Sunday, September 12, 2010

Highlight of 2010

I'm not a fan of Fernando Alonso, but when he came out of the pits and was side-by-side with Button going into the chicane I was yelling at the TV to encourage him on. Both Button and Alonso delivered precision drives today, with the Ferrari in the right place at the right time to turn in the victory -- and at the end of the day, Ferrari winning is more important than my feelings for the driver in the car.

Ferrari's 1-3 finish today at Monza will be seen as a capstone on the 2010 season for Ferrari -- the high point that in retrospect will be seen as the last step before the decline as the season rolls on. While Ferrari and Alonso both made good jumps up their respective championship tables today, I just can't see them continuing to hold their positions -- let alone continue to advance.

Why? Engines.

Both Alonso and Massa are currently using their eighth engine of the year. Lest we forget, the rules state that each driver has a maximum allocation of eight engines for the entire year; if more are required, they result in a 10 place grid penalty the first time each are used. To think that engines which have to date done an average of just less than two races each (7 engines used up in 13 races) will now do the five remaining races is, on the face of it, ludicrous.

By way of comparison, the two Renault drivers are on their 5th engine for the year. And Ferrari customer Sauber is using their 9th engine for one of their drivers already.

This means that, everything else being equal, both Ferrari drivers can expect at least one 10-place grid penalty each before the end of the season in order to install their 9th engine; and possibly more. Their competitors for the various titles are much better situated in terms of engine counts; I expect that Red Bull will be running tighter on Vettel's car than Webber's, but McLaren should be well placed for the run to the end of the season.

Given that Ferrari will likely have to effectively give away a good result over and above the racing incidents (whether self-inflicted or not) that will inevitably happen, I think that their 2010 title charges are effectively over at this point.

I think Monza is a great place for Ferrari's season to peak, and that the team probably should be focusing on 2011, as well as trying to sort the engine problems that have effectively blunted their 2010 challenges. I also hope that we see more competitive results from both drivers this year.

But titles?

I think the titles really slipped away earlier in the year and nobody has really noticed yet.