Abu Dhabi GP – Fantastic Ferrari Season Ends in Disappointment

By Auto News Log • November 14th, 2010

Yas Island – 5 wins and a total of 10 podiums for Fernando Alonso in his 1st year with Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro and 5 podiums for team-mate Felipe Massa: a fantastic and competitive season for the Maranello squad, but all the same, so soon after the final chequered flag in the Abu Dhabi night, it is hard to come to terms with the fact that Fernando Alonso missed out on taking the Drivers’ title by just 5 points. In the end, the Spaniard finished the 55 lap race in 7th place, with the Brazilian 10th.

How could this have happened, when on Saturday evening, the odds, although not terribly big, did seem stacked in Fernando’s favour? The short answer is that it was mainly down to the Spaniard losing a place at the start and then, by the team’s own admission, a mistake when choosing the strategy regarding when to make the one compulsory pit stop. Having started behind pole man Vettel, from third place, Fernando immediately lost a place to Button. On the very first lap, the Safety Car came out after Schumacher spun and was hit hard by Liuzzi. A few drivers, including Rosberg and Petrov immediately came in for a tyre change, which would prove very significant later. Vettel was out in the lead, pursued by Hamilton, Button and Fernando, with Webber and Felipe in fifth and sixth respectively.

Having made contact with a wall hard enough to throw sparks up from his right rear wheel, Webber in the Red Bull was the first to make a “planned” stop on lap 11. However, this was really not the ideal time, given that the soft tyres were not degrading as much as expected. Nevertheless, the Scuderia took the decision to bring Felipe in on lap 13 and Fernando on lap 15: in other words, Ferrari had decided to cover Fernando’s closest rival for the title, not just with one car but with both its F10s. It was a serious mistake. Overtaking at this track is very difficult and while the two Ferrari men moved up the order passing the much slower cars, they both butted up against cars with good straight line speed – Felipe stuck behind Alguersuari and Fernando behind Petrov. Instead, Fernando’s strategy should have been based on what was going on at the front of the field, given that having also stopped early, Webber was just as badly baulked by the traffic.

There are some pundits in the sport who believe that when a championship is going down to the wire at the final race, then even if you are fighting one of the contenders for the title for a place in the race, you let him by. This was evidently not something that Petrov believed in and, well within the sporting regulations, he defended his position to the end.

As the number of drivers ahead of Fernando who had yet to change tyres got smaller, it was clear that seventh would be the best he could do, three places short of taking the title if Vettel took the win. And that was that: second and sixth in the Drivers’ and third in the Constructors’. It’s time to think about 2011 and that starts on Friday, here in Abu Dhabi, when all the F1 teams will try tyres provided by the sport’s new supplier, as Pirelli takes over from Bridgestone, the Japanese company with which Ferrari and indeed all the teams have enjoyed such a successful relationship over the years.

Source: Ferrari

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