July 7, 2012

How did Ferrari get good again?

Photo Saltez/Flickr

Seems hard to believe but it has been 31 Grand Prix' since the last time Ferrari was in pole position, Singapore 2010.

Today Alonso and Ferrari got there the hard way, barely making into Q3 after a near miss with a wall and a strategy error in starting Q2 on intermediates rather than the full wet "monsoon" tires that were needed at the moment.

Incredible onboard footage from the BBC, check out the different styles, lines and front suspension behavior.  All drivers earned their keep this week end.

Qualifying was red flagged when the rain made it impossible to keep cars on the track and this, predictably raised the anger of some fans who felt the rain delay gave an advantage to Ferrari who had not been able to set competitive times in the first nine or so minutes of the session. Everyone improved in the final minutes when the session resumed, but Alonso squeaked in on a last lap which was marked by a yellow flag in the last sector because of Grosjean spinning. Predictably, conspiracy theorists are in full swing. However, rules state one cannot improve their time in the sector where a yellow is displayed and Alonso managed to run that final sector 3/1000th of a second slower than his best time (31.313)! Letter of the law if not the intent.

Q3 was a session for intermediate tires and it was Alonso and Webber who dominated the session. Schumacher was third somehow, his car looked completely un drivable at times. Grosjean had beached the car so he was not in it and would start P10 but this Lotus is really coming alive with Kimi in row 2.

The disappointment of the day has to be Mclaren. Hamilton could just not pull it off on intermediates, and it was interesting to see him checking out the tire temperatures with his hands on the Ferrari and the Bed Bull in park fermee. Button instead is still lost at sea, he's like Massa at the beginning of this season, apparently incapable of coming to terms with the characteristics of the car this year. Button, even more than Vettel and unlike Alonso, Webber and to some extent Hamilton, cannot come to terms with a car that is not 100% to his liking.

Tomorrow it will likely be wet to very wet so it will be a game of staying out of trouble and getting to the end.

The buzz is how has Ferrari managed to improve from unlivable heap to competitive, a very interesting video by Giorgio Piola, the world's leading technical illustrator, showcases the improvements Ferrari has made to the F2012 since Valencia. It's in Italian but you will get the idea.

Essentially : Williams Style brake ducts to improve cooling while cutting drag.
A return to the original F2012 concept of "outside blowing" exhausts albeit in a modified manner along with longitudinal airflow modifiers guiding air into the diffuser.
New mirror pods for Alonso (integrated with one of the two cockpit side fins) and a smaller front wing main flap again, to cut drag.

Pos  Driver                Team                 Time          Gap   
 1.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m51.746s   
2.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m51.793s  + 0.047 
3.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes             1m52.020s  + 0.274 
4.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     1m52.199s  + 0.453 
5.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m53.065s  + 1.319 
6.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault        1m53.290s  + 1.544 
7.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault     1m53.539s  + 1.793 
8.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes     1m53.543s  + 1.797 
9.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes 1m54.382s  + 2.636 
10.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault        no time
Q2 cut-off time: 1m56.931s                                   Gap **
11.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 1m57.009s  + 2.112
12.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari       1m57.071s  + 2.174
13.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             1m57.108s  + 2.211
14.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m57.132s  + 2.235
15.  Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault     1m57.426s  + 2.529
16.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m57.719s  + 2.822
17.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari       1m57.895s  + 2.998
Q1 cut-off time: 1m47.105s                                 Gap *
18.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     1m48.044s  + 1.765
19.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault     1m49.027s  + 2.748
20.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault     1m49.477s  + 3.198
21.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth    1m51.618s  + 5.339
22.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth         1m52.742s  + 6.463
23.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth         1m53.040s  + 6.761
24.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth    1m54.143s  + 7.864

107% time: 1m53.718s
* Gap to quickest in Q1
** Gap to quickest in Q2


  1. "All driver earned their keep this week end."
    That is an interesting sentence. Sadly not true, though. Button was Flounder out there today. I wish we could speculate who could replace him.

    And grammatically. Just strange to see british english keep collective nouns singular. We go crazy over copy edit in america over those things. See Heat vs Thunder.

    Great post, thanks for the onboards!

    rabid fan

  2. The car control shown by the pilots during quali was simply superb.

    I feel like I've waited years to see a pole with oversteer in it.

  3. "but this Lotus is really coming alive with Kimi in row 2."
    isn't P6 more like row 3? :)


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