Monday, November 28, 2011

2011 Ferrari Summary

Well, that's done. Ferrari comes away from 2011 with 3rd in the Manufacturers' title, and drivers Alonso and Massa end up 4th and 6th in the Driver's title. This was somewhat less than was desired, let alone expected -- Ferrari was very big on the goal of winning this year.

Based on the way the car performed, this result is more or less what could have been expected. Alonso has been extremely rapid, and downright brilliant at times, yet could only win once, in Britain when Vettel got held up and McLaren for some reason had lost the plot -- possibly due to the on-again, off-again rules about exhaust handling which for that race were on-again.

Overall the story has been of repeated, constant, machine-like consistency from the Red Bulls in general, and Vettel in particular. This is the season that 2010 should have been like for Red Bull.

One can also point fingers at the car. The F150* demonstrated excellent race pace on option tires, but never got the best out of the primes. This is possibly related, as the car was very gentle on the option tires, meaning there was more performance for longer than other cars were capable of delivering -- the flip side of this was that both drivers --especially Massa -- constantly had trouble putting heat into the primes because the car was just too gentle on them. This meant during the prime stints, the car just couldn't live with its competition. Giving up on development in September didn't help either, as the other teams continued to bring improvements.

Nevertheless, in order to profit from others misfortunes you have to be there or there abouts, and when McLaren stumbled Ferrari was usually there to take the advantage.

Alonso has continued in appearing to get the best available out of his car at all opportunities. Being able to run with, and occasionally ahead of, healthy Red Bulls (albeit those driven by Mark Webber) and McLarens showed that he hasn't lost any skill or drive. He seemed to have more visible mechanical issues over the year (several DRS and KERS failures) than his team mate, yet somehow managed to stay well ahead of him most of the time. Alonso is one of those drivers who can win the championship without having the benefit of the best car on the grid.

Massa, on the other hand... I somehow feel that he's never really come back from his accident in 2009. Although I wonder how much of his poor performances has been the car (vs his just not being an Alonso-caliber driver), I somehow feel that a younger, hungrier driver might stay closer to Alonso than Massa has. I never doubt the sincerity and commitment of Massa's effort... I just think perhaps it isn't enough any more.

Overall this year was what I expected -- a Red Bull technical demonstration. McLaren comes and goes, and this year they were on more than I expected. But I never expected anything better than 3rd in the manufacturer's, and possibly 3rd in the driver's.

So now we pack everything away and await the new car introductions in January.

*= th Italia blah blah blah