Insight: Pérez threat too much for Alonso...

Insight: Pérez threat too much for Alonso...

13 September 2012 – The F1 silly season is in full swing. Most of us have expected Sergio Pérez to be confirmed alongside Fernando Alonso at Ferrari. But, as explained in this exclusive GPUpdate.net column, whispers coming out of Maranello suggest that the Spaniard is pushing to retain Felipe Massa in order to lower the threat to himself.

Racing drivers are selfish, egotistical and arrogant; that tends to be why people employ them. When it comes to selecting your line-up, in any form of motorsport, the two simple goals tend to be: win the championships for drivers and teams. So, employ the best two drivers to do it? As we have seen on countless occasions in the past, that particular formula can often end in catastrophe.

Over the weekend of the Italian Grand Prix, Ferrari’s home race, all of the attention was on Lewis Hamilton and his possible switch from McLaren to Mercedes. That was great news for the red team, as they remained very much out of the spotlight. Behind the scenes, though, Luca di Montezemolo and Stefano Domenicali have a very tough decision on their hands. We already know - because the team confirmed it on their website - that the pair had a lengthy discussion on Monday.

Think back to the glory years. Michael Schumacher dominated and, although he was treated badly at times, Rubens Barrichello assisted for team glory all the way through from 2000 to 2004. After the episode of Monaco 2005, the Paulista finally slung his hook. But he put up with Austria, 2001 and 2002, because there was simply no other competitive seat that he could have filled. The McLaren and Williams arrangements were sorted and so Rubens lived with the stress. This was ideal for Ferrari; one driver had the edge, meaning the pair of them couldn’t fight each other, to easily sew up double titles time after time. Of course, big reasons for this were the particular struggles of their closest rivals, developing Michelin tyres as the Ferrari-Schumacher-Bridgestone partnership went from strength to strength.

They no longer have that luxury. Several teams are now contending, meaning Ferrari has to have two strong drivers in order to stand any chance of winning the constructors’ title. Think about it. Why wouldn’t Ferrari want Pérez? He is out-racing his customer-engined Sauber and overtook both Ferrari cars at Monza. He’s been on the podium three times and is impressing far more than Massa did in any of his three Sauber campaigns. Surely this one is a no-brainer? Think again.

Fernando Alonso is no idiot. His current circumstances are familiar to 2005 and 2006: race-winning car, slower team-mate and a half decent shot at the title. The problem for Ferrari now is that too many other cars are finishing between Alonso and Massa. Back at Renault, Giancarlo Fisichella may have been slower but, as the grid wasn’t as full of such competitive cars, losing a place or two didn’t prevent them from winning the teams’ title. This leaves Montezemolo in a tricky position.

Ferrari clearly needs Alonso. That has been proven this season alone and the fact that, back in May 2011, they agreed terms up to and including 2016 only backs that up. The issue: as much as Fernando may want Ferrari to win, his own intentions come first. Should a Mexican roadblock be put in place, there are obviously going to be tears. Alonso remembers 2007 all too well and we publically saw how the Spaniard, then the reigning double World Champion, reacted (childishly at times) against Lewis Hamilton, even though both were to blame for their eventual loss of the title. Older and wiser nowadays, there is no chance in hell that he wants a repeat performance. Pérez has a sheer ability when it comes to raw speed and simultaneous tyre management: a vital combination in the modern age of Pirelli tyres. So, could he take on Alonso with identical equipment? Given a while, of course he could.

Equally, Ferrari know as well as anybody that running two star drivers can end in, quite literally, a tragedy. In 1982, there was fierce competition between Gilles Villeneuve and Didier Pironi. In front of their home crowd at Imola, the latter disobeyed team orders to win. Two weeks later, Villeneuve was on the limit in qualifying at Zolder, desperate to beat his team-mate, when he struck the back of Jochen Mass at high-speed and lost his life. Pironi suffered career-ending injuries in Germany that summer and Keke Rosberg won the title for Williams.

Having spoken to sources in Maranello, my understanding is the following. Alonso is desperate to keep Massa. The pair are on good terms and Felipe has proven that he can still perform. Drafting Pérez into the team would only be a distraction. Sure enough, if Massa always did what he did in Italy on Sunday – ie. finish one place behind Alonso in every race – then you can be sure that Ferrari would have signed a fresh contract long ago. One problem. As has been demonstrated between 2010 and now, that is not often the case. Perhaps some similar performances between Singapore and Brazil could yield Massa another year, but it is probably too late.

Alonso has power at Ferrari. Domenicali knows it. So does Montezemolo. And, quite frankly, neither of them can afford more lashings in the Italian press. They must perform and, therefore, they must keep their lead man happy. Pérez has already hinted that he intends to stay at Sauber and, as a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy, his time will come. For now, Ferrari is in need of a solid performer. And that is not Sebastian Vettel, as the Scuderia keeps suggesting; this is no more than a smokescreen to mask reality. Can you really imagine Vettel being allowed to race alongside Alonso, in the squad Fernando is building up? Carnage would ensue.

What Ferrari needs is a proven race winner, hungry for success and deprived of any for the past four years. A cool-headed Finn with experience and respect for his employer and team-mate. I don’t mean Kimi Räikkönen. I mean the man who McLaren used to replace Alonso. Step forward, Heikki Kovalainen.


Gregory Haines
GPUpdate.net Editor

Twitter: GregoryHainesF1

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Thursday 17 August 2017

  2. 17:12

    Follow us on Instagram for the best photos!

    F1
  3. Video: How to master IndyCar oval tracks 17:02

    Video: How to master IndyCar oval tracks

    A selection of IndyCar drivers talk about the challenges of racing on ovals, and how to master them.

    Indy
  4. Williams 'very disappointed' with first half 16:27

    Williams 'very disappointed' with first half

    Williams technical chief Paddy Lowe says the team was left feeling "very disappointed" with its results over the opening half of…

    F1
  5. Overview: Alternative stats from season so far 14:58

    Overview: Alternative stats from season so far

    Formula 1 championship standings, race wins and pole positions all get covered, but what are the lesser-known statistics of the…

    F1
  6. Marko backs Vettel to claim 2017 crown 12:34

    Marko backs Vettel to claim 2017 crown

    Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has tipped Sebastian Vettel to come back "even stronger" following the summer break and clinch…

    F1
  7. Video: Sébastien Loeb returns to action 11:27

    Video: Sébastien Loeb returns to action

    Watch as nine-time WRC champion Sébastien Loeb returns to action at the wheel of the Citroën C3.

    WRC
  8. Makino to make F3 return at Zandvoort 10:40

    Makino to make F3 return at Zandvoort

    Honda-affiliated Tadasuke Makino will return to the European Formula 3 grid at this weekend's Zandvoort round, after recovering…

    F3
  9. Ferrari hopeful of avoiding turbo penalties 10:08

    Ferrari hopeful of avoiding turbo penalties

    Ferrari is hopeful of avoiding power unit-related penalties over the second half of the season, despite both its drivers being…

    F1
  10. Mid-season review: McLaren-Honda's woes 08:42

    Mid-season review: McLaren-Honda's woes

    GPUpdate.net continues its mid-season review series with McLaren-Honda, which has lacked reliability and performance…

    F1
  11. Video: IndyCar 'Photo Finish' with Dixon 05:43

    Video: IndyCar 'Photo Finish' with Dixon

    Scott Dixon is the first guest on IndyCar's 'Photo Finish' series as he looks back on his career.

    Indy
  12. Wednesday 16 August 2017

  13. Saavedra gets SPM seat for next two rounds 17:17

    Saavedra gets SPM seat for next two rounds

    Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM) has announced that Sebastián Saavedra will pilot the No. 7 Honda for the next two rounds of…

    Indy
  14. Iannone urges patience for Suzuki gains 16:12

    Iannone urges patience for Suzuki gains

    Andrea Iannone says Suzuki "learned so much" across back-to-back events in the Czech Republic and Austria, but has urged the…

    MotoGP
  15. Video: F1 2017 game 'Born to Be Wild' trailer 14:24

    Video: F1 2017 game 'Born to Be Wild' trailer

    Watch the latest trailer for Codemasters' new video game, F1 2017, to be released on August 25.

    F1
  16. Vandoorne making 'big steps' at every race 12:19

    Vandoorne making 'big steps' at every race

    Stoffel Vandoorne feels that he is making "big steps" forward at every Grand Prix following a difficult start to his first…

    F1
  17. Video: Mansell's Williams FW14B on track 11:02

    Video: Mansell's Williams FW14B on track

    25 years ago today, Nigel Mansell claimed the 1992 world title with the revolutionary Williams FW14B. Karun Chandhok recently…

    F1
  18. Rabat's title-winning Moto2 bike stolen 10:28

    Rabat's title-winning Moto2 bike stolen

    Tito Rabat's title-winning Moto2 bike was stolen from Marc VDS' base in Belgium on Wednesday, the team has revealed, as it seeks…

    MotoGP
  19. Montoya gets sports car deal with Penske 10:05

    Montoya gets sports car deal with Penske

    Juan Pablo Montoya will return to full-time competition in 2018, after signing a deal to race for Penske in the IMSA WeatherTech…

    Misc
  20. Bourdais given 'all clear' for IndyCar return 09:41

    Bourdais given 'all clear' for IndyCar return

    Sébastien Bourdais has been given the "all clear" to return to IndyCar action following a final check-up with medical chiefs in…

    Indy
  21. Mid-season review: Renault's steady progress 09:02

    Mid-season review: Renault's steady progress

    GPUpdate.net continues its mid-season review by reflecting on Renault's slow and steady progress since its full-time return…

    F1
  22. Video: Sounds of Williams' 40 years in F1 05:42

    Video: Sounds of Williams' 40 years in F1

    Williams has released a spine-tingling film of the various sounds from its 40 years in Formula 1.

    F1
  23. Tuesday 15 August 2017

  24. Video: McLaren's Woking Grand Prix 'plan' 16:22

    Video: McLaren's Woking Grand Prix 'plan'

    McLaren presents a tongue-in-cheek plan to add a Woking Grand Prix to the Formula 1 calendar.

    F1
  25. In photos: Formula 1 drivers' summer breaks 15:02

    In photos: Formula 1 drivers' summer breaks

    Formula 1 broke up for summer earlier this month, following an intense first half of the season, but what has the grid been up…

    F1
  26. Video: Formula 1 fans go behind-the-scenes 14:12

    Video: Formula 1 fans go behind-the-scenes

    Watch as Mercedes competition winners get a behind-the-scenes experience at this year's British GP.

    F1
  27. Kallio: Top 10 finish 'like a victory' for KTM 12:54

    Kallio: Top 10 finish 'like a victory' for KTM

    KTM test rider Mika Kallio labelled his top 10 finish as "like a victory" for the manufacturer as he displayed encouraging pace…

    MotoGP
  28. Stroll expected 'adversity' in rookie season 11:40

    Stroll expected 'adversity' in rookie season

    Williams rookie Lance Stroll says he braced himself for moments of "adversity" when he stepped up to Formula 1 and is pleased…

    F1
  29. Dovizioso: Marginal gains behind title tilt 10:38

    Dovizioso: Marginal gains behind title tilt

    Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso says "tiny" gains in several areas are behind his emergence as a title contender in MotoGP, following…

    MotoGP
  30. Redding to show 'full potential' with Aprilia 09:31

    Redding to show 'full potential' with Aprilia

    Scott Redding says he expects to show his "full potential" when he makes the switch to Aprilia for the 2018 season, having…

    MotoGP
  31. Mid-season review: Haas avoids 2017 slump 08:52

    Mid-season review: Haas avoids 2017 slump

    GPUpdate.net's mid-season review series continues with Haas, which has made gradual gains in its sophomore season, following the…

    F1
  32. Video: Importance of teamwork in motorsport 05:36

    Video: Importance of teamwork in motorsport

    SAFEisFAST highlights the importance of teamwork in motorsport with the Castrol Honda WTCC team.

    Misc
  33. Monday 14 August 2017

  34. Video: F1 2017 wet-weather gameplay at Spa 16:32

    Video: F1 2017 wet-weather gameplay at Spa

    Watch a 50% distance wet race at Spa-Francorchamps in Codemasters' new video game, F1 2017.

    F1
  35. Lorenzo: Austria my best race yet with Ducati 15:42

    Lorenzo: Austria my best race yet with Ducati

    Jorge Lorenzo labelled the Austrian Grand Prix as his best race since he joined Ducati at the start of the season, having spent…

    MotoGP
  36. Aprilia backs Lowes to 'express his talent' 14:59

    Aprilia backs Lowes to 'express his talent'

    Aprilia boss Romano Albesiano has backed Sam Lowes to "express his talent" again in the future, following confirmation that the…

    MotoGP
  37. Räikkönen adamant he still 'has the speed' 14:20

    Räikkönen adamant he still 'has the speed'

    Ferrari's Kimi Räikkönen insists that he still "has the speed" to compete at the front of the Formula 1 field, despite a mixed…

    F1
  38. Aprilia announces Redding for 2018 season 13:26

    Aprilia announces Redding for 2018 season

    Aprilia has officially announced that Scott Redding will join the team for the 2018 season. Aprilia boss Romano Albesiano had…

    MotoGP
  39. Video: World's Fastest Gamer qualifiers - #1 11:02

    Video: World's Fastest Gamer qualifiers - #1

    Watch the first round of World's Fastest Gamer qualifiers at Silverstone. Virtual racers are competing for the ultimate job in…

    Misc
  40. Yamaha pair pin deficit on rear tyre issues 10:24

    Yamaha pair pin deficit on rear tyre issues

    Yamaha riders Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi pointed to rear tyre wear as a crucial limiting factor after the duo slumped…

    MotoGP
  41. Mid-season review: STR inches towards goal 08:44

    Mid-season review: STR inches towards goal

    GPUpdate.net resumes its 2017 mid-season Formula 1 review series by taking a look at Toro Rosso's campaign, as the Faenza-based…

    F1
  42. Video: IndyCar 2018 aero kit safety features 05:42

    Video: IndyCar 2018 aero kit safety features

    IndyCar technical guru Jon Beekhuis explains the enhanced safety features of next year's universal aero kits.

    Indy
  43. 04:06

    MotoGP standings after Austrian Grand Prix

    MotoGP
  44. Sunday 13 August 2017

  45. Márquez was 'on the limit' in Austria fight 17:25

    Márquez was 'on the limit' in Austria fight

    Repsol Honda rider Marc Márquez says he was "on the limit" and "decided to go all-in" during his frenetic battle with Ducati…

    MotoGP
more news