September 29, 2009

What will change with Alonso

I could not agree more with this piece by Giorgio Terruzzi assessing the impact of Alonso's arrival at Maranello, I'll just translate it:

In a few hours, before the start of the Japanese week end, Ferrari will announce Alonso's signing. This is great news, even if it is hardly a surprise.
Great news why? Because Alonso has personality and character ( something not shared by Raikkonen and Massa, though for different reasons and in different measures), because he has a strong work ethic and he provides a gratifying level of results for those he works with.

In other words, it is up to him to pick up the unclaimed inheritance of Michael Schumacher. That is he need to re-establish that connection with a team that needs more certain, concrete and consistent feedback from the a driver who is a leader. For the immediate and the long term future.

This will not mean that problems (at Ferrari) will disappear. On the contrary. Alonso comes from three very complicated seasons. The one with Mclaren in the year of the "Spy Story" and Hamilton; the two with Renault a team on a downward phase. He has the desire to return to the top but he still has to demonstrate he knows how to manage difficult situations like the one he will find himself in in a few months.

Today's Ferrari is not the Ferrari of Schumacher. The technical staff is in a difficult turnover phase, available funds are not seemingly unlimited anymore. Alonso will be able to rely on a partner who is well prepared, transparent and rigorous in Domenicali (and he won't have Todt, thankfully for those who really love Ferrari) but he will also face a long rebuilding phase that will severely test the strength of his shoulders. We'll see.

Certainly Alonso opens a new chapter, an important gamble for the whole staff around him and there is good reason to be optimistic for the future. That's a change from the current situation. It is on his work ethic on and off the track that one can measure Raikkonen's failure. A failure the has allowed Massa to play a role (with honor, in comparison) that was not entirely his.

Signs that this is on track comes from word Alonso has presented Ferrari with a shopping list of his favorite technical personnel from around the paddock. Very Schumacher-eque!


  1. Commenter Crid says —

    Some fascinating thoughts in there.

    Today's Ferrari may not be the Ferrari of Schumacher, but Michael just signed a multi-year contract to advise the team. I expect this will become a problem. There's no reason that Mike and 'Nando would get along any better than they did as drivers. Alonso defeated Schumacher more than Schumacher defeated Alonso. Fernando probably remembers having his all-time record-setting Monoco lap ruined at Rascasse. He has nothing to learn from Schumacher. And even if he did, Schumacher is now obviously still horny to go out and drive for himself, and probably doesn't want the younger man "to pick up the unclaimed inheritance"... He still has plans to use that wealth of knowledge himself.

    I adore Massa and miss him badly, but it's true that he has a fey quality that won't be a problem for Alonso. Fernando would never allow Hamilton the space to pull a stunt like we see at 2:05 in this clip.

    If we could just get the old man with the sore neck out of the way, Ferrari 2010 could be one of the great teams in racing.

    - Crid [CridComment @ gmail]

  2. I personally think that Alonso at Ferrari could be what Fittipaldi was to Lotus. Fresh, competitive blood.

    It's going to be a good move and hopefully mark a new, positive direction for Ferrari. Yes, Schumacher is an advisor to the team but I cannot imagine that it would in anyway benefit him to stifle the progress of Ferrari's drivers.

    Either way, at least Alonso will bring the passion of driving back to Ferrari, something they've lacked with Raikkonen behind the wheel.

  3. I'm pretty sure Schumacher's role in his new contract is limited to road car development but sure, he'll offer his opinion and it would be pretty silly not to listen to what a 7 time world champion has to say. I don't think it's going to be a conflictual situation there.
    I see more trouble with Massa potentially. Massa will feel a lot of pressure after having been the effective #1 when the car and the whole team will be centered and tailored for Alonso.

  4. I'll add a few opinions... Massa wants to win like any other driver, but i think he's one of the best team players in F1, not to mention one of the top 3 most talented. Plus massa may have an advantage of experience driving the ferrari for the first few races of 2010. He's talented enough to keep up with alonso. Only inconsistency or bad luck could allow alonso to pull way ahead of him in points. It will probably even help Massa's cause to have a team mate who knows how to develop a car.
    I'm sad to see McLaren pick up another "1 and done" superstar who already has his mind set elsewhere. I don't mean to hate on kimi. McL knows what they're doing but come on, Kimi for one year versus almost as talented, younger, and much more dedicated (and yes, german) rosberg.


  5. We'll see . . . Alonso didn't really turn the Renault into a competitive car over the past two years, but I do credit him with giving Hamilton such a strong McLaren.

    Raikkonen's failure? Granted Kimi's personality does not impress many but I contend he's getting a bad rap. Could he have truly developed the F2008 or F60 in the manner Schumi did under Brawn and Todt? Seriously I think it is a bit unfair to ignore the entire dynamic that brought those personalities together as a unit at Ferrari in the mid 90's. Kimi in all fairness has not had such fortune, much less the commitment of a team centered around HIS efforts (however unique they may be).

    Kimi stepped into a world where Massa is family. He was never going to be given clear designation as the team leader no matter what successes he produced. I love Felipe, and he has shown great progress since early '08, but I do not rate him on the same plane as Kimi.

    That said, other qualities do come into play, and perhaps in that sense Alonso will change the personality of winning within Ferrari. It will certainly be interesting.

    Given the struggles Fisi has had over the past two races, I think it is now clear that Kimi and Massa have . . . much like Alonso at Renault the past two seasons . . . driven beyond their car's capability. The F60 maybe beautiful to look at, but it is a mid-field competitor at best.

  6. PS: Don't forget it took 4 years before Ferrari enjoyed 5 titles in a row with Schumi. In standard fashion, such facts are casually dismissed by the journalist.

  7. I think Alonso's personality and work ethic might be a breath of fresh air for Ferrari - I still think they hold a lot of potential for next season and I don't forsee conflict with Alonso and Massa.

    At least we know they won't be at the bottom of the grid with teams like Ensign, Lotus and USF1(maybe) starting out next year.

  8. Commenter Crid says—

    > I love Felipe, and he has
    > shown great progress since
    > early '08, but I do not rate
    > him on the same plane as Kimi.

    In practical terms, I think of them as identical (though Felipe is much cuddlier as a celebrity figure). Both could run hot and cold seemingly inexplicably. Two weeks after the German race linked above Massa gave it back to Lewis, Polanski-style.

    This will be a more interesting pair of styles, no matter what politics happen in the Big Red Garage. So far as I can tell, Fernando Alonso doesn't have bad days. He said that in an interview a couple weeks ago, and was jaw-droppingly humble about it (paraphrase): "I may not be the best, but I'm perfectly consistent."

    All they need a is a staff to surround him. Is Ross Brawn up to anything special nowadays?

    Crid [CridComment @ gmail]

  9. Alonso to Ferrari breaks my heart, I'm willing to give anyone the benefit of the doubt once, but Alonso has been to close to controversy too many times imho


nRelate Posts Only