Once the comeback is over, with Ferrari finally leveling with McLaren and Red Bull, the fight can now begin. This is how the Maranello team's state of mind can be summarized the day after the Canadian Grand Prix, a race which in the end brought profound disappointment due to the tactical error (admitted by Ferrari) which it made in the last six laps. slipping Fernando Alonso from first to fifth position, but also the awareness of having a competitive car on every track, given the completely different characteristics of Barcelona, Monte Carlo and Montreal. Able, as happened last weekend, to fight for pole position and success. Ferrari is there, the data says so, the change of mentality of Fernando Alonso, no longer inclined only to defend himself, who limits the damage and collects precious points, but aggressive enough, eager to win, to the point of risking a gamble strategic, to stay on the track with tires that were crumbling, just to mix up the cards and mock the fastest Lewis Hamilton. Ferrari now feels they are in the game and this is demonstrated by the different attitude with which they achieved a fifth place, not the euphoria that was recorded on their debut in Australia (Alonso fifth, 21 seconds behind Jenson Button, after a thousand vicissitudes and a start from sixth row), but the anger at having lost precious points in the last kilometres, a Spaniard who finishes in slow motion after having cherished the dream of taking home the cup for a long time. Ferrari is ambitious now, this is why it must not stop now. Fernando Alonso, obsessive leader, immediately made it clear:
"In recent weeks, progress has been enormous, but beware of resting on your laurels. Hamilton and Vettel are two great rivals, we always have to improve, at every race. After all, we are Ferrari. And a team like ours never stops developing".
Growing every day. Also because we find ourselves in the craziest World Championship in history, seven different winners in the first seven races, a very short classification: Lewis Hamilton has a 2 point lead over Fernando Alonso, 3 over Sebastian Vettel, 9 over Mark Webber. Because of the Pirelli tyres, each Grand Prix celebrates a new team and the winner of the previous race has a high probability of ending up on trial. A championship comparable in the past only to 1982, with eleven different winners at the end of the season, in which, as Stefano Domenicali has long maintained, details and work at home will be decisive. Precisely for this reason, Ferrari has already prepared a rich package of innovations for the next two Grands Prix, that of 24 June 2012 in Valencia and that of 8 July 2012 in Silverstone. In Spain the desired improvements should concern, as usual, aerodynamics, now the area in which the fate of cars is decided. It will be fundamental to start from pole position, it is a circuit where overtaking is difficult, and Fernando Alonso hopes for decisive steps forward in the flying lap. With points from nineteen consecutive races (in which he achieved eleven podiums), the Spaniard is ready to make the difference, maintaining his advantage in the race. In the hope that the tires don't betray this time. Stefano Domenicali in Montreal had only one worry: With points from nineteen consecutive races (in which he achieved eleven podiums), the Spaniard is ready to make the difference, maintaining his lead in the race. In the hope that the tires don't betray this time. Stefano Domenicali in Montreal had only one worry: With points from nineteen consecutive races (in which he achieved eleven podiums), the Spaniard is ready to make the difference, maintaining his lead in the race. In the hope that the tires don't betray this time. Stefano Domenicali in Montreal had only one worry:
"Lotus and Sauber consumed them less".
We need to understand why.
"If we had marked Vettel, returning to the pits, Seb would not have ended up in front of us".
And now Fernando Alonso would share the lead with Lewis Hamilton, and would have the German 5 points behind. Even Felipe Massa, after a complicated start to the F1 season to say the least, now seems to have found the feeling with the F2012 and is optimistic for the continuation of the World Championship.
"Now I'm much happier because I can drive the F2012 as I like. I'm much more comfortable with the handling and the balance of the car, and the pace is good. And when this happens naturally you feel good".
Says Felipe Massa, preparing for the European Grand Prix, scheduled for Valencia.
"Certainly all the changes and updates introduced to the car helped, but the way I worked on the set-up together with my engineers was also important: we changed a lot of things in terms of balance and found a direction that suits me".
The Brazilian is going in a different direction than his teammate Fernando Alonso.
"I think so, although not entirely. We are certainly working differently. Each driver has his own style, his own way of holding the steering wheel or using the accelerator pedal, and if he doesn't feel comfortable for some reason this doesn't help. As in all high level sports, even in Formula 1 it's important to work on even very small details. When something doesn't work it's easy to move away from the right direction and lose ground in terms of performance, because you can't be at 100%".
As the World Championship continued, the F2012 changed its shape. Felipe Massa says, hoping for further steps forward:
"We have many different elements compared to the beginning of the season, when we were far from the current progress. In the last three races things have started to go in the right direction, because a good level of development was followed by a clear improvement in terms of performance".
On tyres, the Brazilian states:
"This year the tires are much softer than last year, but the F2012 struggles much less than in the past to quickly bring the tires up to temperature. So this weekend with both compounds we shouldn't have any problems".
Top speed was another weak point of Ferrari's current car.
"If we analyze the Montreal race, even if our top speed wasn't that good, neither was that of other top teams such as McLaren, Red Bull and Mercedes. However in Canada we were able to overtake other cars easily, cars that in the past we had struggled to overtake with the DRS. This shows that the other teams have changed their approach and that we have also improved in top speed".
Wednesday 20 June 2012 Fernando Alonso returns home, and from his beloved Valencia, on the eve of the next European Grand Prix, he shoots down the rumors that Sebastian Vettel would be in Maranello instead of Felipe Massa:
"I'm happy with Felipe. In any case, whoever arrives, someone here in Ferrari will miss Massa".
In reality, the first of those someone will be himself, because one thing is certain: no other driver would have ever endured what Felipe Massa endured in 2010 at the Chinese Grand Prix, when the Spaniard passed him violently at the entrance to the pits, forcing him to put the four wheels on the grass to avoid a certain accident.
Felipe Massa put his interests behind those of the team, as he later explained to the Brazilian newspaper Globo:
"Alonso brought his car alongside mine and when I saw him I knew we risked an accident. So I thought about the team and this made me lose three positions in the race...".
That overtaking was the first of many small gestures that then brought Felipe Massa into second position within the Maranello team, as in Michael Schumacher's time. Obviously instead, Sebastian Vettel, in place of Felipe Massa in China, would have literally climbed on top of Fernando Alonso's car, and from then on he would not have forgiven him for one. In short, the Spaniard doesn't want trouble in the team, obstacles towards the race for the World Drivers' Championship, and so here's some more nonsense:
"Felipe is very good, and he has always shown it".
Proven yes, but always no. And it is no coincidence that - with all the delicacy of the case - Ferrari is looking for another more aggressive driver: it is true that Felipe thinks about the team before himself, but the World Constructors' Championships certainly cannot be won with just one driver . The ranking at the start of the 2012 World Championship speaks clearly: in these first seven races Felipe Massa has effectively condemned Ferrari to fourth place in the Constructors' World Championship, behind the small Lotus and with almost half the points of Red Bull Racing.
"I am happy to have Massa as a teammate. I hope he can stay next year too. And in any case, if he were to leave, I'm sure that many will regret it".
It is difficult to think of a superficial declaration, that of Fernando Alonso, contemporary of Felipe Massa, partner of the Brazilian for three seasons and a great friend even away from the track, seems like a real sponsorship towards the driver with his contract expiring. A sentence dictated from the heart, convinced, much more than that of Sebastian Vettel, who a little further on, in the Red Bull Racing garage, to comment on the rumors that he would be dressed in red from 2014, complete with winks, never say never Stefano Domenicali, the Ferrari team principal, specifies:
"I thank Domenicali for his respect, but I'm happy where I am".
That is, in the team that allowed him to win two World Championships and is trying to help him bring home the third. Sebastian Vettel clarifies, the pleasure for the Ferrari court is one thing, the intention to abandon Adrian Newey is another, but perhaps his is more politics than substance, the desire not to go against anyone within the team. We are talking about 2014, a distant time, for the moment it is better to avoid traps. Alonso no, he doesn't need convenient phrases. The Spaniard has Ferrari at his disposal, a contract until 2016, an entire team working especially for him, he could express what he wants, without any danger. If he says that he would like Massa's confirmation, someone like me who espouses the team concept, who knows what Montezemolo wants, who understands how Ferrari comes before any individual need, is because he thinks that a contract renewal is the best solution for everyone. And then he likes Massa as a driver:
"He had some problems last season and at the beginning of this one, but now he is competitive again and I am convinced that he will return to fight with the leaders. I'm happy to work with him, then anyone can come, I'm not the one who decides, for my part the doors are open, but I'm not convinced that it can be the same thing".
Words that cannot fail to make Felipe Massa happy, motivated to the point of promising a triumph in Valencia:
"Every time a different driver wins, it would be nice if the eighth winner were me. With some modifications we have made the car more balanced, less harsh on the front, less soft on the rear. Now I feel it is mine, and in these conditions it is easier to give my best".
A Ferrari that makes you think big. On the eve of the European Grand Prix Fernando Alonso reiterates it:
"It's been four races since we've missed something new, every update works great. Now we are on par with Hamilton and Vettel and I believe that July is the decisive month for the assault on the World Championship. From Valencia to Budapest, four races, you always have to get on the podium, starting on Sunday, in front of my people. If we succeed, the world title might no longer be just a dream".
Meanwhile, the FIA is pushing for a greater reduction in the costs of building the cars. In a press release issued on Friday 15 June 2012, the Federation indicates the deadline of 30 June 2012 as the date by which the teams will be asked to express their opinions on the various proposals. Furthermore, the date for registration for the 2013 World Championship was moved to 30 September 2012. subsequently, on Wednesday 20 June 2012, the president of the FIA, Jean Todt, declared that he feared that the number of teams could be reduced in the future without specific strategies for cost reduction. After the FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting, through an official statement, Jean Todt reveals that the F1 governing body wants to have active discussions with the teams regarding cost control. The FIA adds that the Council will have to vote on any changes relating to chassis regulations for 2013 before the end of this month.
“The intention is to help all the teams participating in the championship fairly and equally”.
FIA president Jean Todt adds that the risk is that some teams will not be able to maintain the current state of spending:
"For me, Formula One is too expensive. If we don't do anything, we could get into a situation where we have less than twelve teams on the grid".
Previously, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo insisted F1 could not ignore the impact of the worsening economic crisis in Europe.
"Ferrari agrees with the FIA's position that drastic intervention is necessary. This is no longer the time to get bogged down in sterile discussions or in the meanderings of engineers, it is usually only about defending someone's or other's interests. The issue of costs must be addressed at the highest level, without further delay".
Speaking instead of the next European Grand Prix, following the fire that hit the Williams garage after the Spanish Grand Prix, the FIA obliges all the mechanics involved in the tank emptying operations to wear fireproof suits. Given the high temperatures expected for the Valencia weekend, Sparco is providing undersuits impregnated with mint essence, in order to relieve the heat. As in the previous Canadian Grand Prix, the area where drivers will be able to use DRS during the race has been reduced to just one. The area is established on the straight road that follows the bridge over the port. The synthetic grass located outside certain sections of the track is modified. In previous editions the grass positioned had often come loose, causing problems for the cars. Furthermore, the Federation asks Emanuele Pirro to play the role of deputy commissioner for the European Grand Prix. The Italian driver had already performed this function this season in the Chinese Grand Prix and the Bahrain Grand Prix. Subsequently his place was taken by Mika Salo.
Pirelli, the sole tire supplier, announces Medium and Soft tires for this grand prix. Friday 22 June 2012, in the first test session Pastor Maldonado set the best time, beating Sebastian Vettel. Due to the wind the temperatures are lower than those of the previous days, so all the teams prefer to fit Medium tyres. The times are very tight, so much so that in one second there are thirteen drivers. In the first free practice session Jules Bianchi takes over from Nico Hülkenberg at Force India, while Valtteri Bottas that of Bruno Senna at Williams. In the second session, Sebastian Vettel is the fastest on the track. The German from Red Bull Racing precedes his compatriot Nico Hülkenberg and Kamui Kobayashi. The drivers of the other more competitive teams concentrate on studying long-distance performance. Pedro de la Rosa crashes at turn 14, destroying the left suspension of his HRT, but without any consequences. Mercedes, after the DRS problem suffered by Michael Schumacher's car during the Canadian Grand Prix, decided to modify its system, while the Red Bull RB8 features a new double bottom at the rear, after the failure of the previous version . The McLaren MP4-27 also features new rear suspension. The first day of free practice for the European Grand Prix, the eighth round of the Formula 1 World Championship, ends in the name of Sebastian Vettel. On the Valencia track, the German Red Bull driver is the fastest, lapping in 1'39" 334. Fernando Alonso set the seventh fastest time, lapping in 1'39”733, while Felipe Massa was fifteenth. However, the Spaniard is satisfied:
"We are growing, we are the team that has improved the most of all. Now we need the last step forward to become the fastest".
Ferrari, says the Spanish driver, has almost completely closed the gap that separated it from the other top teams at the start of the season.
"Winning pole means being the fastest on the weekend. You're the favourite, but then anything can happen in the race. First place on the grid is important, but not definitive".
In a championship that has no real master, with seven different winners in as many Grands Prix, predictions make no sense.
"We need to think about one race at a time. The objective is to finish ahead of Hamilton: if he finishes seventh and I finish sixth, maybe Vettel wins and takes the lead of the World Championship. At Silverstone, at that point, we will have to finish ahead of Vettel. Later in the season, perhaps the positions will be more clear. The gap could increase in the standings and at that point the calculations could make sense. For now, we need to place ourselves ahead of our direct opponent".
In short, Fernando Alonso is not scared by Sebastian Vettel's first place. The German driver drives a Red Bull Racing full of innovations, and goes to sleep on Friday evening, on the eve of two incandescent battles, for pole position and for the race, looking at everyone from the other. Yet Fernando Alonso doesn't have a tight smile. He is not worried about the performances provided by the reigning World Champion:
"Indeed, my real opponent is Hamilton, who precedes me in the standings. I'm racing him here in Valencia and I hope to finish ahead of him”.
And he isn't even worried about seventh place and the 0.4 second gap with which he ended FP2. Alonso is calm, because he has understood that in this World Championship the values that are overturned every day, and many can win, to the point that in the pits the name of Nico Hulkenberg, German of Force India, often very fast, is whispered restlessly. . And which is now considered a potential eighth winner out of as many Grands Prix. Alonso is motivated, but calm, because he is convinced that all the cars are very close in terms of performance, an exciting balance on the edge of cents, a prelude to a thrilling fight:
"And among the teams that can think big there is certainly also my Ferrari, given our continuous improvements, with the possibility of significant steps forward here in Valencia too. We are in the group, on an equal footing with the others, and I think it is right to believe in the possible triumph. Then, if a simple podium were to arrive, that's fine too, the important thing is to bring home as many points as possible, even if excelling in Spain, in front of my people, would be fantastic".
What matters is to never stop.
"Because with such a close comparison, just one small mistake is enough and you're ruined, the ranking doesn't wait for you and throws you backwards".
A mistake or even a small variable, such as the wind that affects the laps on the track on Friday, or changes in temperature, which modify the asphalt and risk influencing the performance of the tyres. On Thursday it was 48°C on the track, on Friday at a certain point it measured 29°C, a temperature range that really risks upsetting everything and subverting many hierarchies. Without forgetting the very real concern that exists here regarding tire wear. Ferrari has focused a lot on this aspect, which also puts Romain Grosjean's Lotus among the favourites, despite the Frenchman finishing FP2 in eighth position, however being the best (or at least the most consistent) on the long run simulation . The tires of your car probably deteriorate less and this, also given what happened to Alonso in Canada, it could be an advantage. Just as all the innovations brought to Valencia by Red Bull Racing shouldn't be the same, as never before has they really spread their wings like this time, changing both the front and rear, as well as new modifications to the bottom and sides, the suspensions and the diffuser. . At the end of the tests, Sebastian Vettel prefers to remain vague:
"We can't understand if the performance of the car has really increased".
But in the meantime his march is threatening on a track where he has won the last two editions. Above all, Sebastian Vettel seems to have a great chance of winning pole position, although, with new regulations in hand, many, starting with Fernando Alonso, feel that here, a street circuit where overtaking has always been difficult, has become less important than the other years. Felipe Massa, fifteenth, will have to quickly show his potential. The Brazilian driver explains:
"I made a mistake when I was setting the time on the Soft tyres, which is why I'm so far behind. I was happy with the balance of the car, I could easily have finished among the first".
If he succeeded in qualifying, it wouldn't be bad. Saturday 23 June 2012, during the Saturday morning test session, Jenson Button manages to prevail over the two Lotus drivers, Romain Grosjean and Kimi Räikkönen. However, Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber are late, suffering from technical problems that do not allow them to complete many laps. A few hours late, Timo Glock does not take part in the qualifying due to intestinal pain. The Marussia team, however, does not replace him with any other driver. Although the German had been authorized to start at the back of the grid, he will not even compete in the race due to his persistent state of illness. In Q1 Scuderia Toro Rosso decides to immediately fit Soft tires to try to get into Q2. The two Red Bull Racing drivers wait for the last minutes to set their times. Mark Webber entered the track with just four minutes to go, using Soft tyres, but failed to qualify for the next stage. In the final, the Force Indias and the Williams also mounted the Softs: Pastor Maldonado and Paul di Resta obtained first and second place. In addition to Timo Glock, Charles Pic, Mark Webber, Vitalij Petrov, the two HRTs of Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Kartikeyan, and Jean-Éric Vergne are eliminated. Heikki Kovalainen passes instead.
The second phase is very tight. Fernando Alonso was initially the fastest, beaten by Paul di Resta. The two Ferrari drivers slipped in the standings, and when they fitted the Soft tires Felipe Massa was only twelfth. Sebastian Vettel avoids elimination only at the last attempt, as well as Romain Grosjean, who scores the best time. The two Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher, Bruno Senna, Sergio Pérez, Heikki Kovalainen and Daniel Ricciardo were eliminated. Massa, thirteenth, finished just 0.3 seconds from the best time set by Romain Grosjean. In Q3 Nico Rosberg initially set the best time, before being beaten by Romain Grosjean, then by Pastor Maldonado. In the last attempt Sebastian Vettel took pole, ahead of Lewis Hamilton and the Venezuelan Williams driver. The World Champion set the best time, lapping in 1'38"086 with his Red Bull Racing, on the Valencia street circuit. At the end of the tests, Fernando Alonso, speaking about the exclusion from Q3, said: The two Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher, Bruno Senna, Sergio Pérez, Heikki Kovalainen and Daniel Ricciardo were eliminated. Massa, thirteenth, finished just 0.3 seconds from the best time set by Romain Grosjean. In Q3 Nico Rosberg initially set the best time, before being beaten by Romain Grosjean, then by Pastor Maldonado. In the last attempt Sebastian Vettel took pole, ahead of Lewis Hamilton and the Venezuelan Williams driver. The World Champion set the best time, lapping in 1'38"086 with his Red Bull Racing, on the Valencia street circuit.
At the end of the tests, Fernando Alonso, speaking about the exclusion from Q3, said: The two Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher, Bruno Senna, Sergio Pérez, Heikki Kovalainen and Daniel Ricciardo were eliminated. Massa, thirteenth, finished just 0.3 seconds from the best time set by Romain Grosjean. In Q3 Nico Rosberg initially set the best time, before being beaten by Romain Grosjean, then by Pastor Maldonado. In the last attempt Sebastian Vettel took pole, ahead of Lewis Hamilton and the Venezuelan Williams driver. The World Champion set the best time, lapping in 1'38"086 with his Red Bull Racing, on the Valencia street circuit. At the end of the tests, Fernando Alonso, speaking about the exclusion from Q3, said: 3 seconds from the best time set by Romain Grosjean. In Q3 Nico Rosberg initially set the best time, before being beaten by Romain Grosjean, then by Pastor Maldonado. In the last attempt Sebastian Vettel took pole, ahead of Lewis Hamilton and the Venezuelan Williams driver. The World Champion set the best time, lapping in 1'38"086 with his Red Bull Racing, on the Valencia street circuit. At the end of the tests, Fernando Alonso, speaking about the exclusion from Q3, said: 3 seconds from the best time set by Romain Grosjean. In Q3 Nico Rosberg initially set the best time, before being beaten by Romain Grosjean, then by Pastor Maldonado. In the last attempt Sebastian Vettel took pole, ahead of Lewis Hamilton and the Venezuelan Williams driver. The World Champion set the best time, lapping in 1'38"086 with his Red Bull Racing, on the Valencia street circuit. At the end of the tests, Fernando Alonso, speaking about the exclusion from Q3, said:
"It's sad not to get to Q3. In terms of performance we are two tenths from pole, while in terms of position we are out of Q3. This makes the race a little more difficult for us, but we need it to do better. Now we have an extra set of tires and we hope it will come in handy for tomorrow".
And Felipe Massa admits that now, recovering positions in the race will be tough.
"The difference of a few tenths was enough and it changed everything, we didn't pass by a small difference, the gap is very close, but we are out by a hair. With the soft tires we went a little better, we are in the middle of the group but outside, Tomorrow it won't be easy, we'll see what we can gain, the race is long".
The president of Ferrari, Luca di Montezemolo, commenting on Ferrari's disappointing performances in qualifying in Valencia, says:
"They were very strange qualifying sessions, in the first part we were the fastest on the Medium tyres. With the soft tyres, everything changed: we have to be careful that this doesn't become a World Tire Championship. I don't like it so much. I was hoping for better. On this circuit it's difficult to overtake. It seems to me that the last few races have been linked to the performance of the tyres".
On the sidelines of qualifying, Luca Montezemolo also talks about Felipe Massa's future:
"Our way of helping him, giving him a good car and being close to him. A decision on the issue? It's not a problem today, he knows he has a contract that ends and so do we, but it's not a problem today. The his confidence with the car, after the initial shock, is not a short-term problem".
Meanwhile, Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali promises:
"We have to make an attack strategy, with our rivals in the championship who are up front. There were very close gaps, and we stayed out of Q3. Let's see tomorrow, it's difficult to overtake here, but we'll give it our all".
Sebastian Vettel, who will start from pole position, is surprised by the gaps which are very short on this circuit:
"I did a great lap, I'm very happy. I didn't expect this gap compared to the others. It didn't go well in Q1 and Q2, we had some difficulties finding the balance after yesterday. However, I knew that with a good lap I could have done it and that's how it went, even with a surprising gap compared to the others. The whole team worked hard and the new things worked. Now I'm waiting for tomorrow's race".
There is sadness and frustration in the Ferrari garage, while Sebastian Vettel, just a few meters away, gives free rein to his joy at a sweaty, painful and therefore very intoxicating pole position. In the new Formula 1, the one in which tenths are now an eternity (0.291 seconds separate the fastest Grosjean from the thirteenth, the disappointed Felipe Massa, in the incredible Q2 of qualifying, something that has never happened in the history of this sport), the one in where the gaps are thin, only perfection can save you. On the torrid Saturday in Valencia, with an enthusiastic public hoping for the feat of their home idol, Red Bull Racing gave its best, Fernando Alonso not. Sebastian Vettel, who with this pole reaches 33, joins Alain Prost and Jim Clark, and places himself, just twenty-five, behind only Michael Schumacher (69) and Ayrton Senna (65), two flying lap legends, he perhaps went beyond his limits. Or at least that's what he says. While the Ferrari team, before the eyes of president Luca Montezemolo, got confused in the choice of tires and in the end performed well below their potential, putting the Spaniard in eleventh position, and Felipe Massa even further back, a thirteenth place which it will force him, on a circuit where overtaking is very difficult, starting from the seventh row. Nobody among the men of the Maranello team expected such a verdict. The words of Fernando Alonso, usually measured in optimism, were valid for everyone: before the eyes of president Luca Montezemolo, he got confused in the choice of tires and in the end he performed well below his potential, bringing the Spaniard to eleventh position, and Felipe Massa even further back, a thirteenth place which will force him, on a circuit where you overtake with great difficulty, starting from the seventh row. Nobody among the men of the Maranello team expected such a verdict. The words of Fernando Alonso, usually measured in optimism, were valid for everyone: before the eyes of president Luca Montezemolo, he got confused in the choice of tires and in the end he performed well below his potential, bringing the Spaniard to eleventh position, and Felipe Massa even further back, a thirteenth place which will force him, on a circuit where you overtake with great difficulty, starting from the seventh row.
Nobody among the men of the Maranello team expected such a verdict. The words of Fernando Alonso, usually measured in optimism, were valid for everyone: Nobody among the men of the Maranello team expected such a verdict. The words of Fernando Alonso, usually measured in optimism, were valid for everyone: Nobody among the men of the Maranello team expected such a verdict. The words of Fernando Alonso, usually measured in optimism, were valid for everyone:
"This time we're there, we're starting on an equal footing with Red Bull and McLaren, we can think big".
Tested by facts, these rosy words have crumbled, a bit like tires risk doing on hot asphalt (on Saturday, at a certain point, it reached 49°C). Now Alonso says he exaggerated, although he doesn't hesitate to talk about a cold shower on expectations, but the gap was probably more tactical than technical. Ferrari attempted a gamble which did not prove successful, it started Q2 with the Medium tyres, to keep an extra set of Soft tires when it should have won pole position, but with this choice it ended up compromising everything, making the only attempt to get into Q3 with the right tires was insufficient. Felipe Massa, disconsolate, recognizes it:
"We are out of the leading group for a very short time, it is frustrating not to enter the final act by 0.077 seconds, but it is also true that if we had tried twice instead of once we certainly would have made it".
The idea was to arrive in better condition than others when it really mattered.
"We had two cars in the first or second row".
Stefano Domenicali claims, but the stopwatch didn't agree and now the new tires will only be good for the race, starting from the center of the group. One thing that annoyed Luca Montezemolo:
"We need to learn to exploit the tires to the millimetre, this result is clearly below our potential".
And that complicates Fernando Alonso's plans.
"We are sad and disappointed, everything has become more difficult. To recover requires great strategy and luck, paying attention to traffic and the brawl at the start".
It would have been another thing to have at least the position conquered by Lewis Hamilton, who will start second and is acquitted in the evening of the accusation of having obstructed Nico Rosberg. For Montezemolo that was the point of reference, now Alonso needs yet another miracle. Aware of the strength of Vettel and Hamilton, but also of the danger of Maldonado, third, of the two Lotuses that wear the tires little (Grosjean fourth, Raikkonen fifth) and while we're at it, he says so, also of the two Force Indias, faster than usual. The Spaniards dream. But the undertaking, this time, will not be easy. On Sunday 24 June 2012, at the start of the European Grand Prix Sebastian Vettel maintains first position, followed by Lewis Hamilton, Romain Grosjean, Kamui Kobayashi, Pastor Maldonado and Kimi Räikkönen. During the first lap the two Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa moved up to eighth and tenth place. Vettel sets a strong pace in the first laps, so much so that he gains almost a second at the end of each lap. During the tenth lap Romain Grosjean passes Lewis Hamilton, and rises to second place.
During lap 11 Jenson Button and Sergio Pérez return to the pits to change tyres, while Fernando Alonso passes Nico Hülkenberg and rises to seventh position. During lap 13 the Spaniard also passed Pastor Maldonado, who had previously lost another position to Kimi Raikkonen. Between lap 14 and lap 17 all the leading drivers return to the pits to change their tyres. In this phase of the race Fernando Alonso gains two positions, passing Kimi Räikkönen and Kamui Kobayashi, who in turn loses a position to the Finn. The Spaniard, passing Mark Webber and Michael Schumacher, who did not make their first stop, rises to fifth place, behind Sebastian Vettel, Romain Grosjean, Lewis Hamilton and Paul di Resta, who also has not yet made his first stop. pit stops. During lap 20 Bruno Senna and Kamui Kobayashi come into contact. Both drivers are forced to make a pit stop. Subsequently, Bruno Senna is penalized with a drive through. During lap 22 Fernando Alonso passes Paul di Resta and takes fourth position. The Scotsman, with used tyres, He also quickly ceded his position to Kimi Raikkonen and Pastor Maldonado. During lap 27 Jenson Button returns to the pits to carry out his second tire change, followed immediately after by Felipe Massa, who in the meantime has climbed up to seventh place. During lap 28, a contact between Heikki Kovalainen and Jean-Éric Vergne forced the race direction to bring the Safety car onto the track, to allow the stewards to remove the debris along the track. Taking advantage of the neutralization of the race, Romain Grosjean, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso immediately return to the pits. The McLaren driver slowed down due to an inaccuracy on the part of his mechanics and lost a position. Subsequently, Sebastian Vettel also returns to the pits, again starting in first position. Behind the German, at the restart, Romain Grosjean, Fernando Alonso, Daniel Ricciardo (who did not change tires), Kimi Räikkönen, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher followed. With a lightning restart, Fernando Alonso passes Romain Grosjean at the first corner, and climbs to second place. Nico Rosberg loses a few positions, while at the back Felipe Massa collides with Kamui Kobayashi and is forced to make a new stop.
Meanwhile Lewis Hamilton passes Kimi Raikkonen. Also on lap 34, Sebastian Vettel was forced to retire due to an alternator problem: Fernando Alonso thus moved into first position, followed by Romain Grosjean, Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Räikkönen. Michael Schumacher, who made only one pit stop, moved up to fifth position. During lap 41 Romain Grosjean was also forced to abandon the race due to the same problem encountered on Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull Racing. Now the ranking sees, behind Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Räikkönen, Pastor Maldonado, Nico Hülkenberg and Paul di Resta, with Michael Schumacher making his stop and returning eleventh, ahead of Mark Webber, who has a similar strategy. The ranking remains stagnant for several laps: from the rear, it is the drivers with new tires who animate the last ten laps. Michael Schumacher and Mark Webber, overtaking Jenson Button, Sergio Pérez and Paul di Resta in succession, moved up to sixth and seventh position on lap 54. Subsequently, during lap 55, Lewis Hamilton, in tire crisis, cedes second position to Kimi Räikkönen. During lap 56 the Briton was also pressured by Pastor Maldonado: the two came into contact and Hamilton was forced to abandon the race, while the Venezuelan lost his front wing and several positions. In the final laps Michael Schumacher and Mark Webber also passed Nico Hülkenberg, and finished the race in third and fourth place respectively. Fernando Alonso wins the European Grand Prix, followed by Kimi Raikkonen, Michael Schumacher, Mark Webber, Nico Hulkenberg, Nico Rosberg, Paul di Resta, Jenson Button, Sergio Perez and Bruno Senna. Fernando Alonso is the first driver in 2012 to win two races. Michael Schumacher takes podium number 155, his first since winning the 2006 Chinese Grand Prix. The German is also the first driver over forty to finish in the top three since Nigel Mansell at the 1994 Australian Grand Prix. The other Mercedes driver, Nico Rosberg, sets the fastest lap: it was since the 1955 Italian Grand Prix , with Stirling Moss, that the German team did not reach this milestone. Fernando Alonso, Kimi Räikkönen and Michael Schumacher have not been on the podium together since the 2006 Canadian Grand Prix. From eleventh to first. With a comeback like this Fernando Alonso literally drove his audience crazy at the European Grand Prix. Waves, flag waving, dancing: it all started after lap 33, when Sebastian Vettel, in the lead up to that point, had to park his suddenly silent Red Bull Racing, giving way to the attacking Fernando Alonso, author of an all-in-one race. comeback. Delirium broke out in the stands, with the audience standing as their idol passed by.
An endless celebration, which became even more overwhelming when Romain Grosjean - who after Sebastian Vettel's retirement had found himself second and was pressuring Fernando Alonso - had a problem and had to abandon the race.
"It's difficult to express what I feel, winning here at home is something unique. The feeling is special. I had already had the opportunity in Barcelona in 2006, with Renault. I remember that day. I repeated myself thanks to a special team like Ferrari, which brought all the fans here with the Spanish flags".
A success, that of Fernando Alonso, which comes after Spain's victory against France at the European Championships:
"Today I am proud to be a Spanish sportsman. Today is my best victory. The car took a while to pick me up, and I was with the fans for a while, they wanted me to jump with them. It was a great feeling. Formula 1 is incredible, it's a sport, which means having ups and downs. This is true in sport and perhaps more so in F1 where there are more variables. Today was a truly incredible race, I did some good battles at least seven-eight overtaking, you can end up against a wall but you can also win everything went well and I was happy".
Michael Schumacher, the driver with the most experience in Formula 1, was caught by surprise at the end of the European Grand Prix:
"I never thought about the podium, not even at the end of the race. When I crossed the finish line I asked: but how did I get there? And they told me you're on the podium and I couldn't believe it, I didn't expect it. I lost count a bit in the last laps, clearly I was ahead of Webber but I didn't know I was third and it's one of those moments when you appreciate what you've done. I'm happy to be back on the podium in a spectacular, incredible race. I'm very happy".
If on the one hand we can perceive the joy of Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher, on the other Kimi Raikkonen, however, does not deny himself, and shows his usual incredible coolness for his good second place:
"In the end we all had the tires gone, I had enough to overtake Hamilton, but it would have been difficult to win. At the start I was blocked by Maldonado and I lost some positions but I made a good recovery and in the end second place is definitely an excellent result".
Felipe Massa, however, blames the car for his once again disappointing performance:
"We could have done better but I had two problems, Kobayashi who put me out of the race but before that I had a problem with the car, something broke and I no longer had the balance, and this took away my chance to fight, the car worked very well before and then this problem took away my chance to go like Alonso. I'm sorry, our car was very strong today, it's a shame for what happened".
While the Ferrari team principal, Stefano Domenicali, aims to win the World Championship:
"We are very happy, Alonso had an extraordinary race, but the world championship ends in November. Vettel's retirement? Bad luck is part of the race, but we must aim for the most important result".
The president of Ferrari, Luca Montezemolo, after many scoldings, expresses affection for his team.
"We have an extraordinary driver, a competitive car, a perfect team: this is the summary of our victory. I am happy for Stefano Domenicali and for all his men, who have worked so hard and well, I also want to thank them one by one for what they will do to improve further. The championship is long, every race is unpredictable and there is still a lot to do but yesterday's victory is a real adrenaline rush to push even harder".
Montezemolo was struck by the snapshot of the podium, where three drivers joined by a lowest common denominator, Ferrari.
"I saw all three champions of my Ferrari embracing each other. Thinking back to the many extraordinary victories of the last fifteen years and the people who contributed to them - from Michael to Kimi, from Todt to the other drivers, from the technicians to the mechanics - I was moved".
In short, a human and warm side of the Ferrari president emerges, which brings him closer to the team, which makes him even more present in everyone's thoughts, even when he is away from the tracks. The legend of televisions being smashed with the remote control when the Ferrari loses or breaks down is a recurring image in the thoughts of mechanics and drivers. While the loser, Sebastian Vettel, says:
"It was really shit but there's nothing I can do anymore".
The way in which the World Champion defined his retirement due to a technical failure about halfway through the European Grand Prix, on the Valencia street circuit, is colorful. The German was leading the race at that point. Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso cries on the podium. Partly out of emotion, partly to vent the great accumulated tension. He jumps happily, kisses the public, I pointed out his friends from Ferrari, mechanics and technicians, the whole team that he continues to define as magical. He celebrates and won't stop, given that at 8:00 pm he is still walking around the paddock with the Spanish flag around his neck. Alonso, what do you feel after such a triumph?
"It's difficult to explain the tangle of emotions that are inside me. Certainly a lot of pride. I'm proud to be Spanish, a nation that is fantastic in this world in sport, the national football team, Nadal in tennis and if you allow, me too in Formula 1. Our people need certain joys, given the difficult moment they are going through, with this profound economic crisis".
The people ask and she doesn't shy away.
"I parked the car in front of the grandstand, there was a sea of screaming people, I had shivers. They told me that there were more than one hundred thousand spectators and I imagine the sacrifices they must have made to be at the racetrack. Attending a Formula One race, coming to cheer for me, is an extra that is perhaps difficult for some to bear. They told me about people who slept in cars or caravans, they are splendid, they deserved all this, such a fantastic atmosphere".
We've never seen him so excited. Yet in Spain you have already won, in Barcelona, with Renault, in 2006.
"Great emotion, but not comparable to this. This time I triumphed with the legendary Ferrari, a car that is a legend here in Spain. The red of our flag, the red of Maranello, everything mixes, it's crazy what I'm feeling, a memorable victory, a weekend that I will never forget".
To think that on Saturday he was a broken man.
"It's true, but this is Formula 1, an unpredictable sport, even more so this season. Up and down, a tremendous swing, qualifying disaster, race joy. We riders know that it can happen, the secret is to never give up, trust your abilities, always think positively".
One word, without the right car.
"But now this Ferrari is. It's competitive, it makes you fight for the lead, it allows you to be in the running for the World Championship, you just need to know how to optimize everything. Because inside a grand prix there really is everything, nothing is missing, the start, the overtaking, the tyres, the strategy, an infinite number of details that make everything exciting and unpredictable. You have to be there, believe in it and push".
Everything nice. However, it must not be said that before leaving he believed in victory.
"No, I'm not saying that, I'm not a hypocrite. I knew I had to be very aggressive from the first lap, that I would have to take a lot of risks, overtake a lot and I hoped with all this to finish on the podium. Victory was a dream. The fact that he came true is amazing".
When did you really start to believe it?
"There were many key moments, starting from the first lap, the fight with Button, the three positions gained. Then the overtaking on Maldonado, Vettel retiring, the dangers I faced when on the restart, after the safety car, I overtook Grosjean. There wasn't a ride where I could relax. In those moments you are at a crossroads: you can end up against the wall or on the top step of the podium".
Did Canada come to mind at the end, that crisis due to the tyres?
"Continuously. In the last eight laps I kept talking to the pit crew, Stella, my engineer, told me not to worry, that everything was under control. I thought I ran out of tires and them: not for now, we're checking the times, the pace is good, go ahead".
Keep going until you reach the finish line.
"I didn't understand anything anymore. The crowd shouted and I shouted even more. In Spain, in front of my people. Do you realize?"
There is much more red than meets the eye on the podium in Valencia. And above all there is much more Ferrari. Just take a look at those two gentlemen playing with champagne under the emotional Alonso just before the anthems. There is the whole story of a team in the shadow of those caps. The remote past, the immediate past, the present and the future. There are the cold yet cheerful eyes of Kimi Raikkonen who, as usual, doesn't have much desire to celebrate himself with words. And the always unchanged eyes of Michael Schumacher who, waiting to know if the race direction will validate the result (which will happen in the late afternoon after many discussions and many hours of waiting), meanwhile returns to feeling alive and fast. And almost amazed:
"I had lost count at the end of the race. I was so focused on fighting Hamilton that I didn't pay attention to the positions. I didn't think I was that far ahead, I thought I was sixth or seventh... I asked my guys via radio how I got there and they, crazy with joy, shouted at me that I was on the podium".
It hadn't happened in 99 races.
"It's an amazing feeling after so long".
But, above all, on the podium in Valencia on this red-hot evening of tears and champagne, there is the satisfied look of Fernando Alonso who at the end of a memorable race towers above, even physically, his two personal ghosts, his two private poltergeists, those who since the day of his arrival in Italy have cluttered his path with comparisons and jokes and skeptical faces. The myth Michael, the emperor, the man to beat, the one who brought home seven World Championships and who knows who else will do it; and the phenomenon Kimi Raikkonen, the last driver who was capable of winning a World Championship with Maranello cars but, above all, the last driver capable of carving out a place for himself in the hearts of millions of fans. Two giants who are now reduced to extras on this Spanish stage, secondary characters to be looked at from the top of the first step. Soon, very soon, difficult times will come. Alonso knows this perfectly. Red Bull Racing and McLaren will react, luck will stop smiling, and then it will take talent and effort and concentration to stay up there. But a victory like the one achieved in Valencia is the best way to prepare for battle. And perhaps this is precisely the true meaning of this very red podium, albeit in his own way. The F2012 (in its redone version after the disastrous start in Melbourne) has transformed and become fast. And with her the entire Ferrari team. No longer understood as a simple team but as a crossroads of great drivers and dominant machines, a place where legends can be built in the space of an afternoon, or in a handful of laps, the Ferrari of Gilles Villeneuve, Michael Schumacher and even Kimi Raikkonen, so to speak, has returned to itself. And now she's ready to fight it out to the end, against anyone. The other triumph of Made in Italy at the European Grand Prix is broadcast - live on global television - in the last ten laps. When Andrea Stella, Fernando Alonso's track engineer, with the naturalness with which the best things usually arise, pushes the radio communications button and begins speaking to his driver. In Italian. When Andrea Stella, Fernando Alonso's track engineer, with the naturalness with which the best things usually arise, pushes the radio communications button and begins speaking to his driver. In Italian. When Andrea Stella, Fernando Alonso's track engineer, with the naturalness with which the best things usually arise, pushes the radio communications button and begins speaking to his driver. In Italian.
"Behind you have Lewis at 3.5. Schumacher worries us more. He continues to push, three laps to go".
Simple simple sentences which however - probably without even the author's knowledge - represent a small revolution. Always in the circus, an Anglo-Saxon environment ad nauseam, it is or, rather, was unthinkable that someone would start speaking on the radio in a language other than English. Partly because until recently team orders were prohibited (and speaking in a foreign language could give rise to doubts and suspicions, especially if this language was Italian), partly because between engineers, drivers and managers there was always, even in Ferrari, someone who wouldn't understand. Until today. Why, now that Ferrari has a driver who loves to speak in Italian and an entirely home-made management. In fact, a few other times, in the last two years, it had happened but the British direction of Ecclestone promptly censored it, Ferrari was such a loser. In Valencia he couldn't. And maybe that's the beauty of it. In any case, we went from boredom to ecstasy. A rush of pure adrenaline.
How good Fernando Alonso is, how fast and aggressive Ferrari has returned, but above all how much Formula 1 has changed, so suddenly, no longer an extraordinary medicine for insomnia sufferers, so much so that there was no overtaking even if you paid for it in gold, we watched the start and then went off to sleep until the finish line, regardless of the nothingness that the race offered and projected on the screen. Other times, even if in reality it is not old history, but a sad reality until last year. Now don't close your eyes, there's not even time to go to the bathroom, one overtaking leads to another, and then the tires that run out, the times that get worse, the strategies that exalt you or make you collapse, the cars that often all seem the same and clump together, as happened on Saturday in the second act of the qualifying, in less than 0.3 seconds. What we saw in Valencia was pure spectacle, continuous twists and turns, like the best reversals in a football match in which the two teams play give-and-take, without tactics. Fernando Alonso has loomed large, confirming himself as a phenomenon, a worthy heir in the Formula One books of drivers like Senna and Michael Schumacher (the former, even if the latter, so nostalgia goes to hell, was on the podium for the first time). Fernando enchanted and gave substance to the red dream of winning the World Championship again after five years of waiting, many defeats and some incredible mockeries, such as the one suffered by Felipe Massa in Brazil in 2008. Fernando Alonso took the stage, but Valencia more generally deserved it for its entire sport, because even Sebastian Vettel was a fury, Lewis Hamilton in any case didn't joke, Kimi Raikkonen found himself, and even outsiders like Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado could be admired. It is not known whether this is due to the new rules or whether, as some insinuate, this has become a tire championship that upsets every hierarchy at every race. It is not known whether Pirelli, Jean Todt's FIA or Bernie Ecclestone had anything to do with this plan, which produced seven different winners in eight races. who gloats over such balance and spectacle, the instigator is unknown, but it certainly wasn't an assassination. It was the Formula 1 of before, crazy boring. This one makes your head spin. As much fun as it is.