When Fernando Alonso talks, people listen

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A lot is being made today of Fernando Alonso’s latest “Ferrari diary,” in which he promises major upgrades to the car before the next race in Valencia and says that Ferrari is not giving up on this season.

All the usual media are playing this story up pretty big, unusually so, I’d say. My question is: Why?

Before we try to answer that, here are some of the highlights of Fernando’s post:

A couple of days on from the race, the sense of disappointment that we missed out on a win that was within our grasp has been replaced with the awareness that we did actually get a great result. We have to look at it as a glass half full because, on the Thursday we would have been satisfied with the thought of a podium finish. We were competitive throughout the whole weekend, both in qualifying and the race, which is very positive.

[snip]

The next round is in Valencia in my home country. It will be nice to race in front of my fans and I would like to get on the podium again, given that Valencia is another circuit where I have never done so. We will have major updates on the F10 which I hope will allow us to up our performance level. Following on from that, we have further developments in the pipeline which should arrive for England and Germany: which is to say that the European Grand Prix is simply the ninth round of the championship, not a last ditch effort for Ferrari, which I heard some people saying. I don’t see how they can say that given that we have not even reached the halfway point of the season and that after Valencia there will still be ten Grands Prix to go. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again now, this is a stage event and the final one of those stages will not come until November in Abu Dhabi. There is still a long way to go and things can change very quickly, going either one way or the other. People seem to have forgotten that last year, in the middle part of the season and in a car that was getting ever less competitive, Kimi was the driver who had scored the most points.

First off, if there is a bigger red flag / warning sign at Ferrari than their making any mention of Kimi Raikkonen, I don’t know what it is.

But, back to the question: Why are the media making such a big deal out of this statement?

I think a central reason is that Fernando’s been such a disappointment this season. No, he isn’t out of the running, but I think there was a definite sense that he might run away with the title, ala the old Michael Schumacher days. That very much hasn’t happened, and it is only in part due to some reliability problems and driver error. The car hasn’t been nearly as quick as Red Bull or McLaren’s.

So, of course, there’s been some talk that Ferrari will pull an ’09 and cut its losses. But it is hard to imagine Alonso (let alone Felipe Massa) going along with that. I don’t think Fernando signed on with the Scuderia to drive around as a glorified tester for eight or 10 races.

Other reasons could include: the news is a bit slow as we’ve moved off Canada and are still too far from Valencia to really focus there; the whole “Michael Schumacher was a danger to himself and others” storyline from Canada didn’t have much legs; and it’s Ferrari, so when they cough or stub their toe, it’s news.

There also is probably the bias among the media toward better racing and more interesting stories for the rest of the season. As I was watching Canada, which was on Fox here in the U.S., I thought to myself: The heads of Fox must be very happy a Ferrari is in the mix.

There’s also one other question to ponder: Do you think Ferrari has what it takes to get back on the right track and get a car under Fernando (and Felipe) that will be competitive and make the drivers and constructors’ races a three-way?

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