Why Alonso can still win the 2010 F1 title

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F10. Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Barcelona, Spain, Friday 7 May 2010.

Fernando Alonso drives the Ferrari F10 who he believes can still deliver the 2010 title

Jul.17 (Daniel Chalmers) All the focus after Silverstone seems to be on McLaren versus Red Bull battle for the rest of the season. Now 47 points behind the championship leader some are starting to rule Fernando Alonso out of the title race.

2010 British Grand Prix Silverstone Practice Ferrari Alonso

Fernando during the British GP weekend

However ruling out the two time world champion is a very foolish thing to do. Alonso himself clearly still thinks the title is possible.

He said: “I am more convinced than before this race that we will win the championship.”

He may be 47 points behind but there are still nine rounds to go with a massive 225 points still up for grabs.

2010’s new points season often makes drivers seem further behind than they are actually are. Under the old points system Alonso would be 21 points behind Hamilton.

In the recent past drivers have come from further behind, to get back into contention. In 2007 Kimi Raikkonen was 26 points behind Hamilton after the US GP but he snatched the title with strong form in the final third of the season.

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari celebrates in parc ferme.  Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Race, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday 9 May 2010.

Fernando celebrates winning the season opener in Bahrain

The previous year Michael Schumacher was 25 points behind the championship, he was level on points with Alonso by Japan. If it wasn’t for an engine failure whilst leading the title could well have been his.

The good news for Alonso in this current points system is that winning a couple of races can put you right back into the thick of things.

Before the Spanish GP Webber was down in 8th place 32 points off the lead in the title race. After his masterful two victories at that race and in Monte-Carlo he suddenly became the championship leader.

It was a similar story for Hamilton too. Before Monaco he was down in seventh in the table 19 points behind the pace setter. After those two wins in Istanbul and Montreal Lewis shot up to the top of the table in the same style as Webber.

Another positive for Alonso is that there are number of competitive runners this year. Therefore it’s not unusual for one of the leading contenders to finish down in 6th or 7th. Winning a race when that happens would enable the Spaniard to gain big ground on his rivals.

(L to R): Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault and Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari shake hands at the drivers end of year photograph. Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race Day, Interlagos, Brazil, 22 October 2006. DIGITAL IMAGE

Fernando versus Michael Schumacher in 2006

This is very different to his title battle with Schumacher back in 2006 when they were constantly finishing races first and second. As a result it wasn’t easy for Schumacher to make big in-roads into Fernando’s lead at just one race, unless something unusual happened.

Although Ferrari haven’t been as quick with the development of the F10 as Alonso would like, the car is now much closer to the front running pace. It’s just that over the last two races Ferrari haven’t been able to show the extent of their new found pace because of their penalties and bad luck

In Valencia had it not been for the safety car Alonso would have been able to battle with Sebastien Vettel and Hamilton for race victory. The F10 is easy on it’s tyres so therefore comes on stronger towards the end of a race

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing, Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari and Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing in parc ferme.  Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, British Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Silverstone, England, Saturday 10 July 2010.

Fernando was best of the rest behind the Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel after Silverstone qualifying

At Silverstone Ferrari were regarded as the second quickest car ahead of McLaren. Ferrari were best of the rest behind Red Bull in qualifying.

In the race Alonso’s bad start and drive-thru penalty left him in traffic throughout the duration. Hamilton was able to keep within touching distance of Webber despite the MP4-25 enduring problems during the weekend, mainly the bumps and the blown diffuser being unsuccessful.

Like McLaren, Ferrari are more competitive in race trim, so Alonso could potentially have made Webber work harder considering Ferrari had the second strongest car.

Fortunately for Alonso out of the remaining nine tracks there are only two which you could call Red Bull tracks. These two tracks are Spa and Suzuka with their range of high speed corners which the RB6 will fly on.

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F10. Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday 13 May 2010.

The Ferrari F10 has shown great potential

Everywhere else the F10 should be able to challenge Red Bull and McLaren. In Canada and Valencia Ferrari were right up there at the front.

Speaking to Ferrari.com Alonso said: “We can’t forget Silverstone is a special track with very special corners – in 2009 also Red Bull dominated in Silverstone.

So I think we did very good improvement on our car. I think we are very close to Red Bull now in terms of performance. Hopefully we can see that at a normal track like Germany or Hungary and we can fight for pole position with them there.”

Stefano Domenicali says the team will continue to bring more upgrades to the car: “We did quite a reasonable step in Valencia, and we’ll do another one, maybe smaller for sure, at Silverstone. We’re speaking about the front and rear wings.

The fans celebrate Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari  taking his record equalling ninth victory of the season. German Grand Prix Race, Hockenheim, Germany, 28 July 2002. DIGITAL IMAGE

Ferrari fans in Germany

“Then in Germany, a new package, in Hungary, a new package, and then we will see.”

Back in 2007 when Kimi Raikkonen snatched the title from nowhere Hamilton and Alonso’s battle at McLaren contributed to Kimi’s triumph.

History could well repeat itself this season. The instense fight between the Red Bull drivers is likely to mean that they are going to continue to take points off each other. The fight at McLaren is also still looking very close and the same scenario could apply there.

At Ferrari Alonso has appeared from the outside to have marked his territory at Ferrari. The points gap between Alonso and Massa is now 31 points, and Massa has been really struggling to match Alonso.

(L to R): Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari with team mate Fernando  Alonso (ESP) Ferrari. Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain  Grand Prix, Preparations, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir,  Bahrain, Thursday 11 March 2010. BEST IMAGE
Felipe Massa has been no match for Fernando at Ferrari so far this season

Assuming this pattern continues it means Alonso doesn’t have a team mate who will get points off him. This could give Alonso a huge advantage in comparison to the McLaren and Red Bull drivers.

The inter-team rivalries will only get tenser the closer we get towards the business end of the season and the stakes get higher and higher.

If Massa is a long way behind Alonso it’s likely he will be asked to be the number two driver. This means that Massa could take points off Alonso’s rivals, rather than him.

If the reports are to believed that arrangement has already been made as a condition of Felipe’s contract extension.

Although only rumours it’s not impossible to believe. On his current form, what other reason is there to extend Massa’s deal when Ferrari could have gone for the impressive Robert Kubica?

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari in parc ferme. Formula One World  Championship, Rd 10, British Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Silverstone,  England, Saturday 10 July 2010.

Fernando checks out the opposition

It can’t be denied though that, although it’s a bit anti-racing, having a clear number one and number two is the most efficient way of sealing a title. Particularly when considering the recent events at Red Bull which risks ripping the team apart.

A final point to consider is that all the pressure now seems to be focused on Red Bull and their drivers to win this title, with McLaren considered the most likely to usurp them.

From his current position Alonso is only an outsider to become champion so he can race with less pressure and enjoy himself a bit more. Then maybe we might just see the best of him, which could be devastating for the other front runners.

In conclusion Alonso may look down and out looking at the championship table at the moment. On the other hand we have seen this championship constantly changing direction race by race.

Fernando has the ability to return Ferrari to winning ways as he did in Bahrain

Fernando has the ability to return Ferrari to winning ways as he did in Bahrain

If Ferrari can put themselves in a position to extract the most from their upgraded car, and Alonso can go on a decent two or three race run, the complexion of his season will completely change.

At most bookmakers Alonso is now 10/1 to win the championship, and considering what could still unfold in 2010 those are pretty good odds.

Alonso could sneak on the outside and win his third title. There are still many things potentially going in his favour despite a mixed season so far.

  • steve

    As much as I would like to see Fernando achieve this, I guarantee he will not win the 2010 Championship. If this editor were a race driver, he would be swimming with the fishes in Monaco harbor. Now, as for 2012, I still think the Red Bulls are the team to beat. They are a strong team, which is lacking from the prancing horse. I also have an eye on Rosberg. I like his consistency.