Ferrari explain their decision not to call Fernando Alonso for repairs at Sepang
Spaniard crashed out of Malaysian GP at start of second lap
By Pete Gill. Last Updated: 25/03/13 11:06am
Ferrari have confirmed it was their decision not to pit Fernando Alonso before he crashed out of the Malaysian GP due to damage on his Ferrari.
After hitting the back of Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull at the second corner of the race, Alonso's car suffered substantial front-wing damage. Despite the McLaren team warning Jenson Button that Alonso was liable to lose control of his stricken car, Ferrari took the surprising decision not to call the Spaniard into the pits for repairs at the end of the first lap.
In a post-race press briefing, the team explained: 'On the pit wall, the thinking was to leave him out for a lap or two longer to deal with the damage, in order to change the front wing at the same time as the switch to slicks, which was imminent.'
However, the decision immediately backfired, with the front-wing detaching itself from the F138 and the car hurtling into the gravel trap as a result.
"With hindsight, we can say the risk wasn't worthwhile," accepted Technical Director Pat Fry. "The car still seemed to be competitive and we decided to run the risk of staying out. We definitely could have played safe and called him in, but that way we would have ended up behind everyone on rain tyres and would have lost even more ground with the next stop to fit dry tyres."
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As a result of his retirement, Alonso now trails reigning World Champion and Drivers' Championship leader Sebastian Vettel by 22 points.
The Spaniard himself refused to castigate his team for the error, describing his retirement as "unlucky" and expressing confusion about his collision with Vettel.
"After making a good start, I touched with Vettel at the second corner: it was a surprise to find him there, almost stopped and I don't know what speed he was doing," said Fernando.
"Despite the fact the car was damaged, it didn't seem to be too bad and, together with the team, we decided to keep going, because if we'd stopped immediately and then again on lap 3 or 4 to fit dry tyres, we would have dropped too far back and definitely lost the chance to finish up the front. It's easy to criticise this decision, but at the time it seemed like the right one."