Alonso's Blog

I tried to the very end

May 30, 2011 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
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I arrived in Maranello late this morning and in the afternoon, I was involved in some PR activities. I also got the chance to meet two of our young FDA drivers, Raffaele Marciello and Brandon Maisano, who were at Fiorano for a Formula 3 test. Then, I headed off for Parma where tonight I am playing in the “Partita del Cuore” (game of the heart) a three-way football tournament which is raising funds for the Telethon charity.

Over twenty four hours have passed since the end of the Monaco Grand Prix and I certainly haven’t changed my mind. Yesterday we had a real chance of taking our first win of the season and the interruption following the accident with Petrov and Alguersuari robbed us of the chance of trying to the very end. In the second part of the race, after the pit stop, I tried to save the tyres specifically to be prepared for the closing laps, when I hoped I’d be able to make the most of it if Sebastian had any difficulties with his tyres, given he’d been on the same set for many laps. Unfortunately, that plan went out the window, but you have to accept it, because we know that situations like the one we saw in Monaco yesterday happen quite often.

Immediately after the race, I said the fight for the title was getting ever more difficult, not to say impossible. Sure, if Vettel ends up winning a race in which we felt there was a chance of victory, then you get a feeling of disappointment, but that does not mean will not continue working hard at the track and back home on developing the car. Clearly the gap in the championship is widening all the time: we can do the maths, but neither myself nor the team are used to throwing in the towel. Already today, I’ve been talking to the engineers about the new parts we will have in Montreal, but above all, of the steps forward we must take for Silverstone, when we will back at a track which requires a lot of aerodynamic downforce. That’s where we will really see how our season is going to pan out. Up until then, we want to and we must believe in ourselves.

I am pleased to hear that Sergio Perez has already left the Monaco hospital this afternoon. He had a truly horrible accident and the fact he came out of it almost unscathed is a clear indication of the progress made in terms of Formula 1 car safety. You can never do away with the risks completely, but they can be significantly reduced for the drivers and for all those who work at the track.

 

We’ll see who’s been the cleverest in the development championship

May 18, 2011 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
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Here we are with the Spanish Grand Prix just round the corner, a race that has a special feel about it for me. I will arrive in Barcelona tonight, because right from tomorrow morning I’ve got an appointment in my diary: attending the launch of the first ever Ferrari Store to be opened in Spain, in the heart of the Catalan capital, on one of the most important streets in the city, Paseo de Gracia. Felipe will be there, as will Marc who will be very much the main man given he is from Barcelona. Then it will be time to head off to the track for the usual Thursday jobs, most of them dealing with media work.

It’s always nice to race in Spain. I love the feeling of warmth one gets from the fans right from the very first free practice sessions. Day after day, you can see the grandstands fill with flags – the red of Ferrari and the azure blue of my compatriots from Asturias – and that is a special feeling for me. My win here in 2006 is still one of the best moments of my career and it would be a dream come true to do it again with Ferrari sooner or later.

I know that you all want to know if that might happen already this weekend, but I am not able to give you an answer to that. On paper, we do not yet have the potential to be in a straight fight for the win, with one team clearly the favourite in this regard. However, we know things can change quickly in our sport and, in Turkey, finally we managed to bring home a podium finish. The road is still long, but I believe we have at least started down it going in the right direction.

These past few days, the team has worked so hard in Maranello on developing the 150° Italia and in order to be as well prepared as possible for these two back to back races, given that next week will be back on track in Monaco. During the days I spent in the factory I could feel that everyone there really wants to fight back: the feeling is so strong you can almost touch it, whether you are speaking with people in meetings or as you walk around the Gestione Sportiva. Both Felipe and I have done so many kilometres in the simulator and we feel that the updates being introduced will see us make progress in terms of performance. Whether or not this will be enough to close the gap to the best, we will only find out over the weekend, because we cannot ignore the fact that the others have not been twiddling their thumbs. We will see who has been the cleverest in the development championship.

The Catalunya Circuit is one of the ones we know best because traditionally it is a favourite venue for winter testing. This year, we have already had two sessions there, one at the end of February and the other in early March.

This means we will all arrive there with a pretty good idea of what settings we will use as a baseline on the car to start the weekend, even if the conditions we will encounter will be very different, especially in terms of temperature.

It will be very important to run continuously in Friday’s two free practice sessions to fine tune the car and check out the behaviour of the new technical components. It will also be vital to study the performance and wear of the tyres. In the race simulations we did during testing we saw significant degradation, especially on the front left tyre, which is put under major stress: we will see if, with different temperatures, that situation changes. Compared to previous races at this track I think we will see more overtaking, especially down to the difference in tyre performance that could be a factor during the race: further reason to come to the track to watch the Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon. It would be nice to jump on the podium again and be able to salute all our fans from there: as far as me and the team are concerned, as usual, we will be giving it our very best shot.

 

We must keep going down this road

May 11, 2011 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
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It’s been a long week of work, starting on Tuesday May 3 with a session on the simulator. It has only just finished today as we kept working with the engineers to prepare as well as we can for the coming races. In between came the grand prix in Istanbul, where we took our first podium of the year. It was about time because we’d missed out on finishing a race in the top three for too long, but what was especially important was to fight for the top places until the end. That already happened in China with Felipe and in the two previous races we were also close to the podium: finally we have now achieved what we were capable of.

Third place was also important for the morale of the team. We were all unhappy with a start to the season that did not live up to expectations and we know how much good it does to see that the efforts expended every day are paying off. But we certainly can’t be happy with a third place and what matters most is that we must be much more competitive in qualifying. If we always start from the third row or lower it’s a struggle to fight for the podium. We have a lot of irons in the fire and we hope that as early as next week in Barcelona we will have new parts that allow us to take an important step forward in qualifying as well.

You know I like playing with numbers – and as I travelled backwards and forwards between home, Maranello and Turkey, I made a comparison between my first four races of last year and those of this year in the corresponding grands prix. What came out of this little game was that compared to 2010 I’m eight points short (49 versus 41) but in the same four races, this year I’ve brought home 13 more points compared to last year (41 versus 28). It’s true that my current gap to the top of the drivers championship is much greater (52 points) compared to what I had after Shanghai 2010 (11 points) but I well recall that after Silverstone we were 47 points away and we only had eight races left. Today we still have 15 grands prix to come. This shows that you can look at the same thing in two different, even completely opposite ways. What matters are results and we’ve started to make the podium: we must do that regularly and if so I’m convinced that we will again be able to fight for the title.

On Sunday morning in Istanbul there was a serious accident in the GP2 race, which involved our driver, Davide Rigon. I’m very sorry for him as he will have to stop racing for a while. We hope that he recovers soon – and I say that also for selfish reasons because he was doing precious work for us in the simulator.

Now I’m returning home: a few days of rest before a very demanding double-header made up of Barcelona, one of my home races, and Monaco. Now we hope to keep going down the road we took in Turkey.

 

No predictions for Istanbul

May 4, 2011 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
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I arrived in Istanbul this evening along with the team on the usual charter flight that we use for European races. I was in Maranello from Monday night onwards: we had programmed some work in the simulator to prepare for these first few races of the European part of the season and so it was the perfect opportunity to meet up with the engineers to discuss how development is coming on with the 150° Italia. Already in Turkey, we will have a few new aerodynamic components, but further updates are due to arrive in the following races. We know we have to take a significant step forward in terms of performance if we want to get back to fighting for the top places, especially in qualifying. I’m not expecting a major change in Istanbul: on Friday we will see if the new parts work the way we are expecting, but we are well aware that the others have not been twiddling their thumbs these past few weeks, so it’s impossible to say today where we are compared to our main rivals.

We’ve had a slightly longer break than usual and it was useful to pause for breath after the first run of races outside Europe. I made the most of it to spend time with my family, but also to concentrate on upping my training level, working mainly on the bike.

The Istanbul circuit is very technical, with many different types of corner, some serious ups and downs and a couple of places where overtaking was possible in the past: this year that should be even more the case thanks to the moveable rear wing. This element has proved to play an important part in making overtaking easier, but the factor that has the biggest effect on whether one driver can pass another is the difference in tyre performance, as we clearly saw in China. When you end up in trouble with the tyres, it gets very difficult to defend your position from another driver, even if his tyres are just a few laps fresher than yours. Usually, the Istanbul race is pretty demanding on tyres and so it will be very important to get an understanding of their behaviour in Friday’s free practice. At the moment, the weather forecast looks very uncertain, especially for Friday, which adds a further unknown to this weekend.

I don’t want to make any predictions about the final result: we know it will be tough for us, but the will to work hard and to do well is not lacking. I saw that these past few days in Maranello where everyone is working very hard, from Domenicali to the mechanics, so that everyone can get on top of the situation in their own area as soon as possible. It is this great desire to get the job done that makes the people at Maranello so special.

 

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