Fernando Alonso has been in incredible form throughout the first 11 races. The double world champion has not put a foot wrong and whereas many of the field can point to numerous races where they lost points Alonso can arguably only point to a bad strategic call in the Canadian Grand Prix as a missed opportunity. In Montreal the Pirelli tyres were on a knife-edge but with the Spaniard leading the race Ferrari gambled on their star being able to hold onto the lead.
Ultimately the tyres fell “off the cliff” and Alonso was a sitting duck and fell to fifth in the last handful of laps but it was a gamble worth taking for a team that felt that opportunities to win races would be few and far between.
The campaign opened with a car that was over one second off the pace but Alonso used the terrible conditions of Malaysia to claim a surprise victory in the second race of the season. It was a race that only a driver of Alonso’s calibre would have been able to win and was very reminiscent of Michael Schumacher winning in the wet race at Barcelona in 1996 while driving a very uncompetitive Ferrari.
Throughout the season Ferrari have done a great job of developing the car throughout the season and since the Spanish Grand Prix the car has been a much more competitive proposition at each race. This has been perfectly illustrated by the recent improvement in performance by Felipe Massa.
Even though the Brazilian has been outqualified by Alonso at each race so far he has made strides forward in the last four races and now seems like a legitimate points contender at each race. With Massa returning to form the team should be able to contend for second in the constructors’ championship but ultimately there is no way to comment on Massa’s campaign without being disappointed by his early season form.
Ferrari have been very loyal to Massa in the past and have given him more than enough time to recover from his Hungarian accident two years ago but if he wants to stay in the red cars for next year it is imperative that the likeable Brazilian can start taking points off Alonso’s championship challengers.
Ferrari have comfortably surpassed their early season expectations but now that Alonso is holding a commanding championship lead anything less than claiming the drivers’ championship will be deemed as an unsuccessful campaign.