The last victory that appears on Fernando Alonso’s service record is the one that the Asturian won in 2013 at the Montmeló circuit. In his own words, that triumph was special for achieving it “at home and wearing the Ferrari jumpsuit”, the most universal symbol of racing that exists. Since then it has rained a lot in the Formula 1 World Championship and also on the roof of the Scuderia.
The stage dominated by Red Bull – four doubles between 2010 and 2013 – gave way to the brutal inertia that Mercedes has – seven crowns and rising -; Alonso had time to take a two-year break and come back, and Ferrari has taken a tremendous swerve by letting a star like Sebastian Vettel go to surrender to the energy of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, the team’s youngest couple in the last 53 years. For the Spanish, newcomer to The Prancing Horse, this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix will be his first as a runner for the red racing cars, and probably also the last. Miami’s entry into the 2022 calendar corners the Circuit, whose contract with Liberty Media expires this year after the extension that was signed as a result of the coronavirus.
F1 circulates directly to a new scenario based on the revolution in the regulations that will apply next year, and Ferrari is called to play a leading role in it. The manufacturer has not celebrated a title since 2007, the one that Kimi Raikkonen won by taking advantage of the fratricidal brawl that Alonso and Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) maintained. With Ferrari something similar happens to what happens with Valentino Rossi in MotoGP: that he wins is applauded as a common good for the championship.
At this point, the Italian constructor’s muscle is already mostly concentrated in the projection of the car for next season. Aware that the chances of winning a grand prize are almost nil at the moment, Sainz leaves the skin to integrate as much as possible in his work group to arrive as prepared as possible for the challenge that lies ahead. For this, his immersion has been total, to the point of settling in Maranello, where the factory is located, and little else. His individual performance in the three tests held so far has exceeded the expectations generated by his signing, to the point of having earned the exact same treatment as his partner.
Apart from Alonso and the rookies, Sainz, Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and Checo Pérez are the riders who this season have changed colors. At the gates of the fourth round, the Mexican of Red Bull is sixth in the table, with six points more than the Australian of McLaren (seventh) and eight more than the Spanish (eighth), who was ahead of all of them before last Sunday. Vettel (Aston Martin) is lost, 16th in the standings, without having scored yet.
“The tricks I still don’t know very well”
In Portimão, his third race with Ferrari, the son of the two-time world rally champion surpassed Leclerc for the first time in qualifying (it was fifth and Leclerc, eighth), even though he later crossed the line eleventh, behind the Monegasque (sixth), penalized for a bad strategy in tire management. “Magic does not exist in F1. If it ended ahead [de Leclerc] it was only thanks to the great job he did ”, complimented Laurent Mekies, Ferrari sports director.
“The tricks of this car I still don’t know very well, but I’m working overtime with the engineers, in front of the telemetry. We all know how fast Charles is and what it will cost to get ahead of him in qualifying, ”said Sainz, this Tuesday, before flying to Barcelona. For him, what happened in Portugal shows that there is still work before reaching that total communion that he is looking for with his new structure. “To reach 100% of my potential at Ferrari I still have left. This is part of the learning curve until we get to implement the perfect strategy that leads to the perfect race, “he added. “I’m doing the team and the car. But my progression has been evident ”, settled Sainz.