Alonso rebuked by Montezemolo is furious at Ferrari

Serious issues between Alonso and Ferrari: As I alluded to in the Indian GP Post Race Review (link), Alonso is a pretty calculating individual and I noted his post qualy comments about “Fighting Newey,  not just Vettel” as strange . Of course at times he speaks off the cuff but you can spot when he is making a coded statement that has hidden but significant meaning. Well today we have an explanation from La Stampa that says Alonso was furious after Ferrari’s technical boss Pat Fry blamed the drivers for a sub-standard qualifying performance.

Fry said in a TV interview, “the [qualifying] result reflects our current potential”, after Alonso was fifth, “but in order to be where we wanted and where we were capable of being, we needed to be perfect today and we weren’t,” he added. When Alonso heard this he apparently flew into a rage saying, “I want my 1.2 million followers to know that the key aerodynamic components at the rear of the Ferrari are still the same as they were in May”. It apparently took a lot of persuasion from Dominicali to persuade Alonso not to press the “send” button on the text.  (link)

There are times when I’m highly sceptical about news stories, usually if there are no direct quotations or even named sources. But La Stampa is the newspaper of Turin, owned by the Agnellis and very much part of the same family as Ferrari.

But let’s just back up for a moment, what Fry said could mean a number of things. Drivers and team personnel use the ‘royal we’ all the time to mean either the team or an individual – this is more often done by drivers who usually mean themselves. Fry could have been referring to the setup of the car or any number of factors, yet Alonso has taken this personally and reacted.

thejudge13 has been saying for some time there are deep rooted problems in the Ferrari camp and for Alonso to react this way to Fry would suggest he is either a bit paranoid or there is some serious history of conflict between the two.

It all seemed to begin when Alonso spent an inordinate amount of time in Singapore pontificating about who should drive along side him in 2013. There was lots of use of the ‘Royal we’ from him inferring that he was a key part of the decision making process – and Fernando concluded there were no superstars out there worth recruiting so Ferrari should keep Massa.

The Padrino, Luca de Montezemolo responded a few days later at the Paris motor show saying “Alonso should first win the title and we will then consider not putting a driver beside him who will bother him”. I’ve cited that quote several times in this blog over the past 2 weeks because the more I read it the more of a confrontational rebuke it becomes directed at Alonso.

thejudge13 also observed the start of serious relationship problems for McLaren when Dennis in effect rebuked Hamilton in Canada telling SKY that the last time he (Dennis) checked, it was him that employed Lewis and not the other way around. Further, he stated that Lewis would be getting a smaller contract than last time as economic times were tough.

Connected with the Luca de Montezemolo put down of Alonso was the rather pointless 2 paragraph release from Ferrari.com – a day after they confirmed Massa – in effect saying ‘all options had been considered’ BUT it was the team NOT Massa’s team mate who had made the decision to retain Massa’s services. Another snub for Alonso.

It’s now becoming clear that all was not well behind the scenes at Ferrari because out of nowhere immediately following the Japanese GP Dominical told SKY that he would not accept any excuses from his engineers about the wind tunnel issues. Prior to this the Ferrari wind tunnel matter had been briefly but was just a news byline for me up until this point.

The following week we had a 1200 word fairly long-winded explanation about wind tunnels et al from Ferrari.com almost flying in the face of what Stefano had said. This enormous apologetic appeared huge overkill as a mere release of information to fans.  In the meantime Alonso has been trotting out the team line before each weekend about new upgrades, with the sub-text that it will still not bridge the gap to Red Bull.

Stefano also said in the same post race Japanese interview that the race strategy would have to change. He inferred that Fernando could no longer look at each weekend and set the target of beating his closest rival as the objective in the race. I commented at the time this seemed amusing as Alonso surely wants to win races as much as he wants to win the WDC.

5 days later in the Korea press conference, Fernando responded to Stefano stating “I think we’ve been attacking in all the races. We were fighting in all the races the maximum we can, approaching the races to maximise the points we have available. Sometimes we were on the podium, sometimes we were fourth, sometimes we were fifth and this will not change now“.

Is it possible Luca just spices things up to get some creative tension going? Today in La Gazzetta he switches sides and supports his No.1 driver, “Alonso is right to push the engineers”.

So, not much tea leaf reading is required, but obviously the lack of car development has been a growing irritation and is now an enormous issue between Fernando and the team.

What is great for the fans is that clearly so much information today is disseminated to the media, that at times F1 people forget what is in the public domain and what is not – like Dominicali and the wind tunnel comment. It would be fascinating to know is who decides what goes out over Ferrari.com as it has been crystal clear to me for a few weeks that the press releases are being used for internal political positioning.

What next? Alonso walks out on Ferrari? I think not, because there is nowhere for him to go.

I think we should re-interpret Fernando’s post race tweet quoting his previously cited samurai inspiration. Originally it appeared to be a philosophical reflection on his battle with Vettel – “If the sword breaks, fight with your hands, if they cut your hands, push the enemy with your shoulders, even your teeth.” Could this have actually been aimed at lack of weaponry  provided by the Ferrari technical department to take the fight to Vettel?

What is certain is that the wind tunnel issue is not about to be quickly resolved and will in no doubt compromise the development of the Ferrari race car for 2013. Maybe as the Ferrari lead driver is about to be surpassed by Vettel in number of WDC’s he clearly feels the clock is ticking and could be wondering whether Maranelllo is the right place for him if he ever wants to be drivers’ champion again.

(This page will update throughout the day as new stories develop – check back later)

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~ by thejudge13 on October 30, 2012.

36 Responses to “Alonso rebuked by Montezemolo is furious at Ferrari”

  1. I agree with most your analysis, and it’s obvious Alonso is very frustrated with the progress of the Ferrari car. But I also heard the comment about fighting Vettel and Newey, and tbh, I didn’t find that comment strange at all. It’s probably what I would have said myself if I was in his position. He just means he’s fighting on two fronts cos his car isn’t fast enough and he has to outdrive the car just to try and keep up with Vettel. Sometimes we can over-analyze these things – I’m often guilty of doing that myself :)

    • Agreed – but doesn’t the La Stampa story explain his Newey comments – if he’s about to text 1.2m followers that the Ferrari car’s designers have made little progress in 5 months – unlike Newey?

      • I didn’t read that to be honest – I will read it now! But it’s not a secret that the Ferrari is massively lagging the Red Bull. It’s only Alonso driving the car out of its skin making it seem a bit competitive. You only have to look at the difference in times between Alonso and Massa this weekend driving the same car. Wasn’t it 30 seconds or so difference at the end of the race? And Massa’s been back on form recently…

        • I’m hurt – you don’t read my every word? lol. Agreed re: Alonso saving Ferrari’s bacon – but what appears to be the case is technical are blaming the wind tunnel and Alonso is blaming them – but they are fighting back – Maybe they asked for a new tunnel last year and were told No.

      • I don’t always read your every word, no, but that’s usually more to do with the format you post in, lol. Meaning that as you often edit the same page, I tend to skim what I’ve already read and may miss something new you’ve added! That wasn’t the case here though, I did read every word (although not all the links)!

      • Sorry, sense of humour bypass today, it’s been a long day…

  2. Another exultant article.

  3. I think you are correct. There are problems and tension inside Ferrari that they haven’t won anything since Alonso joined. As you said, it is a big head ache for Alonso that Vettel might take his third WDC before him.

    So far Ferrari has done a great PR job in protecting and promoting Alonso as the best driver there is. But Alonso hasn’t achieved anything since he won his last championship many many years ago. He doesn’t want to acknowledge that Vettel is doing a better job. Hence saying ‘they’ are fighting with Newey. He never appreciates what Pat Fry and his team is doing. That is very sad.

    • Good point Rob. By promoting him as their saviour – they’ve given him power to comment on their failings.

      A friend of mine tells me the wind tunnel is now a real political hotcake. It was flagged up last year as out of date and ineffective, but a decision to replace it was kicked into the long grass.

      If Alonso is kicking the technical team for not bringing effective upgrades, they are arguing the tools they have are relatively archaic and they warned the team some time ago.

      The problem is a new wind tunnel will take well into next year to deliver and travelling to Germany to use Toyota’s old tunnel has to be a tortuous excercise.

      Read Ferrari 2013 – not dissimilar to 2012.

    • Interesting perspective. As a McLaren fan, I’d like to think my opinion on Ferrari and Red Bull (and Alonso and Vettel) is relatively objective. I personally think they are the best two drivers on the grid and would love to see them go head to head one day in the same car (a bit like Senna and Prost of old). Whether this will ever happen is anyone’s guess.

      • Would be fantastic, but we don’t often get 2 current world champions in he same car anymore. Will be interesting to see how Lewis and Jenson end up. There’s less than 10 points in it over the 3 years they’ve raced together.

      • That’s interesting, I didn’t realise that. Personally, I think Jenson is underrated generally by people and Lewis overrated slightly (although I think they’re both great drivers). Would also love to see Kimi win a race before end of season (although it’s looking unlikely now).

      • Hamilton is probably my least favourite driver and Button one of my favourites but if you look at the head to head stats between them Hamilton has hammered Button even though they are so close on points.

        That means I guess Hamilton has got mixed up in more accidents which he did last year but also had more bad luck with reliability over the 3. years

      • Indeed. But did you notice I didn’t say I thought Button was a better driver? I just said he was underrated. There’s no doubt Lewis is faster (just look at the qualifying record). But Jenson also has a wiser head on his shoulders (like Prost and Alonso) – he can maximise his points. No doubt Lewis is a better race driver though…

      • Ya, I agree with Hamilton being a bit on the over rated side but he is quick. A mixture of him and Button would be pretty much unbeatable and would probably be called Alain Prost!

        Just looked up stats there between Ham & Button and in qualy and races both finished up to now it is 40-14 in qualifying and 24-14 in races to Hamilton.

  4. The Newey comments I took at the time as the usual back handed insult to Vettel that Alonso and Hamilton like to do. The two of them virtually never will say Vettel is that good but it’s the car that Newey has designed.(much like the rest of us!)

    The two of them even big up each other now but never Vettel. Both are probably exceptionally irritated Vettel has got it so easy.

    The thing with Alonso is with everybody giving him so much praise he might be starting to believe his own hype hence him loosing it when Fry actually said something not flattering.

    Another thing is something has happened with Massa recently and he seems much more confident and more like the old Massa. He made sure the press knew he wasn’t driving a car with all the updates like Alonso but he still felt he should have out qualified Alonso if he never made a mistake and he was actually faster in the race in Korea.

  5. There are more chances of Karthikeyan winning a GP in HRT than Ferrari leaving Fernando.

    I think you read too much into stuff that’s it!

    • I think you’re right, but Alonso has become very powerful because everyone thinks he is the only reason Ferrari are where they are this year – that says to the world, “we build a poor car, but we have Alonso” – not good for Ferrari’s image.

      What is very like Ferrari not to let one person become bigger than the team.

      • That’s true. I recall Ferrari once sacked a big name driver for criticising the team (can’t remember which one off the top of my head) and I’m not on about Kimi, it was before that.

      • Chris, that driver was Prost in 1991. He called the car a truck, so Ferrari replaced him with Morbidelli for the last 2 Grand Prix.

      • That’s correct, I just couldn’t think of his name at the time. Probably a mixture of old age and too much alcohol on my part :)

  6. Some of you are clearly under the deluded impression that Ferrari have tricked everyone major newspaper, including German ones, pundits like Martin Brundle, to fellow drivers that Alonso has been the most deserving this year as propoganda from Ferrari. It is a fact that everone apart from Vettel fans, and some Alonso haters accept that Redbull has been, and still is a superior car. Even Christian Horner has parised Alonso more than Ferrari has. Some of you Vettel fans should question yourselfs if you are under proandada because trust me most people would vote for Alonso as the best this year, and not because of any Ferrari propoganda.

    • Well I’m certainly not one of them. I’m still rooting for Alonso and he was my driver of the day on Sunday.

  7. Ferrari sacked Alain Prost in 1991 because at the Japanese Grand Prix he famously described his car’s handling as worse than “a truck”

  8. Chris. That was Prost I think, when he described the car as a truck.

  9. Tensions within Ferrari F1 Team has always existed since long.
    Even in the pre-Todt era there was lots of internal tensions within the team
    That’s why Jean Todt was drafted in and after bringing the MSC,Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne team to Ferrari and stopping the mainly italian internal wars, they went on for i think the most successive winning streak for the marque
    Its sad those tensions appear now and in this form. If the story about the rear end of the car being unchanged since last may, i will be greatly worried if my name was Fernando Alonso. I dont think even with Massa a official ontrack tester for Alonso he will win the championship even though to my opinion he should really have been champion twice, one in 2010 where they lost it at Abu Dabhi and the other this year where he has prove the best and most regular especially when you have a truck to drive :)

  10. If Ferrari and Alonso fail to win this years Championship I can see two things happening: 1. Alonso goes into meltdown mode as he has done before. I remember him complaining constantly about Renault in 2006 even though he won the Championship in their car. We all know what happened at McLaren. The meltdown didn’t do him any good in Woking, and I doubt that Maranello will take kindly to it, so he might get fired or decide to leave the team at the end of 2013 because relationships are ruined. Sure, there isn’t anywhere to go for him, but there wasn’t anywhere to go for him when he tried to blackmail Ron Dennis, and he did it anyways, spending some of his best years in a dog of a car as a result.
    2. Ferrari decides that the Alonso project hasn’t worked out and try to hire another team leader. They did the same thing to Schumacher, who won them five WDC’s and to Kimi Raikonnen, despite him winning the WDC in his first year with them.
    Anyways, I think that the outcome of this years season is crucial for the future relationship between Alonso and his team, and things will get even worse when Ferrari fails to deliver at the beginning of 2013.

  11. Wrong on so many counts Ferrari would be stupid to lose Alonso, he is considered by most expert to be one of the best if not the very best driver. he aloso brings in sponsorship money and is popoular amongs tifosi supporters. Ferrari would be like in 2009 nowhere with out him.
    Markalren lost Lewis and Alonso due to their iditic managemt. McLaren are goung backwards have lost Lewis and would love to have Alonso back instead they have whiny Button and unproven Perez.

    • Fair comment. I believe he has had his cards marked at the moment (reminded by Luca who is the boss) and of course he’ll be there next year

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