Alonso's Blog

A special race in Hungary

July 27, 2011 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
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We’re reaching the final stages of a frenetic month of July. I am in Maranello, where I came on Sunday night, directly from the Nurburgring and, early tomorrow morning, it will be time for me and the engineers to head for Budapest. In this very short break between the two races, I worked, as is usually the case when I am at the factory, on the simulator to prepare both for this weekend’s race and for the ones after that. On top of that, I took part in several meetings with the engineers, while today I also got the chance to meet up with President Montezemolo and the members of the Ferrari Board, who were meeting in Maranello. Montezemolo was his usual cheerful self with me and wanted to know how preparations were going for the Hungaroring race. It’s now a few months that our car has become more competitive and that means we have been consistently able to fight for a podium finish.

We have made up a lot of ground compared to the very early part of the season in terms of performance, but we must take a further step forward, as I have said so often before. We still lack something, especially in qualifying: it’s true that in the race we can make up for this, but it’s not always possible to move up two places compared to our grid position, as happened in Monaco, Valencia, Silverstone and Nurburgring. At the Hungaroring, the weather should be more in keeping with summer, which is no bad thing as I’ve had enough of the cold and damp we experienced in England and Germany! That goes not just for me, but also for our car: it would definitely work better in temperatures higher than the 13° we had last Sunday.

I know the Hungarian Grand Prix has a special significance for the Scuderia, as it has experienced some great moments, but also some dramatic ones, like when Felipe was injured in that fluke accident when he was hit by a part of Rubens’ Brawn. Budapest is special for me too, as it was at this very race in 2003 that I took my first ever Formula 1 win. It was a very emotional day, the memory of which will always stay with me.

As was the case in 2010, I will again celebrate my birthday at the track with the Scuderia. On Friday I turn thirty: who knows if I will get a nice birthday surprise…

 

I feel ever more part of Ferrari

July 20, 2011 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
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The German Grand Prix is bang in the middle of the 2011 championship: we have had nine races so far and, after the one at the Nurburgring, we will face the same number again. Some might say that makes it a time to assess what’s gone before, but I prefer not to look too closely at the standings. We had a difficult start, but from a few races ago up until now, we have got back to being competitive. It cannot be denied that we have made progress, up to the point where we have actually taken a fully deserved win on one of the tracks – Silverstone - that on paper was least suited to our car. However, that great victory must not change our approach: we most continue to tackle one race after another, without looking at the classification and then, at the end, we will do the maths. So we head off for Germany in the same spirit we demonstrated in England, but with the additional awareness that we are now more competitive.

After the race across the Channel, I came back to spend a few day relaxing at home. I know we have two very busy weeks ahead of us so I thought it best to recharge the batteries, spending some time with my family and doing some training. From Monday evening, I was in Maranello where I was involved in preparations for the German Grand Prix, which meant a lot of work on the simulator and meetings with the engineers. But in addition, there were also a whole range of activities that see me ever more involved in life at Ferrari. For example, yesterday I took part in a prizegiving ceremony for the top three finalists in a Ferrari World Design Contest: it was very interesting for me to see how much passion these youngsters from all over the world have for their vision of the Ferrari of the future. This morning I was involved in some promotional work, along with two of our partners and then I was invited by President Montezemolo to Podio Ferrari, the event that brings together in Maranello, all the company’s suppliers, both those that work with the Scuderia and those whose relationship is with our colleagues on the road car side. The four prizewinners got the chance to do some laps of the Fiorano track in a 458 Italia: I don’t know if they expected me to be their driver, but I think they enjoyed the experience! Finally, I went to say hello to over four hundred kids, all children of the workforce here, who were taking part in the summer camp organised by the company. As you can imagine, it meant total immersion in the world of Ferrari and it will continue right up to the end of the month. In fact, already from Sunday night, after the German Grand Prix, I will travel back to Maranello with the team and stay another three days before we all head off together for Budapest. The 7th August marks the start of the factory shut-down established by FOTA, which means we will have to prepare for the Spa race, one of the most interesting of the year, well ahead of time. That’s why I think this will be a very busy time, but I have to say I am really getting to like feeling part of this world.

Now might not be the time to think too much about all that, because as from tomorrow, a race weekend gets underway at the historic venue that is the Nurburgring, where I have already won twice. There’s a saying about something happening twice, but I don’t want to jinx my chances by saying it, so it’s up to the fans to work out what it is!

 

I’m still enjoying it!

July 13, 2011 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
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What a great feeling, winning again! And I’m revelling in it all the more now I’m back home in Oviedo. When a Grand Prix is over, there is a rush of emotion, but then there are so many things to do, what with press conferences and the debrief, so you have to stay very focussed. But the following morning, you wake up happy and there’s a truly special feeling that goes with it. And I have to say I’m still feeling that way now!

I haven’t spent too much time thinking about the technical reasons behind the win in the British Grand Prix. Each race has its own story and we know only too well how much things can change when you go from one track to another. There were definitely some major improvements on the car, which mean it feels much easier to drive now and you can feel it much more stuck to the ground than before, especially in the fast corners. That means it’s got more aerodynamic downforce, which was the area where we trailed our main rivals the most. However, I don’t think the changes to the engine mapping were a factor: we were quicker specifically at the part of the track where you practically don’t have to brake, which means it is the actual car that is going well.

This win won’t change our approach to the coming races. We have to be realistic, because we are 92 points behind in the classification and that is a very big gap! We will tackle the races one at a time, trying to win as many as possible. This will also involve taking a few more risks and maybe it will happen that we pay a high price for that, but there is no alternative. We are definitely not giving up, but we must not think about the championship: as Montezemolo said yesterday in Maranello, we are keeping our feet on the ground.

On Sunday morning, I had great fun doing a couple of laps in the 375 F1 which brought Ferrari its first championship Grand Prix win back in 1951. I had already driven a very similar car, the 375 Indy, in Valencia at the Ferrari Days event. It definitely takes a bit of getting used to with a very different pedal arrangement, with the accelerator on the left and the brake on the right. The engine power to tyre grip ratio is the complete opposite of the cars we drive today. You need to change your driving style to go quickly, but it was a wonderful experience. Sure, back then, not only did the drivers need to be incredibly talented, but they also needed a good dose of craziness!

There was a special atmosphere at Silverstone on Sunday. The crowd is always very big there and they are all very involved in the event. For us it felt different and I can’t explain why: maybe it was because we wanted to do well on this important anniversary in our history. Ever since I have been with Ferrari, there have often been unusual coincidences between my wins and special moments. For example, on my debut in red in Bahrain last year, or the first time I raced for the Scuderia at Monza. Now this win has come, sixty years after Gonzalez took the victory. I hope there will be many more moments like this!

 

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