Monday, December 8, 2014

Alonso at Ferrari: The messiah that wasn't (I)

2010: Errors galore and a scapegoat

Things started well with a win at Bahrein,
as a spark plug failed in Vettel's Red Bull engine.

For the average Spanish aficionado it all seemed pretty clear, the best driver had to go to the best team. The problem was that those followers were as green as grass, surfing on the wave of the Alonsomania, and that they did really think that winning a World Championship at the wheel of a Ferrari was nothing but a foregone conclusion. The great Michael Schumacher made it all look so easy. 

It wasn't.

A very bad omen.
One has to say that from the beginning, the endeavour looked somewhat doomed. When at the Ferrari World Finals (Cheste 2009), the gorgeous California cabriolet got stuck in a gravel trap as president Luca di Montezemolo was trying to drive Fernando Alonso closer to a cheering crowd, nobody could guess that it was a really bad omen for a rather bleak future.
The much touted by our national "Alonso Media Corporation", (from now on the "AMC"), new era that would dwarf  the achievements of Michael Schumacher, did never happen. And if it cannot be discussed that the genius of Adrian Newey gave birth to unbeatable cars in 2011 and 2013, while the Mercedes W05 of this year was the class of the field, the man from Oviedo, in my opinion, bears an overwhelming responsibility in failing to win the WDC, both in 2010 and 2012.

I find year 2010 to be a perfect example of how the "AMC" succeded in convincing a whole country that their beloved driver deserved the WDC, when it was far from being the case. Just remember that Seb Vettel was starting his third complete season in F1, while Fernando Alonso, the bright star just hired by the Scuderia Ferrari, was beginning his 9th year and was already a double World Champion.
The victory at Bahrein, sent his supporters over the moon, even though it was achieved due to a spark plug failure in Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull Renault engine. The "AMC" and its aggressive Internet Patrol units, started to count their chickens before they were hatched, as they felt the 2010 title was in the bag.

In China, Alonso jumped the start which earned him a drive-through penalty. A beginner's mistake and a few points down the drain.

Monaco FP3: A rookie's mistake at Massanet

In Monaco, it was even worse, crashing his car at Massanet at the start of FP3, he had to start from the pit lane, while his team mate started as high as 4th on the grid. However, what really did raise many eyebrows, was his behaviour while trying to overtake Luca Di Grassi's Virgin, at the beginning of the race:

Luca Di Grassi was not being lapped
Why the fuss?

A sixth place and another load of valuable points gone. 
At the British Grand Prix, he would have finished in the top ten, had he returned the position he snatched from Robert Kubica, by not using the track. The whole way it happened is debatable, and may be Charlie Whiting should have been faster in deciding to punish the Ferrari driver with a drive-through, (it took him a couple of minutes), however letting the Pole by and overtaking him again would have been the clever thing to do.
Is there any need to remind anybody of the "Alonso is faster than you" at Hockenheim? How could the much touted by the "AMC" and its aggressive Internet patrol units as the best driver of the grid, fail to ovetake Felipe Massa, described too often by them, very unfairly it has to be stressed, as something of a joke?

At Spa the mess was complete, the well respected former member of McLaren, Ferrari and Benetton, Joan Villadelprat published a memorable article in the prestigious newspaper EL PAIS, under the headline "Alonso and Ferrari get everything wrong". Well worth reading. The man from Oviedo, gambled the setup of the car in qualifying, betting on a rain that did not turn up. During the race it is true that he got problems with his steering after being hit by Rubens Barrichello at the start.  However he gambled again pitting for wets when almost nobody did, at the beginning of the race, having to stop again as the short shower stopped, to finish being caught out by the rain that did return at the end losing his car at Les Combes. When discussing this matter at the blog of my friend David Alarcón, "De Lorean F1", we were visited by an infuriated commentator that provided us with a video where, after the race, Alonso claimed that his steering problems were decisive in his losing the car. However, one cannot help thinking that, had he made the right decisions both in qualifying and at the beginning of the race, he would not have been under such a tremendous pressure and could have scored a few points.

He hit the jackpot at Korea as Seb Vettel's engine blew up, enabling him to inherit the win. Needless to say that there was no shortage of voices in the "AMC" and its aggressive Internet Patrol units, claiming that it was the German's fault.

In Brazil, "Magic" (as he was then called by the star commentator of the TV Network that broadcasts Formula 1 in Spain), had a very hard time overtaking the single-seaters placed between him and the runaway Red Bulls. Being nicknamed "Magic" as Ayrton Senna and struggling to overtake... It should be hilarious, but it is not.

Abu Dhabi 2010, day of reckoning: No Senna

Everything seems to have been written about Abu Dhabi 2010, whatever you think of it, the loss of the WDC was not the consequence of that single race as in the end the difference with Sebastian Vettel was of just four points. Believing that the crux of the matter was failing to overtake Vitaly Petrov, is far from true, Alonso needed to finish 4th, and Kubica and Rosberg were still in the way. There may have been errors of strategy, but I feel that the later sacking of Chris Dyer, was nothing but the search for a scapegoat. Neither do I think that the gestures made by the Ferrari driver towards the brave Russian after the checkered flag were acceptable. Not to speak about certain Spanish media that somehow persecuted "The Vyborg Rocket" in the pits afterwards.

The 2010 WDC was lost due to a large collection of mistakes, most of them Alonso's. The "AMC" and its aggressive Internet Patrol units are free to claim whatever they fancy, but for many of us, at the wheel of the Ferrari F10, the great Michael Schumacher would have nailed it.

Dedicated to my friend David Alarcón and his gone blog "De Lorean F1".

Stay tuned.

There is only one "MAGIC": AYRTON SENNA

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