> F1 2011: Race 9, British Grand Prix

F1 2011: Race 9, British Grand Prix

Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2011 | No Comments

We are in the middle of nothing

The haunting words of Fernando Alonso at the last race after finishing a superb second around the streets of Valencia.  Two weeks later the paddock was all talk of blown diffusers following the change of rules to ban them from the sport, but when it was all done and dusted, it was Fernando that delivered exactly what was required and in dominant style at race 10 9.

 

It wasn’t all plain sailing of course; Alonso who started in third position on the grid seemed to have another good start being able to push Webber quite hard for a pass which unfortunately never materialised as the grid all looked for grip on intermediate tyres on a wet/dry track.  The big decision was always going to be about who made the switch to slicks first; which turned out to be Michael Schumacher, following a minor collision with Kobayashi.

 

The call to slicks were made and every team headed for the pit lane, unfortunately for Massa being too close on track to Alonso meant he had to struggle around with a set of tyres that had fallen off the cliff forcing a major shift in strategy.  To make matters slightly worse though is that Ferrari failed to get their slick tyres up to temperature and fell backwards through the field as Lewis passed Alonso and Button passed Massa.

 

All seemed to be lost.  And then, and then, the tyres for Ferrari switched to the ‘on’ position and it was race on.  Re-passing Lewis just before the second stop and charging after the two Red Bull cars – Webber pitting early allowing Alonso to have clear track.  By the time the second stops were due, Fernando was 5.1 seconds behind Vettel: they followed each other into the pit lane and it was down to the mechanics.

 

The Red Bull guys making a rare mistake with Vettel and the clockwork like precision of Ferrari meant there could be only one possible outcome; Fernando left in the lead, having jumped past the earlier stopping Webber and Hamilton.  Vettel emerged just behind Lewis, who was already struggling for pace compared to the Ferrari who just seemed to streak away at the front.

 

Alonso looked like he could be Vettel this weekend, pulling out a 15 second gap to Red Bull.  Things for Button also seemed to fall apart after a bizarre pit stop where the front, right mechanic failed to get the wheel nut onto the new wheel and the lollipop man letting the car go far too early!

Worse for McLaren, they figured they were running out of fuel in Lewis’ car and had to slow him down.  This set up the final few laps for some extreme racing; Massa on a fresh set of tyres closed down a 12 second gap to Lewis to go wheel to wheel racing in the final corners – meanwhile, Webber was doing exactly the same with Sebastian Vettel only to be told by his Red Bull team not to pass his team leader, but Mark ignored those radio messages and plugged away at Vettel, unfortunately not being able to find a way past.  Massa also failed to pass, despite a late braking attempt into the final few corners.

 

*************

 

Race nine:  A titanic battle throughout as the race swung away from Ferrari in the opening stages towards Red Bull, only for the track to dry and swing back in the opposite direction.  Fernando and Ferrari had this race well under control and the victory was set, even without the pit stop mistake by Red Bull.

Ferrari Result:
Alonso – 1st:
Alonso has been threatening a win for the past few races, but mistakes and things not falling necessarily towards Fernando has prevented those things from happening.  But today, with blown diffusers out of the equation and a bunch of updates from Ferrari, this was a fine, fine win.

Massa – 5th: Missed out big time at the first stops by being too close to Fernando at the first round of stops.  This seems to be a problem for Ferrari at the first round as the drivers are often so close to each other on track at this time – and it seems that Felipe loses out more often than not which shifts and changes his strategy for the remainder of the race.  It’s a problem for Ferrari, but its a nice problem to have with two drivers who are quite close.  Difficult race today, but Felipe never gave up, almost snatched 4th from Lewis in the last few laps, but ran out of track to make his move stick right at the end but he can’t be disappointed with 5th today!

 

Man of the Race: Perez hassled Rosberg all day long, Massa never gave up, Schumacher had great pace throughout and delivered 9th even with a 10-second stop/go penalty, Lewis drove in difficult conditions and held up the Red Bulls allowing Ferrari to scurry away….yet Alonso had everything under control today and delivered everything that was required of him; a well deserved top spot of the podium today.  Forza Ferrari!

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