teams lead exceptionally lonely races.

Last weekend, it appeared as if HRT were aiming to change that – albeit briefly. Pedro de la Rosa ran well all throughout Friday practice, qualifying and the start of the race. So much so, in fact, that he was leading the Marussias, Caterhams, and even Bruno Senna.

Clearly, there was more to it than it first appeared. Rumours from the paddock have been circulating that HRT deliberately underfuelled their cars, knowing that their brakes wouldn’t last the distance.

Their suspicions were correct, as De la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan retired within two laps of each other with brake failures.

Still, their possible plan to get some attention appears to have worked. While this strategy won’t be confirmed by the team, it is more than likely it occurred, since De la Rosa was only 2 seconds a lap slower than the leaders before he retired.

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