For Fernando Alonso, the crucial turning point which tipped victory in Sunday’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone came at the end of lap 28 of the 52 lap distance when the Spaniard followed world champion Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull into the pit lane for a routine tyre change.
A problem refitting a rear wheel to Vettel’s machine caused a delay just long enough to allow Fernando to vault ahead as he accelerated back into the contest and from then on the Ferrrari driver had the upper hand.
It remains to be seen whether Alonso’s success at Silverstone represents the start of a recalibration of the F1 pecking order or a minor blip on the dominant Red Bull team’s radar screen.
Red Bull still finished second and third, while McLaren had a disappointing day with Lewis Hamilton playing catch-up from 10th place on the grid and Jenson Button losing an unsecured right front wheel after a pit stop.
Under the technical direction of former McLaren engineer Pat Fry, Ferrari came to Silverstone with a revised aerodynamic package which certainly helped Alonso and Felipe Massa to third and fourth on the starting grid.
At the start of the Silverstone weekend Alonso had said that unless Ferrari proved capable of taking the battle to Red Bull then their championship challenge “is all over.”
So did Maranello do enough to keep the flame of hope flickering? Probably not. But they certainly closed the gap.