Ferrari, Are You Kidding Me???

This could be the shortest post so far of my short blogging career or maybe not. I could easily sum it up by saying Ferrari WTF, why gamble this early in the season? And be done with this post and move on.

However, the impassioned, crazy F1 fanatic with an opinion on everything just can’t let it go. Guess you’re going to get the long version. Why am I so irate you ask? With only one lap completed in the Malaysian GP, Ferrari’s race came to an abrupt end. Never mind that Felipe finished the race in 5th. Whatever.

Am I the only one that can see the inevitable???

Am I the only one that can see the inevitable???

Here’s the set-up for those of you that did not see the race. Due to rain that fell just before the start, everyone chose to start the race on intermediates (rain) tires. OK, lights out and Fernando, as is the norm, has a great start and gains second position from his teammate Felipe with ease. Fernando, who is usually error-free, then commits a big error and runs into the back of Vettel. Right about here, I want to tell Fernando that you very rarely win the race on the first turn, or in this case the second. Anyway, Alonso breaks his front wing, not the best thing to do if you want your car to steer properly. Ok damage done, no use crying over spilled/broken carbon fiber. At this point the thing to do is pit and replace the wing, despite the penalty of being dropped down to last place. At least you’re racing. Right? That is what I think just about any of the other 11 teams would have done. Second race of the year, your driver is in second position in the driver’s standings and your team is in first in the team category. Limit the damage and see how the race plays out, RIGHT? RIGHT?  Wrong…

That is not quite how it went. Instead Ferrari opted to keep Fernando out due to a calculated gamble (more on that in a minute) and try and stretch his first stint to coincide with the changing of slick tires due to the fact that the rain had stopped and the track was drying out. The logic being Fernando would not have to incur an extra stop, and thus be penalized further. Now all this sounds reasonable unless like me you were watching this and saw how badly the front wing was damaged. Note: Stefano Domenicali the team principle, Andreas Stella Fernando’s race engineer, Pat Fry the technical director and the rest of the pit wall team would have also been seeing what I was seeing. I can assure you I am not saying this in hindsight, but without any doubt in my mind I could see that the pylons (the parts that support the front wing) could not hold the thing together for another lap, let alone the seven or eight laps that most drivers did on the intermediate tires.

And predictably, while traveling down the pit straight (one of the longest pit straights in F1) the downforce gets the better of the pylons and the front wing rips apart and lodges itself under the Ferrari and Fernando is now unable to drive the car which then becomes marooned at the end of the straight in the run off area, game over. For the record this was one of only two retirements of the race, the other being Pastor Maldonado’s Williams. Quite embarrassing if you ask me.

f1-formula-one-gp-malaysia

I have made it a point of calling out anyone and everyone when they engage in bizarre or questionable behavior, be it driving, statements to the press, team politics, F1 governance or when someone just plain F’s it up. Now although I feel Alonso is the most complete driver on the grid (which most people will agree with up and down the pit lane), period, and have stated that quite clearly on this blog many times I will be the first one to say, “FERNANDO YOU Fd’ IT UP.” That being said, I forgive you, you were just doing what we as fans want to see. Drive hard, take chances and find a way to win no matter the circumstances or your car’s potential. You are in the heat of the moment, you are all by yourself and you have to make split second decisions not to mention you are dealing with 21 other drivers on the same piece of tarmac so you are not always in control of your destiny.

However what is hard for me to understand or accept are bad, really bad decisions that are made by very smart people, people being plural, on the pit wall. Shouldn’t some engineer have come forward and said, “Hey you guys that wing will not hold”? Simple as that. I mean what good is all that telemetry and all those computers that the teams use to aid in the most complex calculations and haul around all over the world not to mention the shitload of servers and towers that are connected back at the factory watching everything in real time if they can’t determine something as simple as how a stressed part will last after impact. Personally my eyeballs were really the only equipment I needed to surmise the outcome of this calculated gamble.

Back to the pit wall, I will not go into details, but Abu Dhabi 2010 comes to mind also concerning a pit stop judgment call. And last year at Canada is another sore spot for me. That missed opportunity to not call Fernando into the pits and instead (a calculated gamble) to keep him out on tires that were worn out, allowed Sergio Perez to pass him and Vettel as well. That cost Fernando at least 2 points with Vettel right there, possibly 7 when you take in account Perez. How many points did Alonso lose the championship by? I don’t want to put too fine a point on it, but it does seem that when Ferrari takes a gamble, calculated or not, and throws the dice it too often comes up snake eyes.

No matter that you have a ride back to pit lane, when you exit a gp in this fashion, it must be a painfully long ride...

No matter that you have a ride back to pit lane, when you exit a gp in this fashion, it must be a painfully long ride…

So Ferrari I’m calling YOU out. Stop with these bullshit Hail Mary plays (here come some American football references for all of you across the pond), save those for when time is running out, and you’re 4th and long and a first down will not get it done. Right now it is the beginning of the first quarter and there is no need to stray from the playbook. Last year you and Fernando almost won the championship in a car that was at most 5th best on the grid. You did that through consistency, cool heads and just getting on with the task at hand, no film flam, no weird strategy, and good old plain hard racing.

China is up next. Last year Fernando finished 9th which yielded only two championship points. Clearly we can improve on that.  Lets call Malaysia a mulligan (another American sports term) get that car set up right, get the pit strategy right and if Fernando is on any of the podium steps at the race end we will call it even.

The F138 has good race pace and Fernando always gains some places on the start. Stop messing with the program and leave the rest of it to Alonso. Bitches…     >jp<

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3 Comments on “Ferrari, Are You Kidding Me???

  1. I didn’t see the race but based on your comments it appears the crew chief screwed up. I don’t know how much input the driver has in the setup but if he has any he too screwed up. What was their plan? If the car is compromised early on it should be pitted and fixed if possible. If it cannot be fixed or improved then the gamble is all you have. So who is making these decisions and what are those based on? Unless people at Ferrari are willing to share that information with the public we will never know.

  2. Agree with everything you said mate.

    It was an uncharacteristic mistake by Alonso because usually he reads a race perfectly and makes his moves wisely. Specially after what he was able to do last year, this sudden rush was surprising. But we cannot blame him for not wanting to pit, as there was no way he could really see the damage to the front wing when he was sitting in the cockpit.

    But the team should take a lot of blame. I believe you when you say you are not just saying this in hindsight. It was so obvious that the wing wasn’t going to hold. I was also wondering what the team was up to. The best indication was the radio message Button received, warning him about the possibility of Alonso’s front failing. Even the other teams were expecting the wing to fail.

    Ferrari call it a calculated risk but I call it a huge ill-advised gamble which didn’t pay off (not by a long way).

    • i completely forgot about the Button radio. i hope Alonso and Ferrari don’t end up regretting that gamble later in the year. as a side note, every time something like this happens to Alonso he is so matter-a-fact about it. last year when grosjean took him out of the Belgium gp Alonso didn’t seem to upset and just chalked it up to bad luck. he is a cool customer that is for sure. i guess he has mastered not only driving a F1 car at the highest level, but also his emotions (different from the time he spent at McLaren) he is much wiser. this along with his other qualities make him one of the best.

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