Maranello, 25 March – Five points just don’t explain it. The difference from the 35 points collected in 2012 to the 40 we have this year is much more, especially in terms of the overall competitive performance of the team and its combination of car and drivers. Last year the haul was largely the fruits of the extraordinary talent of Fernando Alonso, who knew what to do to come away with fifth place in Melbourne before romping away to a sumptuous victory in Sepang – even though he had a car that was clearly worse than many of his opponents. The F2012 certainly proved it was far from competitive in qualifying, with just one appearance in Q3 – the ninth place in Malaysia – to show for four attempts. The performance of the F138 is very different, with an average grid position of 3.5 so far due to one front row, two second rows and one third row – very different from the 12.25 average a year ago.
This year’s 40 points have been shared almost equally between the two drivers. It’s true that Fernando (18 points) paid a heavy price for his zero from yesterday and he has as many as 17 points less than 2012. But this deficit has been more than made up for by Felipe Massa, who has brought home 22 points whereas he was yet to get off the mark last year. The Brazilian has now taken his run of consecutive points finishes to 12 races, maintaining in this year’s two grands prix the constant improvement that characterised his second half of last year.
A united team, two strong and determined drivers, a competitive car: there is still a lot of work to do to get ahead of all the opposition but all the ingredients are there for a fight to the finish for both titles. That is the first verdict of 2013.