Small details often make a big difference. Formula 1 is an example, because even in those races that sometimes seem so bad for a team, very heavy points are awarded. Perhaps few, but still quite incisive in the final assignment of the world title.
Sometimes the undisputed domains give way to breathtaking seasons, where every single decision weighs like a boulder.
The 2010 has all the credentials to give strong and unique emotions: the Brawn GP becomes Mercedes and engages Michael Schumacher, Red Bull is a candidate for the role of great protagonist after a 2009 in clear growth, McLaren can count on the Hamilton- Button, the latter fresh from winning the Drivers' Championship the previous year.
And Ferrari? The team from Maranello lands the big market hit, bringing Fernando Alonso to Maranello, who takes the place of Kimi Raikkonen, sharing the garage with the returning Felipe Massa, protagonist of a very bad accident in Hungary in 2009.
Overall, the Prancing Horse aims to redeem a disappointing year, which ended in fourth place in the Constructors' classification, and which was marked only positively by the Finnish driver's success in Belgium.
And so, with the intention of forgetting 2009, the Ferrari F10 was born, a decidedly more competitive single-seater than the F60, destined to fuel the great hopes of the Ferrari people, however, broken at the very best.
The new regulations
The 2010 season of the Formula One World Championship presents a revolutionary new regulation: from this year the single-seaters will be equipped with a larger fuel tank, able to allow the cars to cover the entire distance of the Grand Prix without the need to refuel. fuel; in practice, mechanics can only and exclusively change tires.
This is an epochal change, which directly affects the shape of the 2010 single-seaters, which will therefore be forced to mount a tank with an increased total capacity, thus implying an increase in the length of the cars, equal to about 15/20 centimeters more than to 2009.
Inevitably, the total weight of the single-seaters also increases, which goes from 605 kg to 620 kg, when these are out of petrol, while with a full tank of fuel it can even reach 800 kg.
The technical innovations
The Ferrari F10, in addition to the changes dictated by the new regulations, also features technical innovations, developed following the new FIA directives: the new Ferrari boasts greater length not only because of the larger tank, but also for the new rear diffuser; a double profile.
As explained by technical director Aldo Costa, the new diffuser acts precisely as the heart of the F10 project and has been thought of since the spring of the previous year, when Ferrari decided to abandon the development of the disappointing F60.
The Prancing Horse technicians have recalibrated every component of the car, starting practically from a blank sheet. Nicolas Tombazis highlighted the importance of the novelty, stating:
"To make the diffuser efficient we had to overhaul the entire rear end of the car, also redesigning the gearbox and suspension to make more room. The result is a much larger diffuser".
Another novelty always imposed by the regulation provides for the reduction of 30 millimetres of the front tires, thus implying a completely revised front area: the nose and frame are raised, as well as the suspensions, both from the point of view of geometry and from the point of view of the attack, with the aim of maximizing the grip of the car despite the reduction of the tire tread.
The engine is also the subject of a major study, due to the ban on refuelling during the race. As explained by the engineer Luca Marmorini, the new regulations imply an additional weight given by the full fuel, which greatly affects the car, especially at the start of the race.
From this point of view, therefore,Maranello's men work hard to find excellent performance of the 056 engine, trying to limit consumption as much as possible and thus allowing the F10 to take on the minimum possible amount of fuel before the start of the race, trying to lighten thus the overall weight of the Red.
Another novelty is the lowering of the maximum rpm, which goes from 19.000 to 18.000, allowing the men of Maranello to develop engine heads with a pneumatic valve recovery system with a diameter of 23, instead of 19 as it was previously, in addition to implementing a new air and oil circuit, able to eliminate the problems that had plagued the previous engine.
Even the braking system is revised: the latter was designed in 2009 to support a single-seater that weighed between 670 and 680 kilos overall, but the new plants for 2010 require an upgrade, with which it is possible to operate safely on the new 800 kilograms racing cars, as mentioned well 120 more than the previous year.
A thrilling season
Since the first test in Bahrain, the Ferrari team realizes that the new F10 is decidedly competitive and at the level of its rivals. In Sakhir, despite a small engine anomaly due to a leak in the air pressure circuit, Alonso wins ahead of Massa, and the Ferrari immediately puts aside 2009 with an extraordinary double.
For Ferrari it is a great confidence boost, but it is also true that Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull shows greater potential than the two Ferraris over the course of the Manama weekend. In fact, the German was unable to win a race he was managing big forward due to an exhaust manifold problem, which severely penalized and slowed him down.
In the end, the young driver from Heppenheim will finish fourth, but in Maranello it is clear that we must not rest on our laurels: Ferrari is there, but a lot of work is required to keep up with the others.
In Melbourne, after a start from third position, Alonso spun after a contact with Button and Schumacher, seeing himself called to a difficult comeback. Ferrari opts for a one-stop strategy, allowing the Spaniard to climb up to fourth place.
In a convulsive final that sees the return of Webber and Hamilton on his exhausts, with the two who will end up bumping into each other in an attempt to overtake him, Alonso retains his position and ends at the foot of the podium.
At the third round of the season in Malaysia, the Ferraris are even eliminated in Q1, conditioned by incessant rain. After a good comeback in the race, the Spaniard is forced to retire due to a gearbox problem that will lead to the engine breaking.
In China, fourth race of the championship, Alonso qualified third behind the two Red Bulls, with Vettel in pole position. At the start of the race he overtakes both rival cars, but he's penalized with a drive through and forced to make another comeback. On lap nineteenth, the Spaniard decides to flex his muscles when at the bend leading to the pit lane he overtakes the other Ferrari from Massa with a move as rough as it is cunning, forcing him to wait in line. In the end he will finish fourth, in a race that will see Button triumph in front of Hamilton and Rosberg.
In Spain, Alonso does no better than fourth in qualifying, one second behind poleman Webber, but in the race he recovered to second position, thus achieving an excellent result. Opposite story at the Monaco Grand Prix: the Spanish champion dominates qualifying on Thursday, but during Free Practice 3 on Saturday morning, he loses control of the F10 at the Massenet bend, crashing into the barriers.
The short time available to repair the car did not allow him to take part in qualifying, forcing him to start from the rear.
In the race, the Safety Car's immediate entry onto the track allows him to make the pit stop immediately and, when the other drivers change tires, he manages to climb up to the final sixth place. The subsequent rounds of the Turkish and European Grand Prix are no better, which, interspersed with a good third place in Canada, see Alonso only finish eighth on both occasions.
The mediocre mid-season results, certainly attributable to a considerable dose of bad luck, are more to be attributed to a slow Ferrari in the development of the single-seater.
In fact, in the next round of Silverstone, also due to a drive through inflicted on him for an illegal overtaking on Kubica, the Spaniard does not go beyond the final fourteenth place.
At the end of the British Grand Prix, the general classification is not what was expected at the beginning of the season: the Spaniard is only fifth, behind both Red Bulls and both McLarens, 47 points behind the leader Hamilton.
The following weekend we race on the Hockenheim circuit, where Ferrari is rediscovered very competitive. Vettel gets pole, but is overtaken at the start by both Prancing Horse drivers, with Massa finding himself as the leader ahead of Alonso. The latter, on the twentieth lap, explicitly complains over the radio, claiming to be much faster than his teammate. In Ferrari, initially, it was decided to freeze the positions that remain unchanged until the forty-eighth lap. The wall of Maranello then decides to maximize the result by opting for a change of positions at the top. The radio team addressed by track engineer Rob Smedley to the Brazilian is laconic:
"Fernando is faster than you, sorry".
A few laps later the Brazilian gives the green light to the companion exiting the hairpin. A maneuver prohibited by the regulation since 2003, which will cost Ferrari a fine but which will not compromise Alonso's first position.
In the following race in Hungary, Fernando starts third and then finishes in second place behind Webber, while he is forced to retire at Spa, in a chaotic race in the rain that sees him protagonist of a spin coming out of Les Combes, before finish with his F10 against the barriers. The next appointment is that of the Italian Grand Prix, in Monza.
In front of the usual frenzied Italian public, the Spanish champion obtained a magnificent pole position in front of Button and Massa, but at the start of the race he was unable to keep the first position, being overtaken by the aforementioned English driver in McLaren. However, the pace of the reigning World Champion is not very fast, and the two Ferraris follow him without too many problems. The turning point comes on lap 36, when Button returns to the pits for the pit stop, while Alonso continues his race to stop on the next lap.
The men of Ferrari are very fast, the Spaniard driver sets off again and at the exit from the pit lane is in front of his opponent. A roar coming from the stands accompanies the maneuver. Alonso went on to win his home Grand Prix, four years after his last red win at Monza, by Michael Schumacher.
This victory reverses the inertia of a hitherto fluctuating championship for the Maranello team. Fernando travels 21 points behind Webber, world leader, but is the driver who has scored more points (68) in the last four races than his rivals Webber (59), Vettel (42), Hamilton (37) and Button (32). Ferrari enters the next race in Singapore aware of being feared by its rivals, as confirmed by Christian Horner, Red Bull Team Manager:
"Ferrari is the biggest threat to us. They have a fast car, and they are probably the closest to our performance since mid-season".
Alonso wins pole position and wins over Vettel in the Singapore Grand Prix, then finishes third at Suzuka and wins in Korea, in a race that sees the two Red Bull standard-bearers retire due to engine problems in the case of Vettel, and due to an incident with Rosberg in the Webber case.
Two races from the end of the world championship, the Asturian concludes a comeback that is sensational, and leads the standings with 231 points, 11 more than Webber and 25 more than Vettel.
The appointment in Sao Paulo, penultimate of the season, sees the Red Bulls conquer second and third place on the grid behind Hulkenberg, with Alonso in fifth place. In the race, the two Red Bull drivers overtake the German Williams and make the void, going to win, while behind the Spaniard he struggles with Hamilton before reaching the lowest step of the podium. With only one race to go, the ranking reads: Alonso 246, Webber 238, Vettel 231.
Abu Dhabi 2010: the bitter twist of fate
On the eve of the last round of the season, Alonso seems to be able to manage the advantage in the standings: the Spaniard starts two positions ahead of the first rival Mark Webber, who, with a hypothetical fifth place for the Spaniard, should win to overtake him in the standings.
The Australian, in fact, with a second-place finish, would finish on equal points with the Ferrari driver, but the latter enjoys one more seasonal success, and therefore would be rewarded compared to the Red Bull driver.
The biggest threat to the Red and, at the same time, the biggest hope for Red Bull is Vettel, who, however, the success of Yas Marina would not be enough if Alonso did not finish the race fifth or worse. At the start Vettel keeps his head, while Alonso is overtaken by Button, thus ending up in fourth position, while keeping Webber behind him.
This position would be enough for the Ferrari driver, also because after a few laps the Australian hits the barriers with the outer right wheel but can continue, and on the eleventh lap he stops to change tires. The red pit wall reacts, and on the thirteenth lap he calls Massa to the pits, but he finds himself sixteenth on his return to the track, behind Jaime Alguersuari, without being able to pass him.
Despite this, Chris Dyer decides to recall Alonso after four laps, who, after the pit stop, returns in front of Webber. It now seems a matter of time and management for Alonso, who seems to have the title in his hands, but the truth is that the Spaniard finds himself in front of drivers who had stopped during the first lap, taking advantage of the Safety Car caused by the accident between Schumacher and Vitantonio Liuzzi, including Vitaly Petrov with his Renault. The pace of the Russian is much slower, and the Ferrari driver quickly fills the gap, but is unable to overtake him. Here began the frustrating Ferrari race, who several times tries to overtake Petrov, without ever managing to seriously worry him: behind the Renault, Alonso loses a lot of time, so much so that Kubica arrives to make his stop and then re-enters in front of them.
In addition, there is Nico Rosberg, another driver who changed tires on the first lap, who found himself in fifth position without problems. At the end of all the pit stops, Alonso is seventh, and has to overtake three cars to recover the much-desired fourth position, but Petrov does not give the Ferrari driver any chance, who will not be able to disengage from that position, while Vettel wins the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi and became World Champion for the first time.
Alonso and his F10 close to the feat, and it is mocking that it is Renault, the team with which the Iberian won his two titles, as well as the supplier of the engines used by Red Bull, to have contributed to the winning comeback of Vettel at the last race. Overall, the RB6 has grown a lot during the second half of the season, and the F10 has always suffered a significant delay.
Certainly the advantage accumulated after the Korean Grand Prix, and the favorable situation that had arisen on the eve of the race in Abu Dhabi, presaged the final success of Ferrari, broken against the technical and strategic superiority of the Milton Keynes team.
Simone Pietro Zazza