Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Why Alonso will be Champion

Even though we are barely in the new year and teams have not even unveiled their 2010 cars, I am feeling pretty certain about one thing. Fernando Alonso will be 2010 F1 World Champion. Why do I think so? For starters, one of the most complete drivers in F1 is now a member of a team that has won 8 Constructor titles since 1999; by that math alone he would be in good standing for a title.

However if we look closer at the season ahead, car development is going to be important as ever whether it is in preseason testing or in the simulator; and from the very beginning of Alonso's career people have touted him as having a good technical understanding and full comprehension of race strategy. Currently, Alonso is fast at work building relationships with his team. Ferrari Team Principal Stefano Domenicali, says he has called every day to see if the car is showing the same performance in the simulations since mid-December and that his arrival has really inspired the workforce. Ferrari appear to be getting the Schumacher-type driver they said they needed. Moreover, if you read between the lines from the multiple reports so far, Ferrari is looking to back Alonso as the number one. Felipe Massa is coming off injury and Alonso is the professed leader of the team in terms of development. So, if you bring back a Schumacher-esque present you should get Schumacher-esque results.

Another factor is that Alonso feels he is driving better than at any point of his career and clearly motivated after two substandard years in 2008 and 2009. Given his skill level and the quality of his team that is very bad news for the opposition. Also, there are the rules changes.

Although teams will have spec Bridgestone tires, the front tires will be slighter narrower than in 2009 and refueling will be banned. Now all drivers will have to adjust and deal with the new rules so what makes Alonso anything special? Well, I am reminded about several of Alonso's qualities that have been forgotten as he scrapped in the mid-field: his ability to work with the tires, his racecraft and his insistence to drive with reliability in mind. When Michelin was still in F1, then head of Michelin's Competition Department Pierre Dupasquier was amazed at the technical understanding of Alonso in regards to the tires and his driving. People forget that after spending his entire career working on Michelin tires he went to McLaren with Bridestone, after Michelin left the sport, and nearly won a third consecutive title. He came to a new team, was able to adjust to a new tire and spearhead McLaren car development. As testing begins, I think Alonso will be able to maximize his knowledge and experience to understand the different characteristics of the new tires and push his new team forward...just as he did at McLaren.

Moreover, across the board Alonso has been heralded for his strategic and clever thinking from early on in his career at Renault through his year at McLaren. It will not surprise me if Alonso does not get many pole positions as I do not think he is the outright quickest driver, however in 2005 and 2006 it was consistency, speed and reliability that won him 2 titles. All qualities that will be very important due to the ban on refueling and the increased need for tire management. You are going to have to be very quick, consistent, tactical, and reliable in 2010 and currently there is no one better than Fernando Alonso looking at those factors in total; dare I say Prost-like. Schumacher might be there, but the fact of the matter is he has not been racing in F1 since 2006.

With the talent that is on the grid this year, we are sure to have a close battle but it will be Alonso that will win it all.


ekvin said...

if only you could be right...
this year is his chance to get his 3rd title
i'm delighted with the season coming, i see a great battle between Hamilton Alonso and Vettel
can't wait :)

Pete DaSilva said...

I agree. Great battle coming. Alonso reputation has taken a hit the several years. I think in 2010 we are going to see confirmation and a reminder of how good he is.

Lights 2 Flag said...

Hi - like your blog. I don't agree.

I think Alonso will spend a whole season squabbling with Massa (like he spent a season squabbling with Hamilton when he was at McLaren).

I have written about this a few times on my blog...

Massa and Alonso will not win the Championship. My money is on Hamilton or Vettel assuming their respective cars are up to the job.


Pete DaSilva said...

Hi Glen,

Appreciate it. I don't think Ferrari will allow what happened at McLaren for the reason I talked about in the article.

It is always up to cars in most cases. With the rules package this year the driver needs to be on top of it. Alonso will capitialize on the competition in this area.

Lights 2 Flag said...

Hi Pete

We'll all find out at the end of the season!


Pete DaSilva said...

Hi Glen,

Very is going to be a good one with all the talent on the sharp end of the grid.