Alonso: The concept of what constitutes a grand prix will change this year

Formula One Testing, Day Four, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday 2 March 2014

With a week to go until free practice gets underway in Albert Park, Alonso is training hard to be as well prepared as possible when the Ferrari F14 T makes its race weekend debut.

Fernando has tackled an all-encompassing training regime in Dubai including running, cycling, karting and even football, which is a particular passion of the Maranello driver.

However, his mental focus is already on the Melbourne track and all the unknown factors that involves. “We come to the start of this championship with the team having had twelve days of testing, while as a driver I’ve had six. A few more days would have been useful, given how much has changed for this season.“


“With every lap of testing we learned something, and improved pretty much constantly. I think that will still be the case in Australia, especially on the first day and then actually in the first few races.”

There are the usual unknowns because the cars are still new, but there are also those linked to the rule changes.

“The new Formula 1 rules are very different to what we were used to. I think the concept of what constitutes a grand prix will actually change this year, with Saturday and Sunday being very different from one another. In qualifying, one will be able to get everything out of the car, pushing the new power unit to the limit, trying to get the absolutely best result. But in the race you won’t get anywhere near that level.”

Formula One Testing, Day Two, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday 28 February 2014

“Last year, towards the end of the races, on new tyres, you could do very quick lap times, whereas in the closing stages this year, you will have to bear in mind how much fuel you have left, the state of the batteries and that of the tyres. You will need to be very clever to manage these parameters and the new race strategies could see drivers being unable to go flat out to the end.”

Alonso also had a thought for those watching the races at home. “As drivers, we will get used to it quickly and so I hope that these rules aren’t immediately overturned and that they stay unchanged for a few years. Otherwise the spectators could lose confidence in this new Formula 1 which is very complex.”

The season opening Australian Grand Prix weekend starts with the first free practice session at Albert Park, in Melbourne, on 14 March. (Ferrari)

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  • Virender

    There’s some sense of Confidence that Ferrari Had done there Homework, Any Allowance on fuel limits (Over 100Kg like Bernie Said) will certainly hit them but like last year He’s also aware Merc or Red Bull can get it amended. F1 will loose charm then..

  • Michel Weij

    I still cannot wrap my head around this ban on testing – why? Manufacturers spend years and millons on making a car safe, & “saleable”. Now a driver must risk his life in new machinery after only six days of testing. It’s a hit or miss situation – if the car is a bomb, they’re buggered for the new couple of years.

  • karlich

    Well, it’s not like the survival cells have gotten any worse with the new rules so driver’s aren’t putting their lives on the line any more than in the past few seasons. And they had 12 days of testing (splitting hairs now, I know 😉 ). I also don’t think they’re buggered for the next few years. They might be for a whole season, but as we’ve seen with the evolution of the V8’s, they improve each season. Renault had a huge power deficit when the V8’s got introduced. They themselves claim that by the end of the V8 era, 95% of the engine had been changed. As for all this being fair or not, I’d have to agree with Lauda – those who started earlier, were ready earlier. I am a Red Bull fan and wish Renault would have provided a better power unit to begin with, alas, this is where we stand now and what we’ve got to live with. Same goes for Ferrari – I am not to keen on them but a few extra ponies wouldn’t hurt them to even out the chances for the scuderia. Mercedes did their homework it seems, so hey, fair dues to them if they dominate 2014. Personally I’d rather see unrestricted in-season testing and no engine freezes, not because of where Renault and my darling Red Bull stand now, but because I sincerely believe it would be more fun and even for everyone, albeit more expensive too.

  • karlich

    Might also add a purely speculative assumption that power alone won’t be the be all and end all factor of this season. The 100kg fuel limit and fuel flow limit will be a big deal and it will be far more important or interesting to see how each engine converts its ponies per liter. Torque delivery is equally important – what use is a pig of an engine that can’t be driven, where the auxiliary ERS doesn’t convert or transit power smoothly or the turbo kicks in at inopportune moments. All that is mostly in the electronics and much of said electronics is ruled by software which, by my knowledge, can and will change throughout the season.

  • KevinW

    Insightful comments from Alonso. The ability to run flat out in qualifying will play a greater role now than ever in a sport that is frequently won or lost on Saturday. His comments on race pace being limited by fuel and tires suggests the 2013 last 20 lap processions are likely to increase to a greater portion of race distance – which is ironic in that many rules changes and tire specs were designed to reduce procession racing but actually have aggravated the condition. I don’t see how any racing will be happening as the laps run out, and apparently neither does Alonso, as he expresses concern that fan reaction could lead to formula changes, which he cryptically suggested would be a bad thing for F1 (read Ferrari current strategy.) I’m not a big Alonso fan, but do respect his skills and experience. His comments here are very interesting and revealing. It appears Ferrari have focused on designing a car to exploit the new formula, meaning they will have the short burst power needed to contest for poles, and the long term fuel economy and tire management at a pace that can win the race. If this is true, they will certainly deserve to win the championship – unless of course that is exactly the same tact Mercedes has pursued. This does not bode well for Renault or Red Bull, as they barely have a working car at this point, let alone one designed around a specific race weekend strategies.

  • Hugo Lafreniere

    It will certainly change for him, not having Smedley telling Massa to move over for him.

  • Barlow

    Sounds like they might have to change the name from “Formula1″ to “Gee, this used to be Formula 1″ or maybe, “Wow Formula 1 used to be good to watch”. Could be pretty dismal, I really hope not since F1 is the only sport I like anymore. But I guess this is one aspect of the new world commerce; fix it, even if it isn’t broken!!

  • Hugo Lafreniere

    Is he already making excuses?

  • RBC

    No, he’s alerting fans to a very real problem for ALL teams.

  • RBC

    If half the races are economy runs the fans will be pissed off. The FIA may have to increase the fuel load for some tracks. But the cars have been designed with 100kg fuel tanks, so the teams can’t easily increase the fuel load. The only solution is the return of mid race refueling, which is hugely dangerous considering how much heat and electricity there is inside the cars. What a joke F1 has become.

  • Dave Bates

    Australian GP Prediction !

    Formation lap see the Caterhams holding way back, and the cars of Sutil and Hulkenberg fry on the grid.

    Lap1 & they are off, with the exception of Red Bull who will start from the garage !

    Lap 2 & it,s Rosberg leading, followed by Massa, Hamilton, Button, Alonso, Bottas. There appears to be much smoke around the circuit due to various cars self combusting.

    Lap 4 we can confirm that Grosgean,s battery has gone flat cos they forgot to plug it in, Maldonado,s parking sensors have a faulty connection and he,s had a slight bump into one of the torro rossos, which wasn,t too drastic because Vergne was coasting with only 2 gears.

    Lap 8 The lead has changed with Massa out front, and Rosberg 2nd. We have a race going on between Vetel & Ricciardo,s mechanics on who will be first out of the garage !

    Lap 10 No change, but a mechanic was seen returning from Halfords with a new titanium fufoo valve and a Fan Belt for the stricken Force India.

    Lap 20 There are now 8 cars really going for it, it appears some of them are switching off the ignition on the down slopes in an attempt to save fuel. Kimi was seen doing a pit stop for an ice lolly, so maybe overheating could be the problem here,

    Lap 30 Massa is really going for it, followed by Hamilton, Rosberg, Alonso , Jenson who stopped earlier prefered to drive in boxer shorts because the overheated batteries under his seat proved too much.

    Lap 40 And the lead cars are now down to a steady cruise, waving to the fans & blowing kisses as they go around the circuit, The Marussia of Chilton is fast making up his 2 lap deficit on the leaders and appears to have more fuel.

    Lap 50 we have more retirements due to faulty fufoo valve,s Vetel beats Ricciardo out of the garage but only makes it to. turn 2, & now Ricciardo is off, he makes a flying start from the garage and is finally on his way. The crowd sent up a huge roar as he passed Vetel on turn 2, Conspiracy will be blogged about for months after Vettel leaves his garage sooner, ( if only they had the same car )

    All remaining drivers seen pushing their cars now, ” this is why the fitness training is so important ” & with only a few laps remaining Chilton looks certain for the chequered flag, however smoke is seen coming from his electric motor, the batteries have nearly had it. With only 50 yards to go a spectator is seen taking out the U2,s from his ipod and passes them to Chilton, he plugs them in and the car bursts into life and we havI e a winner ! But who is 2nd? we will have to wait another hour or so cos guys out there are still “pushing “strong.

  • hahaha

    Most awesome post ever hahaha 😀

  • hahaha

    I’m not that worried about the racing, I’m actually not been that anxious for a long time when it comes to F1. The only thing that worries me is a fataltity of a marshall, mechanic, crowd or drivers due to the higher risk of a fire in combination with explosive batteries. The images of the accidents that Lauda, Williamson and Peterson had have crossed my mind a couple of times during pre season. Also the brake by wire system is useless, drivers don’t have a good feel with this type of braking and it could prove to be dangerous. I don’t want to be a sissy or a whiner but if something bad happens we won’t have the excuse that it could have been prevented. F1 could well lose their status of safest motorsport together with that of being the pinnacle of motorsport.