F1: Is Alonso’s Title Run Over?
While expected or not, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso is currently leading the Formula One driver’s championship title race. He sits 20 points ahead of second place man Mark Webber and that does not bode as well as one might think. Why you might ask? Ferrari have come a long way since the season commenced with their F2012 and Alsono’s form has been nothing short of spectacular. However, it has become apparent that there are still some key weaknesses. Lack of overall grip, lack of top speed and lack of single lap performance for qualifying are some examples, but there are three key reasons why it seems that Alonso’s run may have come to an end.
The three potential reasons are; Reason number one; Adrian Newey. Reason number two; Red Bull-Renault. Reason number three; Sebastian Vettel
Let us take a brief look at all three of these reasons starting with Adrian Newey. Yet again, Newey is proving to be worth his weight in carbon-fibre which I estimate is worth far more than gold at least in F1 terms unless of course your name is Bernie Ecclestone.
Reason #1. Newey’s magic pen again drafts another brilliant solution and rubber-stamps Red Bulls lead in the development race. Introduced in Spain for the European GP was a new rear suspension layout and a clever and innovative ‘double floor’. Set up just right, it allowed Vettel to snag pole position by three tenths of a second and pull away at a rate that should send shivers up the backs of their rivals. If I were Ferrari or McLaren right now, I’d feel sick to my stomach. Neither team really has an answer for that sort of pace at the present time, despite working feverishly on developing new bits.
Reason #2. Red Bull as a team seem to be holding steady, quietly working away and taking points home. They already lead the constructors championship and have showed no sign of slowing down. They quietly and diligently fly under the radar and have results to show for it. Even with Vettel’s DNF in Valencia, Webber still finished fourth and sits second behind Alsono in overall points scored. Few mistakes in general and solid efforts and strategy they’ve put themselves in a position to challenge if not dominate the final two thirds of the season.
Reason #3. While both Webber and Vettel have been good thus far, you can just sense that Vettel is ready to break out again and take over. His qualifying lap in Spain and the fact that he had pulled out enough of a lead by lap 20 to have a pit stop in his back pocket further proves my theory. Anyone thinking he’s just not hungry for another title obviously didn’t read his facial expressions very well during his walk of shame down the pit lane.
So What does all this have to do with Alonso? Well, let’s be totally honest here. Ferrari’s F2012 started life as a dog of a race car and has improved by leaps and bounds, yet it’s still not in the same category in terms of pace as are the Red Bull, McLaren, Renault and perhaps even Mercedes on certain days. As the F1 calendar switches from street circuits to high speed aero circuits, Ferrari’s weaknesses will become more apparent as the other’s strengths will begin to shine through.
Unless Ferrari can make serious gains to keep up and even just match pace with the others, Alonso’s run for the title may effectively be over.
Author: Ernie Black