Fernando Alonso, Ferrari

Italian GP – A podium with a winning flavour
Scuderia Ferrari picked up twenty seven points in the Italian Grand Prix, the biggest haul of any team today. Fernando Alonso was the author of a great climb up the order to third after his problems in qualifying yesterday and made it onto the Monza podium for the third consecutive year, in as many races with Ferrari.Felipe Massa also had a great race, coming home fourth after giving his all throughout the race. After 13 rounds of the 2012 season, Fernando still leads the Drivers’ classification, increasing his lead over his closest pursuer to 37 points, while for the first time this year, Felipe is in the top ten. In the Constructors’ the Scuderia is back in third spot, having made significant inroads into the points gap to the leader which is now down to 46. Both drivers made just one pit stop to switch from the Medium to Hard, on lap 19 for Felipe and 20 for Fernando.

Stefano Domenicali: “We often say it on Saturday after qualifying: the points are only given out on Sunday afternoon and today we saw that confirmed yet again. There was another confirmation, if indeed one was needed, that reliability has to be the absolute priority. After all the problems we had over this weekend, for us to be able to leave Monza with Fernando increasing his lead in the Drivers’ championship, bringing it back to the level it had reached after Hungary and with enough points to consider the Constructors’ championship open again, is very important for us. Fernando produced a great drive, as did Felipe. Sure, the regret relating to the pole that was within our grasp is still present, because starting from the first row rather than the fifth, the Spanish driver could have definitely been in the fight for the victory. Felipe proved to everyone, not to us, because we knew already, that he is a driver who can fight for the very top spot and that at Ferrari, we work as a team, united in our efforts to reach the targets we set ourselves. The European part of the Formula 1 season has come to a close and now the final leg begins, with seven races in a little over two months. Those seven will be very tough for everyone and all of us, back in Maranello and at the race tracks, will tackle them doing our very best, paying great attention to every little detail. That’s the only way we will be able to achieve our goals, which, I repeat, are within our capabilities.”

Fernando Alonso: “This Sunday was perfect for the championship, almost like a film with a happy ending: another podium finish, three of my closest rivals with no points and an increased lead over my closest pursuer. I remain convinced that, but for the problem in qualifying yesterday, we could definitely have had every chance of starting from pole and if we can be equally competitive on Saturdays at the tracks that are coming up, it will be very important for the end of the season. We must try to win some more races and to manage the lead we have in the classification. Here we had to mark Vettel, but in Singapore it will be important to keep an eye on Hamilton, who is now second. When I found myself fighting with Vettel I went off the track and, from then on, the car was not right. It wasn’t nice bouncing through the gravel but, afterwards, I was able to overtake him anyway a few laps later. I don’t want to comment on the penalty he received, but what he did was definitely on the limit. The opening laps were the key to my race. I passed a few cars – Kimi, Di Resta and Michael – and finding myself sixth almost immediately put my race on a more even course. Racing for Ferrari at Monza and standing on the podium is something special: driving a red car is different because the fans are exceptional. If they were told not to eat for days to have the chance to drive a car from Maranello, they would do it and this is what makes the passion for Ferrari unique around the world.”

Felipe Massa: “I’m pleased with this result, even if I’d been hoping to make it to the podium. We faced higher tyre degradation than we expected, very different to what we had seen on Friday in free practice. A shame, because while the tyres were still working, I could match the pace of the McLarens, but then I began to lose the rear end earlier than they did. It was not an easy race: towards the end, Perez came back at me very strongly and there was nothing I could do to fend him off. I worked for the team, trying to help Fernando, which is as it should be. I have always done it and will do it whenever it’s necessary. I don’t think a two stop strategy would have worked: looking at the data, for us it was definitely slower than a single stop. When the team had no telemetry, we spoke for a long time on the radio and, all in all, we were able to manage the situation in the best way possible. I don’t know if this race changes anything regarding my future, but definitely the most important thing for now is to keep going like this, working with great concentration and trying to do my best for the team.”

Pat Fry: “Saying this has been an intense weekend would be something of a euphemism. We had various reliability problems on the cars in the past days and today we had one with the garage equipment which meant we were practically in the dark, in that we had neither telemetry nor television pictures on the pit wall, nor the link to the remote garage at Maranello, at what was a one of the crucial phases of the race, in other words as we were coming up to the pit stops. We had a bit of a communication problem and it was rather like taking a step back in time to the days when we didn’t have all this equipment available: at one point we had to make do with the telephone to speak to Maranello and decide if it was the right time for the pit stop! We were able to manage the situation, but believe me, it was not a walk in the park. Then there was the incident when Fernando went off the track in his duel with Vettel: once the telemetry was working again, we spotted there was something not quite right at the rear, so in the final laps, we asked him to be cautious, avoiding the kerbs. When the car was in parc ferme, I have to say we could see the damage was quite bad, also affecting the aerodynamics. From a technical point of view, this afternoon, the tyre degradation was greater than we had expected going into the race: we must analyse the data carefully to understand why. We managed to recover almost completely from the situation we were in after yesterday’s problems, but looking at the weekend as a whole, I have to say what happened over these days should ring some alarm bells for all of us: we have to do the maximum in every area if we want to win.”

Race

Driver Pos. Time Gap Laps FL L
Alonso 3rd 1:20.01.815 + 20.594 53 1.28.835 44
Massa 4th 1:20.10.888 + 29.667 53 1.28.914 33

Weather: air 29/30 °C, track42/41°C. sunny. Chassis: Alonso 295, Massa 294.

Italian GP – Third and fourth a great championship result
Monza, 9 September – Fernando Alonso was able to wave to the Ferrari faithful from the Monza podium, after the Scuderia Ferrari man finished third in today’s Italian Grand Prix, with another bravura performance from tenth on the grid. Having started third, his team-mate Felipe Massa also produced a strong drive to pick up the points that go with fourth spot. Lewis Hamilton made the most of pole, the McLaren man never really troubled by the drama going on behind him, on his way to a third win of the season. Second, for the second time this year was Sauber’s Sergio Perez, who charged through the field from thirteenth spot on the grid. With Button, Vettel and Webber all failing to score any points today, third and fourth was actually a better result than it might seem in terms of the championship. Fernando now leads second placed Hamilton by 179 to 142, while Felipe is tenth. In the Constructors’, the Prancing Horse is back to third and closing on the two top teams, taking its tally to 226 compared to McLaren on 243 and Red Bull stuck on 272.

As the lights went out, Felipe, third on the grid, appeared to wait and see what the two McLarens would do and then blasted past Button to go second, while Fernando made his way up to eighth from tenth, then seventh at the end of the opening lap and not long after that he took sixth on lap 2. Lap 4 and Vettel in the Red Bull passed fellow countryman Schumacher in the Mercedes to go fourth, behind Hamilton, Felipe and Button. Lap 5 saw Senna and Rosberg tangle at the chicane dropping them away from the top ten, as Felipe was now 2.2 seconds adrift of the leader, with a lead of 1.7 over Button. As they crossed the line to start lap seven, Fernando managed to get alongside Schumacher and pass him going into the chicane, so the Spaniard was now fifth.

Felipe pitted on lap 19, followed one lap later by Fernando. Both Ferrari men were on a one stop strategy, as was almost the entire field. The run of pit stops saw Button get ahead of the Brazilian Ferrari driver. The order was Perez, who had yet to pit in the Sauber, followed by Hamilton, Button, Felipe 2.5 behind, then Vettel and Fernando. Lap 26 and Alonso ran wide on the dirt as he tried to pass Vettel. But it was clear the German had pushed him off and the Stewards agreed, handing the Red Bull man a drive-through penalty. Before the penalty, on lap 29, Fernando had in any case charged past his closest championship rival to take fourth, behind his team mate, as Perez finally made his pit stop, changing on to the Hard Pirellis, just like everyone else in this part of the race.

Lap 34 was a key moment, as Button parked his McLaren at the side of the track, promoting Felipe and Fernando to second and third behind Hamilton. The Brazilian trailed the leader by 12 seconds at this point, with Fernando a further 2.6 down. But by lap 40, the Spaniard had got close enough to use the DRS and slipstreamed past the Brazilian to move into second spot. Felipe was unable to hold off Perez, who got his Sauber ahead of the F2012 on lap 43. The Mexican was flying and by lap 45 he was right on Fernando’s tail and next time round, the Spaniard was relegated to third as the Sauber got by. Fernando’s championship prospects were given another boost when Vettel had to park his Red Bull at the side of the track and, following a spin that had already dropped him down the order, his team-mate Webber drove into the pits and retired.

The order from then to the flag remained substantially the same: behind the two Ferrari men, Kimi Raikkonen was fifth, keeping his title chances alive, ahead of Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes. The remaining points positions went to eighth placed Paul Di Resta in the Force India, Kamui Kobayashi for Sauber and Bruno Senna in the Williams.

As Fernando Alonso and his podium colleagues waved to the massive crowd that, as tradition demands, had swarmed onto the track to stand and cheer their heroes, they were also waving goodbye to Europe for another year, as Singapore in a fortnight’s time signals the start of the final run of seven races overseas.

Italian GP – Alonso on podium consolidates his lead, Massa 4th
Monza, 9 September – Lewis Hamilton won the Italian Grand Prix, leading from lights to flag. Behind him there were two spectacular drives, the first from Sergio Perez in the Sauber, who started thirteenth and finished second, with a very aggressive performance in the second half of the race as he closed on the McLaren. The other, to the delight of the Ferrari fans packing the grandstands, came from Fernando Alonso, who made it to the third step of the podium. He drove a perfect race, with plenty of passing moves, starting with a brilliant opening lap that took him past four cars. After that, he kept his cool as he tried to pass Vettel, who pushed him wide and was given a drive-through penalty for his troubles before stopping with a car problem. Felipe Massa also drove a great race to fourth place, bringing home a good points haul. Alonso thus extends his lead in the Drivers’ classification to 37 points over Hamilton who now takes over second place. In the Constructors,’ Scuderia Ferrari is up to third on 226 behind McLaren and Red Bull, the latter failing to score today as Webber also retired.

The next round of the Formula 1 World Championship takes place in Singapore on 23rd September.