Two sides to the same result
Maranello, 11 June – What’s a fifth place worth? Ten points would be the logical and obvious answer. But what is the significance of these ten points? It depends how one came by them and so let’s try and analyse how quantitatively identical results can have completely different values. To do that, we must take a step back in time of almost three months. On 18 March, Fernando Alonso finished the Australian Grand Prix in fifth place, 21 seconds down on the winner, Button. This was seen as a positive result, especially as it came after starting from twelfth on the grid, after a qualifying session in which the Spaniard found himself a second and a half off pole man Hamilton. There were many who therefore maintained that Ferrari was already out of the fight for the Championship, with the F2012 being seen as a car destined for an early despatch to the museum, while waiting for a messianic new car or even the 2013 one. A lot of water has passed under the virtual bridge of Formula 1 since then.
Today, we find ourselves commenting on another fifth place for Alonso, this time in the Canadian Grand Prix. It is seen as very disappointing, maybe forgetting that the same result as Melbourne came at the end of a weekend in which Fernando, for the first time in a very long time, (definitely too long for a team like Ferrari) was able to fight for pole position on Saturday and was in the running for the win yesterday right to the very end. Victory eluded him, because his main opponent, Hamilton in the McLaren, was quicker overall and, in order to try and beat him, we had to and we did change the game around. It was a joint decision, as the plan not to stop again was taken by common consent between those on the pit wall and the driver. However, it did not work out well. The tyre performance on the F2012 suddenly dropped off, which was not the case for some other cars, if one looks at Sauber and Lotus for example. It’s true, we might have been able to save fourth place by reacting immediately to the stop from Vettel, who thanks to the strategy was right behind Fernando with the very same problem as the Spaniard: in hindsight, it was a mistake and no one denies it, but it did not cost anything too dramatic. It cost the lead in the championship, but being first after just seven races doesn’t count for much: the important thing is to be there on 25 November, in Sao Paolo, Brazil.