The Truth About Cars » alonso http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:29:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » alonso http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com F1 Report: Hamilton can’t drive any slower, Alonso can’t go any faster. http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/f1-report-hamilton-cant-drive-any-slower-alonso-cant-go-any-faster/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/f1-report-hamilton-cant-drive-any-slower-alonso-cant-go-any-faster/#comments Mon, 13 May 2013 17:06:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=488267 Forza Alonso. Picture courtesy BBC UK

Some of TTAC’s readers have made it absolutely clear that they cannot abide it when I pick on Red Bull’s Mark Webber. So let’s say something nice about the man: he made up for his usual an unexpectedly poor start to finish in fifth place, just behind his teammate, Sebastian Vettel. If you’re a Mark Webber fan, now would be a good time to feel good about the whole thing and look forward to the next race.

Everybody else should click the jump.

In a pre-race interview with NBC Sports’ Will Buxton, the Wobbler summed up the conventional thinking in quite woeful fashion, complaining that in 2013 it was all about the tires and that nobody could race hard any more, and so on, and what are you going to go, and isn’t it a shame. This line was duly parroted by the commentary crew: this race will be won by conserving tires. It was suggested that Kimi Raikkonen might be a good bet to win this one, since the Lotus is uniquely (some say suspiciously) easy on tires. The Mercedes Silver Arrows were expected to fade early in the race due to camber control issues in the rear.

Another expectation: that Fernando Alonso would make another one of his excellent starts to improve his position from fifth. When the lights went out, he met expectations and then some by driving around the outside of Hamilton in Turn Three and challenging Vettel before settling for third. It was then time to conserve tires. Vettel’s crew reminded him that “only the last five laps matter.” Hamilton tumbled down through the order, unable to keep rubber under the car at any pace. At one point, the Hundred Million Dollar man responded to corrections from the pit wall by moaning, “I can’t drive any slower.” He would finish the day out of the points in twelfth, while his dour teammate Nico Rosberg, who is perfectly used to driving slowly, managed to conserve a sixth out of it.

Alonso, meanwhile, had surged to an early lead and continued to increase it. The math was plain to see: it takes twenty-five seconds or so for a pit stop at Barcelona. Therefore, if you can get a second and a half extra out of the car per lap for sixteen or seventeen laps, it’s worth taking an extra stop. Kimi, meanwhile, was on the other side of that math, trying to run a three-stop strategy and keep the time loss from a more conservative pace below what he’d lose by pitting a fourth time.

In hindsight, it’s plain that Alonso was never really in danger of doing anything other than winning. His start was about perfect, his pace was blinding, and he was completely mistake-free. It was one of those rare occasions where the truth unfolds along the lines of fiction: the man actually ran along the fence before the race, touching hands with the thousands of fans who had come to see him and him alone. He delivered touching comments beforehand about wanting to make sure the fans got their money’s worth in what is currently a difficult economic time for Spaniards. It was almost too good to be true. Given the way the FIA operates, maybe it was too good to be true. Unless Nelson Piquet Jr. has some information he’d like to share after the fact, we’ll probably never know.

What else is there to cover? Oh yes, McLaren is in a very deep hole right now and it came as no surprise that they were beaten by Paul DiResta in his Force India. With the imminent retirement of the Wobbler to DTM, NASCAR, prototype-into-treeline gymastics, or whatevs, the battle between the teammates at Scuderia Toro Rosso all of a sudden starts to look fairly relevant to the future. There are rumors of financial problems at Lotus (are there ever not?) which means that Kimi’s astounding consistency, pace, and development work could be undone by lack of cash to improve the car. There are Kimi-to-Red-Bull rumors but it seems unlikely that Mr. Vettel would permit that to happen. He’s probably the only person in the world who is genuinely satisfied with Webber’s performance these past three and a half years.

All of that belongs to the future. The present, this day, belonged completely and rightfully to Fernando Alonso. Even if you hate Ferrari or don’t care for the wide-jawed Spanish driver himself, this was a wonderful and perfect day, from start to finish.

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F1 Report: A Trio of Champions, A Threesome For The Champion http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/f1-report-a-trio-of-champions-a-threesome-for-the-champion/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/f1-report-a-trio-of-champions-a-threesome-for-the-champion/#comments Mon, 15 Apr 2013 17:36:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=484833

My rant about colorless F1 drivers of the 21st century may have been honored more in the breach than the observance this past weekend; while Lewis Hamilton was doing the interview with David Coulthard at the end of the race, champagne drinker Raikkonen was having a convo with race winner Alonso. When Coulthard asked the two men to share their conversation with the crowd, both of them declined, Kimi snarking a bit a bout “tires”, but the local camera director for the race coverage made sure you could see that Alonso’s stunning girlfriend had a friend with her. Or a sister. Or who the hell knows.

Anybody who watched it happen and still thinks the winner of China had a lot of extra room in his king-size bed last night is being willfully naive. To the winners go the spoils, and our trio of podium finishers each demonstrated why their teammates weren’t standing next to them when it was time to hand out the trophies.

Much hay was made on Saturday of the fact that Massa was poised to outqualify his teammate for the fifth time in a row. Even with qualifying wizard Jarno Trulli next to him in the Flavio-era Renaults, that hadn’t ever happened. Nor did it happen on Saturday, with Alonso sneaking a third place out near the end. Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel elected not to bother to qualify at all in the name of tire strategy. Now would be a good time to insert a rant about how the staggeringly low quality of this year’s Pirelli rubber appears to be injecting all sorts of unnecessary stupidity into the season, but truth be told it’s all rather fascinating to watch and it beats the Ferrari-Bridgestone flag-to-flag snoozes that were an accepted and seemingly unchangeable part of the sport just a decade ago.

Mark Wobbler, meanwhile, was starting from the pitlane after running low on “fuel pressure” (meaning: fuel) in Q2. If the rumors are true — and it appears they are — @AussieGrit is moving back to sports cars next year. His unique combination of indifferent qualifying, hopeless starting, and mid-race position loss will be missed by precisely no one. It’s hard not to think that either of Toro Rosso’s young bulls could replace him with no difficulty; in fact, there was one incident during the race where Webber banged into an unsuspecting Jean-Eric Vergne who was in the process of kicking his ass in the junior car. The FIA waited until after the race to hand out the penalty, no doubt because Webber wasn’t even on the track for more than a few laps after that. Red Bull probably wishes they had Coulthard back at this point.

Although the race started with Hamilton leading, Alonso disposed of him with respectful but rapid authority and it would have been a bad idea to bet against the double world champion from that point forward. Ferrari’s tire strategy was sound, but that was also true for Massa. The difference between first and sixth was, as it usually is at Ferrari, the tremendous lap-by-lap discipline that Alonso brings to his craft. I don’t think he’s a brilliant, fearsome qualifier in the mode of Hamilton, but he surpasses everyone else in the twenty-lap sprints between changes. It’s been a long time since he could be said to have the best car but year after year he finds himself in the hunt for the championship. Had McLaren been able to keep their politics under control he would no doubt be a quadruple world champion by now. As it is, he may wind up matching Senna’s record in 2013.

Kimi Raikkonen, of course, is the Official Favorite Driver Of Car Guys Who Kinda Watch F1 Sometimes Because He Rallies And Chases Strippers And Took A Shit During The Pele-Michael Schumacher Presentation but he, too, is a quiet master of the twenty-lap sprint. Nowhere was this more apparent that at the end of the race, when he effortlessly held off Hamilton and duped said highly-paid Pussycat Doll into burning up his tires, leaving him vulnerable for Vettel at the end.

Oh yes, this battle for third place was reason in and of itself to watch the race. While Messrs. Hamilton and Alonso profess to mutually admire each other and conspire to give the impression that Vettel is merely an adequate driver in the very best car, week after week Sebastian puts the lie to that and rarely as impressively as yesterday, when he took the maximum possible advantage of the iffy tire strategy to pull sixteen seconds out of Hamilton in just four and a half laps. In the final corner of the race, Hamilton locked up and it seemed that the race was Vettel’s to take, but he washed out the front end and had to watch it walk away by 0.2 seconds. Every racer knows the sickening feeling of having pushed the front end too far in the only corner that really matters in a race. The tenths of a second you spent grinding the outside tire in that situation seem long enough for a vacation, a critical reading of Ulysses, or a Mercedes-Benz auto-show presentation. In this case, it was two tenths too long.

And what of Hamilton himself? He started from the front and finished third. Doesn’t seem very champion-ish. And yet he did what he needed to do with the chassis he had at his disposal. He was mostly mistake-free and as usual he took every passing opportunity available, including one on a rather despondent-sounding Jenson Button. Meanwhile, Nico Rosberg did his usual job of bumbling around the circuit making Hamilton look good until a suspension problem canceled his day. Even Gerhard Berger, who has made ridiculously unsupported comments like “Rosberg is as good as Vettel” in the past, now has to concede that his favorite German doesn’t have “the killer instinct”. Mr. Rosberg, who in exchange for lacking the killer instinct has tens of millions of dollars and a remarkably DiCaprio-esque look, couldn’t be reached for comment because he was out enjoying his life. Mr. Hamilton’s decision to leave McLaren, which seemed short-sighted as well as churlish and ungrateful, looks increasingly intelligent as the schedule grinds on. Still, the Silver Arrows need something. Neither Hamilton nor Rosberg appear to have any rapport with the team or any ability to develop the car. One suggestion: Michael Schumacher announced this weekend that he would be staying on with the team in the capacity of “ambassador”. Perhaps he would be more useful behind the wheel, sorting out the W04, eh?

Honestly, can you even imagine a podium consisting of Massa, Grosjean, and Rosberg? Of course you can’t. It’s more improbable by a long shot than a Schumacher-Barrichello-Tiago Monteiro podium, which actually happened in the USGP once. An Alonso-Raikkonen-Hamilton podium, on the other hand, makes perfect sense. As often as we hear that Formula One is a sport of machines, engineers, and ruthless computational power, it’s nice to see it proved yet again that the driver matters — and these three matter more than most.

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