Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Baku, 2016

Vettel and Alonso: Who will have the last laugh?

2016 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

When the V6 hybrid turbo era began it swiftly became clear Mercedes had replaced Red Bull as the team to beat.

But with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg unlikely to be unseated from the team it left F1’s other top drivers wondering who might be best placed to challenge them in the near future.

In the closing stages of 2014 Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel – the only multiple champions racing in F1 at the time – both decided their best opportunity lay outside their current teams.

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Sepang International Circuit, 2015
Vettel and Ferrari got off to a dream start
Alonso, frustrated after five years during which Ferrari seemed to get progressively less competitive, cut his contract short by two years and made a sensational return to McLaren.

Vettel, who knew first-hand how much trouble Renault were in with their engine and had suffered a bruising season alongside new team mate Daniel Ricciardo, followed his heart to Ferrari and replaced Alonso in a bid to recreate the team’s years of glory with Michael Schumacher.

Their fortunes could scarcely have contrasted more sharply in the first two races after the switch. Alonso spent the Australian Grand Prix on the sidelines after suffering concussion during a testing accident. Meanwhile Vettel and Ferrari scored an opportunistic victory together in Malaysia.

By the time the curtain came down on the season Vettel had taken a total of three wins. In contrast Alonso had finished in the points just twice, and left Honda in no doubt what he thought of their “GP2 engine” at the Japanese manufacturer’s home grand prix.

Go ad-free for just £1 per month

>> Find out more and sign up

However neither driver switched teams expecting they would become championship contenders immediately. The true test was always going to be which team would narrow the gap to Mercedes over the coming seasons. And with the first half of 2016 almost done, McLaren are making strides while Ferrari has fallen further behind than it was at any stage last year:

Ferrari and McLaren’s deficit to the fastest car, 2015-present (%)

Outright performance is not the only problem. While it’s to be expected McLaren would suffer endless teething trouble throughout 2015 while it effectively conducted Honda’s testing at race weekends, Ferrari’s reliability could once be taken for granted.

Not any more. Vettel has already had three five-place grid penalties for gearbox changes this year and retired before the race even started in Bahrain due to a power unit fault.

Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Shanghai International Circuit, 2016
How long will it be until McLaren leads Ferrari?
Vettel’s growing dissatisfaction was plain to see from his onboard camera at the end of final practice at Silverstone last week as he gestured in frustration after his latest gearbox glitch. Is he beginning to realise what drove Alonso to leave the team in 2014?

Even during the nadir of Alonso’s first year back at McLaren he never expressed the slightest remorse at leaving Ferrari. He even said he should have done so sooner.

Of course Alonso was never likely to express remorse at having left Ferrari. But perhaps he knew what Vettel is now starting to appreciate. At the end of last year he pointed out Ferrari’s strong season was at least as much due to the failure of other teams rather than their own success – and he had a point.

And of course it’s easier for McLaren to find ways of closing the gap to Mercedes when they are two seconds behind than it is for Ferrari when they are one second behind. But which is the better bet for the future.

Next year Formula One will adopt new aerodynamic regulations which McLaren pushed for. It’s an area Ferrari has traditionally struggled in compared to its rivals. That’s another reason why Alonso believes McLaren will catch Ferrari before Ferrari catch Mercedes.

2016 F1 season

Browse all 2016 F1 season articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

91 comments on “Vettel and Alonso: Who will have the last laugh?”

  1. I just hope he has another shot at a title. It’d be something, to start his career dethroning a 7 times world champion and end it beating two 4 times world champions.

    1. Who is the second 4x World Champion?
      I’m also betting Hamilton will become the 2016 WDC, but let’s not jump to conclusions just yet.

      1. If you’re betting Hamilton will become champion aren’t you already jumping to conclusions?

        1. “If you’re betting Hamilton will become champion aren’t you already jumping to conclusions?”

          No, obviously not. There is a difference between thinking something is likely to happen, and assuming something will happen.

  2. Time is Vettel’s side while Alonso’s clock’s ticking. I’m not sure Ferrari is Vettel’s side though.

  3. I feel bad for Alonso. Back in 2006 all were thinking when will Alonso win 3rd WDC, not if he will. But look what happened. This is F1, nothing is predictable. Hamilton and Vettel had not even racing F1 cars back then. Vettel who was last amongst the three drivers (in F1) now has 4 titles and Hamilton might get 4th one this year. And Alonso might end up with just 2. Expect the unexpected. Who knows even Vettel might not win another title? Or even Ricciardo or Verstappan despite of being great drivers not get another WDC shot? Nothing is ever won untill you actually cross finish line. This is Motorsports for you.

    1. And ‘just 2’ is nothing to hang one’s head over. Even the single WDC winners are in an elite group. Gilles Villeneuve is considered amongst the greats, and he didn’t win a WDC.

      1. I agree.. Alonso’s 2 WDC is a much harder fought title than Vettel or Lewis… Alonso battled agains Kimi in a Mclaren then Schumi in Ferrari when cars are about equal or just about 1 to 2 tenths from each other than 1 to 2 seconds a lap from each other.

        1. Well you can tell that to someone who is new to F1. In 2005 and 2006 Alonso had the best car. In 2005, I agree Mclaren was bit faster at some tracks but poor reliability. They went out of lead 5 times, gifting wins/position to Alonso. In 2006, Renault was almost half second quicker in 1st half of season before Ferrari nailed them back starting at US GP.

          1. In 2005 Renault was only faster than McLaren in the first 3 races. I still feel McLaren deliberately made Räikkönen blow up his engine in the free practice so they could run a new, faster engine in the race, but it didn’t really work out. In 2006 Renault again was a bit faster early on, but after the mass damper ban Ferrari was the team to beat. Without the puncture Schumacher would have lapped the entire field in Brazil.
            The title battles in 2005 and 2006 were great though.

          2. I think the bigger point to be made is that Alonso, with all his talent, should have had more titles, regardless of whether they were hard fought or not, and the reason for this is a mixture of bad luck, ill-timed career changes (Leaving McLaren too early, Ferrari too late etc.). While he does share part of the blame, it’s hard not feel sorry for Alonso who, again, could have had a batter career.

            Having said that, 02 titles, both won a decade when cars were more equal, plus 31 victories (as well as awesome drives) are nothing to frown upon, and F1 has a happy history of remembering drivers more for they drove rather than number of titles (Jack Ickx, Gilles Villeneuve, Ronnie Peterson are probably more reveared than some WC). History will treat him kindly.

        2. Obito_uchiha44
          15th July 2016, 11:06

          What do you mean by battled, the only reason that alonso beat kimi is because kimi didnt finish the race half the time, renault was the best car cause they won the constructors, vettels 2010 and 2012 was only decided at the last race. Alonso was an idiot in 2010, he had a decent car and came 7th, if he did live up to being the best driver, he would have won the WDC that year no matter what vettel had done.

          1. How was 2010 Abu Dhabi his fault?

          2. @mashiat

            he covered Webber after Mark’s first pit stop. Yes, you could say it was a Ferrari strategy blunder, but Alonso was in on the same preplanning meetings. His strategy, which he had a lot of control over, was to “play it safe”, not go for the win and be okay with following Webber over the finish line. He should have seen, as a driver, that Webber was cracking under the pressure. They stayed with that strategy even after Webber’s horrible qualifying the day before – which should have let them (Alonso and Ferrari) know that Webber was a non factor in the race and the WDC.

            It’s interesting, all Webber had to do to win the WDC was win the race, in a car that was the class of the field. But he was already of the mindset that Vettel would win, which is why there was all that talk at the time about whether Vettel would move over for him if they were 1 and 2.

            So yeah, Alonso was very much part of the reason he lost the WDC that year. It’s one of the reasons you have to hand it to both Hamilton and Vettel, each wants to win regardless of what is the “safe” thing to do.

      2. …and let’s not forget good old Stirling Moss…

    2. It is completely true. Alonso has very bad luck. It must be very hard for him to see that he could be 5 times winner. He only missed 8 points total while he was at SF.

      1. Blaming on “bad luck” is not a good thing for any driver. Once the “bad luck card” comes up, the driver has lost the edge.
        Once circumstances lets to play a role if the driver wins or not, then it’s already over. A championship driver erases “bad luck” out of the equation. Age and satisfaction are 2 circumstances. The first one you cannot stop, the second, well its up to the driver. Once the hunger is gone there will be no more victories. Schumacher made an excellent example of all this in his comeback.
        Alonso used to be a very competitive driver, outstanding talent. The Ferrari years took him apart.
        Look at him and the other oldies now……Alonso, Button and Raikkonen, they are all losers today and will never again be champions. Button should never been, in his case it was only the car, he’s just not that good. Raikkonen took the small opportunity and became WC 2007, good for him but it was long ago now he wasn’t worth it either really.

        I´m so tired hearing Button talking about safety these days, that kind of talk is always originates from a senior driver who is done. Stop

        Verstappen stuns them all with hunger and talent.

        Throw the oldies out, and run F1 under more challenging rules with less safety measures.

        I can hear Button nagging Charlie W at Silverstone, oh no no no its to much spray Charlie….lets have 10 more laps behind safety car.

        You don’t rely on luck if you are good enough, that’s why Schumacher became WC 7 times.

        1. With the salary McHonda is paying, of course Alonso isn’t regretting;-) But I think that the reason why older F1 drivers slowly fades away is mostly because the eyesight gets worse. By keeping fit and mentally strong You can keep the physical and the hunger for victories, but You can’t keep the eyes from getting slower and slower at adjusting the focus change from far to near and back. This sets in from maybe the late thirties and into the forties. It has an immense impact on a drivers ability to fast read the instruments, dials and settings, and then find the next braking point and track positions. It also makes the visibility problems of driving in the rain worse. This means the driver needs more time to check visually, before he can act.
          To improve things for these drivers You need to use a visor display showing all important info in focus out in front of the racecar. And then they still need to learn all dials, knobs and switches to manipulate them without looking at them.

  4. Alonso probably enjoyed the best reliability on the grid when he was with Ferrari. I am sure Vettel will be fine with the pace if they can get the reliability sorted first. The ability to push to the max without the worry of breaking any component will do wonders to the driver’s morale. Ask the Haas guys as well.

    That said, next year is a total lottery. We shall see who is going to be faster. For all we know RBR could be the team to catch. But one thing is for sure, if the engine is to be rebuilt now, Ferrari shouldn’t make the same mistake as in 2014. Better to stick with the same tech team as they know the pros/cons of the current and previous models.

    Finally, even if McLaren do have the fastest car, there is no guarantee that Alonso will be the one winning in it.

  5. It must be of concern to Vettel that even when reliability is on his side and he puts himself in a position to fight for a win (Australia and Canada), the team screw up his chances with a poor strategy. Have Ferrari got the bottle to deliver wins when the chances present themselves? It is in stark contrast to when he won in Malaysia last year.

  6. I now expect McLaren/Alonso before Ferrari/Vettel. Ferrari seem to have blown their chance and at some point all the disordered pieces at McLaren are finally going to assemble into a fast car. Hoping so anyway, Alonso deserves a decent swan song in Formula 1.

    1. It’s easier to jump from the back to 5th best which is McLarens maximum. Ferrari were number 2 and now look like number 3 but the final push to 1st is hardest. The only thing McLaren have is world class PR.

      1. Betty Swollocks
        14th July 2016, 21:04

        McLarens website is well presented but as for world class pr im not sure. Most McLarenistas are fed up with hearing Eric and Rons “teamspeak Ronmode” when trying to make excuses for this apparently ultra slow improvement. Oh well….time will tell i spose. #:)

  7. I think really the time for ‘last laughs’ has passed. Neither driver saw their moves bring them another WDC, and now the cars are about to change drastically, way beyond anything that has to do with decisions both these drivers made two years ago.

    Oh I’m sure that if somehow FA at Mac or SV at Ferrari become the driver to beat next year, these 2 year old decisions will be brought up, but I just think neither of these drivers said back then they were making their moves away from Ferrari and RBR because they hoped that in another 3 or 4 years they might possibly maybe have a winner on their hands.

    Neither of these drivers have ‘succeeded’ with their decisions, and I don’t think even next year they will be able to seriously say, ‘see I knew it…told you so!’ as nobody can predict what the new generation of cars will bring in 2017 other than I’m assuming Mercedes will still have to be given the nod as favourites for being the defending WCC’ers.

    1. Just meant to add…FA may think Mac will catch Ferrari before Ferrari catches Merc, but going back to all the original discussions on this when FA left Ferrari, he was saying all along that he would only rue his decision if Ferrari immediately came out and won the WDC the year after he left. That didn’t happen and to be consistent FA should still not be happy just catching Ferrari, but should only be happy once the Mac can bring him a WDC.

    2. I think both of these drivers made thier decisions based on the ’17 regulation change which was on the books at the time teams switched.

      However what’s important to remember is that Alonso didn’t make a choice. He was fired from Ferrari.

      1. Robbie they really had no better options at the time that they took these decisions. If you don’t have a Mercedes you cannot win a championship (for now).

      2. Hmmm…if FA was fired there wouldn’t have been all the chatter the next year as to whether or not FA would regret his decision, to which when asked he would continually respond that unless they are going to win the WDC then he made the right decision. If he was fired there would have been no such continuous questioning toward FA, especially during his first year back at Mac, so no I don’t think he was fired. Might have been a mutual agreement, but if he was forced out that would have been the media’s knowledge sooner or later, and yet to this day this site is still asking the question about which driver FA or SV will have the last laugh. The question would be moot if they had no choice to begin with.

        @nikos You are speaking in hindsight. At the time both drivers could not see themselves doing another year in vain with their teams so they made moves in hopes of the best, with both Mac and Ferrari with their big changes coming, holding big potential vs. Mercedes, at least on paper.

        1. He was politically placed in a position where he could no longer stay. This is according to LDM who wanted Alonso out and vettel in.

          LDM. If you understand high dollar contracts you know you can be fired in many ways and it’s all confidential.

          Media sites like this make money off playing innocent and not taking journalistic risks. But Alonso was shown the door.

          1. If you had the strength of those convictions you’d publish it yourself under your real name on your own site. But it’s much easier to take pot-shots at people while hiding behind anonymity and spreading your preferred version of events as if it’s gospel.

  8. Ferrari are treading water and Honda seem a long way off giving Mclaren something to compete with Mercedes. I think Red Bull will be the most likely to challenge Mercedes next year with the new aero rules, an area they excel in. Personally I think Alonso won’t get another title chance and Vettel may be waiting some time. I can see a Hamilton Vettel team swap somewhere down the line which may be Vettel’s next chance. But anything can happen in Formula One………

    Can anyone clarify what Adrian Newey’s role at RB is now? I thought he was effectively being paid by RB to keep him on the books and away from any other team but having very little involvement in F1? I only ask because aerodynamically RB still seem like they’re benefiting from his wizardry.

    1. Martin Hooper
      14th July 2016, 16:18

      He did design that latest Aston Martin/RB sports car that just come out… Not sure how much he is involved with the F1 team though…

    2. He is still the Chief Technical Officer.

    3. Horner said Newey is 50/50 between the F1 program and AM/RB production car.

    4. JungleMartin
      14th July 2016, 20:51

      Newey was on the pit wall last Sunday wasn’t he? (Silverstone) I don’t think they have people in there on a jolly, just to watch.

      With big changes coming next year, I’d expect him to be very motivated and involved. (Already.)

  9. I think that if Alonso and Vettel were both the same age, then Alonso would get the last laugh as Ferrari at the moment are as good now as they were during Alonso’s time at the team a.k.a not the best. However, Vettel is much younger, and if Ferrari pull themselves together for once then he might get another shot. Time is running out for Alonso, but at this point he hasn’t gained or lost anything in his move to McLaren.

    1. Except he only has HALF the seat time because his car rarely sees the checkered flag.

    2. MG421982 (@)
      14th July 2016, 22:55

      Yeah… right… ! We have all kind of statistics, some of them ridiculous enough not to be taken in consideration, and you say Alonso did not lose anything since his return to McLaren?! Well, he barely gained something so far, that’s for sure. The number of victories, podiums and even the number of points scored in a carreer are pretty important statistics in F1. So, should have stayed at Ferrari, very probably those few victories, podiums and points scored by Vettel at Ferrari would have been added under his name. I know he said multiple times his main interest now is another title, but in the meantime I think every victory, podium and even point should be considered. I’m sure he wanted to leave Ferrari, but I’m just as sure that he would delayed his departure 2 more years had he known what cars would be racing at McLaren in 2015 and 2016.

      1. @corrado-dub The only thing that matters to Fernando is the championship, and unfortunately neither McLaren nor Ferrari are competent enough to provide him or Seb a car or a pair of decent strategists to win the title.

        1. @ultimateuzair “The only thing that matters to Fernando is the championship”

          There’s absolute no way for you or anyone here to know that. Yeah, sure, he himself said as much, but when the only other possible statement could have been “yeah, I completely regret changing to this unreliable car with an atrocious PUs and I hate being beaten by basically everyone not in a Manor”, well then, excuse me if I can’t take that as a guaranteed sincere and honest statement.

      2. “Well, he barely gained something so far”

        I wouldn’t say having 40 million bucks a year in the bank as not having gained anything..

  10. Since 2009 Ferrari never had a top car, they were always at least a step behind the pace-setting team. The fact Alonso nearly won 2010 and/or 2012 title is very impressive. Of course they had a superior reliability, fantastic starts and putting all focus on Alonso have partly neutralised the gap. However in terms of pure speed, there were very few weekends when they were a team to beat. Especially qualifying was often very challenging for Ferrari, they tend to be better in the race but still adrift off the top. I absolutely agree with the article, saying that Ferrari has struggled in aerodynamic departement. I think their engines is almost as good as Mercedes but the problem is the chassis. They were nowhere in Monaco or Silverstone while able to fight with Mercedes in Canada. Even in years gone past, Montreal and Monza – two arguably the most power circuits in F1 – have been the best circuits for Ferrari. They also struggle on softer compounds and on green circuits, another indicator of a lack of grip.

    The key to getting Ferrari back on top is pretty obvious to me – improving their chassis.

    1. Andrew (@bombinaround)
      14th July 2016, 15:25

      @michal2009b Or putting Mick Schumacher on a long term development contract and hoping he has his father’s skills

      1. Vettel has got the skills to bring out the best in a team if it’s there to be had. Webber described him as ‘like a computer’, able to recall in the slightest detail of technical goings on.

        He loves Ferrari and they love him. Schumacher had to wait 5yrs for success with the reds.

        1. omarR-pepper
          14th July 2016, 17:40

          “Schumacher had to wait 5yrs for success with the reds.”
          I agree with you. And with evered7 above. Ferrari should learn this lesson from the past, it took time for Brawn, Todt, Byrne and Schumacher to become the team to beat. I really hope Sergio doesn’t get as impatient as Luca, who was always shuffling the line-up inside the team, so they could never settle down completely. This new line-up formed by Arribavene, Allison, Vettel and, why not, Kimi, should stay together, at least until 2018 (maybe not Kimi), so that’s four years working together and polishing their skills, until they really get to be title contenders, and I hope, the team to beat.

          1. omarR-pepper
            14th July 2016, 17:46

            I should have said @evered7

          2. Ferraris main power was the FIA, they could copy other teams solutions and use tc when IT was banned without reprocussions, today The climate is diffrent and they dont have that influece in The same way. They have have never been a topteam on sporting terms only. Fiorano and unlimited testing allowed them to implement competitors solutions that they should not have had acces to for A whole year. Personaly i dont see Ferrari leasing anything without A revolution att The top. Or IF they Gain The the same political power again.

          3. It’s not a good idea to post while being drunk :)

  11. Good article. 2 top drivers. 2 top teams. But would bet my money on Red Bull as replacement of Mercedes dominance.

    1. I’m with you, an era of high down force can only put Red Bull on the top again. I think you’ll see a verstappen/ricciardo fight next year for the title. At that point the engine will be marginally worse then the rest and the chassis will make up for it.

  12. All three, Hamilton, Vettel and Button switched for good reasons on good moments. Not a single driver can predict how it will turn out.

  13. The problem Vettel has is the inherent ability by Ferrari to self destruct. The italian press is a hungry devil, they push hard for their team, and heads roll every other year. Arribabene’s place at the team is already being questioned, while Macchione also puts pressure for the team to deliver.

    Seb can wait… for now. But even in the Schumacher years, it took a huge joint effort to move the team forward, and they had stability within their staff (Byrne, Brawn, Todt, and the lot.. they stayed there for a decade). Not sure Ferrari’s current restructuration, and the unknowns about the rules would allow such stability.

    On the other hand, I’m SURE McLaren will get back to winning days. They can do it, and so does Honda. They are a unique partnership too, so every gain is specific to them. The problem there is Alonso’s age. It’s no secret he’s still has what it takes, but the clock is ticking for him, like it or not. I just hope he can win another WDC before he retires. He deserves it.

  14. Next year there are no PU tokens. That will be the leveller.

    Ferrari will make massive gains, because behind the scenes they’ll be desperately spending huge amounts of money developing the PU. Honda will probably do the same, but their approach won’t be as money-hungry as Ferrari, who are desperate to be the team to beat.

    2017 should get tasty. Merc will have a great package, Ferrari will likely have a great PU, Mclaren will have a great car and reasonable PU. I’m looking forward to it!

    1. Don’t forget the Renault engine is closing in fast as well.

  15. I feel like McLaren is now “over the hump” and we will see what they can do through the end of the year. The project could have gone out like Nissan’s WEC project—a radical design with enormous potential that was too ambitious to implement. But they got past that. Now that the powertrain concept apparently works as an F1 engine, I think they are going to be able to begin running the team like a “normal” F1 team, that is, taking a powertrain and chassis and aero concept and developing them together, instead of basically being an F1 auto repair shop. Alonso may be vindicated in the end, in the same way Hamilton was when he went to Mercedes.

  16. Still I Rise
    14th July 2016, 15:39

    Vettel has already outgunned Alonso in gp wins. Pole positions and championships. People also seem to be forgetting that Ferrari lost their technical director for atleast 4 races when his wife tragically passed away. Ferrari started to dip when James took time out, James will be back and so will Ferrari. I also highly doubt McLaren can deliver Alonso another win, nevermind a title. Mercedes has F1 locked for atleast another 2 seasons. Hamilton has more chance of matching Schumachers 7 titles than Fernando has in winning another title.

  17. Having both traces in the graphs a very similar shade of red isn’t very helpful to the colour blind.

    1. omarR-pepper
      14th July 2016, 18:01

      Place the mouse over the line and it appears the team’s name. Advice from another colorblind ;)
      PS: Wait, weren’t Ferraris green? I didn’t notice all these years!!

      1. Get some colour enhancing glasses.

  18. Neither of them will be laughing any time soon. Mercedes advantage is huge and the new regs do nothing to diminish their PU head start. Performance convergence is a myth since this is an efficiency formula. Until they stop putting fuel in the car there will always be improvements to make.

    Mclaren are in worse shape than Ferrari for next year as they aren’t even in the “Pirelli Club”.

    The playing field continues to get less and less even, F1 really is shifting from a sport to a corporate exhibition.

    1. I still don’t understand this line of thinking. No other Mercedes powered team has won a race even after a Mercedes team failure, and they’ve only had a handful of podiums. Only other works teams have won races, hence the McLaren move to Honda.

      The Mercedes PU is strong, but it was also the best engine when powering the McLaren against Ferrari, Renault and Red Bull. Red Bull dominated with an inferior engine and lower top speeds because engine isn’t everything. Mercedes have a great package and team overall, with many of the team sadly having come across from McLaren.

      Even if they continue to have the best engine, as they have had for more than 20 years, that’s not the only factor. I think the massive change to size, wings and wheels, plus the extra weight and fuel allowance, will be quite a game-changer.

  19. Alonso, Raikkonen and Button – the three most popular drivers on the grid – have not won a race for over three years now. That is also not helping F1’s popularity.

    1. Hamilton is quite popular you know

      1. Laird Hamilton?

        1. Hamilton and Button are not as popular as the other two outside of the UK.


            Using google as a metric (so we can have some actual data to work with instead of just making unsupported statements) we can see that Alonso’s and Raikkonen’s appeal is actually more country specific than Button’s and Hamilton’s.

            We can also see from this that out of the 4 Button by far generates the least interest.

  20. Who will have the last laugh? Red Bull.

  21. If you look at that graph and try to project the current rates of improvement forward, it appears that if Honda’s current rate of development stays the same they should catch Ferrari next year and Mercedes the year after.

  22. How long will it be until McLaren leads Ferrari?

    At this rate? about 2023…

    It seems Ferrari is chassis wise on a certain sub best level. They are now about at a level they were when Alonso fought for Ferrari championships…

    A fairly second team, sometimes third, pretty far of dominant team, and never really on same performance. Despite some wins not really on championship level.

    Vettel did very similar last year, he was fighting for second till the end… and this year probably he’ll be third in the championship.

    The one team who has chassis down is Red Bull. and in last 8 years only two teams supplied field leading chassis Brackley team (both Brawn and Mercedes) and Red Bull…

    Next year is the great reset, I see no reason why Ferrari would all of a sudden be better than Mercedes and Red Bull on chassis side.. but McLaren are struggling way more than that.

    Thus Vettel made the better choice. Stats confirm it so far. And if anything history confirms Alonso tends to make seemingly right choices that turn out to be wrong.

    1. Yeah fair comment there. It is my hope that even though it will almost always work out that the WDC winner needs the WCC winning car or a very very close second place one, that next year and onward at least the top 3 or 4 or 5 teams can race closely, and ideally it come down to the driver to a greater degree and the car to a little lesser degree. If they’re taxed more, and have a harder time concentrating after 90% of gruelling laps are run, let’s see who can hold it together mentally when their neck is giving out as the race winds down..that kind of thing. I might be dreaming. This might not happen while DRS is around to make their lives easy, but at least it feels like they’re going the right way and/or it has potential to be more about the driver.

    2. “Next year is the great reset, I see no reason why Ferrari would all of a sudden be better than Mercedes and Red Bull on chassis side.. but McLaren are struggling way more than that.

      Thus Vettel made the better choice.”

      So you say you see no reason for Ferrari to be better than Red Bull next year, but that somehow Vettel made the better choice? How does that follow? Vettel left Red Bull for Ferrari. In your words he left Red Bull for a team that dont have a chance of beating Red Bull. How does that make his choice better?

  23. I think Vettel will ultimately have the last laugh. Not by winning another championship but because he achieved so much at Red Bull he went to Ferrari as a passion project. Even if it doesn’t bring him another championship, he went to the red team and he achieved great things. A championship would be a beautiful thing for him, but ultimately he’s chasing a dream of doing that with Ferrari because 1 championship with them would be worth more than all 4 with Red Bull. Hearing his pure ecstasy in Malaysia ’15 was a rare treat as a fan, it took the 3rd championship to deliver that same joy to Hamilton.

    Alonso went to McLaren purely in search of results, he doesn’t love the team, I don’t think he even likes them. He just had no better option. Yes I don’t think he’ll regret it as Ferrari didn’t deliver either, but it won’t be an enriching part of Alonso’s career unless it delivers a championship. Vettel will still take joy in his time with Ferrari even if he doesn’t manage to return them to glory.

    1. Vettel had hunger when he won his titles but joining Ferrari it is exactly what you said – a passion project. He enjoys the journey and putting himself outside the comfort zone looks to be the thing from the past. Looking outside it seems Vettel does not just want to win but win with style and sweaty winner doesn`t go with the picture.

      Verstappen is everything the opposite. Not corrupt by corporate mentality, ready to look like a fool ( Monaco ) and still determined his way is the highway.
      Anybody want to enjoy F1 – watch Verstappen. Knocking Mercedes down 2 races in succession is so sweet to watch.

      1. Its obvious that MV is the latest wonder-boy on the grid.

        Driving road cars in public, his age group, 18 – 25 are the most likely to have an accident – testosterone. They take more risks which can be just what’s needed to suceed on track. But what age are drivers beyond their best? SV 29, FA even older. Are they past it?

  24. Well all I know I was listenin’ to my Will Smith cd and I was thinkin’: Who has the last laugh, Aftermath yeah!!

  25. I would like to comment on what Asherway and Michal said and I do so only because I love F1 but, see it slipping away . Asherway said F1 is “shifting from a sport to a corporate exhibition ” . This is almost a correct observation ,almost because F1 has already become an exhibition and not a sport. Case in point : what it advertised as F1’s “greatest spectacle “: Monaco. It is more spectacle than race because the drivers can’t pass .The race,for the most part ,is determined by qualification which measures mostly who has the fastest car and not how well drivers defend and overtake ,the more refined driving skills . Note that around 2000 Monaco had a race ( in dry conditions ) where there was only one overtake and another race where there were no overtakes. At Monaco one measures who has the fastest car in qualification and then ,mostly ,they play follow the leader – not racing to me.
    Michal pointed out that three of the most popular drivers have not won in three years. That hurts F1 and its not going to change soon .Note Mercedes dominance since 2014 . At Shanghai last year the world feed noted that Mercedes was 16 mph faster on the main straight each lap when compared to Mclaren. No matter how good a driver is he can’t make up for that disparity .. My hat is off to them but, that is one reason why popularity is off and falling. A Mercedes exhibition or Red Bull or whomever does not permit for driver contests and racing .
    Contrast Indycar where everyone has a Dallara, you have a Chevy or a Honda engine and then its up to the team to fine tune and the driver to compete. The driver is a prime factor and thus many teams have a real chance to win on any weekend.Not just the constructor which put a Billion dollars into the car and came up with the right formula ( no pun intended) as Mercedes has for this iteration .
    While Ii am on Indycar vs F1 look at DRS . if the race comes down to the last lap and the 2nd place car is close it actually has the advantage -really? You earn the lead but, are disadvantaged. Compare to “push to pass “.Which is fair ?
    I prefer F1 to any other form but the gap is closing . Many sports have rules to provide parity. F1 one does not and in some ways that is what makes it great but ,in some ways it is also killing it. Changes must be made.
    The Mercedes engineers are brilliant,Lewis is brilliant ,but they are putting me to sleep. When I watch an Indycar or WEC race I may not be watching the best but I am watching a race and not ( thank you Asherway) an exhibition and that is more important . I am a race fan not an exhibition fan and ( thank you Michal) parity by rules like in Indycar racing will give the popular drivers a chance again while exhibitions only give the rich ,motivated and currently correct in approach constructors an opportunity to display their wares.Interesting but, nothing compared to a real race.
    Just my opinion but, I am probably not alone .

  26. Exactly what I’ve been thinking since after a couple of races into this season. Last year, people were quick to laud Vettel’s decision and condemn Alonso’s; but I was somewhat skeptical with the former’s move, since although Ferrari won 3 GPs last year, if you look at it they only looked better compared to 2014, but simply slotted back into being the second/third best team — a position which Alonso and the Scuderia found themselves stuck in for the majority of their 5-year relationship.

    All isn’t over for Vettel however, it’s early days. Remember, there were times where Michael Schumacher also found himself in a position unable to challenge the front runners, although that was in 1996 (his first year with the team) and after that season he was a perennial title contender (whereas this year, it seems to be the reverse?). Maybe next year, Ferrari and Vettel’s efforts will bear fruit.

    As for Alonso, it was easy to criticise his decision to change teams last year (and this year as well), but again looking at Vettel’s predicament maybe he wasn’t that wrong after all. I always though that his time at the Scuderia only delayed its fall from grace (which we finally witnessed in 2014). It was subtly evident that even before the Spaniard arrived at the team, they were already in a decline after Jean Todt departed at the end of 2007. Hopefully, everything still works out for Alonso in the end and he wins that coveted 3rd driver’s title he’s been striving for.

    1. People were also critical of Hamilton’s move, calling it ‘crazy’. But he was sick of McLaren failures and saw promise in the team’s long term plan.

  27. Some fair points RIK.

  28. Anyhow I think Ferrari is set to stay ahead of McLaren. This season McLaren’s best performances were on power tracks, there’s nowhere to hide now, the McLaren is in fact a bad chassis, again! Recouping Peter Prodromou was not the “Key”. I don’t think next years aero rules are going to favour McLaren actually the opposite.

  29. Vettel won four world championships. The thing he wants now is a world championship with Ferrari. If he can manage it at some point in time, he will have the last laugh. As he’s done what he wants with redbull. Alonso’s CV is lacking and doesn’t match his talent.

  30. Who will have the last laugh?
    This wouldn’t even be a question if not for McLaren’s superb PR campaign of how amazing their size zero chassis is and that the engine is a dud. Frankly, there is no evidence of theirs being a superb chassis. Their chassis’s true performance remains a mystery as long as Honda supplies their engine to only a single team.
    Paddy Lowe from Mercedes has said on record that the weakest engine on the grid is the 2015 Ferrari in the back of the Toro Rosso and he has also said the gaps between engines is very less now (also proven by how the factory Renault team is nowhere near the Red Bull).

    The 2017 regs are not going to do anything for McLaren, because frankly, their chassis is 4th or 5th best at most and definitely worse than Ferrari’s chassis.

  31. I get the impression the Brawn/Todt culture has finally faded at Ferrari and they’re back to the old ways. Reliability was the first big battle Brawn fought there, while Todt kept Monte’s nose out of things. Now they have a sponsor as TP, one driver choosing the other, and Marchionne being demanding. Arrivabene talking about what they have to do instead of what they’re going to do.

    The teams at Red Bull and Mercedes are quite different and always going to keep Seb off the top spot I think. He’s going to have to change teams for another wdc.

    Whether Ron still has it I’m waiting to see. Honda need a culture change, and I sense McLaren need more budget. Hard to see how Fernando isn’t going to run out of time there, unless Merc rides to his rescue.

  32. Either way, I really miss seeing Alonso in a truly competitive car, for my money he is still one of sharpest wheel to wheel racers on the grid.

  33. The reason we even have this discussion is because lady luck was good with Seb and cruel with Fernando.

  34. I have never seen Fernando’s smile that big before. Interesting teeth… Looks like he needs a softer toothbrush.

  35. Alonso and Vettel both needed a change of environment and a change of imputis for 2015. Alonso had delivered the most complete season of any driver I can think of in 2012 and was still a distance from the title if we remember that Vettel could have won the title in COTA. Vettel had nothing to prove and had paid back Red Bull’s investment in him 10 fold. If anyone deserved the Ferrari drive it was him. Alonso and presumably Vettel must have realised the game was up during this regulation set by mid 2014 – the change was always for 2017.

    Alonso clearly felt Ferrari would struggle to get their act together for then. McLaren built better cars that Ferrari during his time there and I think Alonso sees McLaren’s weakness as operational rather than in terms of outright performance. Ferrari have got it wrong strategically and in terms of reliability more times since Vettel joined the they did in Alonso’s entire tenure.

    A company like Ferrari must shake things up when devoid of titles and we have to wait to see the results. Likewise McLaren. But for the drivers 2017 will be about consistency. Verstappen and Red Bull will win races, so too Mercedes, probably Ferrari and McLaren. To me the two will produce very similar cars, Ferrari lacking aero and Honda power. They will both be fractionally behind RB and Merc but I think we are in for a 2010 style battle where the best package will win out.

    Vettel and Alonso like Hamilton will have to minimise losses rather than outright wins and evolution through the season will be key. I personally believe in McLaren due to Ferrari’s consistent problems during the Alonso years but I do not blame Vettel for trying.

  36. Eh? McLaren are in a mess. Yes the Honda engine sucks but is slowly getting better, but the chassis is not world class either, they have such a long way to go and it doesn’t look like they are going to get there.

    There progress is very slow. You can’t see McLaren even becoming anywhere near a race winning team next year let alone the championship and that’s already the end of Alonso’s contract with the team.

    The chassis doesn’t look to have improved vs the top teams, so once the Honda engine is sorted McLaren will still be stuck.

    If McLaren were really ready to compete on that level again there chassis would be up there.

    The team that look really impressive right now is Red Bull, you gotta hand it to these guys, as Renault sort there issues out and they start focusing again you can see what a good team they are.

    McLaren were a strong team, not quite as good as they wanted to be so they just imploded and became awful. A lot of that is the engine but they still remain a second class team on so many levels. Eric has been an awful team principle , as expected.

    Such a shame for what used to be an amazing team. Eric is a terrible team principle, sack him ASAP. Martin whitmarsh was doing just fine. Way better than the current McLaren management, change is needed badly.

  37. I would say Vettel is in a better situation and will be in the next few years. Ferrari inevitably find a way. I think Mclaren are coming from a too long way back

Comments are closed.