Fernando Alonso & Ferrari

FB

Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
Back in 1996 two times World Champion Michael Schumacher turned his back on the team that had just won him back to back titles and went to drive for Ferrari. Ferrari had won some races in the mid 90's but weren't pushing for titles and many wondered why Schumacher had gone there, apart from the reputed $30 million salary.

Schumacher won 3 races that season, despite the car not being particularly good. Come 1997 Schumacher was challenging for the title and again in 1998. In 1999 a broken leg put paid to any drivers title but Ferrari won the constructors title. From 2000 onwards I don't think I need to go in to much detail. Schumacher and the red machine dominated F1 in a way that that hadn't been seen before and he was only knocked off his perch by a young pretender called Fernando Alonso in a Renault.

Via a troubled time at McLaren and a couple of "wilderness" years back at Renault the often quoted "best driver in F1" found his way to Ferrari. He challenged for the title in 2010 but ultimately fell short. Since then, despite winning races and finishing as runner up to Vettel in 2012 and 2013, Fernando has been a long way from mounting a serious challenge for the title and this season looks like it could be even worse.

So will Fernando Alonso have failed if he doesn't win a drivers title at Ferrari? Have Ferrari failed Alonso? When Schumacher was there Ferrari had a mix of very talented designers and engineers from across the World but appear to have retrenched from this position with a primarily Italian team designing the car and engine and setting the racing strategy. Should Ferrari be more outward looking in terms of the team management and engineers to give Fernando the machinery he needs to meet his ambitions?

Should Alonso win another title it will be the longest period in F1 history for a driver to win another championship. He now ranks amongst the oldest drivers on the grid and, although still looking motivated and fast, all drivers reach a sell by date. How many more years at the top can we expect from Fernando? If he really wants to win another title should he call it quits at Ferrari and try with another team for the next two or three seasons?

I appreciate that the during the Schumacher years there were no testing or budget caps and tyre technology was developed almost exclusively for the Red cars but the rules were and are the same for all competitors in F1 and Ferrari are currently being beaten by a fizzy drinks manufacturer and a producer of Executive saloons.
 
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The Pits

Harumph. Again.
Valued Member
Good people followed Michael to Ferrari, the obvious one being Ross Brawn. Was you say, the success of the team was in that they used their budget to produce the best racing car/driver combo. I would suggest that there were other teams with a similar budget.

It is also key to note where Ferrari were before he joined.

Alonso, IMHO has joined on the back of a really good reputation, to a team who were there or thereabouts until 2009, still with the budget. Despite a lot of "nearlies" they have not done the main Job. Had Seb not had issues in 2010 they would not have been close.

I dont know if the work of the driver with the team can garner the results like it once did, or whether success breeds success, however, Ferrari do not seem to have the "x" that they did with Michael.

From a personal point, I believe that there is a lot of hype around Alonso, which gets trotted out regularly. I am not saying he is not a class driver, but how good he really is in my opinion is unknown, but I certainly do not think he is as good as many seem to believe.
 

Titch

Champion Elect
Premium Contributor
These days he's a bit of a journeyman IMO. But he's not the only one out there. Once brilliant drivers relying on past reputations, delivering reliable but not outstanding results.
 

Olivier

Race Winner
I would say it's a combination of factors and I don't think he's failed at Ferrari, although Ferrari has certainly has failed to provide a decent ride so far. And although he's past his prime I wouldn't so far as saying he's a journeyman. If he is, 85 of percent of the grid also is. With regards to Schumacher, he's by far the best driver of his generation and the whole team was outstanding but besides that, the competition was not as fierce then as it is now, his main contenders being the likes of Fisichella, Montoya, R. Schumacher and Coulthard. By the time Raikkonen and Alonso got a decent car, both Ferrari and Shcumacher had started to fade.
 

Galahad

Not a Moderator
Valued Member
There was an interesting article in Motor Sport recently, looking from the perspective of Domenicali's sacking. This contended that Stefano had lacked autonomy as team principal and was primarily implementing decisions made by di Montezemolo.

This was contrasted with the Jean Todt-Rory Byrne-Ross Brawn-Nigel Stepney-Michael Schumacher years, in which the key players led by Todt had demanded independence from interference and who were committed to strongly resisting external pressures as a cohesive group. So that if ever one member was isolated or came under scrutiny, the others would always rally around.

Ferrari's relative failure since 2006 comes down to a failure to adapt to the direction in which F1 has progressed. They were late to develop sophisticated simulation tools, slow to identify and then to resolve their windtunnel problems, and it becomes increasingly clear that all is not well in the engine room either.

Adrian Newey's career is instructive in showing the value of recruiting the right people and then creating an environment that allows them to produce their best. Unrealistic expectations, knee-jerk public comments, "statement" sackings and a rapid turnover of senior staff and structures do not contribute to an organisation that will perform well or be adaptable and forward-looking.

If this is the context, then Ferrari have failed Alonso.

But we can ask whether Alonso could or should have greater influence over the team. When di Montezemolo decided to sack Aldo Costa, or Domenicali, should Alonso have said "if he goes, I do" - as Schumacher may have done for Byrne or Todt? Well, that requires of course that Alonso himself has faith in the colleagues facing the axe, and also confidence that Luca isn't going to call his bluff. From the outside, I'm not clear that either would be justified at this point.

The change in regulations provided a great opportunity for Ferrari to reassert themselves, and if they had truly solved their historic deficiencies then there's no reason why they would not have done so. Clearly a lot more work is required, and maybe James Allison can identify and solve the issues. He will need to be given time to do so - and time is a commodity that Alonso doesn't have a huge amount of, at this point. For now, I think they're stuck with each other, and with hoping - rather than expecting - that a championship can be won somehow before the inevitable difficult break-up.
 

Kewee

Race Winner
Montezemolo didn't sack Domenicali, Domenicali resigned when he felt he had been unable to change the teams declining results and felt he was unable to provide the necessary answers. Montezemolo accepted his resignation.
 

Kewee

Race Winner
The Pits .... How predictable, I was expecting someone to say that. The question i would ask you is this. Why bother to read and follow any F1 reporting when you only believe what you choose to. When we gather information through our own filter invariably we end up with a very distorted view. This is not a guarantee but it's a reasonable safeguard to believe someone when they are quoted directly as was Domenicali.
 
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FB

Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
LdM - Stefano Have you thought about resigning
SD - No
LdM - I will ask the question again and think very carefully about the answer this time!

On the personnel issue, this is the current line of of major staff:

President: Luca di Montezemolo
Team principal: Marco Mattiacci
Director of engineering: Pat Fry
Chassis technical director: James Allison
Head of production department: Corrado Lanzone
Head of engine and electronics: Luca Marmorini
Chief designer: Nikolas Tombazis
Deputy chief designer: Simone Resta
Sporting director: Massimo Rivola
Head of strategic operations development: Neil Martin
Race engineer (Fernando Alonso): Andrea Stella
Race engineer (Kimi Raikkonen): Antonio Spagnolo

Courtesy of F1 Fanatic - http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/f1-information/f1-teams/ferrari/

Not the international mix one woudl expect at an F1 team. I know they are Italy's team but a bit of outside influence wouldn't go amiss would it?
 

Kewee

Race Winner
Pat Fry, James Allison don't sound too Italian. LOL Although it's unofficial they do draw on Rory Bourne also, though I do agree with you FB, they could do with all the help they can find right now.
 

The Pits

Harumph. Again.
Valued Member
Oh lighten up @keewee. I read F1 information as I find it amusing to see how many different ways the same piece of information can be skewed.

If you want to believe that in an entirely voluntary and selfless gesture, Domenicali fell on his sword, then go ahead, be my guest, I dont really care. but please, F1 journalism is the same as any other form of journalism, if to a lesser degree, and I have no doubts that Domenicali did indeed say he was resigning for the benefit of Ferrari, however, I do not believe for one second that there is no more to the story.
 

KekeTheKing

Banned
Supporter
It's a common thing throughout the sporting and business world for a coach/manager/team principal to be forced out while telling the public it was their own decision. Certainly wouldn't be shocked if Domenical suffered the same fate.
 

Kewee

Race Winner
How differently we interpret something The Pits. I have never thought Domenicali resigned for the good of Ferrari, I think he left because he was exhausted by effort for no result, for himself and those he worked worked with and no doubt considered his friends in the pits.
 
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FB

Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
If that is the case Kewee it's no wonder the team has never won a title under his leadership. What Ferrari need is a bastard like Ron Dennis who will/has stepped on anyone and anything to achieve his ambitions. Nice guys finish last in F1.
 

Kewee

Race Winner
Your probably right again FB, from what I understand Domenicali has, or should I say had, a reputation for being one of the nicest guys in the sport. :) Hey FB, you do realise it's 3.00am over here. I'm only sitting here with my laptop, or loptop as a funny little Asian girl I know calls her's, because I have woken in the middle of the night with a blinding headache. :(
 

Galahad

Not a Moderator
Valued Member
Kewee is right, there was a lot more in the article on how and why Stefano came to resign, but if you want to know you should buy the magazine; and it's not important vis a vis the general point I was making.
 

Tuscan1969

Points Scorer
I reckon FA has got three more runs at it....

I can't see Merc changing drivers and nor do I see Red Bull doing so...

Thus the next best existing option could be the Merc engined Willimas next year.....partnering Massa who he recently described as the best teammate he's had.....???? Only thinking out loud...

Of course he could take a punt on the new McLaren / Honda partnership - If he get's shown some good power info by Honda do you think this could be enough to make him retrace his steps???
 

rufus_mcdufus

Champion Elect
I think it would be a cold day in hell before Ron Dennis agrees to take back Fernando! Then again, if it meant McLaren actually winning something again, who knows?
 

Incubus

Champion Elect
Well you never know.. one thing about Dennis is that he's a practical bloke, who's after one thing above all else and that's winning.
If he thinks FA gives a better chance of doing that he might turn...

I've seen eeven more surprising stuff from him, namely the recruitment of N Mansell in 1995. Ron had previously made it fairly obvious that Nigel wasn't someone he had a lot of time for. There'd been that slight controversy a few years earlier at a McLaren christmas bash that included a skit, a mock interview of Mansell by Murray Walker where Nigel was seen as being ridiculed and somehow it got into public knowledge, and Ron then had to explain himself to the media about it.
Didn't stop him from signing him a few years later though.
 
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