In 2010 we entered the Alonso era of Ferrari, and it will probably be a long one. The second best car on the grid was a nice comeback after last year, I think they got more from their car and more from their lead driver. Not so much on the leading edge of rulebook bending technology, they put together a car that was consistent from track to track, and sector to sector. With some early engine woes (the downside of which only showing up at the end of the season), controversy of team orders (which we debated till we were blue in the face, but I’ll state once again, because I am currently holding the conch, it’s a team sport, and drivers work for the team, not the bookies) And an emotional victory in Italy, which was all part of an incredible run in the second half of the season, Ferrari were once again Ferrari. A fast car, an emotional team, with an emotional fan base and love ‘em or hate ‘em, they make it fun to watch don’t they.
Not sure if there could be a more perfect fit than Alonso at Ferrari. Alonso has flair, panache, speed, grit and of course the right hair. As I just stated, Ferrari are an emotional team with an emotional fan base but ironic as it is the teams biggest successes have come from drivers who perhaps don’t quite share their feelings with others and cry at weddings (Lauda, Schumacher). Now they have their great white hope, and he will deliver.
Job one for Fernando was win and he put that to bed very early and if there was any question of who or if there was a No.1, Fernando took care of that on the pit entry in China. With that settled, it was onward and upward. However, an error at Monaco, some bad luck with safety cars, and perhaps the team losing there way a little bit on the car development; by mid season he looked all but out of it but all this time you could still see he was driving that car as hard as it could be driven. It’s sad that our last memory of him during this season is following Petrov around for lap after lap in a vain attempt to save his championship but look back at the season and you can see he can race as hard as anyone. I would say he has the perfect mixture of precision and aggression; he doesn’t make as many mistakes as his top rivals but still keeps that car on the edge. Once Ferrari got the car sorted, his charge at the end was amazing. Apart from Germany I still think Red Bull had the best car everywhere else, it was Alonso making the difference here. In my mind he’s the best driver on the grid, and that’s tough to say as I’ve never been a big fan of Ferrari, but they both fit so perfectly together it’s hard not to cheer him on. I think he will be a big part of Ferrari history; all that could be better is a V12 in the back of that thing.
Ok it’s time for my pick for “donkey of the season”. The only reason we are talking about Ferrari before McLaren is Felipe’s lackluster performances. Over 100 points behind his teammate, the only time he really got up to the front was Germany and cry as you might about the team, the only reason that happened was because of his lack of pace in the previous races in the season. Also his childish manner in which he handled it could have cost the team a lot more than the $100,000 fine. I don’t like it when people say Ferrari handled the team orders badly, these team tactics happen all the time and it was Massa’s purposeful and obvious execution that caused the uproar. He wasn’t going to beat Fernando in a straight fight, but he had a good car, and to be trundling around in the bottom half of the top ten for the most part wasn’t the way to change people’s perspective of you.
He may be a bit off Alonso’s pace, but he also backs that up with the inability to pass, and when he does try he ends up making grievous errors. On the right day he can win from the front, which is why, when he’s not in race conditions he can qualify pretty well, but I think that’s true of most drivers on the grid, they just haven’t been in a Ferrari. I’m not sure how his accident last year is affecting him, but I guess I don’t see a lot of difference. It makes me wonder just how good that Ferrari was when he nearly won the championship in 2008. One more year Felipe, one more year.