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When Fernando Alonso moved to Ferrari back in 2010, he did so with the goal of winning another world title to add to his two championships with Renault. So far, that hasn’t happened.

As the BBC points out, he’s missed the third title by coming second to Sebastian Vettel three out of the four last seasons—sometimes by a point or two. Ferrari have made big changes this year to try to get on top of an obstinate car but it looks as if this season will not even be close for the Spaniard.

This leaves some folks asking how long Alonso will continue driving in Formula 1 since he’s at the ripe age of 32 this year. The answer may or may not surprise you but Alonso isn’t feeling that age will be the factor:

“The new F1 cars are heavier, slower, difficult to understand what the car is doing, you cannot push all through the race,” he said. “You push two laps and then you save tyres until the next stop. Sometimes you don’t even push. So this is not something racing drivers like to do.

“It is not a problem of how long you can keep this level, it’s a problem of how much fun I will have driving those cars in the future.”

This played a role in Mark Webber’s departure from Red Bull last year and the veterans such as Felipe Massa are becoming very vocal about tire grip levels and the state of play in the current format of F1.

The current state of affairs does make one recall the childhood tale of, “The Emperor’s New Clothes” at times. For Alonso, and I suspect Massa as well as Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen may be finding less and less to like about F1 these days and the question is, will they remain in F1 for the pay check (cheque) or will they pack it up and head to greener pastures such as Webber did by joining Porsche for Le Mans? Or in Kimi’s case, whatever the hell he feels like doing.

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • The4kbeast

    What a disappointing quote, but it does say a lot about the current state of the new F1. It makes me realize that the romantic notions of era where drivers drove vehicles on their limits are gone. Where drivers were like circus acrobats, always on the edge if certain death. Controlled chaos on wheels. But the reality is almost the total opposite.

    I like to think that Formula One sits in a space somewhere between sprint racing and endurance racing. It really bugs me to think that drivers may be having to compromise and sandbag performance to inherit places. What chance does a skilled driver in a bad car have if he/she can’t ring it out without fear of pushing the tires beyond their performance window?

  • rapierman

    So, the basic question is: Is F1 getting to be more trouble than it’s worth, not just for the drivers and/or the teams, but the fans? If the answer is “yes”, then this is one of the things that could endanger it.

  • I’d like to see Fernando use his immacualte driving skills, where they can be put to full use and demostration. I don’t think Formula 1 is that forum any more. Maybe a phonecall to Porsche LMP1 team, and he can join Aussie Grit in the real race-driving world again. I’m sure Mark would like to have himas a co-driver. JF.

  • novex

    It’s really sad to hear a driver like Alonso say you really can’t push in the car. F1 should not only be the pinnacle of motorsports in technology, but it should push the drivers to the limit. And not in conservation. It’s really sad to hear that the big part of their race has to do with conserving tires..

  • Wait, just the other day I read that Pirelli was criticized for playing it too safe with this years tires, making them too hard, slowing down the cars too much and now they’re too aggressive again?

    Is it real racing to have extremely hard tires that last an entire race (think 2010), allowing a driver to be aggressive throughout, or is it real racing to have softer tires, getting more out of the car but forcing the driver to be more careful?

    I don’t think there’s a right answer, but I also don’t think there’s any point in blaming Pirelli…unless of course you’re saying that Pirelli can’t design good tires and that they’re neither quick nor durable. That at least would be legitimate criticism, but then I don’t see any evidence for that.

    I can still vividly remember all the moaning in 2010 about the Bridgestone tires and how their durability prevented real racing. Then the FIA acted, asked Pirelli to produce high degradation tires and in 2011 we heard the same thing about their tires, only that this time they were not durable enough.
    For 2014, they seem to have found a middle ground, which as far as I’m concerned sounds about right.

    Maybe the problem here lies rather with Ferrari? Could it be that their pull-rod set-up just isn’t that suited to make the Pirelli tires work?

  • One the one hand, I can understand the driver’s frustrations; all of these guys who have been in the sport for more than 3-4 years were weaned in an era where F1 was a series of 20-lap sprints between refueling stops. So driving F1 cars of the current generation can seem somewhat pedestrian.

    A driver’s job is deliver the maximum performance of the car, drive it to its limits. That’s true of karts, Formula Vee, tin tops, whatever. The change has been what that limit is. They are still driving to the limit of what their package can deliver and get them to the checkers quickest.

    Personally, I didn’t really care for F1 in the refueling era. I felt like it took a major arrow out of the driver’s quiver. One of the things that defined F1 up to 1994 was that the car you started the race with was very different from the car you were driving 300 km later. And it was the driver’s responsibility to manage or minimize that performance delta. That meant there were swaths of races where the cars were not going as quickly as they maybe could have been. But to me, that was more satisfying to watch, and that is why I welcomed the return to no refueling. And it is also why I will never rate a driver of the refueling era ahead of a driver from previous generations. The drivers today have to exhibit a more complete array of skills, and while it may not be quite as visually engaging, I find it a much more compelling spectacle.

    About 40 years ago, the U.S. Open (golf) was held at a course that had been set up in an unusually challenging way. No one broke par in the first round, and the tournament was won by a player with a +7 overall score. One player complained, “Are you trying to embarrass the best golfers in the world?” One of the organizers quipped, “No, we’re trying to identify them.”

    That’s how I feel about F1. Going ball’s out in 20-lap increments might be satisfying to a driver, but it does not really represent a complete challenge to them.

  • I don’t even know what to say about this quote. it is like getting socked in the stomach and having the wind knocked out of you….
    -jp-