Fernando Alonso at Ferrari: The ‘missing element’ compared to Michael Schumacher

Oliver Harden
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari and Michael Schumacher, Mercedes

Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher in conversation at the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix.

Fernando Alonso’s five-year spell at Ferrari lacked the “journey” element that was central to Michael Schumacher’s success with F1’s most iconic team.

That is the view of McLaren team principal Andrea Stella, who acted as Alonso’s race engineer throughout his time at Maranello.

Alonso was widely tipped to bring the glory days back to Ferrari following his arrival in 2010, having ended Schumacher’s period of dominance by winning two consecutive World Championships with Renault in 2005/06.

Fernando Alonso at Ferrari compared to Michael Schumacher era

Twice Alonso came close to winning the title in red, losing out to Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel by four points in his first season with Ferrari and just three in 2012.

Alonso eventually left Ferrari at the end of the 2014 season to join McLaren-Honda, with Vettel signed as his successor.

Stella, who followed Alonso to McLaren in 2015 before being appointed team principal in December 2022, worked at Ferrari throughout Schumacher’s run of five consecutive titles from 2000.

And the Spaniard believes Alonso did not build something at Ferrari in the way Schumacher managed, having brought the likes of Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne with him from Benetton to the Scuderia.

Asked how close Alonso came to recreating Schumacher’s success at Ferrari, Stella told F1’s Beyond The Grid podcast: “It’s an interesting question.

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“We certainly went very, very close to succeeding in his first year at Ferrari, which is very different to how Michael started the journey. He had three victories [in 1996] pretty much out of his immense talent, rather than outright competitiveness of the car.

“I think in Michael’s journey, it was a proper journey.

“Ross came on board, Rory Byrne came on board, James Allison came on board – there was so much continuity in this journey where you keep identifying what you need to add and you keep building brick by brick.

“I think this is something that we missed during the Fernando era.

“We could have built it, but definitely it would have needed a lot of continuity and this brick-by-brick approach that was somehow established as of the mid-90s at Ferrari.”

Appearing on the High Performance podcast last year, Alonso admitted that failing to win the title with Ferrari is one of the great regrets of his F1 career.

“Winning a Championship with Ferrari, that will probably be the first thing I choose if I can go back in time,” he said.

“2010, 2012 – we were within a few laps of winning the Championship. That probably could have changed a little bit the outcome of many things, the history behind a few things.”

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