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Montezemolo puts spotlight on Alonso team player role
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Montezemolo puts spotlight on Alonso team player role
Posted By: James Allen  |  18 Dec 2009   |  11:42 pm GMT  |  100 comments

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has again put the spotlight on Fernando Alonso and Ferrari’s expectation of him that he will work for the team and not for himself.

The driver of whom Ron Dennis once said, “Competitive animals know no limits” and Martin Whitmarsh said, “As long as they can keep him winning I’m sure he will be happy,” comes to Maranello with a bit of baggage and Montezemolo has chosen to confront this head on. He said today that he had spoken with Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali “1,000s of times” about this subject while assessing the risks of hiring Alonso in light of the wreckage which happened at McLaren in 2007,

“I spoke with him (Alonso) and I told him that if you come to drive for us, it’s because we want you, you drive for a team, you drive for a group, you don’t drive for yourself,” said the Ferrari president. “In Ferrari we want to put you in the best condition to win. If not, we will never hire you. We know that you can win the championship — we will do our best — but you are part of it.”

This is the second time Montezemolo has made comments along these lines. This does not happen by accident because he’s had too much Christmas sherry, the comments are made for a reason and expectations are being managed on all sides here.

The dynamic with Alonso’s Ferrari team mate Felipe Massa will be one of the main talking points of the 2010 season. Massa has said that he will not be standing aside and giving Alonso a clear path to victory.

Meanhile Autosport is reporting this evening that the FOTA joint launch has again hit problems. Many teams are unhappy about the coverage they might get in the shadow of an event in Valencia headlined by Alonso and Ferrari in one corner, Schumacher and Mercedes in another with Hamilton and Button at McLaren in the supporting cast. How much air time would Force India or Toro Rosso get on a day like that?

The FOTA joint launch has been plagued with problems since the outset with PR companies invited to pitch for the work but vexed by the demands being made of them and a confused picture of what everybody wanted to achieve. At the time of the F1 commission meeting in Monaco last Thursday it seemed to have been agreed that the joint launch would go ahead as a public event with a budget of €2.4 million. But now it looks like it might be in danger of falling over.

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100 Comments
  1. Nick Pauro says:

    I put my faith in Luca….

  2. Richard says:

    Alonso it the ultimate team player; he will display undivided loyalty to “Team Alonso”. He will certainly find a way gain an advantage over Massa if he finds that he cannot simply do that be being a better driver. Look at his track record – he knew about the “spygate” data and took advantage of it while his team mate knew nothing. He must also have known about “Crashgate” to have made it work and there was ther incident where he prevented Hamilton from making his final qualifying run. He makes Michael Schumacer look like an angelic choir boy! The silly thing is that he is clearly a very good driver and does not need to cheat. It will be interesting to see how he gets on at Ferrari.

    1. carlys says:

      Superb !

    2. norbert says:

      ” took advantage of it (spygate)” …. says who?

      ” He must also have known about “Crashgate”” — really? … well, you forgot to ask the million dollar question : CUI BONO? Who ultimately benefited from the whole thing? Alonso? Do you really think he would risk his superlicence to win just one race?…. The consequences of “crashgate” were Hamilton winning the championship in 2008 and Ferrari almost not signing Alonso at the end of 2009…. again, WHO BENEFITED from it? …. plenty of room for speculation here…

      ” he prevented Hamilton from making his final qualifying run” — well, you conveniently forgot to mention that it wasn’t HIS (Hamilton’s) run….

    3. steve says:

      PPPFffffffttttttt.
      Yes of course!

  3. John F says:

    “Competitive animals know no limits”
    Nicely put, Ron.

    James, are you sure Ron was talking about Alonso when he said this? For a moment I thought Ron was talking about himself here. ;-)

    1. Rui Vale says:

      If he said that about Alonso, and I’m not saying he didn’t, for sure, the first time he though about it was in the Senna Vs Prost wars, definitively! ;-)

  4. Jason C says:

    Well, you can either save money or you can have all the bells and whistles. I think it’a bit much to spend much less money yet still expect the same value in PR.

    F1 car launches are rubbish, anyway. They have a fibreglass version of their car with a cloth over it, pull the cloth away and have their drivers standing by it like lemons. If you’re lucky you’ll get some juggler or some leotard-clad dancers thrown in for good measure. Not really much imagination going on there is there, nor much to report. A press release would probably do roughly the same work.

    1. Howard Hughes says:

      It’s primarily for the sponsors. Most of the car launch pics end up in the national press in some form or other – press releases will never equal the PR value of a pic displaying the sponsors’ logo in page 5 of a national daily…

      1. Jason C says:

        Pics would go out with the press releases, as they often do now. You must have seen syndicated pics in the papers before, where they’ve all got the same one.

        And it would probably be €2m cheaper…

      2. Jason C says:

        Actually, you know what, why not have a launch event that’s a big kart race with all the drivers involved. Karts can have same livery as the teams, you could get crowds in, television might pick it up a bit more than the joint launch and bob’s your uncle! Ticket sales could pay for a good chunk of the launch. Each driver has a roughly equal chance of winning, so your Force India is just as likely to get big publicity (by winning) as Ferrari.

  5. Jason says:

    As for the joint launch, how hard can it really be to give each team a set amount of time to intro their car and then allow only a certain amount of time per team at the press conference?

  6. Sunburntgringo says:

    Force India, what about the great American hope of USF1? How much coverage would they get. Mega tons on SPEED in the US? But what about the rest of the world.

  7. George says:

    Cant say I ever liked the joint launch idea much, but then I’m not the one paying.

    I think we’ll just have to wait and see with Alonso, I get the feeling he’ll try harder to make it work so as not to sully his name any more. I think Felipe should be easier to work with than Lewis too, so long as Fernando doesn’t rub him up the wrong way.

    1. Tarek says:

      You seem to have forgotten Massa’s comments about Alonso’s involvement in crash-gate earlier this year.

  8. Ash says:

    Well, one doesn’t like to prejudge, but my money is on Ferrari being a colossal quivering fiasco next year. They’ll win races, I’m sure. But with four very different but equally passionate men in the chief roles, I can see it degenerating very quickly.

    Massa and Alonso are both very strong personalities in their own way, Massa seeming to have become a little more irascible since his bang on the head, and Alonso with more than a bit of tendency to think the sun shines out of his fundament. Domenicali does not strike me as the type of person who can keep those two under control. Which will mean Montezemolo will have to do it, or try to, which will erode Domenicali’s authority and make the Ferrari garage even less happy.

    Ferrari needs a level-headed and authoritative manager to get all its horses pulling in the right direction — it had two of them with Todt and Ross Brawn in the glory years. Now it has none — just a bunch of powerful and exquisitely-pedigreed thoroughbreds who will run at top speed in whatever direction takes their fancy.

    1. Bog says:

      Definitely Ash, I feel the same..

  9. PaulL says:

    The best way I understood the Alonso/McLaren situation was that Alonso maybe felt he had given up his esteemed and championship winning position at Renault to win for McLaren. He wanted to win for McLaren and I think he thought McLaren would in turn support his bid for the title, whereas McLaren seemingly didn’t mind who won the title for them – Alonso or Hamilton.

    I think the rapport Hamilton already had with the team before the season began plus the British driver / British team aspect caused Alonso to feel they weren’t only not pulling for him but also for someone else.

    It seemed a mismatch in expectations and neither side seemingly had communicated these expectations so well before the season began. I tend to think if Alonso had have known his position would be as such before signing in 2005 he wouldn’t have in fact signed with McLaren.

    I hope both sides have communicated expectations this time. I think Alonso may acknowledge this time that the team won’t consider paramount his championship bid as a means to achieving success and that the best thing he can do is make his performances count so that the team will look to him to bring home the titles.

    Hopefully though there will be an equal opportunity to win, which there may or may not have been at McLaren for him.

    PS. Interestingly, even after his 2007 fallout with McLaren, at Brazil 2007 Luca Di Montezemolo labelled Alonso “a class act” and “a champion off the track”. So concern or not, there is at least a real respect for Alonso from Ferrari to start with.

    1. AK says:

      At the time Alonso signed for McLaren, he was expected to partner Raikkonen, who had not announced his departure to Ferrari and McLaren were still trying to keep him.
      McLaren only took a chance with Hamilton that year because they had a double world champion to ensure a title fight. They never expected Hamilton to be so competitive in his first F1 year, and once it happened, they were true to their philosophy to not be a one-horse team, which Alonso ignored at this own peril because he too felt that Hamilton was no serious challenger. And we know what happened next…

      1. PaulL says:

        2. Hamilton, 109 points, 4 wins, 5 second places
        3. Alonso, 109 points, 4 wins, 4 second places

        That’s what happened next. Does that demonstrate superiority does it?

        McLaren pledge to be not a one-horse team and that’s fine, but I believe Alonso along with Montoya, Coulthard, and Prost (although his beef was more with Honda) did not find that. Either they’ll all co-incidentally mistaken or there’s something to it.

      2. AK says:

        I don’t claim that Hamilton is superior to Alonso, but for him to match a double world champion in his rookie year is no easy feat when everyone expected Alonso to eat him for breakfast. The fact is that whatever a team such as McLaren claims, members of the team are never neutral. They will naturally prefer the one they know since he was a kid and also a guy like Senna who they think is better or more consistent. I don’t claim McLaren have been fully fair between the two drivers but Alonso should have responded on the track and not with backhand threats thus exposing his weaknesses.

      3. PaulL says:

        AK yes, I agree he would have done himself better to respond on the track, although after the Hungary incident he did at least put in 2 improved performances at Monza and Spa, notwithstanding Hamilton’s reply in Japan was just as good.

      4. Mitori says:

        Yes they lost the titel…..

  10. Silverstoned says:

    Raikkonen has been stating once again his belief that Santander are the real decision-makers in this team.

    For me the abiding image from Abu Dhabi was Montezuma at the wheel driving his two embarrassed pilots to a standstill deep in the sands. I wonder if it will turn out to be an omen.

    1. Scuderia@China says:

      A good one!

    2. Fuchsia says:

      Hear hear.

    3. Segedunum says:

      Money talks. Ferrari obviously thought that getting Santander in for four or five years was worth a lot to the team, and they were willing to bring Alonso in a year early and blow twenty million on Raikkonen sitting around doing nothing. You don’t do that for anything other than money and sponsors, and Luca’s backbite on this at Raikkonen is laughable.

  11. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    James, any thoughts on what Montezemolo said in reference to MS?

    He kept on referring to his age and his “twin”….was this a slight on Schumacher in any way or simply LDM’s unique brand of English?

  12. Drew says:

    James, Italian press has reported that Massa was approached by many teams and offered a Mclaren drive, but turned it down.

    -Even in the time spent off the track, due to the serious accident he suffered at the Hungarian Grand Prix in late July, Felipe Massa has continued to be targeted by other teams in the Formula 1 circuit. The Brazilian, in an interview with Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, confirmed that received surveys during this period, but declined to say which teams.

    Asked if one of these teams would have been the McLaren, Massa was brief-.

    “I do not know …” – Said with a laugh.

    Any info on this James???

  13. Badrul says:

    It’s always nice in the beginning…can’t imagine how he will react if Alonso pushes Massa like he did to Hamilton in Spa 2007…

    1. Drew says:

      If Alonso does, Massa would never lift,
      Remember this–

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFUd1ihHMJY

      1. russ parkin says:

        nice! good clip

  14. César says:

    Again trying to find something where there´s nothing at all, first there it was the “smart” Massa comments about Alonso and the Crashgate, Felipe was playing a game, Felipe was giving Alonso a hard time, Alonso won´t feel very welcome bla bla bla, then Massa had to back down on Ferrari´s official site and looked like the real loser on this, also the clever reaction by Alonso…and the silence came.

    Now we go for the team work topic…what does it mean working for himself? what Kimi did?wouldn´t be the nervous Massa more suspicious on not working for the team?, at the end of the day Alonso and Ferrari official speech have gone on the same direction, Massa´s not, he has been the one that Ferrari had to give a call to, he´s the one who has to deliver more for the t-e-a-m at the beginning.

    Ron Dennis, the guy who once said “latin drivers doesn´t have what it takes to win”, or Martin Whitmarsh “we managed poorly the situation with Hamilton and Alonso” ain´t exactly people to trust in this matter, they clearly failed on it in 2007.

    There´s no bombshell on this and there won´t be, i´ll take a close look at McLaren and Mercedes though, the odds are there for some funny times.

  15. Michael Nichol says:

    Luca Montezemolo is intent on getting control of his two drivers egos before the fireworks start. Having worked with Massa for several years Montezemolo knows him well, and what to expect from the Brazilian.

    Alonso on the other hand is the wildcard for the Ferrari team. The Italian squad thought they knew Kimi Raikkonen well enough to hire him for the Schumi replacement role. They were disappointed.

    Ferrari wants no more expensive mistakes in the selection of a #1 driver, and at this time can little afford more money going to a driver competing in another form of auto racing.

  16. Tejas says:

    they could just make it a 3 day event, with the top 4 teams on each day.. and maybe then a finale final day with more fan interaction?

    1. Nick F says:

      Yep. This is the way to go if they want to do a joint launch for cost saving. Whatever they do the small teams won’t get as much coverage as the big teams. That’s just the way it is.

      If the small teams want coverage they have to work for it more and be creative. People are not going to be queuing round the block to talk to Sutil. …Sorry about that. It’s a bit unfortunate, but that’s the way it is. F1 journalists will want to talk to everyone, normal journalists probably only know the names of about 4 or 5 drivers.

      It’s actually a bit weird that they are doing it this way. Modern news sites go for hits. they do this by chopping up stories. the site needs lots of content churning over. A 1 day launch gets you one long story, but that’s no good for hits and Ad revenue. ideally you would want the old model of each team launching separately. You’d also want each launch to have several angles to it to generate multiple stories and headlines. Similarly if you imagine the BBC news covering this thing then what are you going to see? …I would imagine a 3 min piece with a group shot of the cars (small in frame) and drivers and then 1 or 2 driver interviews and that’s it. not really great coverage for sponsors.

  17. Ted I says:

    Well it will be interesting see how they manage and control Fred. An aggressive, well publicized program works with most people in most organizations, but will this conventional approach work with an athlete like Fred who is likely not like most people. (I love understatement). He’s very good at many things, but can he learn how to build team support like Schumi did? Hmmmmmmm, that’s the test.

  18. Loti says:

    How much air time would Force India and Torro Rosso get on their own? Less than if they were with the ‘so called’ big guns. It just needs to be carefully sorted to put on a good show, after all the cars at the launch are very unlike the cars that will show up at the first race. It is PR and should be treated a such.

  19. Ohm says:

    Well at least that means there’ll be loads of people going. If teams like Force India do it alone, how many people will they see?

  20. Lady Snowcat says:

    Well, well, next year at Ferrari looks like being interesting…

    The engineers will struggle not to look down the grid at Ross and Michael as, let’s face it, Stephano has looked increasingly like the sort of guy who is nice to have to make up the numbers at a party but not the guy who really leads the team…

    Mr Domenicali actually indicated that he (well he said the team but I can read between the lines) needed Fernando to step up for team leadership… which must have pleased Felipe and Rob no end…

    And now, following that comment, plus visits by the “sponsors darling” to the factory, have led to the “Fernando has to be a team player” quote from Luca…

    I think we can all see that all is not 100% happy behind the scenes…

  21. chris says:

    As a fan, i am not keen on the this launch in valencia. The joint car launch is like eating all the chocolate in your calendar on the first of december. It’s better to have 14 days of low key launches through out january and febuary.

  22. RobbM says:

    Hi James

    Some questions as to why Luca is saying those things all over again, is he getting nervous about team harmony, has FA been getting up to gamesmanship with FM… what have you heard, if anything?

    Yours

    Rob

    P.S.

    On the BBC website their claiming MS is close to joining Merc, its coming across like its a done deal (if his neck holds) is that an accurate assumption and if he can’t race for Merc how will the Ferrari fans treat him?

  23. Spyros says:

    I’d be interested to know why LDM feels the need to make such comments so long before the season even begins! Has Alonso’s camp been saying something behind closed doors?

    As for FOTA – well, when they were united against FIA things were much better. I guess now they have other priorities and a €2.4 million launch budget makes less sense than it used to.

    I suppose it would be rude to say to the smaller teams that if they wish to make their presence felt, they should perform accordingly (in the track)…

  24. Budvar says:

    Ferrari and ‘team players’? Not much of a track record in that department.
    I would think that Alonso at Ferrari in a Schumacher role is the best idea for everyone but the second driver. Alonso is world class and will deliver titles if allowed to lead the team. If he is given a team mate who can give him a hard time than the toys will be out of the pram in no time.
    Why sign up a ruthless, self centered, winner with a an unhealthy paranoid streak if you are going to tell him to be a good boy, don’t rock the boat and get on with whatever we tell you to.
    Unless Ferrari let Alonso have his head, his stay will not be either happy nor a long one.

    1. Mike Wessel says:

      Budvar,
      the best most logical thought about alonso I’ve seen in a long time!

    2. AlexD says:

      They replaced Kimi with Alonso because the later is expected to be a “Schumi” sort of driver and leader.

      They hired him to win titles, but he has to be Massa first. Why on earth would they simply call him a nr 1 from day 0? They thought Kimi could be that man, but Massa was a bit too strong for him.

      Noone is a number 1 driver by default.

  25. Chris says:

    The joint launch business was never going to work. It shouldn’t cost that much to launch your car, they should just do it individually. Or do the smaller teams on one day and the “bigger” teams on another. That way they get a day of their own coverage.

    That’s probably too sensible an idea though.

  26. Simon says:

    Hi James,

    On a completely different matter could you explain the reasons or have any thoughts why Mike Gascoyne thought that noone wanted to employ him, is it because he has a certain style of management or because his reputation was damaged at Toyota? Great web sit by the way!

  27. rpaco says:

    Maybe Massa should start holding some press conferences of his own.

    The multi launch was doomed because the people organising all have their own agendas and have no idea of fairness. The only body I have experience of who could be trusted to be impartial would be the SMMT, although it would need to have several working group, steering committee, project group, section committee, main committe and finally participant meetings before coming out with anything. But most of the motor industry did grudgingly accept their organisation and their fairness in exhibition and event organisation.
    If all teams had the same space allocated, same number of staff allowed, the same timed allocated tv interview and press slots, their blurb printed on the same FIA headed spec sheets and press release sheets. Press admittance once only at start time, no passouts. No sponsored food or drink…. Then there would be a chance of equality, but those teams with money would never accept that they are not allowed to splash it about.
    So it ain’t gonna work, half the cars will not be ready by then.
    If I had a new idea I certainly would not put it on a car at launch.

    1. Jason C says:

      The cars at launch are pretty much just canvasses for the teams’ liveries though, aren’t they?

  28. Tom Adams says:

    Will be nice to see Alonso in (hopefully) a decent car again, was frustrating seeing the guy in those slow Renaults in 2008/2009.
    Will be interesting to see how he matches up to Massa, who seems really quick.
    I can see fireworks.. Alonso and Massa are both going to want to be number 1… cant see Alonso slotting into the number 2 role anytime soon!

  29. Sven says:

    The joint launch is a good idea, however not for the press since rightly the small teams would not get any exposure.
    But to present all the teams and drivers together prior to the season at an event open to the public would be a good idea i think. This would give the fans a chance to get close to the cars and drivers away from the constraints of a race weekend and would ad to the exitement in the build up to the coming season.

  30. Tevin says:

    FOTA Joint Launch = Stupidest idea ever.

  31. jose says:

    Alonso has learnt a lot during his mclaren period. I don’t think he’ll make the same mistakes. How everything goes, depends on him getting the upper hand over massa soon. If he is unable to do it, it can turn sour. But never as bad as it was at mclaren. First of all, james allen and the other members of the british press, don’t have the same influence they had over the mclaren team, and they already have two recent british world champs, so they are not as desperate as they were during 2007.

    1. ade says:

      James – exactly how much influence *do* you have over the McLaren team? ;-)

    2. Becken says:

      Hi, José – I think, mate, you really don’t know this business. If you think that the British press is biased, you really don’t the guys in Italy — or even Ferrari.

      Pray to Alonso take control of Massa as quick as he can, because if Fernando fail to do so, the Italian “Gionalistas” will turn his life in a hell.

      Ask a guy named Alain Prost, he would love to tell you some histories…

      1. jose says:

        Mate. The fact that the italian journalists are worse than the british, don’t make the british perfect. The fact is that they are fans like us, and in 2007 they lost it a little bit. More than 10 years without a world champ was too much to handle, and when a talent like hamilton showed up, they did anything within their power to help him get a shot at the title. And sure they did. It’s just human, i probably would have done the same. Mate.

      2. bond007 says:

        british press is always baised…. i was other day watching old videos .. “Hard Talk” one with mosley where the host is trying to rub the whole spygate thing onto alonso …it was really dissapointing to see british view and thinking hamilton is “hero” n star….alonso the villain…. lets not forget wen martin makes comment like “we handled the situation badly”…. more of the problem is with the team….

  32. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

    At the same time, though, James, I think LdM is basically hinting that Ferrari views Alonso as the number one driver. Here’s an interesting comment he made on the Raikkonen-Alonso switch:

    http://www.ferrari.com/English/News/Pages/091218_F1_Alonso_right_driver.aspx

    “We realised that our team needed a driver capable of really getting involved with the engineers, a characteristic that was not part of Kimi’s genetic make-up, even though he is an amazingly talented guy.”

    According to lots of sources, Ferrari already had a driver with such capability: Felipe Massa, who is reportedly (including self-reportedly) engages with people at almost every level at Maranello, including members of the other side of the garage. It’s very hard for me to escape the interpretation of LdM’s comments that Ferrari view Massa as inadequate and Alonso as their new leader. Other comments coming out of Ferrari on the Alonso move- especially those comparing him to Schumacher, talking about his ability to lead a team, etc.- imply the same view.

    If this is in fact the way Ferrari really feel and will operate next year, it’s a real shame for Massa, who proved he could compete for a championship in 2008 and was arguably the best driver in 2009 before his accident. On the other hand, Massa faced a similar situation before 2007 when Ferrari were making similar comments about Raikkonen, and he was clearly motivated to work harder, improve, and deliver top results, so we can expect a similar effort from him this year.

    The whole situation reminds me most of the Prost-Mansell pairing at Ferrari in 1990. Mansell was the established driver at the team and had gotten the best results possible out of a Ferrari that was just not on par with McLaren even with his occasionally signature daft and erratic moments. Ferrari then brought in Prost, who proceeded to do Mansell’s head in and drive him nuts. I think Massa is a very similar character to Mansell: very passionate and determined, yet at the same time quite insecure. I view Alonso as having developed into a Prost-like person in the aftermath of the year with Hamilton: very cool-headed and calculating. I can see Alonso doing to Massa what Prost did to Mansell, with the situation ending for Ferrari like the Prost-Mansell one did; in other words, not well.

    1. Paulo says:

      Button was the best driver before Massa’s accident

      1. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

        I agree, but you could make a case that Massa car-adjusted doing the best job of any driver. He really did well to get as much out of the car as he did.

      2. Paulo says:

        yes that’s true, you are right about Massa’s attitude, he really does appreciate everybody in the team, great guy.

        But I have always wondered, if he didn’t have his horrific accident, would it be Massa being replace my Alonso rather than Raikkonen?

      3. PaulL says:

        Welll.. was he?

    2. Werewolf says:

      The Prost-Mansell analogy is very interesting, Paige, and a great topic for discussion. The backdrops are remarkably similar in that both Mansell and Massa had delivered excellent results but were/are perceived to be flawed in some way that separated them from the multiple champions of the day, hence both being partnered by such drivers.

      The differences are interesting, too. Mansell did not speak Italian and was fairly bluff and forthright. Prost was fluent in Italian and also the ultimate racing politician, much more the fencer to Mansell’s pugilist. At today’s Ferrari, Massa is fluent in Italian and much more integrated in the team than Mansell ever was. Alonso is clever but I don’t view him as being in Prost’s league of manipulation.

      The ‘Top Trump’ card specifications of Alonso and Massa are, I think, closer matched than were Prost’s and Mansell’s. Where the divide is greater and to Massa’s detriment, is that Mansell came to the team expected to deliver wins and hopefully the title, whereas the Brazilian was employed to support the top driver and, speed not withstanding, almost accidentally became elevated to more or less lead status when a previously unrecognised flaw in Raikkonen prevented him from driving forward the development of a weak car.

    3. Martin says:

      An interesting analogy, Paige. I suspect the only constant is the team name and the Tifosi, but the potential is there. I saw very few of the races that year, largely reading about them in magazines. My memory is that Mansell got the worse reliability and that added to his frustration.

      I suspect that with high reliability, the edge will go to the quicker driver of next years car. I don’t buy the argument that Ferrari favoured Massa over Raikkonen – I believe it was a case that over the season Massa was able to make the car work more often. If the Ferrari is the best car and both Alonso and Massa are equally able to exploit it, then games will start. Otherwise it is likely to be similar to Vettel-Webber situation where comments are made but it is relatively civil.

      1. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

        It depends on what you mean by “favored.”

        If you mean that Massa was designated the number one driver, then no, he wasn’t favored.

        If you mean that Massa was supported more by team members and engineers as a result of his engaging with them while Raikkonen was Mr. “Show up and drive,” then I do think it happened. Also, a number of sources claimed that the F2008 was an understeery car (especially after mid-season upgrades), which suited Massa’s style more.

  33. chetz says:

    about the Alonso-Massa thing… they can talk all they want right now…

    all one can say is… we will see.. march isnt too far off…

  34. Nuno says:

    So much speculation about future relations between Alonso and Massa…

    If Ferrari will have great car for next season, it absolutely normal that now and then team mates play some kind of ming games. It´s part of the show, and in other sports we have the same kind frictions.

    We know Alonso, but we also know Massa. The brasilian guy isn´t affraid of anyone in the grid and if someone tries to play with him, there will be problems because Massa isn´t the kind of guy who stay quite. If someone asked me to point out something about Massa which I don´t apreciate, it´s exactly the difficulty he has in keeping his mouth shut. He speaks to much and reacts agressively. Much more than Alonso who seems to deal better with those kind of frictions.

    Massa will never be (again) a second driver. He is very fast and able to win as he has shown many times, and in Ferrari he is at home. He was second driver when he was team mate of Schumaker, but that was a very different situation.

    By then Schumaker had the all team behind him and that was the main reason of his success (72 victories in a Ferrari, I think). He was very very good but without such a great team giving him everything he needed to win…

    Now the game is very different. Massa will have to go flat out with all his speed an determination and try to beat Schumaker. That will be very interesting to watch. I have the feeling that Schumaker could be in bad shape next year. IF he doesn´t have a supercar, McLaren and Ferrari could beat him and Mercedes hard, very hard (Mosley words about Todt versus Vatanen).

  35. Marcus says:

    James, is it possible that Alonso let Ferrari know that he was uncomfortable with Schumacher’s involvement with the team, and wanted him a bit more distant, and this may have made it easier for Schumacher to consider the switch to Mercedes (along with all the other reasons)?

    1. Ethan X says:

      C’mon ! the notion that Schumacher left Ferrari becuase of Alonso is completely ridiculous … how many times have we seen Schumacher and Alonso on the football field (post 2006) having a great time together,
      Schumacher welcomed Alonso with open arms when Alonso’s announcement at Ferrari was made official ! So enough with stories !

      1. Camila says:

        Schumacher welcomed Alonso because he dislikes Raikkonen whose arrival forced him to retire.

  36. timem1 says:

    It’s all well and good to quote Dennis or Whitmarsh with regard to Alonso but they both failed miserably in 2007. Allowing Hamilton to challenge an established WDC was pure folly. They paid the price for their egregious error in judgement by allowing Kimi to snatch the title from them. Given that Kimi had just left McLaren, it was sort poetic that he was the one to capitalize on McLaren’s bungling. Alonso has been tagged with being difficult etc since then. Some of it may be deserved, but most of it is pure nonsense perpetuated by McLaren supporters. Alonso is the best driver on the grid. The most complete driver by far.

    Montezemolo is trying to leverage Alonso’s reputation to put more pressure on him to perform. He is also using that reputation to set Alonso up as a potential fall guy in the event Ferrari produce a sub-standard car. The rats nest that is Ferrari F1 politics is back at work. After taking a hiatus during the Schumi, Brawn, Todt, Byrne years. Montezemolo pushed out Kimi and slandered him. He also pushed Michael towards the door to make room for Kimi. Alonso had better prepare himself for doing battle on, and off the track.

  37. Werewolf says:

    Methinks Di Montezemolo says too much. Domenicali is the team principle but he must feel like the office boy at times.

    1. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

      Agreed 100%. Domenicali is nothing more than a figurehead.

      It’s really clear based on comments that the decision to dump Raikkonen for Alonso was LdM’s decision. (i.e., LdM saying that ***HE*** would “make it happen” in reference to Alonso driving for Ferrari before the announcement was made.) Domenicali’s statements about the situation are basically the same word-for-word as LdM’s, as if LdM has given Domenicali a script to read.

      One thing is for sure: Jean Todt would never have stood for LdM meddling in his race team or making the kind of public statements LdM has made. Not so surprisingly, Ferrari has gone downhill since Todt vacated the Team Principal role and LdM’s ego took over.

    2. Nick Pauro says:

      I agree with you there…. being an ousider you cant really know but he does seem to me to be a bit too ‘corporate’ at times… he loves mentioning the ‘details’ in his interviews… but i guess that is his job…?

  38. guy says:

    Massa and Alonso are going to tear each others heads off…

  39. Tony Morel says:

    If Schumi likes Massa as much as has been claimed, would he do a year with Mercedes to repay some debts and then bring Massa along to replace him? Just can’t see Felipe getting another proper crack at the title with Alonso as his teammate so would he consider leaving his “home” ?

    1. Tarek says:

      The question is would Mercedes want Massa? Probably not, if they can get their hands on Vettel in the near future.

  40. Buck says:

    I knew an old man who had made his living for 50 years betting on horse races without ever going to the track. He said he does it strictly by studying the race forms, stating: “Since the trainers also secretly bet on the races, they can do a lot to influence the outcome of the races. All I do is use the forms to decipher what they are trying to tell me” (what they are attempting to do).

    So again Ferrari with the statements emphasizing the word “team”. What is Ferrari actually trying to say?

    It seems apparent they are trying to change SOMEBODY’S mind with this political campaign. Who would that be, and why does their mind need changing?

    Someone on the team, or someone who either owns it or is betting on it?

    Those “we need another Schumacher” statements earlier this autumn must be biting them in the ass right now. Unlike Schumacher before him, Alonso isn’t coming in with a strong team, and there’s another good team already there on Massa’s side of the garage.

    I’d place a good bet that they are neither happy with Alonso and his former team messing with their championship bid last year, nor with his statements to the press last year about the drivers who were fighting for that championship, dismissing their attempts as undeserving (or something to that effect).

    There’s a lot of money (and probably jobs) on the line all over the place to make this Alonso for Kimi switcheroo to work out.

  41. Rafael says:

    Hello James,

    Why is it Ferrari has been so reluctant to continue implementing the “one man team” philosophy ever since Michael Schumacher left? It seems like the team is allowing their emotional attachment to Massa overrule their purpose for hiring and calling for Alonso to assume the “Schumacher role”.

    1. Ethan X says:

      becuause maybe Ferrari were so fed-up of hearing for years that they dont have the proper racing philosophy like McLaren and Williams meaning having TWO EQUAL DRIVERS !!!

      and now finally when Ferrari are doing what F1 fans are expecting of them ( giving equal treatment to both drivers , which btw was actually the case when Schumacher was there )

      Now Alonso fans are bitching that Ferrari shoild resort to having a no 1 status !!

      what a bunch of hypocrytes with short memories !The no 1 driver status was’nt accepted when MS was driving but now all of a sudden it’s OKAY for Alonso ??

  42. Darren says:

    i really dislike Alonso, could he be making demands and making waves already.

    This is thier way of saying shut up and get on with it ??

  43. Qiang says:

    If McLaren went behind Alonso fully in 07, they would get two titles easily. If I were Ron, I would want Hamilton won instead of Alonso. Eventually the shareholders of the team were the big loser. My point here is the team can really screw up their season more than their driver. If the team and drivers share the same benefit of winning, they will succeed. That could not be said in the case of McLaren/Alonso relation. I still remember the cheering in the McLaren garage only for Hamilton’s action.
    I am not saying Alonso is perfect. Due to lack of F1 history knowledge, I can’t find a proper comparison for other top drivers in similar situation (James can probably help me on this).
    If Ferrari think Massa is good enough, why hire Alonso. Once you hired him, please trust the guy and don’t repeat mistakes of team McLaren.

    1. Tarek says:

      “Due to lack of F1 history knowledge, I can’t find a proper comparison for other top drivers in similar situation”. The Piquet-Mansell title battle at Williams in 1986 may be considered a parallel. They both screwed up in the last part of the season, despite having the best car, allowing Prost to take the title in his inferior McLaren. That year, Mansell was probably even more unlucky than Hamilton in 2007.

    2. Maria Felix says:

      Hiring Alonso merely to get Santander money onboard through a water tight 5 years deal sounds very much the case. After which they wouldnt be really rooting for Alonso as the number 1.

  44. Hugo says:

    Regarding the air time,do you know what are these teams proposals?

  45. Paul Mc says:

    Didn’t Luca push Michael out of the team in the first place? The way I see it Michael has served his term at Ferrari and given them their glory years. Time to move on to a greater challenge. I found his “twin” statement very peculiar indeed. I don’t think Schumi would have appreciated his comments

    1. Tarek says:

      Agreed. Such statements should give Michael great motivation to get in his Mercedes next year and humiliate Ferrari on the track.

    2. Olivier says:

      I am having a lot of questions about the whole Schumacher – Massa – Luca thing:

      1. Why would Ferrari prefer Massa to a seven time world champion? Massa is clearly not in the same league as Schumacher, Hamilton and Alonso. Luca is making a big mistake here.
      2. Why did Schumacher want to protect Massa’s career by give up his race seat to Massa three years ago? Well, it is payback time now: Why can’t Massa give Michael’s car back? For one year only. It would benefit his health and Ferrari as Michael would remain in the family. But no, teamplay does not come to mind here.
      3. Okay. So Ferrari needs Massa for the Santander deal. Why? Ferrari is one of the few teams making a profit from F1. They don’t really need the money. Do they?

      I don’ really get this Massa adulation from Ferrari.

      They’ve made Ross Brawn redundant a few years ago. Now they are doing the same to Schumacher. It is time for Michael to move on. To his old fellow. I can’t wait for the Brawn – Schumacher – Mercedes magic.

  46. Forza Massa says:

    As a big Massa fan i look forward to the arrival of Alonso, as i did Raikkonen. Raikkonen pushed Massa to new heights and Hamilton pushed him in 2008, i’m aware that hardly anyone believes Massa can beat him, but i think do, if he beat Raikkonen and matched schumacher at the end of 2006 i think he can beat anyone.

    This is Felipe’s big test, he has to watch out for Alonso and Kubica(who wants his drive) while fighting for the title, Forza Massa

  47. Dermot Keelan says:

    I must say I love the Ron Dennis quote about competitive animals. Who better to make such an observation!

  48. Tarek says:

    “Due to lack of F1 history knowledge, I can’t find a proper comparison for other top drivers in similar situation”.

    The Piquet-Mansell title battle at Williams in 1986 may be considered a parallel. They both screwed up in the last part of the season, despite having the best car, allowing Prost to take the title in his inferior McLaren. That year, Mansell was probably even more unlucky than Hamilton in 2007.

  49. Maria Felix says:

    James there are claims being made that Luca’s comments were not as it was portrayed in the English media.

    Can you confirm if Luca words were translations from Italian quotes or direct quotes in English?

  50. Peter Jones says:

    I don’t know about you James, but I have a bad feeling about Alonso to Ferrari. Don’t get me wrong…I like Fernando, but in my mind, shades of McLaren are at work here and if he gets off to a slow start (i.e. Massa’s quicker), then what?

  51. The Limit says:

    It atleast proves that Ferrari have considered the events of 2007 carefully in their plans, but a risk is still a risk no matter how you splice it.
    Montezemolo and others know full well that the unforgiving hammer weilded upon them by the Italian media if this fails will fall on their heads. We all know that Alonso and Massa are fierce competitors, and this combination would be a challenge for any team to master. The consensus is though that it is Massa who is best placed at Ferrari, it is up to Fernando to prove that he is the better driver and Ferrari’s best hope for the 2010 championship.
    At McLaren, Alonso’s best performances were after the events of Hungary 2007, when his relations within the team were at their lowest. It was also the time when Hamilton’s fortunes began to unravel and he started to make mistakes, infamously during the Chinese grands prix of that year.
    In many ways, Massa’s talents have been allowed to flourish at Ferrari over the past four years, especially with Raikkonen as his team mate. It is obviously going to be very different for the Brazilian, having a very political competitor in Alonso across the garage.
    It is not often that Ferrari can take lessons in driver management from McLaren. The Schumacher/Barrichello pairing was one of the most formidable in history, however the manner in which Fernando’s career at McLaren fell apart so publically would make anybody wary.
    The key factor is that we will, if their cars are up to par, have Hamilton and Alonso going head to head again. One in a Ferrari, the other in a McLaren.

  52. Robert says:

    I have never really understood this idea that Maclaren give equal treatment to both drivers. They like everyone else only do this when it is their best interests. When Montoya and R Schumacher were equally mediocre they got equal treatment, when Hamilton and Alonso were equally excellent they got equal treatment. However when Hakkinen was better Coulthard or Hamilton better then Kovi they gave they star guy the lead. Everyone does it and will always do so it is the logical thing to do.

    1. CptZorg says:

      Ralf? In a McLaren? Mediocre yes, but in a McLaren?

  53. carlm21 says:

    Things will erupt with Massa and Alonso if it ends up kicking off.

  54. James Allen says:

    Shouldn’t be. I’ll send your message to CPI the fulfilment people.

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