- Best Finish: 1st (Alonso, Great Britain)
- Points Scored: 215
- Championship position: 3rd
Another slow start to the campaign has hit Ferrari hard. Whereas last season’s relatively poor getaway was salvaged Sebastien Vettel’s awesome form this year has seen the Scuderia – and everyone else – ruled out of the hunt. A fourth successive year with no world title will be seen as another failure at Maranello.
They didn’t score a podium until round four in Turkey and it was mid-season before Fernando Alonso scored their maiden win with his brilliant drive at Silverstone. Too little too late, Ferrari are now left battling McLaren for runner-up spot, better known in F1 circles as first placed loser.
Status: Top Dogs (but by no means TOP dog)
For his part Alonso has generally been fantastic this year. Once he’d scored that podium in Istanbul he was truly on it and is the highest points scorer over the past four races. His Silverstone victory was first rate, as were his splitting of the Red Bulls in Valencia, his what-might-have-been day on the streets of Monte Carlo and run to second at the Nurburgring. That he looked thoroughly fed up with P3 at the Hungaroring was a demonstration of how far the team have come since their early season malaise.
But just as another titleless season is no good for his team a fifth straight year without a championship will make for an unhappy Christmas at the Alonso house. Then again, when the household income is north of the €20m mark and your wife is Spanish popstress Raquel del Rosario there’s bound to be a certain level of yuletide cheer. Overall 2011 has been a good year for Fernando – all that’s lacking is the end-of-season reward.
Felipe Massa meanwhile has been largely missing this year. A number of factors are at play: he’s clearly been made unofficial number two, if for no other reason than Alonso’s ability to rally the team around himself; he’s never recovered from the double setback of his seven seconds as 2008 world champion and the horrors of his Hungary ’09 injuries; and, when all’s said and done, he’s just not quite tough enough a character. The way Rob Smedley babies him is great entertainment, but it’s hardly the hallmark of a bulletproof psyche. Can you imagine the same happening to the likes of Senna, Lauda or even Alonso? No. Call me a renegade, but I believe it’s time for the two men to go their separate ways. Felipe still has time in F1 and he needs to spend it standing on his own two feet.
Overall the first half of Ferrari’s 2011 campaign has been about getting up to speed after a slow start. They’ve now hit good competitive form and will likely win more races, but it’s all going to come too late to allow them a crack at the title. For team boss Stefano Domenicali 2012 is the last chance saloon: another poor opening to the season and he’ll joining Massa in looking for employment ahead of the 2013 championship.
Badger’s Best: Alonso