Alonso's Blog

Never give up: things can change very quickly in Formula 1

April 22, 2011 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
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A break was much needed after such a packed start to the season. I had not been home for a month, given that I stayed out in that part of the world between Australia and Malaysia, so it’s nice to have a bit of free time with the family and close friends. Truth is there’s always something to do because you need to keep in shape, given that after this slightly longer than usual break we will face a really busy May, with three Grands Prix – Turkey, Spain and Monaco – in the space of four weeks.

It was definitely not the start of the season we were hoping for, for us and all our fans. Fifty points between the two of us is not much and we know our performance is not good enough at the moment, but we are aware that this can change very quickly. Formula 1 has always been like this: in one race you struggle to get into the top five and in the next, you’re fighting for the win. This year has been no exception to that rule: after the final test in Barcelona, everyone reckoned the McLarens were nowhere and then they always got on the podium, ending up with a win in China. At the same time, others were saying Vettel was unbeatable and then in Shanghai, we all saw how things turned out in the end. Three races are not yet enough to give a definitive judgement.

But this does not mean to say I am underestimating the seriousness of our situation, far from it. We have to work very hard to improve on every front. Success only comes when every element is operating at its best: the car, strategy, pit stops, drivers and everyone else included. I’ve stayed in touch with the engineers these past few days and I know there is no let up in the development of the car at Maranello. We have to catch up and we cannot allow ourselves to lose too much time, especially as the others won’t be twiddling their thumbs over the coming weeks. I trust in the team: I know what it’s made of and I can feel the will to fight back from everyone at Maranello. In the past I have experienced, first as an opponent and then as an insider how capable the Scuderia is of staging a comeback. I well remember when I was at Renault in 2006, that in the first part of the season I had built up a big lead but then Ferrari made such a good job of developing its cars that Schumacher staged a great fight back, overtaking me with two races remaining. Then you only have to look at last year: first in Turkey and then in England, it was suggested we should already be looking to the following year, but we did not give up and we managed to be in the fight for the title right up to the final race. It sounds like a slogan, but it’s the absolute truth: never give up in Formula 1!

If the racing season has yet to make me very happy, at least on the football front there’s been one bit of good news. I was very happy that Real Madrid won against Barcelona in the final of the Copa del Rey, as it’s a title that has eluded them for such a long time and it came at the end of a very closely fought game. Next up comes the Champions League semi-final, again against Barca. Whatever the outcome, it will be a truly fascinating tussle and obviously I’m hoping for a win for Mourinho’s team!

 

In China to seize every opportunity

April 13, 2011 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
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I arrived in Shanghai this morning. Two days relaxing were much needed after what was a very tough weekend in Sepang and now I’m ready for the second race in as many weekends, which also brings to an end the first run of Grands Prix outside Europe. I was disappointed not to get to the podium in Malaysia, as it was within my reach and it would have been a great result. It would also have been useful in terms of being a nice morale booster. Unfortunately, things did not work out the way we wanted and we paid a very heavy price for the failure on the system that runs the moveable rear wing. I know that the engineers, with whom I’ve been in touch a lot over these past days, have discovered the problem and fixed it. If the system had worked, I could comfortably have got past Hamilton on the pit straight and I would not have found myself having to fight him wheel to wheel and taking risks. What happened is part of racing and you have to accept it: I was quicker than him and so I had to try and pass, otherwise I would have been caught by those behind us. As for the penalty I was given, I already said on Sunday night in Sepang, I don’t want to talk about it because it changes nothing.

As we had already seen in Australia, once again in Malaysia, our race pace was much better than that in qualifying. In Sepang, both Felipe and I were running at a pace good enough to get to the podium and that was an important indication, even if we did not end up getting all we could have done. Clearly, I would like to always be fighting for the win but, at the moment, one car, Vettel’s Red Bull, seems to be out of reach.

In Maranello, the engineers are working a lot to try and improve the performance of the 150º Italia. In Shanghai, we are due to try a new front wing and a few other aero updates: let’s hope they bring us something, but we will have to evaluate them very carefully in Friday’s practice. Our aim in this Grand Prix will be similar to the one in Malaysia, which means to make the best of qualifying and try to exploit any opportunity that comes our way during the race. It should be much cooler this weekend than in Sepang, more like what we experienced in Melbourne. Starting on Friday, we will see how the tyres behave and once again we have the Hard as the Prime compound and the Soft as the Option. Malaysia produced a different situation to the first race but we still need to work out how much was down to the temperatures and how much to the nature of the circuits, in terms of their layout and surface.

I spoke to President Montezemolo after the Malaysian race: he was not happy and why would he be, as I was not either. We know we need to react quickly to make up the gap to the championship leader. It’s true that if you compare the situation after the first two races of 2010 with this year, we are a long way behind: back then, yours truly was in the lead and Vettel was quite a way off, but it’s also true that, if you take into consideration the individual races in Australia and Malaysia, I have got eight points more than was the case last year. It’s a bit of a game, but it’s also a way to understand that there are different ways of looking at things, even direct opposites. Also not to be taken seriously was the joke our President made about a hypothetical fantasy government made up of drivers: I thank him for having thought of me for the role of premier, but I’d rather stick to racing!

 

A weekend to tackle one day at a time

April 6, 2011 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
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I arrived in Malaysia a few days ago, having stayed a while in Australia, on Hamilton Island. I decided to stay in this part of the world so as to be used to the local time zone, given we now take on two races in the Far East, first in Sepang and then in Shanghai. It’s important to get used to the weather conditions, especially here where the temperatures are around the 30 °C mark and, much more significantly, it’s very humid. I have done some sport, because it’s essential to keep training: in this race you lose a lot of liquid and it’s very tough driving in these conditions, so you need to be on top form to tackle the weekend properly. Being 100% ready in this respect can make all the difference on Sunday afternoon as even on a mental level, this race is very special.

The fact that the weather can change so quickly here makes the preparation work for the various phases of work on track more stressful. Suddenly it can go from sunshine to a short sharp shower and you need to be prepared for every eventuality. It’s not just a problem for us drivers, as its affects the whole team: in some cases you need to be ready with a plan B or C, or even maybe a D for all the various scenarios!

Luckily it’s not all been work, as I was able to have some fun too which is good as it helps you unwind at such a busy time: from the start of testing there hasn’t been much of a break in this bit of the season.

I stayed in touch with the engineers, via email and phone. We re-examined the way the weekend had gone in Melbourne and we discussed our preparations for here in Sepang. We know we have to improve our performance level, but we are equally aware that in the end, the race result was not such a disaster. We will have a few minor updates on the car, but nothing very significant, or the sort of thing you could say would be the key to take a leap forward in performance terms. I believe we must stay concentrated on our own work and try to understand how to get all the potential out of the 150° Italia and I’m sure there’s plenty to come. Before we achieve that, it’s pointless standing here making predictions about how the weekend will turn out. We just have to tackle it one day at a time.

My happiest memory of Sepang circuit goes back to my first ever pole position, which I secured on 22 March 2003. Neither myself, nor my team, Renault, had expected that sort of result on Saturday morning, but come the end of qualifying, we found ourselves with both cars on the front row. It was a very happy moment and I can still clearly remember how the afternoon went, then the dinner and Sunday morning, when I was thinking about what would happen in the race. Every time I come back here, I think of that weekend, at the happiness of taking pole and the feeling of trepidation going into the race. I did not win, as later happened in 2005 and 2007, but I was still third and so managed to jump up on the podium for the first time. It was definitely a weekend to remember for a long time!

 

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