Formula One
Ferrari: The dark horse of Silverstone
Joanna Tilley sees a win for traditional F1 racing as Fernando Alonso rises above the talk at the British Grand Prix.
Last Modified: 10 Jul 2011 17:55
Ferrari celebrate a deserved victory with Alonso after a quietly confident buildup to the race [GALLO/GETTY]

While Red Bull and McLaren spent the weekend here at the British Grand Prix battling over the regulations surrounding exhaust diffusers, the Ferrari camp remained surprisingly quiet.
It was as if the dark horse had trotted off to a quiet corner for a graze.

Little was heard from the Ferrari camp and their silence, in retrospect, explains just what they were doing – working.
The Italian team had been hatching a plan that ensured it was Fernando Alonso, not Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, who took the chequered flag at Silverstone.
Ferrari avoided getting blown away in the technical storm, focusing on making improvements to a car that pulled off a surprising win at a circuit Alonso said he didn't fancy.

Blowing a gasket

Before Saturday's qualification session, Red Bull's Christian Horner and McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh were aggravated by the most recent FIA rule change over blown diffusers.

In the red (bull) corner, we had Horner puffing hot air about an issue involving puffing hot air.

"The thousands of McLaren supporters in the Silverstone crowd may have left disappointed, but Ferrari's victory should be celebrated because it was a victory for traditional Formula One racing"

Joanna Tilley

In the blue corner, Whitmarsh puffed more hot air about something else that probably involved puffing even more hot air.

After Vettel and McLaren's Jenson Button both suffered problems in the pits during Sunday's race, one could argue more time should have been spent teaching mechanics how to screw on wheel nuts.
However, Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali didn't spend the weekend huffing or puffing. He kept quiet.

This might have been because, as former Jordan owner Eddie Jordan told Al Jazeera on Friday, the changes the FIA made actually favoured the Ferrari.

Regardless of whether that is true or not, reigning themselves in from the media circus and technical disputes gave the team time and space to focus on the job that needed to be done.
A lot has been said about KERS (kinetic energy recovery systems), DRS (drag reduction system), over-blown diffusers and the new Pirelli tires over the course of the season.

Far less has been said about the mental calm and concentration needed to win a Grand Prix.


On the Friday and Saturday before the race I felt an eerie quiet while walking outside the Ferrari paddock, a calm that contrasted with the expectation and drama that followed McLaren and Red Bull.

McLaren British driver Lewis Hamilton looked fractious over the weekend, a driver who doesn't seem to have recovered from his first taste of criticism.

The golden boy-racer is learning the hard side to his trade and although he picked himself up for the race, a poor 10th position in qualification signifies something isn't quite right with the 2008 world champion.

Button waves goodbye after the wheels come off his home Grand Prix [GALLO/GETTY]

His successor to the crown, teammate Button, didn't look much better.

From the expression on his face Button seems to be a driver whose patience with the constant corporate and media demands of the sport is wearing thin.

Money runs Formula 1, and it is unbelievable the number of interviews, functions and events drivers have to attend, especially at their home Grand Prix.

Sometimes the actual matter of driving a car at 170mph along a slippery track seems like an inconvenient side-issue.

Under such pressure, it is no surprise neither Button or Hamilton could wave to their doting fans, all decked out in luminous orange McLaren caps, from the podium on Sunday.

On the day it was the dark horses who outclassed Red Bull to stand proudly at the top of the podium 60 years after the Scuderia won their first race.

Alonso used his determination and pace to navigate a half-wet, half-dry circuit and seal Ferrari's first win of the season.  

The thousands of McLaren supporters in the Silverstone crowd may have left disappointed, but Ferrari's victory should be celebrated because it was a victory for traditional Formula One racing.

Forget KERS, forget overblown diffusers, forget politics, because this win was built on calm.

It was a victory plotted by a dedicated team with the passion to win, and most importantly, the steady hand to screw a wheel nut tight when it really mattered.

Al Jazeera
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