Everybody smiles at Ferrari after having made one of the best season opening in the recent years. The team was almost invisible in 2011 and started last year 1.5 secs. off the pace. Now, they are finally at the front of the grid from the first race in last 3 years. Thus, this gives confidence to everyone at the team. Actually, my reason to write this article is to evaluate what happened at the Australian GP and analyze Ferrari a little bit.
Felipe Massa, after having experienced a nightmare season in 2011, then showed a poor performance at the first half of the season of 2012. At such a period while everybody thought that the team should send him, team backed him and Massa proved them right with his performance afterwards. By the way, I would like to declare one more time that I see Massa as “co-champion” with Hamilton because of his performance and result during the 2008 season. Last year there were 6.5 champions on the grid not 6, and this year there are 5.5 champions not 5. Massa came back at the second half of the 2012 season and started this year very strong.
In Melbourne, he managed to pass Alonso at the qualifying despite only with a banker and he managed to stay ahead of Alonso until the first pit stops. The driver who would come to the pit lane first would be actually the supported one at that moment as Vettel had already come to the pits and he could have stayed in front of the two Ferraris lapping with the new tyres. Massa came to the pits and he really came out in front of Alonso. Until this moment, there was nothing against Massa. While the second pit stops were expected to be around on the laps 24-25, suddenly Alonso was called to the pits at lap 20. For sure, this totally unexpected move must have had something to do with Sutil holding up the front group. But afterwards we saw that the main goal of this move was to make Alonso stay ahead of his rivals at the front after the 2nd pit stops. After seeing this; the wise pit walls of Red Bull and Force India called their drivers to the pits but Alonso still managed to stay ahead of this two. In the meantime, Alonso’s outlap was 1.51.100, Sutil’s was 1.51.500 and Vettel’s was 1.51.700.
What about Massa? He asked the same question to the pit wall too. What’s happening, what am I going to do? He was called to the pits one lap after he asked this question and he exited the pits behind this trio. So what on earth happened that Alonso was called to the pits that early? His own decision or team’s decision?
Honestly, I think it is even absurd to ask a question about this subject. Alonso was not able to make this type of a calculation while having two rivals he needs to overtake ahead within the hurry of the race. His engineer Andrea Stella can do it but he can’t make a decision without the permission of the team management and especially without dealing with Rob Smedley. IN SHORT IN MY OPINION IT WAS A TEAM ORDER. We were thinking up to a point that the team could see both drivers as equal but in Ferrari we saw that equality has a limit too. Yes, all the cards will not be played for Alonso yet as last year, Massa will not be used as a guinea pig, two drivers will not drive with different cars, but Alonso will be given the privilege at such strategic situations. Right or wrong, I prefer not to comment on this subject, everybody has its own right. Ferrari and Red Bull treat like this, Ferrari does it obviously, Red Bull disguises it but at the end of the day two teams favor their first drivers.
Massa declared in his statement implying that he was not happy with the situation. For me Massa’s coming back to his old form was what mattered, I want two drivers to drive under equal conditions. So we can see the answer of the “who is the faster one” question more clearly.
Alonso is already as we used to know: dedicated, fast and very ambitious! On the other hand, Massa showed a strong performance at a circuit that he normally wasn’t good in; I am looking forward to watching him at different circuits. Let the faster win!