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Ferrari Wants Spare Car Back After Alonso Crash

Gareth Llewellyn-StevensCorrespondent IMay 21, 2010

MONTE CARLO, MONACO - MAY 15:  The crash damaged car of Fernando Alonso of Spain and Ferrari   is lifted from the track during the final practice session prior to qualifying for the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at the Monte Carlo Circuit on May 15, 2010 in Monte Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

You can't deny that Ferrari's Fernando Alonso had an interesting race weekend in Monaco.

After crashing in final practice, the two-time world champion had to sit out all of Saturday's qualifying, and start from the pit lane for Sunday's race as Ferrari mechanics battled to rebuild his car.

Alonso had one of his best races in a long time—it's not easy to start in the pit lane and finish sixth at Monaco. An early safety car period allowed the Spaniard to pit and take on new tyres, which helped him to make up a lot of time against rivals further ahead.

Alonso's mishap has led to Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali to call for a change in the rules to allow the 'spare' car back into Formula 1.

Ferrari feel cheated that Alonso couldn't challenge Red Bull's Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel who recorded a second consecutive 1-2 as their mechanics couldn't rebuild Alonso's battered car in time for qualifying.

Of course, if we still had the 'spare' car, as we had until the end of 2007, the mechanics would just have needed to fit the engine and gearbox to the 'spare' and Alonso could have taken part in qualifying.

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It's worth remembering that the 'spare' cars were withdrawn to try and reduce costs at a time when many teams were struggling to survive due to the cost of F1, with teams now only allowed to bring the basic shell to circuits and fit parts to the original.

Instead of taking three or four cars to a race weekend, where very often they weren't needed, teams would be allowed just the two they arrived with. However, the bigger teams will often still bring all of the component parts to build two spare cars, which just need to be built up if needed.

Given that the parts are at the circuit anyway, it can be understood why there are calls for them to be brought fully built up as mechanics otherwise have to work through the night before qualifying or a race to get a car ready.

Domenicali makes the point that "the spectators were deprived of the spectacle of seeing one of the world's greatest drivers pushing to his utmost in a Ferrari to take pole position."

There is some value in what he says, it would have been great to see Alonso in the mix in qualifying, and also up with the leaders in the race, but you have to the best you can with what you're given.

Alonso made a mistake and crashed in practice. He and his Ferrari team have to live with that mistake. It might detract from a greater spectacle, but it's part of racing.

There are many 'modern' race tracks with wide run-off areas which will typically cause less damage to a car if a driver leaves the circuit, however Monaco, and the Gilles Villeneuve circuit in Canada, are two that leave no room for error.

On the back of Domenicali's complaints, it has been suggested that 'spare' cars be allowed for these races, and others, where cars are more likely to be damaged if a driver crashes into a barrier, which would ultimately help the smaller teams.

Given the budgets of some of the smaller teams, I wonder if they could even afford to bring a 'spare' to a select few races. Remember that in the past, there were often whole teams of mechanics and engineers just for the 'spares', adding cost to the manpower, as well as logistics.

Even if you lose the manpower, the cost of bringing a 'spare' car to a race is still believed to be around £300,000 or more per race. For the likes of HRT, Virgin Racing, Lotus, Sauber and Williams, that's going to massively eat into their race budget.

There is, of course, the thought that if the FIA allows the return of 'spare' cars and smaller teams can't afford them, then tough luck! They're not obliged to have them, and in the '80s and '90s we often saw smaller teams unable to compete because of a lack of 'spare'.

With so many teams on the grid, is there even room for another car or two? Especially at somewhere like Monaco, where a driver is more likely to go off in practice, there is very little spare room to bring back 'spare cars' unless you store them in a boat in the marina.

The ban on the 'spare' car, is an interesting one, and one that divides opinion. Ferrari's boss has started the debate again, and will now lobby competitors to have it scrapped.

What do you think? Vote, and have your say in the comments below.

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