2 MARCH 28 2012 motorsport-news.co.uk
IN THIS ISSUE
THE VOICE OF BRITISH MOTORSPORT ISSUE JA2814
“It was so bad I just had to laugh”
P8 Jenson Button on his torrid Malaysian Grand Prix
PLATO CONFIDENT THAT MG WON’T BE BEHIND
BTCC star thinks returning marque will win races
FORD BOSS TARGETS PORTUGUESE FIGHTBACK
Wilson says a strong result is key to the title chase
THE RETURN OF THE TIN-TOP TITANS
Find out who’s up for the fight in our BTCC preview
Malaysian Grand Prix report
SUBSCRIBETOMOTORSPORTNEWS 6 Historic race and rally news 17 BTCC preview:Plato’s new role 24 BTCC preview:The contenders 26 BRC report:Bulldog Rally 28 Report:Bulldog Historic Rally 30 Racing reports 32 Karting round-up 33 Sporting Scene round-up 34 Letters/Comment/What’s On 36 Wanted:Red Bull Racing engineers to make their minds up about SebastianVettel’s car. Are you retiring or not?
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Despite shock Malaysian victory Ferrari
ByMatt James Fernando Alonso has urged his Ferrari team not to expect miracles across the next few races, despite taking a shock victory in last weekend’s Malaysia Grand Prix. Alonso guided his Ferrari to the win in the rain-afflicted event, which had to be halted following an early deluge. After surging up to fifth place before the stoppage, Alonso benefitted as problems beset the leading McLarens. Pit stop delays for Lewis Hamilton and a clash for Jenson Button helped Alonso take the lead following the pit cycle and he held off the impressive Sergio Pérez to take his first victory since Silverstone last year. It means that Alonso now leads the series by five points from Hamilton.
The result is a shot in the arm for the troubled Ferrari team, which has struggled to match the pace of its rivals with its radical F2012 chassis. Alonso said: “[The win] changes nothing, to be honest. Weare in a position that we don’t want to be: fighting to get into the final qualifying session and fighting to score some points. Weare leading the championship so we should be quite proud of the job, but as I said we need to work. From a psychological point of view, the win will give moremotivation to the guys in Maranello. They need to do the maximum for this red car and they know that, but after one win they will go work with a smile and that maybe will give us some ideas.”
Alonso’s masterclass The key to Alonso’s victory was his pace in the changeable conditions, which masked the handling deficiencies of the F2012. The Spaniard excelled on the intermediate tyres after the race was restarted following an early downpour and during that stint he did enough to eclipse both Button and Hamilton.
The leading Ferrari was being caught by Pérez over the closing stages as the track dried out but the Mexican briefly slid off the road and handed the momentum back to the double world champion. Alonso admitted hewas surprised to have won and paid tribute to the team: “The strategy was perfect, the mechanics did an impeccable job, the engineers did their best in preparing the car and I drove at my maximum for all 56 laps of the race. I would never have bet on this win and I would think anyone who did so must have picked up a tidy sum. As I returned to the pit lane on the cool down lap I didn’t even know where to park the car: to win with all the problems we have got is quite extraordinary.”
Alonso took a s urpr ise victor y
ALLTIMEWINNERS - F1’S MOST SUCCESSFUL MEN
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER (1991PRESENT)
2ALAIN PROST (1980-1993)
AYRTON SENNA (1984-1994)
Ferrari technical head Pat Fry said that the victory was a sign that the Scuderia was already moving in the right direction.
4NIGEL MANSELL (1980-1995)
FERNANDO ALONSO (2001-PRESENT)
JACKIE STEWART (1965-1973)
6to refine the F2012, but he also denied that the squad had been in as much trouble as some people had suggested before the start of the year in Australia.
Fry explained: “This win is a reward for all the efforts we are making here at the track and back home at the factory to try and turn around a season that immediately left us facing an uphill struggle. However, this result must not be seen as a case of all our problems having unexpectedly solved themselves: that’s not the case and everyone is aware of it. Fernando drove a fantastic race, pushing throughout the entire time.
“The F2012 seemed to behave very differently depending on the conditions in which it was running. There were moments when it was competitive and others when it struggled.” While Alonso clinched his 28th career win, which makes him the fifth most successful grand prix driver of all time (see above) his team-mate Felipe Massa struggled home in 15th position and has yet to register a point this season. It means that despite the triumph, Ferrari is only third in the constructors’ standings behind both McLaren and Red Bull.
Ferrari must push Alonso said that aggressive developments were needed by the engineers at Maranello to make sure that the team continued
The car had struggled in early testing and Fry had dismissed the Scuderia’s changes of a podium finish in Melbourne. Alonso trailed the Red Bulls andMcLarens home in fifth position.
TheMalaysian winmeans that the team has some breathing space while it aims to get on top of the tricky handling of the chassis. Alonso said: “We have not been good in qualifying but in the races we seem to pick up some pace. Weare not quick enough, but it was not a dramatic situation as some voices outside the team said. Wehave been going through this difficult time and no one gave up, in fact everyone doubled their efforts to catch up.
“In the next few races, we need to have a very aggressive approach in terms of the development of the car. Weneed to bring updates to every race. Ferrari has proved over the last 60 years what it is able to do and they are working on this night and day.
“There is no big domination for one team as wemaybe had last year or in the last two years, and everything remains muchmore open, so we need to take advantage of this and fight back.” Classified advertising: 0208 267 5355
motorsport-news.co.uk MARCH 28 2012 3
star warns his team still has work to do
FERRARI FACES A FIGHT FOR MORE WINS
1 FernandoAlonso 35 2 Lewis Hamilton 30 3 Jenson Button 25 4 Mark Webber 24 5 Serio Pérez 22 6 Kimi Räikkönen 18
Constructors’championship POS TEAM PTS
1 McLaren-Mercedes 55 2 Red Bull-Renault 42 3 Ferrari 35 4 Sauber-Ferrari 30 5 Lotus-Renault 16 6 Force India-Mercedes 9
Th e w in wa s F er rari ’s fi rst this season
Massa rejects Pérez pressure
Sergio Pérez’s stunning second place in the Malaysian Grand Prix has ramped up the pressure on Ferrari’s Felipe Massa.
Sources say that the Scuderia is planning to oust out-of-form Massa and Ferrari Academy driver Pérez is been touted as a likely replacement. Massa says he has struggled to get on top of the handling of the F2012 and he has yet to register a point so far this year. Massa said: “I’m happy for Sergio and for his team, but how disturbing is it for me? Zero. I’m looking more for myself, my driving, mywork.
“I’m never looking for the others and whether them doing well is a problem for me or the opposite. I’m not like that. I’m happy for him because he did a great job.”
or me for problem
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Massa:not feeling pressure
Pérez finished less than three seconds behind Alonso after strong strategy and race pace put him in with a chance of a shock victory. “My full commitment is with my team, Sauber,” said the Mexican. “It’s only the second race of the season and we have a long way to go. It is important that we remained focused.” Alonso has tipped Pérez as a future star but dismissed the changes of him joining Ferrari in the short term. “Ferrari’s Driver Academy is doing a great job and I think Ferrari saw a big talent in this guy,” said Alonso. “I think the win will come sooner rather than later for him. At the moment, with Felipe, we have a very strong and united team.”
2012 FORM MASSA VS
Ferrari Team Sauber 16th Qualifying (AUS) 17th DNF Result (AUS) 8th 12th Qualifying (MAL) 10th 15th Result (MAL) 2nd 0 Points 22
ill-handling the tamed Alonso
Alonso tamed the ill-handling F2012 in the wet conditions
Pé rez was a s hock second
HOW ALONSO CLAIMED GLORY IN THE GLOOM PAGE 4