I'm not arguing that Alonso wasn't outperforming Massa, I'm arguing that Massa's performances was closer to Alonso and that he only 11 points behind Vettel and 7 behind Alonso before 3 consecutive non point finishes down to bad luck before Ferrari decided to back Alonso. This show that when Ferrari chose to back Alonso it wasn't because he had been performing to some ultra high standard in comparison to Massa its just that he had substantially more points by virtue of the lay of the land after those three bad races.
I think what a lot of people are ignoring is that if you were watching
the sport, not just reading Wikipedia pages on the results/points situation, you could see that it was gonna be Alonso, not Massa, who took up any championship challenge if it was gonna be possible at all. Both had their share of bad luck, but Alonso was more often than not, the clear
better performer on-track.
And its also important to note the series of events that lead to Hockenheim, not just the points situation in Hockenheim itself:
First off, Ferrari had a slump after the first several races. They started as clear 2nd best car, but Mclaren seemed to overhaul them quite quickly for that spot. It really wasn't until Valencia that Ferrari started to gain ground back(Monaco and Canada being unique and hard to judge as 'representative' tracks). As a Ferrari fan, or anybody who was looking after Ferrari's interests, it was a positive first couple days of the weekend. But then the race turned into a disaster for the team, completely ruining any chances the team had at actually using
their newfound performance for any good. So thats just one race, ok, we could get over that. So Silverstone rolls along and yet again, the car proves competitive and there were reasons to be positive about Ferrari's chances in general(and not just at this race). And yet again, the race proves to be a disaster, results-wise. So at this point, all the hard work and effort Ferrari had gone through to get competitive again was going to waste. What did not look so bad, points-wise, just a few races ago, was now turning into something that most people thought was a hopeless cause. Alonso was 50 points behind in the standings, Massa 70+. Alonso said he could still fight for the championship, people laughed, and nobody gave a second thought about Massa having a chance, cuz frankly, that would be far more outrageous considering that if Alonso was a far-fetched WDC prospect, what would that make Felipe, who wasn't driving as well as Alonso and was a further 20+ points off the leader?
So Hockenheim rolls around and for the first time since 2008, Ferrari found themselves with the best car on the grid. I feel its also worth noting that Alonso had been clearly quicker all throughout the weekend prior to Sunday and had outqualified Felipe by half a second(although himself just
missing pole due to a brilliant lap by Vettel). So the race comes around, and this is truly a make-or-break affair for Ferrari. They cannot afford to have another bad race, especially when they find themselves with the fastest car. Vettel squeezes Alonso, allowing Massa to get by at the 1st corner but Alonso still managing to stay ahead of Vettel. The two Ferrari's break off into the distance for now and its Alonso vs Massa. We all know that Massa isn't the most predictable driver to overtake. Sometimes he'll leave a door wide open, sometimes, he'll race you like y'all are in tin-tops. So Alonso attacks once. Doesn't quite come off as Massa defends hard. As somebody who cares about Ferrari, this was pretty nerve-wracking, especially
after what happened with the Red Bulls in Turkey. If they crashed into each other, it would not only mean they were a complete laughing stock, having 3 disaster races in a row culminating in them throwing away an easy 1-2 with the best cars on the grid, but they could kiss any championship hopes goodbye. So was it really wise to have Alonso attacking Felipe? I know people want to see racing and no doubt team orders would take some entertainment out of the race, but if you put yourselves in Ferrari's shoes, or the shoes of anyone that has an interest in seeing Ferrari do well, having Alonso overtake Massa on-track was a scary proposition. Remember this was before DRS or the Pirelli tires or anything like that. Overtaking was more difficult in 2010. So Ferrari made a difficult decision and wanted to see Massa let Alonso by without having to risk both their cars. It ensures them the safe 1-2 they wanted, and it meant just possibly
bringing Alonso in with a glimmer of hope for the title.
Looking at the entire picture, I find it hard to say the team orders weren't justified. The situation wasn't handled well within the team, whether you want to blame management or Felipe's side of the garage or Alonso getting upset over the radio, which I think is what caused the biggest stink by fans and the media, but the actual switching of the drivers seemed ethical enough to me if you cared at all about Ferrari doing well in the championship, which Ferrari themselves certainly do. It probably wasn't the way they wanted things to happen either, but they did what they thought was best for themselves and its hard to deny that it was the right decision in hind-sight.
Edited by Seanspeed, 16 August 2012 - 11:43.