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Ferrari’s Horse Whisperer attacks Spanish journalist
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Ferrari’s Horse Whisperer attacks Spanish journalist
Posted By: James Allen  |  25 May 2011   |  10:13 pm GMT  |  55 comments

The Horse Whisperer, Ferrari’s legendary blogger, who is wheeled into action only occasionally on Ferrari.com to pump out usually quite feisty messages, has awoken this weekend.


The target of its wrath is Spanish journalist Raul Romojaro of the leading Spanish sports paper AS, who wrote a piece saying that the president of Santander, Emilio Botin, had had harsh words with Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali during the recent Spanish Grand Prix weekend about the team’s performance.

The article was picked up by the Italian media and caught my eye in today’s Gazzetta dello Sport in Italy, which brought it pretty close to home.

Sensitive to the notion of an important sponsor being unhappy, especially at a time when Fernando Alonso has just signed for another five years, the Whisperer calls the story ‘science fiction’, implies that he had been told it wasn’t true before publishing but published anyway looking to ‘stir up trouble’.

Speaking of sponsors, it was announced today that world championship leader Sebastian Vettel has become a brand ambassador globally for Infiniti, Nissan’s luxury brand, part of the Renault group, which supplies engines to Red Bull.

Infiniti, joined the team this year and is worth keeping an eye on in terms of its plans and Red Bull’s plans for the relationship. There are resources at their disposal on the vehicle dynamics side in particular, which Red Bull lacks in comparison with other teams like Ferrari or Mercedes.

Like all luxury car brands it wants to drive down the average age of its customers, so even if a 23 year old is not exactly the target market, the general youthfulness is appealing to them.

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55 Comments
  1. RDW says:

    It’s also interesting that Heikki Kovalinen recently tweeted that he was driving down to Monaco in an Infiniti. Sounds like the beginnings of a structured push by Renault to me.

  2. Galapago555 says:

    James, do you have any clue about the story itself? Was it true? In fact, the article says “according to some witnesses…” therefore the journalist is admitting he was not present.

    I hardly see Mr Botín losing his temper in front of a huge audience and “demanding an explanation” from Mr Domenicalli. So I hardly believe the AS version.

    Obviously Raúl Romojaro would have never dreamed of being so famous – just thanks to the Horse Whisperer.

  3. TG says:

    If the Horse Whisperer is whinging about it, that means it’s got to be true!

  4. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    Oh great…another chechbook carrying finance nerd who feels that he can throw his weight around in any area he has little knowledge on.

    Imagine if Fred Godwin had done the same with Williams.

  5. Anton says:

    I think the horse whisperer Is LdM

  6. TG says:

    “Like all luxury car brands it wants to drive down the average age of its customers, so even if a 23 year old is not exactly the target market, the general youthfulness is appealing to them.”

    Does this mean if you drive an Infiniti you still think the Crazy Frog is cool?

    1. MR SERIOUS says:

      I thought the crazy frog was Sebastion’s pick up line in a bar?

      Who is Infinity in the UK anyway? Is it Nissan, how boring then.

      As for the whispering horse, sounds a little lame to me.

      If anyone involved with Ferrari complained right now they have reason, they are under performing.

      Still this is not the first (allegedly) arrogant behaviour from Botin.

  7. John S. Whitford says:

    The Infinity label is marketing smoke. Renault owns a piece of Nissan and they squeezed some money from them.

    1. rad_g says:

      Oh, and I thought they actually rescued and restructured the brand.

    2. That doesn’t seem likely: Renault own about 35% of Nissan, but in turn Nissan own a 15% stake in Renault. There would be far easier ways for Renault to get money out of Nissan if they needed to, as Renault have a presence on Nissan’s board.

      More significant would be Renault’s attempts to enter the luxury car sector, which have been expensive failures to date (the Avantime and Vel Satis). They want a presence in that market but just don’t have the right brand identity and values to crack it. The tie-in with Red Bull is likely to be the start of push for Infiniti to gain a foothold in the European luxury sector and challenge, initially, Lexus.

      1. John S. Whitford says:

        Your analysis does seem likely. My comment was to point out that nothing has changed with the engine manufacturing process. The Infinity decal is purely for exposure.

      2. Franko says:

        The Japanise car manufacturies wil do
        anything to dominate the luxury
        market as they dominate the staple market.
        Toyota is the most succsesful in that fild
        with catchy name and good marketing one may
        say they have made it.
        The top seling luxury car in US was LEXUS
        which stands for, Luxury Export Unated States.
        True story, you bet on it.

  8. C says:

    To drive down the age of customers, said customers have to be able to afford the car. You have to make a whole lot of moolah to want to buy an Infiniti instead of getting the Nissan and saving the rest of the money.

    1. Adrian Jordan says:

      Yes, but I think at the moment the people in their target age group who can afford an Infiniti are opting for Lexus or one of the German brands instead.

    2. Are Infinitis more expensive compared to Nissans than Lexus are to Toyotas? I thought they were about the same and Lexus have done pretty well.

      I think they’re looking to fill the slightly underrepresented area of the market where people have more then enough money to buy a Nissan, Toyota or Ford etc but not enough money to move into the genuine prestige market and buy a BMW, Mercedes or Audi. Those brands are looking to fill that gap themselves with cars like the A1, 1 Series and A Class, but Infiniti would have the advantage of offering a proper car with a similar trim for the same money.

      I’d expect them to pitch firmly into Lexus, Alfa Romeo and the upper end of VW and Honda territory. There should be plenty of youngish (they’ll be a few years older than Vettel!), successful people who would look at the kind of cars they’re offering.

  9. Thomas in Adelaide says:

    Quite silly of Ferrari to bring a great deal of attention to a matter that probably would have slipped under most people’s radar.

    1. Galapago555 says:

      +1

      As I wrote before, Romojaro would have never dreamed of becoming so famous.

  10. zombie says:

    European economy in general and European banking system in particular is going to hell in a handbasket. Spain is one of the five financially ‘severely sick’ nations that in all probabilities will have to be bailed out in near future. Amid all this, the Spanish press wants us to believe that the president of one its largest bank is worried about Ferarri’s performance in F1 than the solvency of Spain!

    1. Born 1950 says:

      Oh come on: after the 2008 fiasco it should be clear that the banks don’t give a xxxx about the financial state of any country — even their country of origin. Banks are global now and are just concerned about their image, their profits… and whose neck they can dig their teeth in next.

    2. ACr says:

      Critic of bank and management, “Mr President of Big Bank, why are you spending all those millions of Euros on such a frivolous sport?”

      Mr President, ” Because it get business in for us”

      “But the team you spend on is only the 3rd best team and it cost more than the 4 best team”.

      Mr President, “Er, Oh, but its Ferrari”.

      “3rd”

      Critics, “You have misjudged the situation, and are wasting money. Resign, resign, resign”

      That’s why he is worried about Ferrari’s performance. He will be under pressure to justify it.

      1. Galapago555 says:

        Mr Bot – er, I mean Mr President- shows a .ppt presentation with Big Bank’s Financial Statements, whit a comparison of those before and after sponsoring the “frivolous” sport, especially the impact on operations out of its home country.

        End of discussion.

      2. ACr says:

        If only PR were that simple, and rational. A quick “show” in a garage is quicker, simpler and hits home faster. Personally, .ppt presentations send me to sleep. A harsh words in a garage? We’re all taking about it.

  11. Ben G says:

    Sounds like a climate of fear inside Ferrari.
    No wonder they aren’t being adventurous enough on the track.

  12. Jimmy says:

    Not that I’m a big Ferrari fan, but I’m spanish and I can tell you this much: sports papers in Spain are absolutely lame. They make up all kinds of stories every day just to be in the limelight, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Raúl Romojaro had made up all this Botín affair just because someone told him he had heard Botín speak to Domenicalli a bit louder than usual.

    1. Galapago555 says:

      Exactly my (Spanish fan) thougts.

      But maybe you are too soft describing how Spanish sport papers are.

    2. Tom says:

      On the other hand, from all Spanish sport newspapers, As is probably the best one.

    3. Of course he was speaking loud… F1 engines are noisy! ;-)

  13. Juanjo says:

    AS is a well known sports paper in Spain, famous for editing photos and videos for his own interests (Real Madrid).

    1. TheLegend says:

      AS is the second best sport newspaper in Spain just behind Marca and their football and motorsport sections aren’t the same at all, at F1 section they publish news you can’t even find anywhere else and they not invent them.
      I don’t understand why the horse whisperer is angry about, all what the new says is true.

      1. Berlinette says:

        Come on, if your rival is s***, that doesn’t mean you’re doing your work fine.

        Marca is awful, just like As is… I would even say that I miss Carlos Miquel in As. He was Alonso’s #1 fan, but at least he was at racing tracks and talked to people from the paddock.

        Romojaro is no way near him, and Franco seems just to obbey him.

  14. J says:

    @Jimmy
    I second your post.

    Now i would say that in the actual world we live in wherever there is money involved, in this case BIG money, i dont think there is any natural, fair, results in sports like Football or F1, you know what i mean, so there must be something true in this story about Emilio Botin. Apart from that i still enjoy F1, there are many variables involved in to be able to be controlled.
    Of course this is not a fact, its just my feeling and my opinion.

    I have dream many years for one race every year with the F1 drivers racing on the same cars with no brands or sponsors, or everyone with the same sponsors, fighting in the most equally conditions, im sure it would be the most expected race every year, couldnt that be posible?

    1. You should check out GP2… Future F1 drivers, all in the exact same car.

      …or check out videos of the old BMW Procar series, or even the Mercedes 190 race that Senna beat Lauda in, back when he first got into F1.

      Plenty of good examples of that, and thankfully none are F1… because if the day comes that there is no difference between a Ferrari and a McLaren, I’ll tune out. I even miss that there used to be V12 Ferrari engines running against V8 Fords and V10 Renaults. Spec F1 would mean the death of the series.

      1. Galapago555 says:

        This is going off topic…

        Can I add that I also miss two – or more – different tyre suppliers…

      2. J says:

        I didnt mean to change the F1, theres no point if a Ferrari and a McLaren are the same, i was thinking more like a one special race per year, but lets leave it like that, its going off topic.

  15. Andy C says:

    I was completely unaware of the article until the horse whisperer and the accusations.

    So by writing an article, he has raised (Luca that is) the profile.

    Typical.

    1. Chris says:

      I thought the same. I had no idea what the Horse Whisperer was blabbing on about.

  16. Berlinette says:

    Raúl Romojaro is probably the less trustworthy motorsport journalist in Spain.

    He comes from motorbikes, has no clue about F1, doesn’t give a d*** if he isn’t in his office hours (as he admitted on his Twitter account), and let’s his feelings write for himself.

    For example, he attacks Hispania Racing every time he can, just because he wasn’t invited to official presentation of the team back in March 2010, and has since then constantly published every kind of bad rumours around Carabante family, ignoring official words…

    For example, a few weeks ago they published a piece of news about Hispania’s 300.000€ debt with a truck manufacturer. Firstly, that debt was inherited from Campos Meta, and then the news were written by a rally journalist close to Carlos Gracia, after José Ramón Carabante answered to his post-Melbourne critics.

    Just a new episode in Spanish motorsport soap opera…

  17. Monkey Nuts says:

    Who cares whether it’s made up or not – the Horse Whisperer (LdM) is way too sensitive again..

  18. Imperfectropos says:

    Don’t believe a word from Romojaro, the dumber journalist I’ve ever seen writing about racing.

  19. Chris Horton says:

    Sorry this is off topic, I meant to ask this question earlier in the week.

    Can anyone shed any light on why Nick Heidfeld was allowed to start the Spanish GP?

    With 107% back in force this season, surely setting no qualifying time means no race start?

    Apologies for my ignorance!

    Chris

    1. James Allen says:

      Stewards have right to allow him to race if his practice times have been competitive.

      1. Chris Horton says:

        Thanks for your reply James! Didn’t know of that regulation.

        Chris

    2. Galapago555 says:

      (sorry, James, you know I can’t help but come with the Regulations Book whenever I can)

      From FIA 2001 Season Sporting Regulations:

      “36) THE GRID
      36.3 During Q1, any driver whose best qualifying lap exceeds 107% of the fastest time set during that session will not be allowed to take part in the race. Under exceptional circumstances however, which may include setting a suitable lap time in a free practice session, the stewards may permit the car to start the race. Should there be more than one driver accepted in this manner, the grid order will be determined by the stewards.
      In either case, a competitor will not be able to appeal against the stewards decision.”

      Nick had lapped the 8th in FP1 and 10th in FP2, so I assume they allowed him to start the race under the “setting a suitable lap time” provision.

      1. Galapago555 says:

        Typo: *FIA 2011 Sporting Regulations*

  20. Robyn says:

    Like others here, I hadn’t even heard anything about this story until the Horse Whisperer ranted about it. I was a little disappointed, too; for a brief moment, I thought the Horse Whisperer’s diatribe was going to be about Helmut Marko’s “radio hacking” allegations! Now that could have been funny.

  21. luison222 says:

    Hi there,

    Just to confirm some previous posts; the so-called “journalist” who signs the article has in fact no damned idea about F1; furthermore he is famous for making up stories in general. [mod] And with regards to the main sport papers in Spain, yes they do indeed suck and unfortunately they are the main source of information for spanish F1 hooligans, who know nothing about this sport. If you are in Spain and need reliable information about F1 you have to go to specialized websites and blogs,

    1. James Allen says:

      Which are the best ones in Spain?

      1. Galapago555 says:

        These are the top ones in Spain IMHO:

        Journalists:
        - Manel Serras, writing for “El País”.
        - Joan Viladelprat (formerly worked for Ferrari) writes an article for “El País” on GP weekends as well.
        - Javier Rubio, for “El Confidencial”

        Sites:
        http://www.caranddriverthef1.com/
        http://www.virutasdegoma.com/

        Tweets: @JavieRubioF1, @theF1com, @virutasF1

      2. Al (21prods) says:

        Regarding your question, the best motorsport magazine in Spain are Grand Prix Actual (not only F1, but mainly). Its web page is http://www.grandprixactual.com, where you can find lots of information.

        As for the blogs (in Spain), in my opinion, the best ones are:

        Carlos Castella: carloscastella.wordpress.com
        Carlos Barazal: carlosbarazal.com
        El Lince del Paddock: ellincedelpaddock.com
        Paranerdos: http://www.paranerdos.com
        F1Writers: http://www.f1writers.com
        Nürburgring: elinfiernoverde.blogspot.com
        Felipe J. Blas: felipejblas.wordpress.com

        Hope you enjoy them, althogh they certainly are in Spanish.

      3. Curro says:

        The problem in Spain is that, 15 years ago, there was no coverage at all. All the sports papers mentioned above did not report on F1, they just included a 15-word note on the second-to-last page (besides the quiz) to mention that “Driver X won the British GP yesterday at the wheel of his X-Renault”. And this is a fact.

        So they’ve been playing catch-up since then, always with a football mentality attached to the whole business. Scandal is good, pure sport is boring.

        Same goes for TV. A book can be written on F1 TV coverage in Spain over the years, and if you read it you wouldn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I write this with a 25-year perspective of being an F1 fan in Spain.

        It’s a good thing that Alonso kick-started a change in all that but there is a long way to go yet.

      4. Galapago555 says:

        Can’t see any relation between this supposed lack of tradition and the poor quality of papers.

        Spanish Liga for example has been consistently one of the best in Europe sin the 50s and our specialized newspapers (AS, Marca, Mundo Deportivo, Sport) are awful.

        Btw, 15 years ago (and before) you could read about F1 on Motor16, Autopista, and others.

      5. Berlinette says:

        Spanish motorsport journalism landscape is sad, having a look to these recommendations…

        Most of them are underfunded or even do it just as hobby whilst we have to bear stupidities like the ones written on Marca or As…

  22. luison222 says:

    Hi again,

    With regards to your question I agree with most of the media listed by the other commenters, but there are some interesting websites missing such as F1 al dia (www.f1aldia.com) or F1 actual (http://f1actual.com/) when it comes to information and analysis of F1.

    There are also some more bloggers wich websites are really worth to look at, besides the ones posted in the above comments. Blogs like “Primo de Anonimo” (http://primodeanonimo.blogspot.com/), Pulguita a todo gas (http://pulguitaatodogas.blogspot.com/), F1actual (http://f1actual.es/) or Martin Herzog (http://martinherzog.blogspot.com/) supply an interesting point of view to the races and the sport.

    And finally in order to get the whole picture, there is the need to regularly check foreign webistes such as yours, F1fanatic, Scarbs or Autosport…

    Kind regards :-))

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