Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Alonso pays the price for Ferrari’s strategic error

ABU DHABI: Fernando Alonso gestured angrily at Russian racer Vitaly Petrov but he might as well have shaken a fist at his own Ferrari bosses after being denied a third Formula One title by a strategic error on Sunday.
The Spaniard was far too much of a team player to do that and Petrov – a rookie with an uncertain future at Renault – was a much easier, if unfair, target for merely doing what he was paid to do.
On an evening that started so promisingly for Alonso, but then turned to dust in the desert, Ferrari let the championship slip through their fingers and be picked up instead by Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel.
Alonso had been 15 points clear of 23-year-old Vettel going into the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and ended up seventh, overall runner-up and four points behind Formula One’s youngest champion.
The Spaniard, winner of five races this year, sat hunched and sweating in silence at the back of the Ferrari garage as team-mates commiserated.
“After the race it is always very easy to see the best strategy. If we didn’t stop, Webber would probably overtake us, if we stop, we let Rosberg and Petrov overtake us, very difficult call,” he said.
Alonso had been fourth, which would have been enough to take the title even with Vettel winning, but came in for fresh tyres at the end of lap 15 after his closest championship rival Mark Webber pitted in the other Red Bull.
The pitstops put both men back out on track behind several drivers including Renault’s Petrov, who had pitted when the safety car was deployed.
On a track where overtaking is difficult, Alonso was unable to get past Petrov.
“Afterwards it was really clear it was a mistake,” said Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali, without saying who had made the call. — Reuters

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