Spanish GP preview: Fernando’s time to shine?

AlonsoWhile Formula One has already provided plenty to talk about in 2011, the big shock of the season so far has been the under-performance of Ferrari, specifically Fernando Alonso’s struggle to get points on the board during the first three races.

But after a strong showing from the Italian team in Turkey, it seems we’ve got a glimmer of a title fight on our hands. And, following news this week that Alonso has pledged his future to the team, expect Ferrari (who, by this point have probably forgotten that Felipe Massa even exists) to give the Spaniard all the preferential treatment he needs to get him back to winning ways. Alonso, it seems, could be Ferrari’s new Schumacher.

The similarities between the two men’s careers so far are certainly striking. Both won back-to-back titles in their fourth and fifth years in the sport – Schumacher with Benetton, Alonso with Renault, the team it morphed into. Then, after four frustrating seasons in which they narrowly missed out on a third title (Schumacher to Damon Hill and Mika Hakkinen, Alonso to Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel), both find themselves firmly ensconced at Ferrari. Schumacher of course went on to dominate the sport for the next five years – which is, curiously enough, the same length of time Alonso has just committed to the Italian team after signing a new contract earlier this week. So, if the parallels continue, could we be in for an era of Alonso dominance?

If we are, it’ll certainly be a much tougher fight. During their untouchable years, Schumacher and Ferrari enjoyed the clear benefit of having the fastest car on the grid – an advantage that now undeniably belongs to Red Bull. And then there’s Sebastian Vettel, the man who’s dominated every qualifying session of the year so far, who looks after those quick-wearing Pirellis better than anyone else and who himself has been constantly compared to Schumacher, with the German press going as far as branding him ‘Mini-Schumi’.

Still, with Ferrari’s 150° Italia looking like a new car last time out in Turkey, we reckon Alonso’s home GP could be the turning point of his season, and a key moment in his  mission to emulate Schumacher. He may have only won the race once, but that’s still once more than Vettel, who admittedly did well to roll his Red Bull home in third after suffering brake problems in 2010.

What do you lot think? Has Vettel got a second title in the bag already, or can Alonso channel the spirit of Schumi and usher in a new period of Ferrari dominance? Or could there be more surprises to come from McLaren? While you ponder, here are our predictions for qualifying:

1. Sebastian Vettel
2. Fernando Alonso
3. Mark Webber
4. Lewis Hamilton
5. Nico Rosberg
6. Jenson Button
7. Felipe Massa
8. Michael Schumacher
9. Vitaly Petrov
10. Rubens Barrichello

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It would be great to see Alonso win, but Red Bull are too fast at the moment. Maybe two podiums and a win in Canada?

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Alonso FTW!!!!!!

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I don’t think so. I’d love to see Alo win again, but no. Msc didn’t have to consider some upstart like Vettel to spoil his party. There was Mika of course, but he was a dependable risk. Nor is Ferrari famous for their inventive, progressive designs, like Renault, Lotus or Brawn. They’ve always made dependable, conservative cars which don’t surprise us with daring feats. Sometimes good, sometimes screwups like this year. So, if Alo wins, it’s due to his hard struggle to get to the top, not to the Ferrari he drives. When Msc was with Ferrari, it was a different ballgame altogether.

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Out of everyone on the grid I would say Alonso has the best qualities to be champion at the moment (excluding his car). In a Mclaren car he would probably give the two Red Bulls a stressful weekend. Its just unfortunate the after the past few races people are beginning to write off his car. Out of car performance perhaps the Mclaren is closest to beating out the Red Bulls.

But then its probably just me who isn’t a Red Bull fan. I still believe in veteran teams like Ferrari and Mclaren to be the merited winners.

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@Takk
so you’re saying that Ferrari were dominating before MSC joined? lol! It was HIS hard struggle to get to the top that made Ferrari back to winners not the other way round.
Alonso just signed his retirement pension income contract. He always said he wants to retire after Ferrari. a 5yr contract is a BIG mistake by Ferrari. They risk having another Kimi style pay-off should a younger star be free like Vettel and so on.
And what about their “QUIT” threats? so 2013 is fine now? Saying they’ll quit is no longer credible when they go sign drivers for such a long term.

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The top three drivers in formula one at the moment are: Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel. (In order, in my opinion). The next three are: Kubica, Rosberg, Kobayashi. (Not in order, as sometimes Kobayashi can be better then everyone.)

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My grid prediction top 5:

1. Sebastian Vettel
2. Mark Webber
3. Lewis Hamilton
4. Fernando Alonso
5. Jenson Button

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remember massa? he outperformed alonso for first two races and he,s not that bad but hamilton is way better than both of them

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5 years? Groan. Dumb Ferrari.

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I really don’t like Alonso. Vettel all the way!
And Red Bull is the team of the moment winning in F1 and in WRC with Citroen.

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I expect someone writing for a motoring publication to know the difference between the words break and brake!!

“in third after suffering break problems in 2010.”

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The Ferrari is becoming faster and is apparently better in race trim than Red Bull in Mclaren so for me it Alonso all the way

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alonso is one impudent prick..but then again the more challengers there is the better it is for those of us watching at home.i’d personally like to see the real schumi do well,’coz it’s killing me to watch him struggle like this.

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