Some guys have all the luckChris Medland April 23, 2013
Personally, I must admit to my disappointment when Fernando Alonso's DRS stuck open early on in the Bahrain Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel was already in the lead and - with Kimi Raikkonen so far out of position - his main race challenger was out of contention.
That said, there have now been two instances where I've been disappointed with Alonso himself this season; in his post-race press conferences in both Malaysia and Bahrain. On both occasions, Alonso has talked about how unlucky he has been, and on Sunday evening at Sakhir he said: "A very, very unlucky race again, so in four races we've had two very unlucky moments. It will come for the others and we will take the opportunity in that moment."
On the face of it, he's right. Incidents will generally balance out across a season and the likes of Vettel will have problems too. But Alonso needs to be big enough to admit when he or Ferrari has made a mistake and not just attribute poor results to being unlucky. Alonso's retirement in Malaysia is the real case in point here, but was perhaps lost somewhat in the Red Bull team orders furore.
"We touched with the front wing the car of Sebastian; it was a very, very small touch but enough to damage the front wing a lot so it's extremely bad luck in my opinion," Alonso said after retiring at Sepang, adding: "We touched one car at 10 kilometres an hour and we didn't have even the luck to lose the front wing, the front wing stayed half on to make us crash after one lap. So this is a fact."
It was not bad luck. Alonso made a misjudgement (a small one, admittedly) and ran in to the back of Vettel. It was his mistake. Millions then watched as the front wing dangled from the Ferrari nose, but Ferrari didn't pit him. That was the team's mistake. Alonso's retirement was all of his and Ferrari's making. Bahrain was a mechanical failure on Ferrari's part and not caused by contact with another car or any strange circumstance. The finger can only point at the team, not at lady luck.
It's almost certain that Alonso is just trying to deflect the heat away from Ferrari - prior to the race in Bahrain he said Red Bull had the quickest car in China and Kimi Raikkonen is doing the best job - but there could be concern that this is a hangover from the failings of 2012.
His eyes in the Interlagos pit lane as he stared at what might have been are part of a lingering image from last year, and it must be difficult to forget such a narrow defeat. However, Alonso can't allow the near-perfection he enjoyed last year to cloud his approach to this season; mistakes need admitting. He has a quicker car, one which completely outperformed Red Bull in China, and he knows therefore a better shot at the championship.
Alonso has already had more setbacks than he did in 2012 and on both occasions Vettel has gone on to take full advantage. Alonso and Ferrari can't afford too many more which cost it a potential race victory if it wants to end Vettel's run of titles, and it certainly needs more than luck on its side to do that.
Chris Medland is assistant editor at ESPNF1