Alonso's Blog

A meeting with Ferrari’s past in Maranello

June 29, 2011 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
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Finally, a bit of time off! After the Valencia weekend, I went straight to Maranello where I spent two packed days both on the technical and the promotional front. This morning I went back home to relax for a few days before setting off again for the next Grand Prix, in England this time, at Silverstone.

With the team, we went back over the last race and the short and long term development plans. I take away good memories from Valencia. It was a positive weekend, especially the race. In fact it meant I filled a gap in my trophy collection, but the best part of it was seeing again the delight of the crowd when I passed Mark, first on track and then at the pit stop: racing in Spain is always something special!

It is a key time in the season. We are moving forward, as could be seen in the last three races, but now we must also confirm the progress seen at Monaco, Montreal and Valencia on a track with completely different characteristics, which is definitely more suited to our main rivals. At Silverstone, you need a lot of aerodynamic downforce and this is area where we are lagging behind. We will have some new parts, but there’s a step from that to saying we will have made up the difference…Maybe! We must be realistic and accept that it’s not possible that in less than two months – the time past since the Barcelona race – we have closed the gap that was seen at the Catalunya circuit. It wasn’t a whole lap, because that was down to the way the race panned out, but it was definitely bigger than what we have seen in the last three races. We must continue to work on improving the car and then I am sure the win will come. When? I don’t have a crystal ball to be able to give a definite answer.

In Maranello, I had the opportunity to meet a driver who has been part of the history of Formula 1 and of Ferrari, John Surtees. We took part in a promotional event organised by our technical partner Shell and he was very interesting to talk to, comparing our experiences as drivers and, above all, talking about our lives with a special team like Ferrari. It’s nice to meet people who can give you a first hand account of what Formula 1 was like back then!

Today, the team told me about Pirelli’s tyre choices for the coming three races. At the British Grand Prix, we will be running the Soft and the Hard, the same choice that featured in the early stages of the championship. Okay, for us that means one more challenge, namely being able to make all types of tyre work as well as possible. Anyway, the tyre choice is the same for everyone and there’s no point discussing if the pair of compounds chosen is more suited to one team or another. It’s up to the teams to adjust the cars to get the best out of the tyres both in terms of performance and life.

 

Luck and bad luck balance out

June 20, 2011 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
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In a few days, the European Grand Prix weekend gets underway. It’s the second race of the season held in Spain and it is an important one for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro and for me, as it presents another opportunity for me to race in front of my fans. To tell the truth, I’ve never been that lucky in this race since it’s been held on the Valencia street circuit, especially last year when, despite having a very competitive car, I finished down in eighth place. However, everyone remembers what happened with the appearance of the Safety Car and there’s no point going over it again. I always believe that luck and bad luck balance out by the end of the season and maybe this unwritten rule also applies to race tracks. If that’s the case, I would be more than happy if last year’s misfortune was paid back now! In fact, it seems that in general so far this season, luck has not come our way: in the race in Montreal, not one damned thing went right.

I know that our fans are eagerly awaiting our first win of the season and I can assure you that the same goes for us. At the last two races, we showed we were clearly capable of winning and, especially in Monaco, we came pretty close, although I believe that even in Canada I could have fought for it all the way to the end, given what we had seen in qualifying. Now we go to a track with reasonably similar characteristics to Montreal and there is no obvious reason why we should not be competitive here too. The 150º Italia will be pretty much in the same configuration seen at the last race and the major new element will be the race debut of the Pirelli Medium compound tyre, running alongside the Soft. Over the winter, I got the chance to test this tyre, but now it will be a completely different ball game, given that the difference in temperature compared to February and March will be of the order of 20 degrees and because the Valencia track characteristics definitely cannot be compared to those of Jerez and Barcelona, nor to the permanent track at Cheste, around twenty kilometres from the city centre. In Montreal, we were able to assess these tyres during the two free practice sessions on Friday, but it’s one thing to do a few laps on a track that is not necessarily that well adapted to this type of tyre and quite another to evaluate it in depth with an eye on qualifying and the race.

I feel special ties to the city of Valencia as it has become something of a symbolic place in the history of my relationship with Ferrari. It was in fact in Cheste that I made my first public appearance after having signed my first contract with Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, at the 2009 Ferrari Days event and it was also at this track that I had my first official drive of a Formula 1 Ferrari, on 3 February last year. Well, maybe that means it’s time to add another “first” to this story…And actually, I have already won the European Grand Prix twice before, when the race was run at the Nurburgring: as the saying goes, “never two without three…”

 

We want to make another step forward

June 8, 2011 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
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After a brief cycle of races in Europe, here we are again on another long intercontinental voyage, this time heading West. The Montreal race is one of the most popular with the drivers and the teams: the city is very welcoming and the people are very interested in Formula 1, to the extent that the grandstands are already busy on Friday.

I arrived yesterday evening and this afternoon I popped down to the track to meet up with the team. I found that the boys were in good spirits, wanting to demonstrate here that Monte Carlo wasn’t a flash in the pan. There is promise that it can happen. Even though it has some very fast stretches, the Canadian track suits cars which can jump over the kerbs without losing too much balance and cars that have good traction on the exits of the slow corners. Those are both characteristics that are among the strong points of the 150° Italia.

Here aerodynamic efficiency, which is our Achilles Heel at the moment, is less important and so we think we can have more chance to fight for the top places. Brakes are another fundamental factor on this circuit: we will need to work hard during free practice to understand the correct level of cooling in order to avoid the risk of problems in the race.

In Montreal we will again have the two soft tyre compounds prepared by Pirelli: the Soft and the Supersoft. Last year this was one of the few races in which we saw more pit stops than the traditional one-stop because the degradation of the tyres is quite high. Even though the Pirellis are different to the Bridgestones, I don’t think we will see anyone manage to get to the end of the race with only one tyre change, as we saw in Monaco. As we have seen this year, it will be important to pick the right moment for the pit stop so as not to lose too much time compared to your direct rivals.

For the first time this year we will have two places where it will be possible to use the DRS on Sunday: the first is after the apex of Turn 10, the second on the pit straight. I’m interested to see what will happen: on paper whoever manages to pass in the first zone will then have a big advantage because they will be able to use the movable wing again on the main straight, even though they are ahead of the car they are battling.

Last year I managed to make the podium but we left Montreal with a definite sensation of having deserved more than our eventual third place. There were a couple of episodes that didn’t go well for us that prevented us from picking up the win that was within our reach. We also had the chance to win at Monaco ten days ago and it would have been good to have won there because wins have now eluded us for too long. It remains very difficult because I expect McLaren and Red Bull to be very strong but we must not count anything out.

The second third of the season is starting and the situation in the championship is far from favourable. It’s true that there are still many races to go but it’s clear that we must try to find a catalyst for this title chase in terms of points. We hope to start straightaway, on a track that carries the name of one of the drivers who is most loved by Ferrari’s tifosi: Gilles Villeneuve.

 

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