September 7, 2013

Nerves for Ferrari, Front row for Red Bull in Italy

No matter how you want to look at it, when your top driver refers to the pit wall brain trust as "geniuses" (with heavy irony) things are not, in RonSpeak, optimized for maximum performance.

What happened?   Ferrari, unlike anyone else in the field, purposely set out with a strategy to have Alonso get a tow from Massa.   It's a risky strategy: it can help but it can also ruin a lap if you get it wrong.  In Q3  Massa and Alonso were released so that somehow Ricciardo  was between them on their warmup lap and Alonso lost time and contact with Felipe.

Massa slowed and by sector 3 they were in tow but in the meantime Fernando let fly a heavy " should have let him by, you are truly geniuses,  c'mon guys"  ( c'era da farlo passare, veramente site dei geni.  Mamma mia ragazzi).

At the very least a sign that Alonso is not happy about the way things are managed.  At worse they are hints of a driver coming a bit undone.  Certainly with di Montezemolo and all the Ferrari brass in the pits and having that message go out on the world feed, even if in Italian,  will not go over well.
 Of course this is only a snippet of conversation and one must ask, exactly who makes the editorial decisions on which radio calls to make public and what might be their motives?

There was no catching Vettel today, the Red Bull was consistently 2 to 3/10th faster in the German's hands.   But behind him, P2 to P7 all were within less than 5/10ths.

Ferrari's plan for Alonso did not work out because Massa ended up getting a bit of a tow from Webber, enough to pip Fernando by 1/100th of a second.  Massa however will have to start on the "dirty side"  behind Webber so it may not be ideal.

There is also a chance of rain which might explain the bad performance in qualifying from Lotus today.    Hamilton was held up by Sutil quite clearly in Q2 and did not make the final pole shootout.

Pos Driver                Team                 Time           Gap   
 1. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     1m23.755s
 2. Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m23.968s  +0.213s
 3. Nico Hulkenberg       Sauber-Ferrari       1m24.065s  +0.310s
 4. Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m24.132s  +0.377s
 5. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m24.142s  +0.387s
 6. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             1m24.192s  +0.437s
 7. Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m24.209s  +0.454s
 8. Sergio Perez          McLaren-Mercedes     1m24.502s  +0.747s
 9. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     1m24.515s  +0.760s
10. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m28.050s  +4.295s
Q2 cut-off time: 1m24.776s                                   Gap **
11. Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault        1m24.610s  +0.633s
12. Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes             1m24.803s  +0.826s
13. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault        1m24.848s  +0.871s
14. Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes 1m24.932s  +0.955s
15. Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault     1m25.011s  +1.034s
16. Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 1m25.077s  +1.100s
Q1 cut-off time: 1m25.030s                                   Gap *
17. Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber-Ferrari       1m25.226s  +0.907s
18. Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Renault     1m25.291s  +0.972s
19. Giedo van der Garde   Caterham-Renault     1m26.406s  +2.087s
20. Charles Pic           Caterham-Renault     1m26.563s  +2.244s
21. Jules Bianchi         Marussia-Cosworth    1m27.085s  +2.766s
22. Max Chilton           Marussia-Cosworth    1m27.480s  +3.161s


  1. I wonder if the Hamilton-Sutil holdup was intentional or not, given their history. All eyes are certainly on Ferrari this weekend. I suspect Alonso will get a good start tomorrow which should put him in position for a podium. Not sure how the Scuderia plans to catch Vettel from pole though...

  2. I also find it ironic that Massa seems to produce his best work when his job is on the line. Seems like the pressure should be on more often for Massa.


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