Ferrari miss the plot…and the title

The season came to an end in Abu Dhabi today and particularly it came to an end for Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso after just a few laps. The safety car, prompted by a bad accident between Michael Schumacher and Tonio Liuzzi, was the determining factor that sealed Ferrari’s fate. The pit strategies were thrown out the window and Ferrari made a bad call.

According to team boss Stefano Domenicali, the team marked the wrong competitor:

We made a wrong decision in terms of strategy for three reasons: we marked a rival with two cars, we were unduly concerned about the wear rate of the soft tyres and we did not take into consideration the difficulty of getting past other cars on the track. Now, there is no point in discussing the whys and wherefores of how we arrived at this choice: win or lose, we do everything together as a team.

Fernando Alonso agrees with Domenicali’s assessment but remain magnanimous about the situation nonetheless:

“It’s a shame to get to the end of the season and then lose the title at the final moment, but that’s racing, that is sport. Everything went wrong today, from the start itself to the strategy. With hindsight, it would have been better not to pit so soon, but it’s easy to say that when you have all the facts: however, it was definitely not an easy decision. I want to congratulate Red Bull and its drivers: over the course of the season they have had a little something extra than us and they deserve to be where they are today. I had said it over the past few days: this is still a great season. There have been some very intense months and I found myself in a team that has an amazing atmosphere. Now there is some sadness, but I am sure that in a few hours, with a clear head, we will begin to appreciate better what we have achieved. We have to continue like that, staying united and determined. We have to face next year with the same will to win which has characterised this one and, something I learned very quickly, is also in the Ferrari blood. We must improve the car and ensure that the mistakes that all of us – we drivers and the team – have made during the year, are not repeated.”

In the end, Alonso’s fate was in his own hands and the daunting task of passing Renault’s Vitaly Petrov, Robert Kubica and Mercedes GP’s Nico Rosberg was just not in the cards. It’s a lot to ask any driver on a circuit that is not easy to pass at. If I am honest, I am a little surprised that Alonso couldn’t dispatch of Petrov’s Renault but even if he had, the likelihood of passing Kubica and Rosberg looked dim.

Ultimately Ferrari spent too much time looking at what was happening behind them instead of what was happening in front of them. A mistake that the team isn’t expected to make. As long as Webber is behind them, it doesn’t really matter what happens. Getting four cars between Alonso and the lead is the real issue and Ferrari missed the plot of the championship novel today in favor of reading the index.

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