Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Four Wins

I'll say it up front: maybe I was wrong about Monza being the peak of 2010.

To be sure, Alonso's taking of his third fourth win of the year shows that neither he, nor the Ferrari F10, is merely adequate to the task of competing in Formula 1.

And while Vettel might have claimed he wasn't pushing his car hard, he never seriously looked like troubling the F10 on the track. If he had stayed out for a lap or two at pit-stop time things might have been different... but he didn't.

Thing of it is, Massa's woes illustrated my point exactly: engines are going to turn out to be Ferrari's weakness down the stretch. Ferrari took advantage of a horrible situation to swap out Massa's used engine for a fresh one at effectively no additional penalty, putting them on their ninth engine for the year. But in my opinion, four races (plus Sunday in Singapore) is a long way for one engine to go.

Ferrari will have to chose now between trying to reduce optional track time running (ie free practice) with the associated loss of time to do setup and new parts evaluation, or push through with the full program and risk a blowup which requires a 10-place grid penalty.

If they are really unlucky, the blowup will happen during a race on Sunday, meaning they'll lose the result for that Sunday plus effectively give away a huge advantage to the rest of the championship contenders for the next race.

Even though Alonso has brought Ferrari so close to the titles, my feeling remains that the engine situation means Ferrari is not as much in play as the points table indicates.