As Ferrari arrives in Monza for its home Grand Prix, there is an interview with Fernando Alonso in the Gazzetta dello Sport, which makes for interesting reading.
It’s a wide ranging discussion with Ferrari’s lead driver and in it he admits that he’s made mistakes this season, but that driving for Ferrari you are more under scrutiny. He says that he isn’t giving up on the championship, explains the key to being fast at Monza and touches on other interesting topics.
Asked whether he agrees that he’s “made many mistakes” this year he says, “Yes. In the past I made maybe 2 or 3 mistakes a season, but in Ferrari everything you do is more scrutinised and mistakes count double, they show up more. Which one bothers me most? Monaco, the one in practice. We had the car to win the race, the place is special, Ferrari had been wanting a win there for many years, we were counting on it.”
Former Ferrari driver Eddie Irvine believes that the Alonso’s emotional nature was keot in balance by working with British teams like McLaren and Renault, but that without figures like Ross Brawn and Jean Todt at Ferrari, the combination of Alonso and Ferrari is creating an emotional maelstrom in which mistakes are being made.
With six races from the 13 he has started this season having yielded no points or fewer points than expected, this has been a messy season by Alonso’s standards. He always knows exactly what the points situation is at any given time and reveals that he analyses it in great detail. Although the picture isn’t rosy -and he has to score big this weekend and for every other weekend this year – he hasn’t given up yet and remains optimistic,
“The championship positions change quickly,” he said. “The championship isn’t closed and I’m still in the hunt. I’m not giving up. I always do calculations, work out average points scores. The championship plan I had at the start of the year, however, has gone out of the window.”
This weekend Ferrari should have a good chance of winning on home soil for the first time in four years. The key to winning Monza, Alonso says is, “The start – it’s 80% of the race. It’s a long way to the first corner, you can gain or lose a lot. The first chicane is a funnel. The two Lesmo corners are crucial. They are medium speed with a car which has little downforce. There are four or five braking zones where you go from 300km/h to 60km/h. If you brake five metres late you gain a couple of tenths, if you brake 6 metres late you run wide and lose time. It’s very hard to find the limit.”
The atmosphere at Monza should be pretty special this weekend. The tifosi are always passionate about their team and as this is Alonso’s first Monza as a Ferrari driver it should be great theatre. The team doesn’t have a history of hiring in champions, preferring to make them itself. Rare exceptions include Schumacher, Fangio and now Alonso.
With the FIA’s hearing into team orders now behind them and with his role as Ferrari’s number one now clear, Alonso will attack Monza with some passion, but it will be a big test of whether he can keep the emotion in check and deliver the win he and Italy are hoping for.