Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Team Season Review: Ferrari

Fernando Alonso shined for the Scuderia, but the car just wasn't good enough, third again.

Drivers: Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa
Best Finish: 1st (Britain)
Best Qualifying Result: 2nd (Canada)
Points: 375
Constructor's Championship: 3rd

Fact: Ferrari want to win World Championships. Fact: In Fernando Alonso, they not only have one of the best drivers in the world, but one of the best ever. Fact: Ferrari are not doing well enough. In 2010, they built the third fastest car, but were still painfully close to winning the world championship. In 2011, they built the third fastest car, but were really nowhere near. Alonso's driving was impeccable, but the car simply wasn't quick enough. Their other problem was their other driver: Felipe Massa. Here's the story of a failing legend: Australia, the start of the season. Ferrari are way off Red Bull and McLaren, and Alonso rescued fourth while Massa struggled to seventh place. Malaysia was much the same, but this time Massa got ahead of Alonso, the Brazilian fifth as Alonso finished sixth after a needless tangle with Hamilton. China was another disappointment, with sixth and seventh. Turkey was finally Ferrari's first podium, Alonso taking third place. What was notable from the first four races was Ferrari's poor pace on the harder tyre, which was more replicated in Spain. A wonderful start by Alonso to take the lead from fourth was not to last, as incredibly he finished a lap down in fifth place, simply because of the hard tyres on the car. Ferrari returned to form in Monaco and Canada, taking 2nd place in Monaco, and grabbing 2nd and 3rd in qualifying for Canada. Alonso was 2nd again in Valencia, before they finally won a race. The new rules, introduced prior to the race at Silverstone, appeared to have played into Ferrari's hands when Alonso won by sixteen seconds, but they didn't win again in the year. Podiums for the Spaniard in the next two continued his run of form, before another 3rd place in Italy, after taking the lead at the start. Massa out-qualified Alonso in Japan and Korea, but he didn't finish ahead of him in either. Two podiums in the last three were impressive, but it was clear just how massive the gap was between the two drivers, 139 points. Alonso took ten podiums including a win while Massa was never higher than fifth. And basically, the car wasn't fast enough.

Best Finish: 1st (Britain)
Points: 257

Driver's Championship: 4th

Alonso celebrates his magnificent Silverstone win
 Alonso may have finished fourth in the World Championship and collected only one win, but he drove exceptionally this year. In every race he dragged the maximum (and usually more) out of the car to wrestle the dire Ferrari to ten podiums. The fact he scored more points this year than last year is testament to his brilliant season. It started in Melbourne, taking fourth after being crowded at the start, while making one of the overtakes of the year on Kamui Kobayashi. Next was Malaysia, and a needless tange with Lewis Hamilton meant Alonso incurred a 20 second penalty, meaning he was classified sixth. Alonso had probably his worst race of the year in China, finishing seventh after a long battle with Schumacher. Turkey was his first podium, having a great drive on his way to 3rd, after starting fifth for the fourth race in a row. Spain was a wonderful weekend for Alonso, qualifying fourth in a lap he described as his "best ever" before making a phenomenal start to lead, which featured in my best overtakes. Unfortunately, Ferrari's awful pace on the harder tyre meant he finished fifth, and a lap down. Then came Monaco, qualifying fourth and finishing second after a good start and a controlled drive. Alonso qualified on the front row in Canada, but was put out of the wet race after a 50/50 collision with Jenson Button. Valencia was a great race for Alonso making another of my best overtakes on his way to 2nd place. Then came Silverstone, and a magnificent drive. Qualifying third, and driving perfectly on his way to a brilliant victory was one of the single best drives of the season. Alonso made yet another of my best moves, in Germany as he came home in 2nd place, just behind Lewis Hamilton. Alonso had a careless spin in Hungary, but still finished 3rd and on the podium again. He was 4th in Belgium, before Ferrari's home race at Monza. Alonso qualified fourth and took the lead at the start, for the second time this year. The Ferrari driver was to finish third, and on the podium. Alonso qualified his typical fifth place at Singapore, before finishing 4th. Japan was one of Alonso's best drives in 2011, qualifying fifth again, but driving brilliantly as he jumped Sebastian Vettel at the pit stops to take 2nd place, then defending very well from the World Champion before hounding down Button, but not to take the win. Alonso was fifth in Korea, despite driving an impeccable last stint of 20 qualifying laps. He was 3rd on the grid at India, and that's where he finished, before a brilliant drive at Abu Dhabi. Once again qualifying fifth, he passed Mark Webber at the start, before taking Jenson Button for 2nd on the long straight in a brilliant opening lap. He kept with race winner Lewis Hamilton, and his 2nd place meant he has visited the podium in every present Formula One track. A 4th at Brazil, including another of the overtakes of the year, ended a year in which Alonso drove exceptionally, wrestling the Ferrari to ten podiums, and regularly beating the McLarens, and on occasions, the Red Bulls.

Best Finish: 5th (Malaysia, Europe, Britain, Germany, Abu Dhabi, Brazil)
Points: 118

Driver's Championship: 6th

Massa in Abu Dhabi, where he finished fifth
 Oh dear, a very very poor sason for Massa. He may not have drove awfully, but he never got higher than fifth place, when his team mate took ten podiums, including a win. He drove well in Australia, defending rigorously from Jenson Button, before finishing seventh after the disqualification of both Sauber cars. Malaysia was a better race, the Brazilian coming home in fifth, and finishing ahead of Alonso for the first time since the 2010 Italian Grand Prix. He improved once again in China, at one point looking like challenging for the win, before settling for sixth, but once again beating Alonso to the flag. Turkey and Spain were disasterous races, with an eleventh and a DNF in Spain after a torrid weekend. At Monaco, Massa made one of the best overtakes of the season on Nico Rosberg, before retiring after the first of his clashes with Lewis Hamilton, the Brazilian crashing after the Briton hit him while attempting an overtake at the Loews hairpin. Massa was in fine form in Canada, running second for a while, before a crash while lapping a HRT. However, he did pass Kamui Kobayashi for sixth on the final straight. Three fifth places then followed. In Valencia, he made a great start before succumbing to fifth. Britain was a good race for Massa, he caught the ailing Lewis Hamilton towards the end of the race, and overtook him on the final lap, before the next instalment of their rivalry, the two making contact on the final corner, and Hamilton taking fourth. He lost fourth on the last lap again in Germany, when his team messed up the pit stop, as he and Sebastian Vettel entered the pits together on the penultimate lap. Massa set the fastest lap on his way to sixth in Hungary - the first time he out-qualified Alonso in 2011. He out-qualified him again though in Belgium, before taking eighth. Massa was involved in a collision with Jarno Trulli and Sebastien Buemi on his way to sixth place in Monza, before another collision ruined his Singapore race. Hamilton tried to overtake him, but his front wing punctured Massa's tyre, meaning Massa had to do two thirds of a lap with a horribly punctured tyre. He was to finish ninth. Massa was seventh in Japan, after yet another collision with Lewis Hamilton into the chicane, neither penalised this time. Massa had a great race in Korea, outqualifying Alonso, and making a fantastic overtaking move on the first lap, to be in third place. However, this didn't last. He spent much of the race ahead of Alonso, but he finished sixth. He had his heaviest collision with Hamilton in India. Hamilton tried to overtake him into Turn Five, but Massa wasn't going to let him through, and they came together heavily. Massa was adjudged to have done wrong in this case, and was handed a drive-thru'. He later retired after stupidly breaking his suspension, which is what he did the day before in qualifying. He finished the year well though, with two fifths in Abu Dhabi and Brazil capping off a very nasty year for Massa.

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