Formula 1 News

Disastrous Bahrain Grand Prix for Ferrari

After looking very quick throughout the weekend, Ferrari were on the receiving end of a race-ful of bad luck
Sunday, April 21, 2013

April 21st, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Everything seemed to go wrong for Ferrari in Bahrain, with Alonso and Massa both suffering far more than their fare share of bad luck. For Alonso it was a DRS failure, for Massa two delaminating tyres that cost time both on the track and in the pits. Alonso and Massa started from the second row of the grid, and could have been forgiven for expecting a strong result, particularly after both drivers showed good pace in the Ferrari F138 throughout the weekend. But it all went wrong quite quickly.

Alonso's DRS problem was quite strange. His DRS flap opened correctly, but then when he tried to close it, the airflow over the car appeared to push the wing further up and hold it open. Alonso came into the pits, the mechanics easily put the wing back down into its normal position and he rejoined the race without losing much more time than a normal pit stop. But Ferrari did not realise at that point that the problem would recur, which it duly did the next time Alonso opened the DRS. He had to pit again, and at that point Ferrari realised that there was no option but to tell Alonso to not use his DRS for the rest of the race.

What was quite remarkable about the situation was Alonso's pace. DRS greatly reduces the amount of drag, and therefore downforce, produced by the rear wing, which makes the car very quick in a straight line. But in the corners, it must have been almost impossible to drive, as the balance of the car would have been appalling. But there were no signs of Alonso oversteering, which is what would be expected with such a failure. He ran close to Vettel's leading pace with his rear wing wide open.

Massa was the unfortunate victim of two failed tyres. On lap 17, his right-rear tyre started to come apart and he had to drive quite slowly to the pits, with heavy vibration through the car down the straights. Ferrari put a new set of tyres on Massa's car, and there did not appear to be any damage to the car form the failure, so Massa went on his way. But then Massa had another failure on lap 36, again on the right rear tyre, where it appeared to just come off the inside side-wall while he was driving down a straight. He pitted for new tyres, but by then his race was ruined.

Alonso managed to fight his way back to eighth by the end of the race, passing several cars in the process despite not having the use of DRS. But Massa had lost too much time with his two tyre failures to be able to challenge for points, and finished 15th.

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4 Valtteri Bottas 186
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