Alonso's Blog

Exciting days ahead

May 9, 2012 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
84 Comments· Link to this post

Here we are, on the eve of my home race, the Spanish Grand Prix. It’s always a special event for me, because racing in front of my fans has always been a unique feeling. This topic and my relationship with the fans is something you can find out more about exclusively in the sixth edition of the Scuderia Ferrari Racing News at www.ferrarif1.com and, as many of you have been able to read, in the answers I have posted to my followers on @alo_oficial.

On the subject of excitement, yesterday was a special day at Maranello. It was the thirtieth anniversary of the death of Gilles Villeneuve and Ferrari chose to commemorate it by inviting his son Jacques to drive the 312 T4, the car that his father drove during the 1979 season. Gilles is a legendary figure for everyone, in Maranello and around the world and I think it must have been incredible for Jacques to drive this fantastic car. What I know of the father came only through films and obviously, the one I remember best is the duel he had with Arnoux at Dijon, when he was driving the very same car that was on track yesterday. Unfortunately, these days, we no longer see this sort of fight because there are more difficulties to deal with: the cars are now dominated by aerodynamics and those sorts of passing moves are no longer possible. On top of that, there was definitely more respect then than there is now between us drivers, partly because they knew that, in those cars, they were risking their lives. I don’t want to say that today things are done incorrectly, but I believe there is not that mutual respect, at least not from everyone, that there was back then. It’s a problem that goes back a long way, to the junior categories and I think the time has come to try and get it back. I think Jacques was happy to be here in Maranello yesterday: for the first time, he was able to put on a red race suit with the Ferrari badge and his name sewn on above it. We are friends and it was nice to see him again. We were team-mates, even if just for very few races in 2004 and I get on well with him. He is very professional and very sincere. Yesterday was also the opportunity to plug a gap in my collection of helmets from my team-mates, as Jacques gave me one which dated back to the season he drove for Sauber.

It was nice to see so many mechanics from that time, clearly happy to be back on track watching a Villeneuve. It was yet another episode that made me understand how special is Ferrari’s history, the history of a team with an incredible tradition, but that always looks to the future.

The immediate future means the Spanish Grand Prix. In Montmelo, we will be counting on making a step forward, but we won’t know until Saturday if we have and if so, how big a step it is. We have updates on the F2012, some of which we tested in Mugello last week and others which we will try out on Friday in free practice. Clearly, having limited the damage in the first four races this year, we must turn things around. Having said that, it’s not the case that if we are not on pole in Barcelona then it’s the end of the world… The important thing is to make progress, reducing the gap as much as possible, first this weekend, then again in Monaco and after that, in Montreal, Valencia, Silverstone…The season is very long, with sixteen races to go, the same number that constituted the entire calendar back in 2003. We must continue to work day and night, just as did Gilles’ mechanics, whom I met at the track yesterday and just as our guys do today. I will be flying with them to Barcelona this afternoon. With the same spirit of wanting to win and being prepared to fight with all one’s strength to achieve that, which is the spirit that has driven me ever since I was a kid racing karts.

 

A bit of Chinese relaxation before Bahrain

April 17, 2012 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
22 Comments· Link to this post

Another day off in Shanghai, before heading for Bahrain. I feel comfortable here: it’s a city that’s full of life and that offers so many things to do. And on top of that, the weather is really lovely today, as you can see in the photo I’ve posted on @alo_oficial. I had lunch in a nice open-air restaurant on the Bund with my physio Fabrizio, my manager Luis and some guys from the team. For once, Formula 1 did not appear on the topics of conversation as we just had a bit of healthy fun. Everyone needs a bit of break, otherwise you’ll struggle to be at your best over the race weekend, don’t you think?

Of course, that doesn’t mean we’re not thinking about the next race, far from it. I am well aware that in Sakhir, we can expect another difficult weekend, which is only natural, partly because of the track characteristics and also because the car is the same one we had in Shanghai. Both the Scuderia and I have a good record in Bahrain: the team has four victories here and I’ve got three, the last of which was also my debut race for the Prancing Horse. But the past counts for nothing in this sport and this weekend will be all about damage limitation for us. The championship is very open and there are a lot of teams that can aspire to victory, but clearly we need to make a leap forward to be more competitive if we want to aspire to coming out on top at the end. We have to take the step forward as soon as possible. I have faith in the team and I know everyone at Maranello is giving their all so that we can reach this objective.

This weekend we will do our best and I hope I can have a race where I spend less time in traffic than I did last Sunday. It was definitely frustrating not being able to get almost a single traffic-free lap because my pace, at least in some phases of the race was not at all bad. However, when I found myself behind Hamilton after the final stop, he had the turn of speed to get past the others, whereas I had to turn somersaults to overtake in rather more difficult places than the very long straight. Not only that, but I also had little hope of defending my position when others used the DRS, as was the case with Maldonaldo. I had passed him, but then he got me back just at the braking point for Turn 14.

I want to congratulate the pit crew: again in China they were the quickest and to do a time of 2”6 up to the green light, not once, but twice, as they recorded that time with both me and Felipe, is really a great time!

Today also sees the start of an important cycle in Real Madrid’s season: in just over a week, it will go up against Bayern Munich twice for the Champions League semi-final and, in between they take on Barca at the Camp Nou in the return match of what is known as “the Clasico.” I hope I can find a Chinese TV channel tonight showing the Munich match: the commentary might be hard to follow, but it’s the picture that matters!

 

What enthusiasm from the Chinese fans!

April 11, 2012 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
27 Comments· Link to this post

Here we are in Shanghai for the start of the third race weekend of the year. For sure, arriving here in China as the leader of the Championship is something I would never have expected, at least given the way winter testing went. It means we have done a good job, managing to make use of all the potential at our disposal and making the most of every opportunity. Since I first arrived in Maranello, at the start of 2010, I have seen the team grow a lot in all areas relating to track activity, from strategy to the work in the garage and at the pit stops.

I know I can count on a very strong group, which is very important and there is a great sense of purpose shared by all. We know our car is not at the level we had wanted going into this season, but everyone is reacting very well, everyone is very united, which is what you get with a real team that wants to reach its objectives.

I’m not expecting any surprises in this race, compared to what we saw in Australia and Malaysia. It’s true almost three weeks have gone by, but that does not mean there was enough time to completely turn the car around in such a short time: we will have a few small updates, but nothing particularly significant and on top of that, we can expect that the other teams will also bring some new parts.

Therefore, we won’t change our approach to this Grand Prix: to get a good result, we will need to concentrate on ourselves, trying to be perfect and to exploit every possibility that might come our way over the weekend.

I don’t want to come out with statements that our aim is to finish in this or that position, as these discussions are not worth the time spent on them. We will have to do the maximum and bring home as many points as possible: a bit like ants who start something one day, knowing it will produce something worthwhile in the future.

I’m expecting tomorrow to be a rather busy day, with various promotional and media activities, both at the track and outside it. China is a very important country for Ferrari and for its technical and commercial partners and the Formula 1 Grand Prix represents a unique opportunity, not to be missed.

Finally, if I had to draw a conclusion from what I’ve seen in the last 24 hours, I would say there is a great enthusiasm from the local people, especially the young ones. As you have been able to see on @alo_oficial, yesterday afternoon there was a huge crowd of boys and girls waiting for me at the airport and even outside the hotel. It’s always nice to experience the enthusiasm of the fans, especially so in a country where Formula 1 is not part of its history. It means the spectacle and excitement that our sport provides is still very attractive.

 

Nice to see so many smiling faces!

March 27, 2012 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
49 Comments· Link to this post

It was nice to be back in Maranello after Sunday afternoon’s win. In the plane, I was thinking again about the race and I could hardly believe it. Then, once I’d arrived here, I saw the smiles on the faces of all our people and I was very pleased to see how strong is the desire to work to improve the car in the shortest time possible.

During the race, I only began to think the win might be on after the final pit stop. With the intermediates I was trying to gain as much ground as possible but I knew that on a drying track, as the possibility of switching to the dry tyres became a reality, then it could all change. Then, after the stop, I saw that Perez was very quick and he was putting me under a lot of pressure, but I knew that all the same, there was only one dry line which was no more than two metres wide: even if he got right into my slipstream, getting past would not be easy and I was hoping I’d be able to fend him off all the way to the end.

It’s a shame none of my friends bet on me winning in Sepang, or on me leading the championship after the first two races: I think they’d have won an impressive amount! However, my real friends are all very happy and pleased about the win, but no one, including everyone in the team, is under any illusions. The championship has not got off to the sort of start we wanted and there is much much to do. But refusing to give up is a quality that I have always admired about Ferrari, when I was racing against them and also now that I’m part of the team. The next two races will also see us on the defensive and there’s no doubt about that. While we are incapable of being competitive and able to fight consistently for the podium or a win, limiting the damage is the only thing we can do. If the conditions are normal, we must try not to lose too many points compared to the best: let’s hope we can do the same as we did in Australia and Malaysia…

Now, I’ve got a few days here in Italy to undergo a routine medical check-up at the Physiology Centre at Forli where my trainer Fabrizio Borra reigns supreme. I do these medical and physical checks two or three times a year to see what shape I am in and to control every aspect of my body. Then, I’m heading back home to Spain to see the family, so we can spend a few days together. You need a bit of time to relax after such a demanding race as the one in Sepang and then it will be time to put the finishing touches to preparation for another back to back run, this time in China and Bahrain, which means more long journeys and changes of time zones. Imagine, when I left it was still winter and now, after three weeks away, we are right in the middle of spring: it’s a nice change!

The past three weeks have been my first on Twitter and I have to say it’s been a very enjoyable experience. It’s something I’d wanted to do for a while and I myself put the work in to get it up and running. Over the past months I had seen that there was a lot of talk about me on the Internet and on social media sites, so I thought it would be better if I was on it myself, don’t you think? It means I can give my own point of view, talk about my life, what I get up to when I’m travelling the world going to the races, trying to put across my real feelings. Nothing technical though, because deep down, Formula 1 is still a sport where discretion when it comes to certain aspects is still important, but it’s a way for me to describe what goes on in the world of someone who does the job I do. For now, it’s great, especially reading all the tweets from my followers and the suggestions they send me: I don’t reply to them, because it would take me all day, but I read all of them and I will try and improve my standard of tweeting. I have to say I was very surprised, first and foremost by the number of followers I had almost immediately. When I put up the first video I had made, I was having a stop off in Doha on the way to Australia and in the airport lounge, I had a bet with my manager and with my physio Edoardo as to how many followers I would have before leaving: I said a thousand, Luis eight hundred and Edoardo six hundred. Well, after four hours, when it was time to take off for Melbourne, the number had reached 39 thousand! Then there’s the level of enthusiasm: there are so many messages, all of them positive and I have to say that it gives me a real boost.

 

A hot weekend in prospect…

March 21, 2012 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
43 Comments· Link to this post

I’ve been in Kuala Lumpur since Monday already. As my trainer Edoardo Bendinelli has previously explained to you (see The battle with the heat is played out in advance) it’s important to acclimatise quickly to the extreme conditions, especially for us Europeans when we’re in this corner of the globe. Yesterday, for example, I played Golf with Edoardo and my manager Luis: we were the only ones on the course as no one was prepared to venture out in the heat!

This is the longest race in terms of distance, but above all, it’s the most tiring from the physical point of view: it is vital to be as well prepared as possible and, towards the end, that can also make a difference out on track. I’m doing all I can to be ready for this weekend, just as is the team; all the guys here in the garage in Sepang, for whom it is also very draining to work in these conditions and all the people back home in Maranello. In Malaysia, we will once again be racing on the defensive. There’s no other way we can go about it, given that the F2012 is practically identical to what we ran in Australia. We will have to try and adapt it as well as possible, knowing it won’t be easy. There are two points we will have to work on with great attention: finding the right compromise in terms of the aerodynamic balance and the tyre degradation. Sepang has two real straights where, because they are very long, a lack of top speed carries a higher price than in Melbourne, where the two straights on which you could use DRS were reasonably short.

We will have to see how the Pirelli tyres behave in the high temperatures here in Malaysia. Last year, we ended up doing four stops so we will see if the situation is the same this time. We will have the Medium and Hard compounds while last year we ran Soft-Hard. Given that this year, the four types of Pirelli tyre are much more similar to one another in terms of performance over a lap, maybe it will be a different picture.

By the second free practice session on Friday, we should already start to get a more accurate impression. The word “should” applies because every session here, especially the one in the mid-afternoon, can be affected by rain. There is no other place in the world, the Formula 1 world that is, where it can go from sunshine to torrential rain in the space of a few minutes. Not even at Spa is the variability so acute. Those on the pit wall will have to keep their eyes peeled and look at the radar carefully to be ready for any possible change in the weather.

At the moment, the forecast is for a high chance of rain, both for qualifying and the race, but honestly, I don’t have much faith in the forecast. The important thing is to react promptly and grab every opportunity. The only thing you can be absolutely certain of is that it will be hot, very hot…

 

Finally back to racing!

March 13, 2012 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
35 Comments· Link to this post

I arrived in Melbourne last night. It’s the longest journey of the year and the prime objective is to adapt as soon as possible to the time difference, as there are no less than ten hours difference between Oviedo and here! I always like coming to this city. The atmosphere is very special, and there is a sense of relaxation and of being laid back that you don’t find so often elsewhere in the world. Australians seem to have found the recipe for the good life. Of course, they have problems like the rest of us and actually it’s hard for us to judge based on a visit that only lasts ten days a year, but that’s the impression I have. Now I can’t wait for this first race weekend to get underway.

This year, we have had even less time than usual to drive the car, given that pre-season testing was shortened even more: six days are definitely not enough to satiate my need to drive! I have said it many times in the past, ours is the only sport where training is banned. Imagine asking Nadal to try out a new racket for just six days or a football player to train just six times before the World Cup! It would be nice to do more testing, but not to the detriment of the races, because nothing beats competition. In fact, after so many kilometres of testing and retesting, finally there’s a whiff of sport in the air. I miss the excitement of qualifying, the thrill of being on the start grid waiting for the lights to go out, the adrenalin rush of the charge to the first corner, in fact I miss everything that makes Formula 1 such an amazing sport. It is always difficult to draw conclusions from testing. Everyone works according to their own programme and you cannot make a true comparison. We definitely still need to improve a lot, working on our understanding of the F2012, adapting my driving style to a new car which, with the loss of aerodynamic downforce at the rear and the new Pirelli tyres, is a bit harder to drive. We know in which direction we need to go in terms of car development and that’s an important step. Sure, we will have to grit our teeth for the first few races, but first of all, we have to see exactly where we are in terms of being competitive and then give our all to bring home as many points as possible in this early stage of the championship. I know the fans always expect to hear me say that we can obtain such and such a result, but the truth is that we cannot say with certainty where we are. We must wait until Saturday evening at six, after qualifying and a bit longer still, until after this first run of races outside Europe.

We have to stay cool and calm and take one step at a time, starting with the race in Melbourne, where we will get an initial impression. Once we know where we stand, then we can set ourselves more precise targets. One thing’s for sure, with the will to win that inhabits everyone at Ferrari and with the history we have behind us, we feel a responsibility to do well: for us, for our fans and for our partners and that goes for all of us. We must all pull together to reach this target.

 

Twenty podiums in two years with Ferrari: not bad!

November 14, 2011 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
86 Comments· Link to this post

I’m already home from the trip to Abu Dhabi which ended on a high note. Yesterday’s second place is definitely a better result than we had expected going into the weekend, but what gave me the most satisfaction was the speed we had for practically the whole race. It was a good battle with Hamilton: at some points he was quicker and at others I was. Usually, at the start of a stint, he was able to pull out a bit of a gap, but then I’d close it in the final part, especially when we were both on the Softs. In the second stint the traffic also added to this sort of elastic movement between us, but it’s hard to say which of us it affected most. Having analysed the data in last night’s debrief, it was also clearly the case that the little problem at the second pit stop did not impact on the final result: I would not have been able to get back out on track ahead of Hamilton, who was immediately quick on the Medium tyres. In fact the ability to get the most out of the tyres right from the very first lap, is one of the areas we need to work on for next year.

Bringing home a trophy from Abu Dhabi was very pleasing for me, but I’ve realised I made a statistical error, when I said that in my collection I have at least one trophy from each of the Grand Prix venues since I’ve raced in Formula 1: I’m missing one from Austria where I raced only twice, in 2001 and 2003, failing to finish on both occasions. The first time was in a Minardi, when the gearbox let me down, the second was when I was with Renault and the engine failed. Well, I’m not sure if the Austrian Grand Prix will ever return to the calendar, but if it did happen, then that would be just an extra reason to try and make it to the podium!

Still on the subject of statistics, yesterday’s podium was the twentieth of my “red” career, which means that I have managed to finish in the top three in over half the races I have driven for Ferrari. This shows that even in a year like this, which has not been so fantastic, in terms of our car’s performance, the average level is still very high. It’s not by chance that over the last eighteen years, the Scuderia has managed to win at least one Grand Prix per season. No other team can say the same and factors like this also influenced my decision to extend my contract with Ferrari for such a long time. I know many of you will think it would have been better if I could have come second in Abu Dhabi a year ago. I know it too, but there’s no point in thinking about what might have been, also because I am sure that the time will come sooner or later when we can obtain the satisfaction that has eluded us so far. I am sure that from now until 2016 there will be many more bottles of champagne for me to hand to the mechanics as I come down the steps from the podium!

 

A podium to complete the collection

November 9, 2011 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
29 Comments· Link to this post

I’m on my way to Abu Dhabi, where I will arrive this evening ahead of the penultimate round of this long season. We’ve now come to the end of the championship: there’s still second place in the drivers’ standings to play for but, to be honest, I would we much happier if we could add another win to the one we took at Silverstone in July. Talking to the guys in the team I can see they would really love to give me the chance to come second in the championship. I’m delighted it’s like that because I know they feel it would be some kind of recognition for the efforts that have been put in by everyone during the season. But you know how we drivers are made: we always want to come first and the other positions are less important.

I completely appreciate that winning will be very difficult. In this closing part of the season the relative positions are very clear but we have also seen there are some conditions in which we can fight for victory: as happened in Suzuka, for example. We know if we all get everything right we can fight for the top three but our natural qualifying position is on the third row. Then in the race things can go differently but that is the realistic situation. So our target is the podium. Apart from anything else that result would allow me to fill a gap in my trophy cabinet as Abu Dhabi is the only race on the calendar from which I have yet to bring home silverware.

I’m sure that the most frequent question in tomorrow’s press briefings will be about my return to the Yas Marina circuit after last year’s race. It would not be honest if I told you I won’t be a bit uncomfortable thinking about it tomorrow morning when I see the paddock for the first time. But then the feeling will vanish and it will leave room for the present, which is about aiming to do well this weekend and in the future: to learn as much as possible with next season in mind. It’s right that it should be like that because in sport, as in the rest of life, you must always look ahead. Abu Dhabi 2010 was an important stage in my career and I have no doubt that even through that bad day, my relationship with Ferrari has become even stronger.

 

A wet welcome to Suzuka

October 5, 2011 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
31 Comments· Link to this post

I arrived in Japan this morning and I found rain waiting to greet me this afternoon when I got to the track at Suzuka. My first thought was, “better today than Saturday or Sunday,” because this year, a wet track has not really brought us much luck. I’m thinking particularly of Canada, where we really looked to have everything required to take the win but in the end, it turned out to be our only no-score of the season so far. The forecast for the week is reasonably good, at least for the first few days, while on Sunday, the threat of rain is slightly higher. In fact, you can never be too sure what to expect here: for example last year, we had to run qualifying on Sunday morning as there had been a storm the previous day which meant the track was unusable.

I went back home after the Singapore Grand Prix. Now we have these two back-to-back races in the Far East, followed by Formula 1’s debut in India, so with that in mind, I felt it was best to relax a bit with the family before the final rush of the season. Even if it’s true we are no longer even mathematically in the hunt for the Drivers’ title, there are still plenty of reasons to retain our motivation to tackle these last five races with the right attitude. First of all there’s second place in the Drivers’ table. Given how the season has gone so far, with Vettel totally dominant, failing to get on the podium only once, being runner-up would really be a great result for me and for the team. There are four of us in the running, as I am up against Webber and the two McLaren guys and I reckon we will have to wait until Interlagos to find out who it will go to.

Clearly, if one looks at the way recent races have gone, it will definitely not be easy, as my closest rivals seem to have that little bit extra in terms of car performance, but that does not mean it’s a lost cause. We know we have to do everything perfectly if we want to reach our goal and we will be trying right to the very end. Then, there’s still second place in the Constructors’ championship, but this is a much harder target, because there’s a significant gap to McLaren, but it’s not impossible. In the end, myself and all the team just want to end a season that did not go the way we wanted in the best way possible. Taking at least one win would be the maximum, while the important thing is to always be in the fight for the podium places.

I’ve won the Japanese Grand Prix twice; once at Fuji and once here at Suzuka, the latter being the best of the two, but I’m sure no one in my current team would agree with that. I can understand that, because I can appreciate how disappointed they must have been when Michael had to retire while leading ahead of me. It’s always bad to see a car stop with a failure. In fact, the same thing happened to me a few weeks earlier in Monza: Formula 1 can be a cruel sport at times.

After Sunday’s race I will go to Tokyo, a city I like a lot. Along with Felipe, I will take part in an event organised by Ferrari Japan for the launch of the 458 Spider. We will also be auctioning a nose section off a 150º Italia used in the Australian Grand Prix, the one that carried a message of support for victims of the earthquake that hit this country a few weeks before that race. I know Ferrari Japan is involved in various initiatives aimed at gathering funds to build a school at Ishinomaki, one of the areas most badly affected. On Saturday at the circuit, we will meet some kids from that city, so it will be nice to be able to do something significant for them.

 

It would be great to make it three but four out of four wouldn’t be bad either...

September 21, 2011 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
16 Comments· Link to this post

Singapore is a special event for me. It’s one of the races that I like the most for the lively atmosphere and for the characteristics of the circuit. It certainly has much in common with Monaco but the fact that you run at night coupled with the extended length of the track compared to the one in the Principality make this grand prix unique. I have always managed to make the podium in the three previous editions and my objective is to make it four out of four. A third victory to go with those of 2008 and last year would clearly be fantastic but I know that it will be very hard. At Monaco we certainly came very close to victory – without the final red flag I think I would have had an excellent chance to overtake Sebastian – but it’s also true that you can’t always guarantee that things go the same way. What is certain is that we will give everything: I think we have the chance to do well as long as we get the best out of every aspect: tyres, set-up, engine, teamwork, everything has to be at 100%.

Last year a wonderful success arrived at the end of an extraordinary weekend. There was a long, nearly two-hour duel between myself and Sebastian, which was raced with the image of his car almost permanently in my mirrors. To win a race like that is thrilling, producing very strong emotions. Speaking of the German driver, I’ve been told that some people have written that I said a bad word to him in the immediate post-race at Monza when we were talking about the pass that happened when the safety car came in: it’s incredible to see how far the made-up stories of certain people can travel! Not only did I never say the word in question to him but we chatted about the episode in a very good way, as was clear to everyone during the FIA Press Conference a few minutes later.

Monza didn’t give us the victory that we wanted but we did earn a place on the podium – what an emotion to stand up there again wearing the red overalls and to hear the tifosi scream my name! That allowed me to pass one important statistical landmark, that of 1,000 championship points (now I’m on 1,001 – only Michael has more). Of course since the new points system was introduced you go forward in this classification much quicker than before but to see four figures next to my name gave me a lot of pleasure.

I arrived in Singapore today at lunchtime. A shower, a bit of rest in the hotel without sleeping – I want to try and remain on the European timetable – and then a quick trip to the circuit, which is less than 100 metres from the hotel. I like going to the track on Wednesday afternoon at the flyaway races, to see how the team is organised from a logistical point of view. Today I then had the chance to do a bicycle tour of the track together with the special personality that is Emilio Botin, the president of the Santander bank, one of our main sponsors. It’s good to see with how much enthusiasm, passion and interest Don Emilio follows us: despite his thousands of commitments, he knows everything about the life of the team and is very curious, a true tifoso! Tomorrow the official engagements start. As ever, Thursday is predominantly dedicated to meetings with the team and to activities with our partners but there are also the first meetings with the engineers. From Friday we begin on the track: we hope to repeat the weekend of 2010 and thus to present another victory to the Prancing Horse and to all our fans. That is our target, one that will remain for all the coming races.

 

All my best wishes Michael!

August 24, 2011 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
8 Comments· Link to this post

Holiday over, it’s time to get back to the race track. This two week break has been very useful for me in terms of recharging my batteries after a really busy July. It was nice to spend some time at home, with family and friends. I didn’t do anything special, although I did tackle a little tour of Asturias by bicycle: it’s now become something of a tradition among my group of friends and this year we were joined by some of the guys from the team, including our sporting director, Massimo Rivola. It was good fun as well as being a useful way to do some training in preparation for the final part of the season. You know how much I love cycling and so it was great to share it with friends and I was pleased to discover people within Ferrari who share this interest. Who won? I did, but only because I’m fitter!

I arrived in Belgium this afternoon as I had an event to attend for my personal sponsor, Silestone and this evening I will get to Spa. I can’t wait to be back on track to continue with this run of positive results which goes back to Valencia. We will have some new parts on the 150º Italia which we hope will allow us to improve our performance a bit more. I am well aware that the championship situation is what it is, but that does not mean we have thrown in the towel. We always set out trying to win every race and, as I’ve been saying for a while now, we will do the maths at the end. These past weeks, I have spoken a few times to Stefano [Domenicali] and I could tell he is very motivated: I like that sort of spirit as it’s mine too.

It will be important to bring home some good results because the team has put in so much effort to get back on terms after a difficult start: all our guys and the fans deserve it.

Tomorrow is the start of what is a very special weekend for one driver who has played his part in the history of Formula 1 and Ferrari in particular: Michael Schumacher. It’s not for me to say he is the greatest of all time as usually, it is the numbers that do the talking: seven world titles, 91 wins, these are incredible records. I hold Michael in very high esteem and I feel honoured to have raced alongside him. When I came to Maranello, I realised even more how close are the ties that bind him to Ferrari and that is why I was particularly pleased with what Stefano had to say at the Wrooom Summer event, immediately before this break. I don’t know if in 2021 I will still be in Formula 1, it’s hard to say and this is a further confirmation of what an extraordinary career Michael has had. For my part, I want to take this opportunity to send him my very best wishes for this incredible landmark: twenty years is really an amazing achievement!

 

A special race in Hungary

July 27, 2011 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
85 Comments· Link to this post

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
29 Comments· Link to this post

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
48 Comments· Link to this post

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!

 

A meeting with Ferrari’s past in Maranello

June 29, 2011 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
40 Comments· Link to this post

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
64 Comments· Link to this post

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
37 Comments· Link to this post

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.

 

I tried to the very end

May 30, 2011 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
56 Comments· Link to this post

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
35 Comments· Link to this post

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
25 Comments· Link to this post

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
26 Comments· Link to this post

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.

 

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

April 22, 2011 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
21 Comments· Link to this post

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
30 Comments· Link to this post

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
20 Comments· Link to this post

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!

 

An uphill start but no dramas

March 28, 2011 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
31 Comments· Link to this post

It wasn’t the start that we all wanted but nor is it anything to get worried about. I already said it yesterday evening at the track: 12 points is not far below the world champion’s average last year and two title contenders finished behind me. So overall the Australian Grand Prix can’t be defined as disastrous. Certainly, in qualifying we were very far from Vettel’s Red Bull and far from Hamilton’s McLaren but in the race the situation improved – perhaps not compared to Sebastian but certainly against the others. The start was a pity: if I hadn’t found myself down in 9th place at the beginning of the first lap I’d have been able to fight to the finish for the two lower steps of the podium.

I’m not one of those who believes a degree of temperature here or there can determine major changes in the performance of the car on the track. So I don’t agree that the fact that yesterday was hotter compared to Saturday necessarily played into our favour. On Friday, when temperatures were similar to those during qualifying, the car went very well. The next day, from the morning, it wasn’t so good and we have to understand why that happened by carefully analysing the data.

For me there weren’t any big surprises this weekend, particularly because I didn’t arrive in Melbourne with a clear idea of how the grid would line up. From the tests, especially this year, it was difficult to have a realistic picture of the situation. The only positive surprise was the behaviour of the Pirelli tyres which, at least at Albert Park, showed less degradation than what we saw at the test. We will see how things go in Malaysia at Sepang, on a track that is very different to the semi-street circuit of Albert Park.

I’ve stayed in Australia and I will remain here until the beginning of next week, when I will head to Malaysia. It’s important to prepare very well for the next two rounds, which are back-to-back. They are both very demanding from the physical point of view, especially Sepang where we drive in very high temperatures.

 

Ten years in Formula 1, the best of my life

March 23, 2011 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
34 Comments· Link to this post

Finally, the moment has arrived! I was so impatient to get to the first race and the postponement of the Bahrain Grand Prix made the wait even longer. Yes, it did give the engineers more time to prepare and it meant the work could be done with less haste, but for us drivers, and I think the same applies to all my colleagues, the desire to go racing again is very strong.

It was a very busy winter. After Abu Dhabi, there was not much time to get upset about how the 2010 championship ended. Immediately it was time to role up our sleeves and work on the development of the tyres and on the new car, without thinking too much about what happened. That mishap actually motivated us even more and I am sure that actually, it has made us stronger now. Ferrari is synonymous with passion for racing and all of us are determined to fight back and go for victory.

We have covered so many kilometres in testing and have shown that we have reached a good level of reliability, which is always important. There are reasons to be optimistic, even if we cannot really be sure where we are compared to the others. At the last test, in Barcelona, we introduced a significant number of updates and here in Melbourne we have also brought a newer version of the front wing. We will see if it delivers the expected results, even if I think we will need three or four races to get a clear picture of the situation.

There are so many new things this year, from the moveable rear wing to the return of KERS and especially, the new tyres in the shape of the Pirellis. From what we saw in testing, their degradation is much higher than compared to the Bridgestones: therefore we will see more pit stops and the strategy will be the key to the final result. Qualifying will now be less important, given that an increase in pit stops will add uncertainty to the way the races turn out: our pit stop guys will definitely have more work to do!

These past weeks, there has been a lot of talk about the possible difficulty of managing all the controls we have in the car, especially on the steering wheel. Quite frankly, I don’t think there will be any problems, at least on the safety front. When all is said and done, we are professional drivers and we have to be capable of adapting to any situation. Even when it comes to running the moveable rear wing, I don’t think there will be problems. It seems like a good idea to me, but obviously it is too early to say if it will really make overtaking easier and lead to more excitement. We will start to get an idea this Sunday afternoon.

I arrived in Melbourne on Monday evening, after a very long journey, the longest of the year. I am happy to be starting the season here, because without wishing to take anything away from Bahrain, for many years this was the first race and the atmosphere here is particularly nice and everything feels very familiar, while the racing is usually full of incident and uncertainty, with the safety car usually playing its part. I won here in 2006 and made it to the podium a further three teams, so let’s hope we can repeat that.

It was here ten years ago, that I first set out on the Formula 1 path. I have spent twenty six of my twenty nine years behind a steering wheel, controlling four wheels and ten of those, the best of them, have been spent in the blue riband category. I never would have thought that things would have turned out this way and I have achieved so much more than I had hoped for when I was little. Now I want to continue and for a long time too, trying to have even better years in the future!

 

In love with Ferrari

November 15, 2010 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
180 Comments· Link to this post

Waking up was hard after yesterday’s disappointment, I can’t deny it. It hurts to come so close to the goal and see it slip away like that, but that’s the way sport goes and we have to accept it. The closing chapter of the season must not erase all the positive things that we’ve done this year. And – I repeat – for me it’s been a top year. There have been wonderful moments, such as the Monza podium, that will stay in my memory and the bitter end will never be able to cancel them out.

Now it’s pointless to try and work out who got things wrong: a world championship that slips away by four points after 19 races can be lost on so many occasions, not just at the end. We are a team: we win and we lose all together. I’m happy to be at Ferrari – to feel, together with all the men and women who work here the pride of being a part of this family and this extraordinary history. We are a great group and we will show that – especially in this hardest of moments where this bitter taste will be felt inside every one of us. I know that at Maranello everyone will be working hard on the new car to try to be even more competitive at the start of next year. I know that here at Yas Marina the mechanics are again on track preparing for a week of testing. I can’t wait to get back involved on Friday when I’ll return to Abu Dhabi to try out the new Pirelli tyres on Saturday. This is the spirit of our people: they want to react straightaway, to work even harder to chase victory. That has made me fall in love with Ferrari even more today than ever.

 

A weekend to get everything right

November 10, 2010 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
73 Comments· Link to this post

I arrived in Abu Dhabi yesterday evening, straight from Sao Paulo in Brazil. It was a long flight but I still managed to rest. Then I made a quick trip to the circuit where I met the team and fitted in a lap of the track on a bicycle.

Our approach hasn’t changed for this all-important race: we know that if we get everything perfectly right, then we will have the chance to reach the target that we set ourselves at the beginning of the season.

The Interlagos result allows us to be in charge of our own destiny: with a win or a second place we won’t need any more calculations. We can do it, even if we know our principal opponents are very strong: so far, perhaps apart from one race, theirs has been the best car on every type of circuit. That still doesn’t mean we expect to be beaten – anything but.

This evening, after taking part in an event organised by our partner Shell, I visited Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, the theme park dedicated to Maranello that towers next to the circuit. The structure already dominated the view last year but to see it finished offers another impression altogether. Inside you can really live the emotion of a day inside the Ferrari world, from the speed of Formula 1 to the style and technology of the road cars.

From tomorrow we will concentrate totally on preparation for this race. We are at the final round of a season that will remain wonderful whatever happens. We aim to complete it in the best way – and rest assured we’ll be giving everything to achieve it!

 

A bit of relaxation before the final rush

October 28, 2010 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
56 Comments· Link to this post

It’s nice to have a few days to relax before the final rush! The Far Eastern leg was very long and it’s always nice to get back home to relax a bit, before heading off for the final two races of the season in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.

I am back in the lead of the championship for the first time since way back after the Australian Grand Prix. However, we know that with this points system and the gaps as they are, the standings don’t really mean that much: it only takes one race – as indeed we saw in Korea – for the situation to turn itself round. All the same, It’s always better to be in front than behind! Knowing that achieving our objectives is in our hands means we are a fraction calmer, but in no way does it change our approach. We will have to try and do our utmost, making the most of all the potential we have at our disposal. The only difference is that it would be enough, so to speak, to stay ahead of our closest rivals, without having to think too much about the maths.

The statistics from the second part of the season make interesting reading – 133 points from seven races, 90 of them in the last four – and that makes you think it might have been nice if the season had started in Hockenheim. And yet, for our part, it’s not as though we changed anything special in the way we went about our work: it’s just that we manage to string together a series of strong weekends from start to finish, while earlier, sometimes for a variety of reasons, that was not the case. We were lacking consistency in terms of results until this finally came through later. The car has always been reasonably competitive, with differing levels from circuit to circuit, which was also the case later on. However we have definitely much improved the performance level over these last three months.

In the last few years, Interlagos has usually produced very exciting races, partly because of the track characteristics, but also because the weather can be very changeable. This will be a very important factor and we will need to be ready to tackle all possible scenarios in the best way possible. The lap is fairly short, so we can expect closer times than usual, which means that the slightest little mistake will count even more, because one or two tenths either way can mean having seven or eight cars in front or behind you. We will need to do everything perfectly.

In theory, there are still five of us in the running for the title, but clearly Button is in a trickier situation. There are not many points between us to be honest and we saw how things ended up three years ago, but the fact is that are no less than four drivers ahead of him and it’s hard to imagine none of them scoring points.

Naturally, I’ve got great memories of this track because it was here that I secured my two titles, in 2005 and 2006. Every time I go to Sao Paolo it’s a special feeling and the atmosphere is really great. I don’t want to think about the chances of history repeating itself for a third time: I know it is theoretically possible, but that does not count for me. We want to tackle this Grand Prix in the same way as all the others, concentrating on ourselves with our feet on the ground, trying to do a good job, without making mistakes and with the aim of beating our rivals. I have said it before and I say it again: we will do the maths in Abu Dhabi.

 

First impressions are positive

October 20, 2010 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
41 Comments· Link to this post

I arrived in Seoul last night and this morning I set off for Yeongam, the venue for the first ever Korean Grand Prix. After lunch I popped up to the circuit because I wanted to see for myself what the track was like. I have to say the first impressions are positive. First off, there are no big surprises as what we saw on the simulator over the past weeks and the reality of it have a lot in common. It seems to be a very interesting circuit, which should be fun to drive, especially the final sector. What track is it similar to? It’s a mix of various ones. The first sector reminds me a lot of Bahrain: long straights with heavy braking that lead into 180 degree turns. The second is similar to Turkey, especially Turn 11 which makes you think of Turn 8 in Istanbul, while the final one is similar to the third sector in Abu Dhabi.

When you arrive at a new circuit, you are even keener than usual to get on with the driving, so the two days that still separate us from the time to do the first lap on Friday morning will seem very long. I think we could be in for a spectacular race: there are at least a couple of places were overtaking seems possible, especially under braking for Turn 3 which comes at the end of a straight that is over a kilometre in length. There should be plenty of action there on the opening lap of the race, more than we will see at the start.

Yesterday night I managed to watch Real Madrid play in the Champions League and I was pleased with what I saw as 2-0 against Milan is a really good result.

 

Still five fighting for the title

October 12, 2010 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
31 Comments· Link to this post

I’m in Tokyo for a few days of relaxation in the middle of this long trip to the Far East. It’s a city I really like – always new and interesting – and it’s a pleasure to be able to spend a bit of time here. The outcome of the Japanese Grand Prix remains positive, even now in the cold light of day. We are in a phase of the season where one negative weekend can cost us dear and to come away with a good third place from a race that we expected to be difficult was important. We were certainly hoping that perhaps the situation would have been different in Suzuka but we must not forget that it’s a track that seems to have been designed to show off the qualities of the Red Bull. As early as Friday we understood that it would be difficult and, even if we knew what was coming, there remains a bit of regret that we couldn’t fight for the win. But now we must put the weekend behind us and concentrate on the next race, where we know that we must try to raise our level of performance: another 5th place in qualifying would certainly not help us.

In Korea we will have to attack because now we must close the gap to Webber. To lose any more ground would make the situation more complicated. We’ve been working on the new track for a few days on the simulator: the first two sectors are very quick with long straights while the last sector reminds me of the last part of the circuit at Abu Dhabi. The tarmac is wide, which should make it possible to try overtaking moves. I’m always curious to discover a new circuit, both from a personal and professional point of view. From next Wednesday onwards I will try to discover if the simulations have been accurate enough. Then we will have a few more kilometres of running available on Friday compared to usual so we can find the right feeling on the track.

I still think that the fight for the title is open for five drivers. Too many times this year we’ve seen someone come back into the game after they’d seemed out of it – and that could easily happen again. Having said that, perhaps the only one who can afford a bad weekend is Webber: for all the others it would perhaps mean giving up any chance, especially the ones who are a bit behind today. The Korean Grand Prix could therefore start to be decisive for some – and for me it will be important also to be able to count on my team-mate Felipe. I know that he will be really hoping to make up for two negative results and he has all the capacities required to return to the podium. What’s more, it will be very useful to work together to discover all the secrets of the new track so we can prepare our cars in the best way. In a moment like this every detail matters to achieve our goals.

 

Plenty of good memories from Suzuka

October 6, 2010 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
51 Comments· Link to this post

I arrived at Suzuka yesterday in the late afternoon and I received a surprise straightaway. The traditional Italian restaurant “Campanella”, that is popular with many Formula 1 people, doesn’t exist any more. That’s a pity because I’ve been going there since the first time I came to Suzuka at the end of the Nineties when I raced here in karts. I was in the same hotel that I am now and so many good memories of this circuit are linked directly to that first experience. Sure, there was also the success in 2006 which was crucial for my second world championship. I well know that race probably calls something unpleasant to mind for many people both inside and outside Ferrari but that’s racing: to win on this track gives a special emotion because it’s one of the hardest tracks in the world. To succeed here you need to have a car that is very strong from the aerodynamic point of view: in some ways it’s similar to Silverstone and to Barcelona. There’s a very special first section characterised by a very long first bend and a series of Esses that can have a major influence on the lap time if you don’t get them absolutely right. It’s a track that’s very demanding both on the technical side and when it comes to driving.

As I’ve already said in recent days, the F10 has proved it is competitive at very different tracks such as Monza and Singapore so there is no obvious reason why it shouldn’t be the same in Suzuka. But to start understanding where we really are, we will have to wait until Friday afternoon after we’ve gone through the first two sessions of free practice. I like Japan, it’s one of my favourite countries. I like it for the food and for the culture, both so different from our European traditions. And then there’s Tokyo, a very beautiful city that is always very interesting. To race at Suzuka is special also for the enthusiasm of the Japanese fans who are truly passionate. We hope to offer them a good show this weekend.

 

Now it gets serious

October 1, 2010 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
25 Comments· Link to this post

I have been back in Switzerland for a few days now. It’s been a time to relax and fill up the energy tanks before the final rush of what has been a very intense season. The Singapore weekend was very stressful from the physical point of view, especially because of the humidity and dehydration. So, I have continued to drink a lot and I have been training in a very low key way, just to get back to full fitness.

I have kept in touch with the team all the time and I know that in Maranello, everyone is delighted with last Sunday’s win. That’s how it should be and I’m happy too, even if I know the hard part is still ahead of us. These two consecutive wins have reduced the gap that had built up but we are definitely not leading yet! Now it starts getting serious, we will have to experience some pain and it is time for everyone to give their all, without taking a single backward step. There are still five drivers in the hunt for the title. So many times this year we have seen that the situation can change really quickly, so anything could still happen. What is certain is that if any of the five put a foot wrong, then it will be even harder for them. I stick with my belief that the key is to always finish on the podium and then do the maths in Abu Dhabi.

The wins in Monza and Singapore inspire confidence, especially as they came after a difficult season, in which our championship chances have often hung by a thread. Winning on two very different types of track confirms that our car is very versatile and so we can tackle the coming races without any fear. I have been asked which was the best win, Singapore or Monza. Well, any win is great, wherever it comes, but I would have to say that winning in Italy at the wheel of a Ferrari was a really special and unique feeling.

 

A rainy welcome

September 22, 2010 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
60 Comments· Link to this post

I have just arrived in Singapore, where tomorrow, a very important weekend in our season gets underway. I was welcomed by an impressive storm, although it did not do much in terms of making it cooler, although if that’s possible, the humidity increased. In the last two races here, we have never had to run in the rain and the forecast for the coming weekend is not particularly encouraging. There will therefore be another unknown factor in a Grand Prix that is already uncertain by its very nature. I very much enjoy the atmosphere at this race and racing at night is a really good idea. The unusual timing has never caused me any problems: I opted to arrive as late as possible, because for the next few days we will continue to live in European time going to bed in the early hours of the morning and having breakfast at the start of the afternoon, for example. For the past two years, that method has worked perfectly, with some small secret little tricks, so there is no reason for me to change anything in my approach.

From the experience of the first two races here, the track would seem pretty well suited to my driving style and indeed, having finished on the podium in both those races means I arrive here feeling fairly confident. I am well aware that another top three finish is very important for the classification and I am convinced that, if we do everything perfectly, then we can achieve that. We proved it at the last race weekend in Monza and everything is in place for us to repeat that feat here in Singapore. The track is reasonably similar to Monaco in terms of its technical characteristics, slow with a lot of undulations and requiring a lot of aerodynamic downforce. If you look at how the F10 performed in the Principality – leaving aside my own personal problems – then that’s another reason to be confident about this race. All the same, none of us is ignoring the remark that our boss Stefano Domenicali is repeating constantly, which is that we have to keep our feet on the ground, stay calm and concentrate, because our rivals are very strong and equally determined.

 

Thanks again to everyone at the Gestione Sportiva

September 14, 2010 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
43 Comments· Link to this post

I have gone through some really exciting moments during these last days in Italy. Feeling so close to the tifosi that I had the impression I could touch their enthusiasm with my hand was really something special. There is a passion for Ferrari all over the world, but here it is stronger still and I was fortunate enough to be at the wheel of an Italian car winning the Italian Grand Prix. Today I was able to personally thank everyone at the Gestione Sportiva, when they all gathered in the logistics building. It was nice to once again lift the winner’s trophy in front of the people who had made the victory possible, starting with the guys who did the pit stop. I had arrived in Maranello on Sunday 5 September, confident that we could reignite our championship chances, even if I felt it would be very tough. Now, two days on from that really happy moment in Monza, we can claim to have made a good step forward. At Spa, things had not gone well, so it was hard to say beforehand what we might really be capable of. However, we knew that, as long as we did our best, we would be in with a chance and that’s how things turned out. Now our aim must be to try and do the same in the final five races of the championship.

Despite failing to score in Spa, where the accident on the first lap weighed heavily like a stone, Ferrari and I have scored more points than anyone else in these last four races. That makes us even more confident and the fact these results came on tracks with very different characteristics to one another, confirms that our car is pretty versatile. Yesterday and today, I did some work on the simulator – I was able to get a first taste of the Korean Yeongam circuit – and I also spent time with our engineers to find out about the updates we will have in Singapore.

This afternoon, I left for Madrid, where this evening I am taking part in a Spanish television programme called “El Hormiguero,” which means anteater: it should be a fun evening!

 

A very important and tricky race in Monza

September 7, 2010 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
40 Comments· Link to this post

I am here in Maranello getting ready for a special event, my first Italian Grand Prix as a Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver. From a technical point of view, Monza is a very different race to all the others: its long straightsrequire a very low level of downforce and, as a consequence,unique aerodynamic elements. But clearly, this is not the only thing that makes Monza special: it is Ferrari’s home race and even if ours is a team that tackles every Grand Prix in the same way, giving it our best shot, always trying to win, there is no doubt that everyone in Maranello really wants to do well in front of our fans. You can see that on everyone’s faces, especially as, mixed in with the fans in the grandstands, many of our people will have their family and friends watching.

Even though we can no longer test on the Fiorano track, as we used to do up until a few years ago, I often spend time in Maranello in-between the races. From my very first day here, I discovered a great atmosphere in the factory: everyone is very friendly and you are soon made to feel part of the group. Apart from the work side – and there is always something to do, be it in the simulator or having meetings with the engineers – we always manage to spend a little time together as friends, maybe kicking a football around, going for a bike ride or having dinner together. And of course the food is fantastic! There is no point denying the fact this is a tricky moment of the season for us. In Monza, if we do not pick up a significant number of points and our competitors get the maximum and pull away in the lead, then the situation in the classification would become very difficult. I’m not saying it would be impossible to reach our target, because that kind of talk does not exist in Formula 1, but we are aware of the situation and we are ready to react to any eventuality.

As I said last week, in Spa the performance of the F10 did not live up to our expectations. The engineers have now carefully analysed the data from the race and from the aero test that Giancarlo Fisichella carried out down the straight at Vairano. It produced indications which led us to understand what did not work as it should have done and we have put those elements right for the next event. I am therefore confident about our chances of getting back to fighting for a place on the podium, just as we had done prior to the summer break.

 

To Monza to make up for lost ground

August 31, 2010 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
43 Comments· Link to this post

It was not the Belgian Grand Prix we were expecting, that’s for sure. I think the key moment in my race came on the very first lap. I had made a good start and made up a few places. The car was responding well and there was every chance of finishing up on the podium. Unfortunately, I had to come back to the pits almost immediately and that changed everything. Even though I climbed up the order, I only found myself back in the points because a handful of cars ahead of me retired: that explains what a difficult race it was. I could have done without going off the track, but it did not make a great difference: the rain meant that any chance I had of making up some places through our strategy evaporated. It seems that this year, the opening laps have not gone too well for me: in five races out of thirteen, I have found myself slipping to the back, either because of our own mistakes or because of circumstances beyond our control, as was the case two days ago in Belgium. I have always said – and I repeat it now – that in the course of the season, good luck and bad luck tend to balance one another out, so let’s hope that from now on it’s payback time!

The first final went badly, but there are still six to go. Going into these seven races, I had said that whoever did the best job in them would take the title: clearly, there are now three of us who need to make up for ground lost in Spa. With this points system and the way races swing one way or another, I am convinced we still have a significant chance. There are 150 points up for grabs, enough to turn the situation around. We must remain calm and concentrate, to try and make up the difference as soon as possible. There is no denying that the Monza race will be very important. At our home circuit we will have to do everything to avoid losing any more points: a good result here would be a great boost. If things go badly, it won’t be over but it would be a hard knock for team morale.

Racing at Monza for the first time as a Ferrari driver will definitely be a nice feeling. Our team is made up of 95% Italians and you can feel the passion and the will to do well for this special event. I can’t wait to be there and look forward to seeing the grandstands packed with fans: we need their support.

 

I really want to get back on track

August 25, 2010 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
41 Comments· Link to this post

The holidays that ended today, just before leaving for Belgium, have been very relaxing. Immediately after the Hungarian Grand Prix, I was in Maranello to work on the simulator and with my engineers, from where I headed for home, via a stop off at Madonna di Campiglio for a presentation of the book about twenty years of the Wrooom event. In the days that followed, I split my time between Switzerland and Spain, trying to avoid any long journeys: we can expect the final part of the season to be quite stressful and I wasn’t keen on the idea of seeing even more hotels and airports.

In fact, the means of transport I used most was the bicycle. Apart from the usual training, I had some fun doing a “mini Vuelta” in the area around Oviedo: along with my best friends, we tackled five stages and it was great fun. Three weeks is more than enough time to unwind, at least after the first few days. I made the most of it to recharge the batteries in preparation for the final part of the season, which I think was the same for everyone: it was much needed, after a particularly hectic month of July.

Now, I really want to get back on track, but in a positive sense, without any feeling of anxiety, but in a very calm way. I am happy that the return to racing means going to two particularly special venues which host the Belgian and Italian Grands Prix. The Belgian track is possibly the most appealing of the entire season, while Monza will be something special for me, given that it will be my race debut as a Ferrari driver in front of the Italian crowd, in addition to the circuit itself having played such an important role in the history of motor sport.

I have a good feeling following on from the positive results obtained in Germany and Hungary. As the saying goes, we have to keep the momentum and that should be our aim in Spa, to ensure we carry on the way we started just before the holidays. The Hockenheim and Budapest results were important not just in terms of the classification in both championships, but also for the confidence it has given us. We have to keep pushing on this way.

 

Continuity is the cornerstone to winning

August 3, 2010 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
28 Comments· Link to this post

I am in Maranello for a few days to be as well prepared as possible for the final part of the season and specifically, the Belgian Grand Prix, the first round on the calendar after the summer break.

We have moved into the final third of the season, so it’s time to sum it up so far. I think we can be pleased with what we have done to date. We are still in the fight for the championship, which is the most important thing. It’s true that some races have gone better than others, just as there were some lucky breaks and times when bad luck seemed to follow us around, but I believe these things tend to balance out. Over the last two races, we have considerably reduced the gap to the championship leader. There are five of us all within twenty points, so it’s as if we are starting from square one: from now to the end of the championship we can expect seven finals. We must have a lot of respect for everyone. McLaren has been very strong, especially Hamilton and Red Bull has shown it always has a competitive car. This is a time to stay cool, without succumbing to the tension that will grow with every passing race, on the track and away from it. We will need to be clever to manage this situation, staying calm at all times.

We always aim for the win, but there was no chance of that in Budapest, which I was definitely not pleased about. However, we know some tracks suit our car more and others are more suited to our competitors: we must try and win the races where our car is strong and finish second in the others, as was the case in Budapest. Continuity will be the cornerstone to this title fight. It was surprising to see how the relative performance between us and Red Bull changed in the space of a week! I reckon that actually our performance is pretty similar, especially in comparison to McLaren, Mercedes and Renault and that maybe in Germany, the Red Bull car was not so competitive, while it was at its maximum in Hungary on a track that was a perfect match for its characteristics.

The break comes at the right time. July was very busy with three races in four weeks: drivers, mechanics, the whole team, we all need a rest after this rush. We set ourselves the target of reducing the points gap and we did it. Now is the time to ensure we have the right spirit in which to tackle the final seven races.

I won’t be doing anything special over the next few weeks. After leaving Maranello, I will stay with my family, partly in Switzerland and partly in Spain: no travelling, no airports, just relaxing! In my career, I have been in the fight for the title three times, from 2005 to 2007. Twice I was in the role of the hare, so I can appreciate the different situations that arise, even if does not mean much. When you are in the lead, it is very stressful if you lose points, but when you are trying to catch up you are aware that you cannot afford to make any mistakes, even if it is a nice feeling in a team when you know you are starting to fight back. As I said earlier, for us the most important thing from now to Abu Dhabi is to try and always finish on the podium: it won’t be vital to win at all costs, but whoever gets six or seven podiums will be champion.

In a few weeks, we will be at Spa, definitely the most enjoyable circuit to drive. It is a very long track, with every type of corner and climbs and drops and it gives you a fantastic feeling. There are tracks as nice as Spa, for example, I like Malaysia a lot and Monaco has a special atmosphere, but all the same, the Ardennes track is unique.

 

A win down to hard work from the team

July 27, 2010 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
112 Comments· Link to this post

All wins are special. Winning is a great feeling and that was the case in Hockenheim, especially when I think of the huge workload undertaken by everyone at Maranello to achieve this fantastic one-two finish. No one ever gave up and I know how pleased they were to see two Ferraris cross the line ahead of all our rivals. For over a month now we have been saying that we had to get back to winning at least once before the summer break and finally, we did it. We did not have much luck in some races and, because of unusual incidents, we did not pick up the points we deserved. There was a slight feeling of frustration with this lack of results, but at last in Germany, for once we had a normal race on a weekend when he had no problems whatsoever and the result was there for all to see.

However, the win does not change my approach to the rest of the season. We knew full before Hockenheim that our car was much more competitive and that was what made me so confident. Now we must continue in this direction, starting this coming weekend in Budapest. The Hungaroring is a special circuit for me. It was here in 2003 that I scored my first Formula 1 win and I was on pole here last year. Returning to that 24th August seven years ago, I don’t remember much about the events of the day, because it was so emotional I had the impression that everything happened incredibly quickly: it would be nice to relive that experience this weekend at the wheel of a Ferrari.

The track can almost be described as a go-kart track for Formula 1 cars. The corners follow on, one from the other, so there is nowhere for a driver to pause for breath and it is vital to have a car that deals with the many bumps in the track surface and handles riding the kerbs. From the physical and mental point of view it is a pretty demanding race, so it is important not to get impetuous and overcook things, because any mistake is heavily penalised, especially in qualifying. It’s best to stay focussed and concentrate on your own work, trying to put together the perfect weekend, one step at a time. That is what we plan to do, starting on Thursday. I have already said it many times before: there is still a long way to go in the championship and the maths will only be done at the end.

 

“I remain confident because the car has improved”

July 21, 2010 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
56 Comments· Link to this post

We’re about to begin a very important period for our season: in the next two races, in Germany and Hungary, it will be crucial to pick up a lot of points to stay in the race for the title. There’s no point in looking back and crying about it: we know that we will have to get everything right. Then we will bring home the results that we want, I have no doubt about that.

Last week I spent several days at Maranello. It was important to be close to the team in such a unique moment and we were also able to prepare for these two race weekends down to the smallest detail. I also took part in some events for the company and our main partners of Philip Morris – including the chance to drive a three-seater Formula 1 car, a really enjoyable experience.

Returning to the championship, I want to stress that my continued confidence isn’t unfounded but it’s based on fact. Our car has noticeably improved in recent weeks, as we even showed at Silverstone, a track that should have theoretically been hard for us. This year’s points system increases the value of the gaps but, at the same time, it allows you to make important gains: it’s clear that you have to get results. I assure you that I’ve sensed a great determination among the people who work at Maranello: we all want the same thing, which is to return to winning ways as soon as possible.

At Hockenheim we will have more new parts on the F10, in particular a new version of the diffuser. In Friday free practice we’ll see if it brings the effects we hope for. But I’m very confident, given that all the new parts we’ve introduced recently have worked as expected. The German track is one of the shortest in the calendar, which means that the gaps in qualifying will be smaller than elsewhere. So we will have to avoid even the slightest error on Saturday because two tenths more or less can be worth two rows on the starting grid.

 

It’s a hot time for Spanish sport

July 5, 2010 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
51 Comments· Link to this post

We Spanish are going through a hot time at the moment. Last Saturday, in beating Paraguay, the country’s football team made it to the last four of the World Cup for the first time in sixty years and on Wednesday, we play Germany for a place in the final. I can’t wait to watch this match, in which there is no clear favourite, but that’s as it should be in a semi-final. Anyone who has made it to this stage of the tournament is definitely strong and deserves its place, so it is impossible to say who will have the edge. I think the key player for us will be Iniesta. Whichever way it goes, this has already been a great contest for us. The Tour of France has also got underway, the most intriguing stage race of the year. I will try and watch as much of it as possible, cheering on my friend Alberto Contador. I think he is favourite for outright victory and I’m not just saying that because of our relationship, but because I think everything is in place for him to get a hat-trick in the ‘Grande Boucle.’

It really is a great time for Spanish sport. In June, Pau Gasol picked up his second NBA title, yesterday, Rafa Nadal won Wimbledon for the second time, having already come out on top at Roland Garros, while Jorge Lorenzo looks to be flying towards the MotoGP crown. It is no coincidence that a generation of amazing athletes has grown up in a country that has changed so much over the past twenty years: starting at the end of the Eighties and then into the next decade, the number of sports facilities has increased by an incredible amount – you only need to look round even the smallest town to find football pitches, tennis and basketball courts everywhere and all open to the public – and the approach to sport has changed completely. What we are seeing now is the result of that investment and I think it is a strong enough basis for this success to keep on coming for a long time.

So now let’s turn to my job, which is also my passion: Formula 1. Currently, I am in Maranello to spend time with the team prior to the British Grand Prix. It is a crucial moment in the season, with three races coming up in the space of four weeks. We are ready, both on the technical front and physically. In Valencia, we introduced significant updates on the F10 and there will be more in Silverstone and the races after that. The development programme is intensive and I think we will see it produce results. We have also prepared very carefully from the physical point of view, given that the next events are all very close and one needs to be at a hundred percent all the time.

At Silverstone, we will discover a circuit whose final section has been modified. Along with the engineers, we have spent these few days studying all the characteristics of the new track layout, analysing the available information, including watching the motorcycle races held there a few weeks ago. On Thursday morning, again with my engineers, we will inspect the track to see everything in detail, looking especially for bumps on the racing line. The track seems reasonably similar to the way it was, with a lot of very fast corners, which will not suit us that much. However, it’s a fact that the configuration of the F10 seen in Valencia should give us a boost in these quick corners, so it is best to wait and see where we will be: I remain optimistic. Then, there is always a chance of rain playing its part at Silverstone. I would be very surprised to have a completely dry weekend and we will be ready to tackle any situation that comes our way.

 

“Anger transformed into a desire to fight back”

June 29, 2010 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
60 Comments· Link to this post

It wasn’t the Sunday we were expecting, that’s for sure. The Safety Car appeared at the worst possible moment for us and completely ruined our race. On Sunday evening, I was very angry about everything that happened, but now that anger has been transformed into positive energy driving a desire to fight back. Right from yesterday morning, my mind was already focussed on the next Grand Prix at Silverstone, where we will try and channel all that accumulated energy into the car to try and make up for what escaped us, for one reason or another, in Valencia, even if we know that, in theory, Silverstone is not a track that suits the characteristics of our car.

We were particularly unlucky in terms of the timing of when the safety car appeared on track. It would have only needed a few seconds more or less to totally change our race. It does not achieve much going over the events that followed on. Obviously, in the clear light of day, I am much calmer than I was in the moments immediately following the race. At the time, I reacted emotionally and in that situation, it is all too easy to adopt a tone and say things that can be interpreted wrongly, giving rise to suspicions, something which I had no intention of doing. Sure, I understand that the stewards have a difficult job to do and they have to take decisions that are not easy. What I meant was that those drivers who, like us, respected the regulations, unfortunately, in this situation, suffered much more than those who broke them, even though they were given a penalty. And I am not referring to any of the drivers in particular: it’s a general matter and I think we should talk about it together in a calm way, to ensure that things like this do not happen again. I was pleased to hear that the FIA has reacted promptly, calling an extraordinary meeting of the Sporting Working Group and I am confident, certain even, that all the points up for discussion will be cleared up in a comprehensive fashion.

Even if the Valencia result was not what we wanted, it has not done irreparable damage. It’s true that the gap to the leader has now jumped to 29 points, but we have not even reached the halfway point of the season. We trail by just over one win, so the situation is still very open. The updates we brought to Spain saw us make a step forward and get closer to the front runners. I am satisfied with that, but also aware that we must continue to push on with the development of the F10, because we need to have a car capable of fighting for pole and to give us the edge over our rivals as soon as possible. If we are now 29 points off the championship leader, it means that in the next ten races, we have to score at least 30 more than whoever is in the lead at any one time.

One of the most important aspects of everything that happened on Sunday is the fact that Mark Webber emerged almost completely unhurt from an accident that was as spectacular as it was frightening. It proves once again that the work led by the FIA in terms of safety is absolutely vital and it is clear that one should never get complacent about this element of the sport.

This evening, I will be in front of the television to watch my home team, Spain playing for a place in the quarter finals of the World Cup, against Portugal. It’s a very tough fixture: I reckon there will not be many goals and I just hope the decisive one will be scored by a Spaniard! As for Cristiano Ronaldo, I really hope he saves his goal scoring for next season with Real Madrid.

 

We were back to normal in Montreal

June 15, 2010 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
71 Comments· Link to this post

I’ve been back in Switzerland since yesterday morning already and I think that with the race having started at 12, lots of Formula 1 people made the most of it to get home quickly. A couple of days on from the race, the sense of disappointment that we missed out on a win that was within our grasp has been replaced with the awareness that we did actually get a great result. We have to look at it as a glass half full because, on the Thursday we would have been satisfied with the thought of a podium finish. We were competitive throughout the whole weekend, both in qualifying and the race, which is very positive. We were back to where we have been in practically all the other races, the one exception being Turkey, where for various reasons, everything about the Grand Prix went wrong, from every point of view. The normal situation is the one we have seen in Montreal, Monaco, Melbourne and Sakhir and all the other tracks where we fought for a podium finish. Maybe the results did not always match our potential, but I think the same can be said for all the top teams. In these first eight races of the season, all sorts of things happened – mistakes, reliability problems, bad luck – but we are still in the thick of the fight for both championships. The same can be said of McLaren and Red Bull, who have also missed out on points along the way.

The Montreal race was very spectacular and incident packed, not just because of the nature of the track, but also because of the different strategies chosen by the teams, as a function of the tyre performance. I think the spectators at the track and those watching on television really enjoyed it, but I can assure you that for the drivers and the teams, it was a difficult and stressful weekend, because it was never really clear how the tyres would react in the various situations that arose.

The next round is in Valencia in my home country. It will be nice to race in front of my fans and I would like to get on the podium again, given that Valencia is another circuit where I have never done so. We will have major updates on the F10 which I hope will allow us to up our performance level. Following on from that, we have further developments in the pipeline which should arrive for England and Germany: which is to say that the European Grand Prix is simply the ninth round of the championship, not a last ditch effort for Ferrari, which I heard some people saying. I don’t see how they can say that given that we have not even reached the halfway point of the season and that after Valencia there will still be ten Grands Prix to go. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again now, this is a stage event and the final one of those stages will not come until November in Abu Dhabi. There is still a long way to go and things can change very quickly, going either one way or the other. People seem to have forgotten that last year, in the middle part of the season and in a car that was getting ever less competitive, Kimi was the driver who had scored the most points.

 

Happy for Felipe: stability is important

June 10, 2010 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
30 Comments· Link to this post

It’s only Wednesday, but I’m already at the track to at last speak face to face with the team, having been in touch by phone and email since the Turkish Grand Prix. I arrived in Montreal on Monday night and yesterday I spent the day doing some fitness training on a bicycle not far from here and the countryside was very nice.

I feel there is a great desire to turn things round after the difficult weekend in Turkey and everyone has reacted in the way I was expecting. Within all of Ferrari there is a passion for racing, which is something I realised from my very first day at Maranello and I am well aware that no one likes losing and that everyone is pushing to the maximum to give us drivers a competitive car.

Today, the team announced that Felipe’s contract has been extended to the end of 2012. I am very happy about this, because it means we can be sure the same group of people will be working together for another two years and stability is a very important part of being a successful team. I get on very well with Felipe and there is great mutual respect between us and immediately, it led to the necessary harmony that means we can work together in the long term. I have seen how close the guys are to him and it’s clear he is part of the Ferrari family.

In recent days there has been a lot of talk about us being late in terms of the development of our car. It’s not right to say development stopped after Bahrain: it’s a fact that in the first four races the distance in terms of tenths to the Red Bull has always been around the three to four tenths mark: while they brought updates to every race, so did we, which means that our work was at least as effective as theirs. What is true is that, in Spain, we did not make the step forward we were expecting, while the others made more progress than us. That explains the difficulties we experienced in Barcelona and, above all, in Istanbul. As for the blown rear wing, I think it has been useful to work on it, even if we have not yet got the most out of it.

Furthermore, I can see that other teams who are working hard on it are also struggling a lot, while those who had it on their car right from the start still have a clear advantage. I have every confidence in our team and I am convinced that here in Canada we will see a different situation to the one we had in Turkey. This track has more in common with those where we have been more competitive so far this season and I think we will be in the hunt. The situation in the championship is still very open, but clearly we have to get back to fighting for a podium finish as soon as possible.

 

I trust in the team’s ability to react

June 1, 2010 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
45 Comments· Link to this post

The Turkish Grand Prix was without doubt the worst event of the season. Our performance level was simply not competitive compared to McLaren and Red Bull and in qualifying, we even struggled against teams that up until now, were behind us. I wasn’t able to get to Q3 and so that compromised my race: when you start from twelfth, there is not much you can do.

On Sunday I did what I could: it was a case of damage limitation and I think we succeeded in that. On the opening lap I did not lose any places, which was not that easy given I was starting from the dirty side of the track. After that, I managed to get ahead of some cars thanks to a good pit stop strategy. Then came the most boring part of the race. I was at the back of a train made up of the two Mercedes, the two Renaults and the two Ferraris. We all had more or less the same pace, so overtaking would have been very tricky. At first, I tried to look after the tyres to see if that would give me a chance in the final laps and indeed, at the end, Petrov was struggling more than me with his tyres and I made the most of it to overtake him four laps from the chequered flag.

All the same, it wasn’t easy and in the passing move I damaged a wheel rim, but luckily I was able to finish the race without any problems, bringing home at least a few points. I am sorry I was not able to celebrate Ferrari’s eight hundredth Grand Prix in a fitting way. In Istanbul we were not quick enough and we have to react immediately. The championship is still wide open with everything to play for. I am fourth in the classification, fourteen points off the leader and if the old points system still applied, the difference would be just four. However, it’s clear we need to make a jump forward in terms of developing the car. Over the first four races, we matched the pace of our main rivals, but since we have been back in Europe, that is no longer the case. When I was racing against Ferrari, I admired its ability to react, producing probably the best development during the season. The people are the same now, so there is no reason why the same thing cannot happen this year: I trust our team and, above all, I trust in the will to win that every last one of us shares.

For Valencia, we will have a major update package which should see us make a good step forward, but I believe that already in Canada, we will have a different situation. The Montreal circuit will be better suited to the characteristics of the F10 and I think we will definitely be more competitive.

 

A good result to celebrate the 800 Grands Prix

May 27, 2010 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
52 Comments· Link to this post

I arrived tonight in Istanbul having spent a few days in Maranello. With the team, we have worked hard to be as well prepared as possible for the upcoming weekend of World Championship action, an event that has a special significance for all of Ferrari. It’s here in Istanbul that the Scuderia celebrates its eight hundredth Grand Prix in Formula 1, which is an amazing achievement. My role in this exceptional story only started a few months ago and it is only six chapters long, but I can already understand how special it is to be part of the legend that is Ferrari.

Apart from the work with the team, I have also been on the simulator and, yesterday I was able to indulge in my two favourite sports; football and cycling. Yesterday afternoon, I watched a stage of the Giro d’Italia, along with Stefano Domenicali and it was a great experience. It was a time trial, from San Vigilio di Marebbe to Plan de Corones and I followed my friend Carlos Sestre every inch of the way on a support motor bike. I like cycling as part of my training programme but I also like to watch the big races. I had already been to the Tour de France and the Vuelta, but never the Giro: it was a great atmosphere with lots of support, especially for the Italian riders. I tried to give my support to Carlos and the other Spanish riders: one of them still wears the pink jersey and I was pleased to join him on the podium when he put it on again at the end of the stage.

In the evening, in Modena, I played football in the charity match between the Telethon and Nazionale Italiana Cantanti teams. Once again here there was a great crowd with the stadium filled almost to capacity: the Italians really know how to show their support and on this occasion they had good cause, namely to gather donations for medical research.

The race in Istanbul kicks off the second third of the championship and there is still everything to play for. Even if, so far, the Red Bulls have been the most competitive, the field is evenly matched, with at least five or six drivers in the hunt for the title. I hope this will be a “normal” race in that I should not find myself once again at the back of the pack after a few laps, which is what has happened for one reason or another in four of the first six races this year. We have the potential to be competitive and it would be fantastic to be able to celebrate the Scuderia’s eight hundredth Grand Prix with a great result!

 

Even more united after a bittersweet weekend

May 18, 2010 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
50 Comments· Link to this post

The Monaco Grand Prix was bittersweet for me. Clearly, in terms of the points I picked up, it was not good enough, especially as we were in the right shape to fight for the win. Following on from Barcelona, where we were not fast enough to win, on the Monaco track, where aerodynamics is less important, we were more competitive. When you have a car that is easy to drive, as is the case with the F10 - something which Felipe and I both realised immediately right from the first test in Valencia - it means you quickly feel confident with it. And that is vital on a track like this one.

Then, on Saturday morning, you all know what happened and sixth place on Sunday therefore had a very different flavour to it: this result should make the team proud of all they did in difficult circumstances. It’s never happened to me before, not to be able to take part in qualifying. It can happen that you go out in the early stages, because of a mistake or a technical problem, but to find yourself having to watch the screen right from the start, that was really cruel. But I think this incident brought us even closer together as a group: it’s at times like these that you get the measure of people and the entire team was amazing.

Sunday was very satisfying. We were aware that if we wanted to finish in the points, everything had to be perfect: the car, strategy, overtaking and tyres. And that was indeed the case. The first laps were very hectic, with six overtaking moves and then I had to try and make the most of the strategy, waiting for others to pit. From lap 28, I found myself sixth and, from that point onwards, my main aim was to manage the car and the tyres. We had only finished rebuilding the car a few hours earlier and to finish such a tough race without the slightest problem shows just how great the lads are. Then at the end came the incident with Michael: the pit wall had told me that, as the race was still under the Safety Car on the last lap, overtaking was not allowed and so I was calm and that was later confirmed by the Stewards, who put things right.

Now, we have to roll our sleeves up to push even more on the development of the car. We still have to make up some ground in terms of performance and as we are in the thick of the fight, we don’t want to leave anything to chance as we try and reach our goals.

 

It was so nice to see red grandstands at Montmelo!

May 11, 2010 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
32 Comments· Link to this post

It was very exciting for me to race in Spain at the wheel of a Ferrari for the first time. To see so many red jackets and caps in the grandstands was fantastic and I think that this time, I felt the passion of the fans like never before at the Catalunya circuit. So, I was really happy to get to the podium, even if it wasn’t the top step, so that I could acknowledge and thank them all for their enthusiasm.

From a technical point of view, the F10 performed the way we had thought it would. The updates we brought delivered the performance level we had expected, but it’s also true that other teams made an even bigger step forward, at least in terms of how they performed on this type of track. I am convinced that this year, the hierarchy among the teams will usually change according to the characteristics of the track and the Barcelona one definitely did not suit us so well.

The Monaco Grand Prix is a unique event on the calendar. All of us drivers want to win on this track at some point or other and the teams and sponsors are also particularly keen on doing well at the most famous race in the world, partly because it takes place in a venue that is already very special. It definitely attracts even more media attention than usual, which means the weekend will be even more demanding than usual. Usually on this track there have been surprises on the technical front. In the past, we have seen cars run competitively here that have not done so elsewhere and so it is even harder to make any predictions. Maybe we could be the ones to spring the surprise, given that others are already writing us off or are saying they have the edge.

I have heard a lot about the problems with traffic. It’s true this was already a problem when we had twenty cars on track and now there are four more, but we must try and look at this situation as an extra challenge, both for us drivers, who will have to be even more careful when overtaking, but without losing too much time, both in qualifying and the race and for the engineers, who will have to work out just the right moment to send us out on track in qualifying.

 

A special feeling racing in front of red and blue grandstands

May 5, 2010 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
35 Comments· Link to this post

Here we are, with just a few hours to go before my first race for Ferrari in Spain. The Barcelona event has always been special for me. I am sure that this year, the dominant colour in the grandstands will be red, from the Ferrari and Spanish flags, along with the blue of my fans from Asturias. It will give me extra motivation to see so many flags, when I’m in the cockpit of the car and it would be great to give all the fans the result they are waiting for.

After coming home from China, we finally got a slightly longer break after the frenetic start to the season. I made the most of it to do some training and I was always in touch with the team to follow the development programme on the F10. In a championship like this one, you need to push very hard to try and improve the car at every race: it doesn’t take much to make a difference, either on the plus side or the minus.

I also spent a few days in Maranello to meet with the engineers and work on the simulator. One particular test we did involved evaluating the new management system for the blown rear wing, which I had partly tried on Friday in Shanghai. We did a lot of work on this system in the wind tunnel and Giancarlo was able to try it on the car last Saturday at Vairano. The first signs were good, but Felipe and I have to give it a good test in the two free practice sessions on Friday, before deciding whether or not to use it in qualifying and the race.

This morning I was in Madrid for an event organised by the RACC and eSafety, along with the FIA Foundation which promotes electronic driver aids on road cars. Also there with me were Carlos Sainz, FIA President Jean Todt, Sebastian Salvado and Carlos Gracia, respectively the presidents of the Automobile Club of Catalunya and the Spanish Motor Sport Federation. It’s always nice to be able to do something to improve road safety: the understanding and use of technologies such as ESC (Electronic Stability Control) and predictive braking can be very important, but most of all they can contribute to saving thousands of lives.

 

Late spring in China

April 14, 2010 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
49 Comments· Link to this post

It's really cold in China! I arrived here on Monday and you can't see anything of spring yet. It's not even ten degrees today and in the late morning it started raining non-stop. The weather should improve for the race weekend, but we've got to be ready for everything. It wouldn't be for the first time that the Chinese GP is held under variable weather conditions, just remember 2009 or 2007. I was at the track for a couple of hours, speaking to my engineers. We spoke about the situation and analysed the details of the data from Malaysia – Sunday night was just a quick summary – and the F10's development programme. We've got some new aerodynamic parts, which should improve our performance. But I also expect our main competitors to show up with updates, so it's impossible right now to say where we are: we'll discover that on Saturday afternoon in the qualifying. I've got confidence in our work. We've shown that we can be competitive on every kind of track, where we raced so far - during the races and at the test sessions in February. So there's no reason why it shouldn't be the same in China.

The Shanghai circuit is very interesting. There are all kinds of corners and a long straight with a very tight right-hand corner at the end: there are always plenty of overtaking manoeuvres taking place here.

As usual the qualifying will be very important and we have to check the tyres' behaviour very carefully. They are the same we've been using in Australia and in Malaysia but with lower temperatures. We need to gain many points to conclude this first part of the Championship the best possible way, before we come to Europe. There will be a long break after Shanghai and the drivers and the teams can charge their batteries before the European races start. We'll all benefit from that, that's for sure!

 

Finally at home!

April 6, 2010 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
46 Comments· Link to this post

Finally I'm back at home! I left on 8 March for Bahrain and was on the road until last night, for what was probably the longest journey of the season. I'm glad being back in Europe, especially because the result of this season's start if definitely positive. Despite the negative outcome of the race in Sepang it's a dream to be on the second place in the standings just two points behind the leader, who is also my teammate and that Ferrari is leading the Constructors' standings.

We had a very difficult weekend in Malaysia. It's a pity, because we had very high expectations and as far as our performance level was concerned we had the confirmation that our expectations are justified. We made a bad evaluation mistake in the qualifying and we paid for it in the race, where we also had reliability problems. Something like this can happen to anyone and we have to learn our lesson so we don't repeat certain mistakes.

I'm not worried about the reliability. I think that what provoked the engine failure was a one-off and the team told me that there is no connection to the problems Sauber had and none to the anomalies we had before we changed the engines on Sunday in Bahrain. As far as the performance is concerned, we were also competitive in Malaysia. Sepang was a track with different characteristics compared to the previous two and the F10 showed that it could adapt itself very well. We still have to improve benefiting from the tyres on the first timed lap, but the pace in the race is very good.

We now have a week of preparations for the Chinese GP ahead of us. This is a good occasion for us drivers to charge the batteries, while the team will work on some new elements, which might be brought to China, making the car faster. I think that the F10 adapts itself very well to the Shanghai circuit's characteristics and we can be optimistic. During the next races we have to try to get on the podium: being constantly amongst the top three means to be in a good position for the fight for the title.

 

Pleased and proud of this start to the season

March 29, 2010 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
55 Comments· Link to this post

It’s been an incredible start to the season. Both in Bahrain and then again in Australia this weekend just gone, we showed we are competitive at the highest level and we can only be pleased and proud of what we have done so far, not just at the track, but also back at the factory over the winter. The F10 has proved to be very good, even on a semi-street circuit like Albert Park. It’s an easy car to drive, something I was aware of right from the very first test in Valencia and it is reasonably easy to find a good set-up for any type of track. On top of that, it is very consistent, in that its handling doesn’t change much between qualifying and the race. That should be a very important factor over the course of the year, as there is a world of difference between trying to do a quick time with a minimum fuel load on Saturday afternoon and starting the race with a full tank on Sunday. Add in the factor that the car is not too hard on its tyres – yesterday, both Felipe and I did 50 laps on the same set of soft tyres – and that completes the package. I’m not too sure exactly where we are compared to the others, but one thing’s for sure, we’ve definitely got off on the right foot.

I definitely didn’t think I’d be leading the championship after two races and this situation is way more than I had expected. In Melbourne, we made the most of a situation which, after the first corner, seemed to be compromised. We managed to increase our lead over those we reckon to be our main competition in the fight for the title. But there’s no time to relax, because in a few days time we will once again be on track for the Malaysian Grand Prix. The race is held on what is definitely one of my very favourite circuits: there are all sorts of corners and it’s a real joy to drive a Formula 1 car in Sepang, because you can really push it to the limit. I can’t wait to be racing in Malaysia for the first time at the wheel of a Ferrari. Our target? That’s easy, to carry on doing what we have done in the first two races. It won’t be easy, but we must trust in our ability to get the job done.

 

Calm and concentrated: in Melbourne we're starting from square one

March 23, 2010 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
30 Comments· Link to this post

I've been in Australia for a couple of days already. I came directly here from Bahrain to relax a bit before the two consecutive races in Melbourne and Malaysia and now I'm ready for the season's second race. I stayed in contact with the team these days and I know that they worked hard in Maranello to get ready for the race. The one-two win in Sakhir gave us confidence and was a great result for the hard work during the winter on the track and at the works, but we can't take anything for granted. We have to stay with our feet on the ground, keeping calm and staying concentrated: in Melbourne we're starting from square one. Nothing has changed for me: there are four teams and eight drivers who can fight for victory and we have to give it our all to stay ahead of everybody else.

I like the Albert Park track. It's quite a technical circuit with some pretty interesting corners. Overtaking has never been easy and what is even more important now, like on all city circuits, is the result in the qualifying. We have to see how the tyres behave with different fuel loads and temperatures, which will be different from the ones we had during testing and in Bahrain. I think that many of us have given some hot headed comments immediately after the race in Bahrain. It's true that the race in Sakhir wasn't especially spectacular – although for us Ferraristi it was great and exciting – but it's too early to talk about changing the rules. We have to wait and see different races and check the situation, without being emotional. Something that confuses the fans is changing the rules all the time.

The weekend in Melbourne is one of my preferred ones for the atmosphere at the paddock and in the city. It's really special and it seems that everybody is following the event. There's lots of action on the track and it's good to see so many people on the grandstands. Let's hope we can provide a good show to our fans, for more great satisfaction.

 

Happy about the success thanks to hard work during the winter

March 15, 2010 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
67 Comments· Link to this post

Maranello - It’s really difficult to imagine a better start! Yesterday’s win in Sakhir, completed by Felipe’s second place, was a fantastic feeling for me. I’m so happy about this success and I think that I started to appreciate it even more last night. You know, when a race finishes it’s difficult to really get hold of the result’s value. Once back at the hotel I spoke to my family and my closest friends and I started to realise what had happened. This victory is a great way to start a long relationship like the one, which connects me to the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro. I’ve said it many times over the last months, but I want to repeat it: this will be the last team I’m racing with and I couldn’t hope for anything better to start the Championship. This is a result, which gives us a great deal of confidence.

I think the one-two win was the result of the preparative works during the winter. We were the team with the most miles on the clock during the tests and we did lots of simulation work, on the track and on the stands, and we can say that we showed up with almost 100% at the season’s first race. Naturally there’s always room for improvement, because our sport is the pinnacle of technology and innovation and anyway we have to work incessantly on the car’s development if we want to win. There wasn’t a specific area to work on, but as far as we could see in Bahrain the qualifying will be more and more important for the final result so we have to try to prepare the best possible way.

Now I’m relaxing a bit before the next race in Melbourne. I know that the team has a lot of work these days, preparing the transfer to Australia and then to Malaysia; I’m convinced that yesterday’s one-two win will make sure that the men and women know that the hard work over the last months has been repaid in the best possible way.

 

"Ready for a proper start"

March 12, 2010 · Posted by Fernando Alonso
10 Comments· Link to this post

Sakhir - Dear friends of Ferrari.com: finally here we are! After two intense months, on an off the track, the Formula 1 season is about to start – my first season with the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro. I immediately felt at home with my new team and I can’t wait for the Championship, which will be extremely interesting, to start.

I arrived in Bahrain on Monday evening and there’s quite a difference between the climate here and in Europe, where it seems that winter won’t end. Here it’s hot, but it’s not humid, so it’s actually quite pleasant being outside. The climate will be an important factor during this weekend, because we’ll see how the cars and the tyres behave with very high temperatures.
During the tests in February we drove with no more than around 25°C while here the temperatures are over 30°C: we’ve got to understand how the tyres work under these conditions, also because last year’s points of reference are very relative. And if the new rules weren’t enough this first race is held on an extremely modified track compared to the previous editions. This morning I went around the track on a bicycle with my race engineer and I have to say that I found a very different, more guided track: this will not be the traditional stop-and-go track it once was. The lap time here will be the highest of all the tracks in the Championship, even higher than the one in Spa, which is a track with over seven kilometres. The new section is a series of corners with medium speed, requiring a higher downforce compared to the past and which will make the track more severe for the tyres. For sure there will be a reason to drive more on Friday morning, although we have to remember that the track will still be pretty dirty.

I know that there are great expectations from our fans for this start of the Championship. I can confirm that I feel that we are well prepared. The team has worked with great attention and dedication, and we could see the results: we’ve demonstrated a good level of reliability and also performance is on a level with the best. The F10 is an excellent car: I’ve said that several times; for me it’s the best car I’ve driven so far. This doesn’t mean that it necessarily is the best overall car and that we’ll win the title. What we could see during the tests is that there’s a great balance: a small bit is enough to make the difference – positive or negative. What’s for sure is that we’ll give it our all for a proper start of this Championship: this is my promise to all of you.

 

Ferrari S.p.A. - registered address via Emilia Est 1163, Modena (Italy) - share capital Euro 20.260.000 - VAT no. 00159560366
Enrolled in the register of companies of Modena under no. 00159560366 - Copyright 2012 - All rights reserved