A return to winning ways?
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“First Alonso should win the title, then we won’t hire a team mate who bothers him”
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Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Oct 2012   |  7:00 pm GMT  |  207 comments

Last Friday, somewhat lost among all the furore over the announcement of the Hamilton-Mercedes transfer, there was an important note made by Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo in a Q&A session at the Paris Motor Show. It was the session where he confirmed that Ferrari would need to shut down its wind tunnel in either December or January for calibration checks, which has had reasonably wide coverage.

In the same session, Montezemolo talked about Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa and there were a couple of important lines to note, for better understanding the full picture when the time comes for the team to announce who will drive alongside Alonso in 2013.

The first point was that he described Alonso as “the strongest driver Ferrari has ever had,” which is quite some claim.

But then he responded to Alonso’s line from Singapore that, “If the team decides to change Felipe, anyone who arrives has to be better than Felipe. I’ve seen a lot of names written, and I don’t know if they have been written with the head or the heart. With all the names you hear, if you compare what Felipe has done in Formula 1 and what these little names have done in Formula 1…”

Montezemolo said, “He’s right that there aren’t any “phenomenons” in circulation. But first Fernando should win the world title and then we will certainly not put anyone alongside him who would bother him. It is the case that the decisions on drivers are taken by us, obviously sharing them with him. Massa has been very strong in the last two races. I’m taking a few days to reflect.”

This is interesting on a couple of levels; first by agreeing with Alonso that the possible candidates for the seat are “little names” it makes for some uncomfortable questions if and when then should hire a Di Resta or a Hulkenberg. Also the use of the word “share” is interesting. In Italian he says that of the decisions “ovviamente condividendole con lui”, which literally means “obviously sharing them with him.” I take that to mean that they will share their decisions with him, rather than that he would have a share in making the decision, but there is a slight ambiguity there which is intriguing.

Meanwhile Massa said this week, “The best way to deal with this situation is to race without thinking about the future. My future is important, but now what counts are results. I feel good. At Suzuka we can be very competitive because there are plenty of fast corners which suit the F2012.”

There is a feeling that one of the two Force India drivers has a shot at the Ferrari drive. There’s been a suggestion at large for a few weeks now that one of them is on some sort of option for a one year deal, a kind of “prove yourself” opportunity.

The team seem to be in no hurry to decide, but the market is now shifting into gear with the log-jam of Hamilton/Schumacher/Perez having been cleared, so it may not be too long before we learn what Ferrari plans to do.

Ferrari is rallying in the Constructors’ championship thanks to 26 points from Massa in the last three races. They are now in third place, 14pts ahead of Lotus and 16 behind McLaren.

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207 Comments
  1. Jude says:

    Go Fernando, do it for Massa

    1. Wayne says:

      Lol! I initially read this as meaning we will not hire a driver who bothers him on track. As in, who will support him but not challenge his number one status.

      1. alexyoong says:

        Isn’t that what he means?

      2. Wayne says:

        Honestly I do not know – I am a tad confused.

      3. Jane Kay says:

        isn’t it a bit silly to compare Massa’s achievements with di Resta and Hulkenberg? Massa has been driving for Ferrari since 2006, in F1 since 2002 (as far as I remember), while Hulkenberg has been driving since around 2009 and di Resta since 2011. If you compare it like this they are “little names”. But I think that while they still have plenty of opportunities Massa is nearing the end of his career. Maybe nobody wants to go to Ferrari for a one year deal knowing that he would play the second fiddle to ALO?

      4. jay jacob says:

        your last sentence is interesting… would a driver not accept a Ferrari drive?

        If a driver replaces Massa but fails to challenge Alonso, it will spell the death of his F1 career; but if he comes close, say consistently 0.2s to 0.3s within Alonso’s qualifying time everytime, his market value would sky-rocket amongst other teams…

        there’s no two-ways about it:
        driving for Ferrari, with Alonso in the sister car, will kill or glorify a driver’s career…. remember Giancarlo Fisichella ?

      5. JamesR says:

        Isn’t there a little lost in translation?

    2. **Paul** says:

      F1 is a team sport, the drivers play a small but significant part of that. Lots of the fans seem to forget the team bit. Many a championship has come with the aid of a team mate. There is nothing wrong with what Ferrari propose here; if FA wins the title then he gets a team mate who will support him, if not he perhaps gets a team mate to challenge his #1 status.

      1. W Johnson says:

        Lots of fans also forget that the team element is the constructors title, not the drivers title… and everyone forgets at the end of the season how many times Massa has been told to let Alonso pass.

        James,

        I recall one of recent commentaries (Singapore) where you referred to Alonso v Massa statistics and failed to mention the skew resulting from those occasions where Massa has let Alonso pass.

      2. **Paul** says:

        I’d disagree. Drivers are individually scored in the drivers championship; but it’s still a team sport. Just as Cyclists are individually timed but many of those individuals are present to assist the best hope of winning in the team. There is nothing wrong with that. Ferrari pay the wages, Ferrari design and build the cars; no driver should be riding roughshod over a team. The team should make a decision about who is best placed to win. Ferrari have one of the easiest decisions on the grid; so they can back Fernando earlier than their rivals.

        Don’t blame Ferrari for getting Massa to let Alonso past on the odd occasion, they want to win, and as Alonso is obviously the best chance of that they’d be idiotic not to get Massa to move. Find me a team boss who wouldn’t sacrifice a drivers pride and annoying some deluded fans in exchange for a championship and I’ll show you a P45 for them…

      3. Justin Bieber says:

        You live in a bubble dude.. how many times Massa has been told to let Alonso pass?? Well If I recall it would be once in 2010 and once in 2012.

        You should give credit where credit is due.

    3. Brian Lott says:

      F1 bills itself as a Team Sport but most F1 fans (and auto racing fans in general) are not out there rooting for a Team. They are rooting for their favorite driver. So when some drivers are ordered to yield for another driver, the results are thus contrived due to this manipulation which goes against the grain of most racing fans. This hurts F1 in my opinion. most racing fans want the best man (ie the fastest guy in the fastest car that day) to win the race. When one racer has to give way, whether it’s Coulthard yielding to Hakkinen or Massa yielding to Alonso it is a abomination to the sport of racing. If the fans all got fed up and left because of Team orders, my guess is that Team Orders would go away real fast. I liked what the one TV commentator said about the infamous Fernando is faster order…he said something to the effect of let him prove it on the track!

  2. Same old same old with Ferrari try to find some poor young sop overcome by the awe of driving a red car, only to find [as in the Schumacher era] they will be playing the support act to the incumbant ‘top of the bill’ driver of the day, then we will hear those famous words “move over xxxx Fernando is faster than you” !!

    1. db4tim says:

      So what is wrong with that?

      1. Absolutely nothing, I was making a statement not portioning blame !

    2. Marybeth says:

      Kimi Raikkonen is still the last driver to bring the championship home to Ferrari, in 2007 from 17 points back, because he is just that good a racer. After Massa’s accident in 2009, Ferrari changed back to make Kimi their 1st driver instead of 2nd; he had 4 podiums & a win at Spa; Ferrari’s only win for the year & Kimi did it all in the F-60 which was widely regarded as a ‘turkey’. And that was after Ferrari quit updating the car in July! I doubt that LdM means to say that Kimi is not a strong driver; did LdM mean that sometimes it takes more than just being strong…like the Iceman’s cool, calm, even-tempered race-craft & racing finesse…? & not demanding control & giving orders to the whole operation…? :) Is it time for Ferrari to reverse 2009 & put Kimi back in his seat before they gave it to FA…? :) LdM must still have strong feelings of gratitude to Kimi for making him look smart & strong, machismo, after letting Schumacher go for him. :)

      1. Martin says:

        Your argument is based on a few suppositions that come up from Kimi fans but are rarely supported by anyone else. Another view is that the 2008 and 2009 rules and cars led to a more undeteering bias in the cars, which Kimi has said he doesn’t like. Even in 2007 Massa had 6 polses to Raikkonen’s 3, so it is not as if there was this huge shift in 2008 and 2009.

        From what I can work out, the media and the teams agree there are three stand out drivers, Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton. In my view, Kimi is competitive on most race days with these three, but has a few off days, such as Monaco this year. On qualifying pace and the behind the scenes stuff he isn’t at the level of top three in delivering race to race consistency – particularly Vettel and Alonso.

        As fans we can believe what we want, but the teams have a lot more data than we do, and they are more intent on winning than mking friend with drivers. On a practical level, why would Ferrari favour Massa over Raikkonen in 2008? Even if there is an emotional bias – of which Kimi is meant to be above – the cars would be the same. The much more likely explanation is that the balance of the cars through rule changes to reduce downforce brought Massa up relative to Kimi. The arguments of favouritism – possibly driven by Schumacher – frankly seem a bit delusional.

      2. Marybeth says:

        Martin, Thank-you for your reply. :) In 2008 & 2009 Schumacher, as a highly paid consultant for Ferrari, told them to build the car around Massa, making Kimi the 2nd driver, & that caused the understeer issue.

      3. DanWilliams from Aust says:

        I agree with you and mostly with the previous comment as well.

        The 2008 car was not suited to RAI and helped even things out between RAI and MAS. MAS was also driving at the top of his game that year and I personally feel he deserved that championship.

        Ever since RAI’s McLaren days, I feel he’s not as good a qualifier as he was then, not sure why. In those days he would be able to outqualify nearly all his opponenets with more fuel onboard etc time and time again on those silly 1 lap qualifying sessions. But we don’t see that intense 1 lap speed anymore.

        I will admit RAI is my fav driver, but I realise that when compared to the so called ‘top 3′, he seems to come off as 4th best. I’ve heard/read overtime from his previous engineers and team members etc that he has unquestionably the most amount of raw natural talent for driving a car fast, but I get them impression that if there is anything holding him back from the other 3 its the fact that F1 is his day job, its not actually his life. He is passionate about winning and going fast no doubt, but no prepared to do what it takes behind closed doors to focus his life on F1…

        They are my assumtions, and if they are true, thats fine for me as a fan, I like him because that’s how he is. But yes there are other people who love RAI as well and say some crazy stuff about him lol.

      4. hero_was_senna says:

        Great post, absolutely top drawer.

        As to Marybeth’s tainted view… rendered speechless

      5. domjones says:

        As I recall, Kimi would not have won that championship back in 2007 if Massa had not moved over from the lead in the final race. Correct me if I’m wrong.

      6. Anop says:

        Absolutely right! Fernando would have won the championship by 1 point.

      7. John says:

        +1, go iceman, but don’t hold yr breath for ferrari to be talking about him much, reminds them of how long ago their last championship was :)

      8. Marybeth says:

        Just read that there is a video on Youtube ‘whatwillkimidonext’ that shows Kimi signing a contract & then saying sh-h-h-h, while grinning. :) Someone said that it may be a sponsor contract but the other day he said he has not signed with Lotus for next year yet. The announcement will be made on Kimi’s birthday, 10/17/12.
        This might be considered a little out of character for him to have this kind of fun with this with his fans & the media. :)

    3. Tank says:

      Well, o/t on this post but its official. Michael Schumacher is retiring at the end of the year. No swansong at another team.

      Thank you Schumi for coming back. I got the opportunities to watch my childhood hero in real life at Spa in 2010, and at Monza in 2012, the only times I’ve been able to afford the journey from South Africa to track-side.

      I wish he could win one more race in the time we have left to watch him racing, but perhaps that is too much to ask for. As these things go, hope dies last.

  3. Davexxx says:

    It seems obvious to me that the Team (bosses) will make the decision over No2 Driver. They’ll let Alonso into the loop of course, and they might listen to and consider his opinion only, but he won’t have any ‘decisive vote’.

  4. I have to imagine that there is always something lost in the translation from Italian. I would imagine that his sentiment was that if Alonso wins the title, they will sign whoever Alonso wants (within reason of course) without regard to what Ferrari may want.

    I imagine that Alonso likes having Massa at Ferrari. He probably wishes Massa would finish a bit higher, but likes that there has been no challenge to his complete dominance at Ferrari. There is no question from race 1 of the season that the driver’s championship support will go to Alonso, and who can blame him for desiring that?

    One could argue that Alonso’s championship hopes would be slightly better had Massa mixed it up a little more towards the top. There have been plenty of opportunities for Massa to take points away from Hamilton or Vettel, but still finish behind Alonso, maybe a faster #2 at Ferrari could help Alonso more, but then Alonso runs the risk of another driver possibly taking points off of him.

  5. toleman fan says:

    Is anyone else struck by the disconnect between

    “first Fernando should win the world title..”

    {when he’s done his job, he can tell us how to do ours”}

    and

    ‘he described Alonso as “the strongest driver Ferrari has ever had” ‘?

    I’m more on the side of the second comment. The insinuation that if he doesn’t win the championship that he’s somehow let the team down or been the weakest link is horse manure.

    1. JR says:

      I agree, I don’t see what else could Alonso do with the car he has. I don’t think any other driver would be near of the standings with that equipment.

    2. Warren Groenewald says:

      Agree with that sentiment completely. I think in the last 3 seasons there has only been two occassions where a Ferrari would have won, regardless who was driving it, Bahrain and Hockenheim 2010.

      Perhaps it wasn’t meant with any kind of malice though and as usual a bit was lost in translation.

    3. CarlH says:

      Agreed. It reads to me like LDM is trying to give Alonso a bit of a push and frankly I don’t think he needs it. Unfortunately Ferrari would be no more than a midfield runner this year if it wasn’t for Alonso.

      I wonder if this is the first sign of Luca feeling like he is losing control of Ferrari as he did with Schumi?

    4. hero_was_senna says:

      I agree about the strongest driver Ferrari has ever had.

      Senna never drove for Ferrari, and LdM knows exactly where Schumi ranks on that list, because he knows everything that Schumi had to his advantage.

    5. Justin Bieber says:

      lost in translation..

  6. Michael S says:

    WOW… So Alonso is better than Schumacher, Andretti, and Niki Lauda?

    1. Jazzda says:

      Yes. But not better than Prost, of course :)

    2. Andrew says:

      Easily, Easily and Probably

    3. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

      Or Alberto Ascari, Mike Hawthorn, Peter Collins, Von Trips, Phil Hill, Dan Gurney, John Surtees, Chris Amon, Jacky Ickx, Derek Bell, Pedro Rodriguez, Clay Regazzoni, Mario Andretti, Carlos Reutemann, Gilles Villeneuve, Jody Scheckter, Gerhard Berger, Mansell, Alain Prost, etc.

      They’ve had lots of great drivers!

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        I could also name every Ferrari F1 and sports car driver they have employed.
        Don’t forget, up to 1974, Ferrari focused on the Sports-car championship more than F1.
        Of those you have listed, only Villeneuve or Prost could be offered as true rivals.

        I ask, why don’t we go back to pre-Ferrari days, but where Enzo was running other teams, after all how could anyone compete with Tazio Nuvolari?
        LdM was not there when Villeneuve drove for the team, but he was in charge when Prost was there.

        I have said before, to my mind, Alonso is the greatest driver since Senna.

        I have been following F1 since the mid 70′s so can only speak of drivers I have seen, but Senna was on a different level to everybody else.

      2. Martin says:

        Hi HwS

        For me it is really opionion based. The telemetry data took until the 1980s to come in, so earlier measures from teams are more speculative.

        My view is a bit different…
        in terms of race results, pole position meant relatively little in Senna’s day, but it meant a lot to him to say he was the fastest, and it built on an aura around him. On race pace, few if any observers gave Senna any edge on Prost. Mansell was another contender – 15 kg heavier than Senna and 20 kg more than Prost. On weight equivalency the picture becomes quite murky…

        James has already made a post out of one of my view that the refuelling era raised the racing standard to a level beyond the Prost/Mansell/Senna era got to. It is just greater competitiveness in the cars and the rules being geared for performance. The drivers in earlier eras weren’t forced to maintain the peaks in their performance. A 99.5% lap in the faster car would get you pole in the old days – now the front row is in doubt.

        Perception plays a large part. If you are told a driver is quick, you’ll look for signs. The dynamics of a car on bitumen mean that having the car sliding will be slower than one right on the limit, especially long term in race conditions, but smooth looks slow. If you have the most powerful engines – which in qualifying Senna pretty much had in 1985, 86, 88, 89, 90, 91, and 92, you’ll run lots of wing in qualifying too, as that is the way to a fastest lap time. More wing and sticky tyres in a good car – you might just look quick in the corners…

        If there was a qualifying championship, I’d pick Vettel over any driver in history as no other driver in the history of F1 has had race strategies so dependent on being in front during the first stint (besides Webber), and only recently has qualifying meant as much as it does today. Senna’s record comes from a time of egos not race wins being dependent on qualifying. Not all drivers bothered about Saturdays when there was a Sunday morning warm up.

        Best Ferrari driver of all time… Schumacher, Ascari and Lauda have the results through multiple titles. Nuvolari, Villeneuve and Alonso would be amoung the few to make a challenge on ability according to the history books. I’d pick the Spainiard over the German. The rest I’m really lacking data on. LdM probably knew a bit about Villeneuve as he was around in Lauda’s time, and I suspect he is good at networking. And good at massaging egos.

        Cheers,

        Martin

      3. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

        My point was that Ferrari have had lots of “great” drivers. At a time when most of the teams were garagistas, driving for the factory Ferrari team was the pinicle of the sport.

        Its just that because most of the readers are younger, these drivers are forgotten. Every 5-10 years there is a new Schumacher, Hamilton or Alonso quality driver. The drivers in my list were the same in their day.

      4. hero_was_senna says:

        Are these drivers, great drivers because of the public perception now, or because of their contemporaries.

        I won’t disagree with Ascari if a journalist as famous as Jenkinson placed him in his Top 5, along with Moss, Clark, Villeneuve and Senna.
        He watched them all race, and won the Mille Miglia with Moss, so I have to respect his opinion.
        Even so, Alberto Ascari, Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins all drove in what is recognised as the Fangio era. Don’t forget, a certain Stirling Moss was also racing then.

        Von Trips, Phil Hill, Dan Gurney, John Surtees, Chris Amon all drove in the Jim Clark era.
        The only one ever mentioned as a great talent was Amon. Yet his luck in F1 was appalling, he never won a race.
        Von Trips and Hill happened to be Ferrari’s F1 drivers in the stunning shark nose Ferrari, but they were beaten by Moss in the Lotus at Monaco.
        John Surtees, greater as bike rider than a car driver.

        The problem is, Ferrari may have won the F1 championships in 1961 and 1964 but the main focus was Le Mans and sportscars.
        Many people don’t realise that until the 70′s, F1 was not viewed in the same manner it is today. Ferrari’s last year in sportscars was 1973.
        Ferrari hadn’t won an F1 championship for 11 years, something that LdM and Lauda started turning round in 1974. That’s not coincidence.

        Jacky Ickx, Derek Bell, Pedro Rodriguez all date back to the Clark into Stewart era. But why not include Jochen Rindt, he drove their sports cars.
        Personally I would always put Ickx in my top 5 drivers, but that may be because he drove 2 of my favourite cars, the 312 B and the 312PB.
        Rodriguez is an interesting addition, like Bellof years later, died before his full potential was realised. But Derek Bell??

        Clay Regazzoni, Mario Andretti, Carlos Reutemann take us from Stewart into the Lauda years.
        Regazzoni was a journey man, a DC of his day. Andretti wasn’t even the fastest in his own team when he won the WDC, that was Peterson, who incidentally also drove Ferrari sportscars.
        Reutemann, a complete enigma.
        During this period you also had Fittipaldi.

        Gilles Villeneuve and Jody Scheckter. 1 amazing skills, the other, fast driver but not recognised as the elite during his career.

        Gerhard Berger?? In a career that includes rivals Senna, Prost, Mansell, Piquet and MSC, I don’t think so.

        Mansell, Alain Prost, both great drivers.

        Fangio (50-57), Moss (58-62), Clark (62-68), Stewart (69-73), Lauda (74-79), Prost (80-85), Senna (86-94), Schumacher (95-04) Alonso (05-?)

        There are the greats of every era, they may win races or even championships, but only a handful are the elite. The ones who define an era.
        Of those you listed, only Villeneuve and Prost belongs in there.

        Then you have the questions, if he had survived would it have been the Rindt era, or if Fittipaldi had stayed at Mclaren, would we be speaking of Lauda as a footnote rather than his era? If Villeneuve had moved to Mclaren as rumoured for 1983, would he have dominated until Senna signed for them?

    4. Guillermo says:

      I think Alonso is better than Schumacher, but Prost in his prime could have taught him a thing or two…

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        Yes and no

      2. Elie says:

        Absolutely yes..Senna was the fastest natural driver ever over a single lap. Prost however really did hold his own against him on race day & for this I see Prost as good or better than any driver today.
        Having said that It pains me to say Schumacher was unbelievable in the early days. I will never forget his ability to regather a car from a major spin on corners every driver before him collected the wall. .. This from someone who dislikes his tactics more than any driver ever! I can’t say Im sorry to see him go- but I truly believe it is wrong to say Alonso is better than these 3 drivers.

    5. Robert in San Diego says:

      I would have added Gilles Villneuve to the above list as he was the most exciting driver to drive an F1 car I ever saw. Right up to when he ran into a slight problem on May 8th, 1982, which probably would not have been fatal in today’s versions.

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        At 14 when he died, I thought the same, then Senna arrived.
        Top Gear in the UK ran a piece on Ayrton Senna, presented by Jeremy Clarkson.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oLSYSJO5Ik

        The link shows the complete piece and Clarkson, at the end speaks of Villeneuve being spectacular vs Senna. Fascinating stuff.

      2. regis says:

        let me thank you for pointing this video that I had already watched. It is an amazing video and, as happened to me on the first occasion I watched it, I really loved seen Hamilton nervous as a kid on Christmas’ Eve before driving Senna’s car. That’s passion and respect for another driver.

    6. CarlH says:

      Yes. Schumi, is that you?

    7. Otto says:

      Most definitely.

    8. CanadaGP says:

      Don’t forget that Ferrari have a lot more data from telemetry than anyone outside the team.

  7. Tommy Mc says:

    “we will certainly not put anyone alongside him who would bother him.” I find this interesting, taken on face value it would mean that Vettel moving to Ferrari would be as much of a none starter as Hamilton.

    Seems as though they only want a de facto number 2 to come in.

    1. Mad Kiwi says:

      What surprises me most with your comment is how this appears to be news to you!!!

      All this Massa bashing in the apst when he is treated as a second rate, support the leader, driver.

      Why would he NOT have confidence and performance related issues?

      ANYONE who takes the second seat at Ferrari needs their head read OR accept that they will get no higher in their career and be little more than a re positionable road block under management orders.

      Alltogether a slow debilitating erosion of confidence and capability.

  8. Raymond YZJ says:

    James, do you think Montezemolo is hinting that he will hire Vettel for 2014?

    1. Kay says:

      James, you got a crystal ball?

      1. James Allen says:

        No

        Much as I admire and appreciate your enthusiasm for commenting here, the other posters find it irritating that there are 20 or 30 comments from you on a post such as this.

        Please can you be a bit more restrained? Thanks

      2. Kay says:

        No problem!
        I don’t hesitate in speaking my mind out and stay real. Just thought some fellow readers here might need to stay a bit more to the reality.

      3. Kay says:

        I’m pretty sure you’ve seen ones worse than mine.

      4. Peter C says:

        32 & counting.

    2. Wilma the Great says:

      Seb has a contract with RBR until the end of 2014. He will not be on the market until 2015. Even if Alonso is able to fetch the WDC, the WCC is too expensive to let go for another two years, just to caress their top driver.

      The team bosses can include Alonso in the discussion, but if a driver doesn’t achieve a minimum amount of points, he will not be hired, even if he’s willing to stand humblingly in second place, that’s how I see it.

  9. Miha Bevc says:

    It’s really looking Ferrari is ready to get Vettel on board for 2014, doesn’t it? They better give him a good car…

  10. Rich B says:

    you can’t compare what massa has achieved to other candidates, massa himself hadn’t won a race when he joined ferrari. it’s a feeble excuse to keep him, in fact any excuse would be, and it’ll look like they’re bowing to Alonso’s request.
    massa was great in 2008 but ferrari are not where they should be in the CC now because of him. don’t be weak ferrari, replace him.

  11. Sebee says:

    Honeymoon is over!!!!

  12. Anop says:

    Not sure what Luca means by – “But first Fernando should win the world title” – He has done it 2 times already Luca.

    And if you mean win the title with Ferrari then tell your team to get their act together and give him a fast car to challenge for pole positions. I am sure Fernando will do a better job at winning from pole than Sebastian.

    And of course don’t repeat an Abu Dhabi 2010.

  13. Louis says:

    Does that imply the rumoured Vettel (a driver who can bother Alonso) move to Ferrari in 2014 is conditional on Alonso failing to win a driver title for Ferrari before end of 2012? obviously they cannot leave it until 2013 end of season to make the decision for 2014, so 2012 is the cut off point for the title.

    I suspect if Alonso is able to win the title this year, then he can dictate who his future (beyond 2014) teammate is gonna be. If not, then Ferrari will bring in Vettel to do the job.

    However, for Alonso’s teammate in 2013, he doesn’t really have a say on that as we won’t know who’ll win the title until November and Ferrari will make the decision on their own and inform Alonso accordingly.

  14. Curro says:

    There’s always good stuff reading between the lines with Luca!

    I remember very clearly in 1990, after Nigel Mansell announce his “retirement” from Ferrari, that Alain Prost (then fighting for the title in the No.1 Ferrari) mentioned in some interview that the team (Cesare Fiorio back then) had put a list of names in front of him and that he had chosen one. He explicitly said “the team has made their choice and I accept that choice” or something along those lines, which implied his choice was not NECESSARILY Ferrari’s choice (Jean Alesi, btw). Having said that, it was very probably that Prost had indeed chosen Alesi as the rapport was good back then, being both French, master-pupil approach, etc. Knowing that Prost had had veto rights in McLaren regarding driver choice (having famously not vetoed Senna), one assumes he had the same status at Ferrari, specially in 1990 when he was at the peak of his powers in Maranello.

    I’m sure something similar happened when Michael Schumacher was in the team and they needed to replace the No.2 driver. Very probably Schumacher’s opinion had more weight than Prost’s in his time, so he was definitely asked for it and most probably an agreement was made with Jean Todt & Luca.

    Now, if Montezemolo says Alonso is “the strongest” ever to drive for them, his opinion will have at least the same weight if not more than the previous two cases. Therefore my guess is that Ferrari will choose, put that to Alonso, and confirm with him he has no issues with their choice before signing anyone. Just a hunch of course.

    1. Well put.

      It is Ferrari’s choice, but they’ll certainly consult with Alonso. They’d be silly not to.

  15. Miha Bevc says:

    Admin, do you see this post?
    I have problems posting to this website for more than a year now. I’m a daily reader for more than two years. I haven’t had any problems at first, but suddenly, it just stopped working for me. When I click “submit”, the site reloads, but then there is nothing. Usually it said something like “your post is waiting approval” Is it possible I’m blocked or something?

    Your blog is my number one F1 website, also because of quite high level of discussion.
    Sometimes I would really like to join the debate.

    PLEASE REPLY IF YOU CAN READ THIS.

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes we see it!

      It went to spam, but we see it.

      1. CarlH says:

        I’m having the same problem, anything we can do to stop it happening?

      2. James Allen says:

        We will try something over the weekend. Let us know on

        james@jamesallenonf1.com

        if it makes a difference to you.

        Your comments are all coming through no problem, despite the message you are getting
        Thanks

      3. For a while, if I put my Gmail, it wouldn’t allow me to post. I used my ancient Yahoo email for a while and that seemed to solve it. Then finally, I tried my Gmail again and it worked.

      4. Curro says:

        In case somebody finds it of any help, I’ve had the same issue for over a year. Recently I changed the email address required to post to another of my addresses, et voilà!

  16. W Johnson says:

    So Ferrari want a better driver than Massa but someone who does as they are told and never dares to challenge Alonso…thus making Alonso better than he is?

    Would any true racing driver want to sign up for those terms other than your average performing pay day driver?

    1. db4tim says:

      Better then he is….wow, you really don’t get how good he is …FM cannot make hm look any better, FA he does that by driving.

    2. AuraF1 says:

      If Webber continues to get cut out by Red Bull he may decide to have a few years in red. Mark is practical enough to know when his WDC hopes are over but will drive fast to grab points and wins.

      He has no loyalty to RBR who have shown him very little – hes good (perhaps he chokes under pressure too often) gets on with Alonso and seems like the sort of guy who’d accept being beaten but would run it close.

      I still think there’s more chance of webber driving in red before vettel in 2014.

  17. Louis says:

    Does that imply the rumoured Vettel (a driver that can bother Alons) move to Ferrari in 2014 is actually conditional on whether Alonso is able to win the title this year? Obviously they cannot wait until end of 2013 to decide, so 2012 is the cut off point?

    I suspect that if Alonso wins the title this year, then he can dictate the teammate he wants for 2014 (no Vettel), but if he fails to do it this year, then this would trigger a clause in their contracts and Ferrari can bring in Vettel in 2014 to do the job.

    for 2013, i suspect Alonso doesn’t really have a say on the decision as Montezelmolo speaks, Ferrari will make the decision and then notify Alonso.

  18. Chris says:

    Interesting observation. James, do you think Ferrari’s delay in making a decision has anything to do with Kubica’s recovery and maybe seeing whether he can recover in time for 2014? Being that he’s friends with Alonso and his form will unlikely be good enough to challenge his potential teammate, I would think he’s a good fit (conditional on his recovery progress). Not to mention if he does fully recover in the next 3 years, he would be a strong addition to Ferrari’s long term plans.

    1. Marybeth says:

      So…Alonso wants his ‘good friend’ Kubica to be 2nd driver to himself…?

    2. mike says:

      Perez was McLaren’s first choice after the Hamilton switch, which says a lot about Sergio’s reputation as a racer.

      If Perez can’t get a job in red, how is it possible that can Robert lay claim to one of the most coveted seats in F1?

      I like Kubica and I feel for him, but I think we all must be realistic.

  19. davis says:

    Alonso wants to keep Massa because he knows Massa won’t challenge him too much. His concern over the new candidates is not that they are not good enough, but that they are too good, or too competitive for his liking. Of course, he is not going to come out and say this, which is why he cleverly uses the “they need to be better than Massa” line. LdM undersands this and he knows that this is not necessarily in the best interest of the team, which is why he pointing out that Alonso needs to win something before he can veto a more competitive teammate.

    1. MISTER says:

      And which drivers from the possible candidates you think are better than Alonso?
      The only 2 on the grid right now that can go anywhere near Alonso are Lewis and Seb.

      1. davis says:

        I don’t disagree with you, but one of the reasons behind Alonso’s success this year has to be the unique status he has within his team. None of his rivals, including the 2 you mention, enjoy the undivided attention and 100% resources from their team, they all have to share it with a competitive teammate. Alonso is smart, if a little too Machiavellian for my taste.

      2. MISTER says:

        Agree with you, that he is undoubtably the #1 driver and has the whole team behind him, but why you make it sound like an unfair advantage?
        He performed to the best he could..and truly he did.
        How do you know if Massa was performing top 4, that Alonso wouldn’t have 4-5 wins by now?

        My point is that some people assume Alonso got the results he got because his team mate had poor performances. I would say Alonso might’ve got even better performances. That’s what you ussually get when you are being pushed hard by someone.

        Alonso has achived amazing results in the past 3 years in the cars he had, and I really don’t like it when people try to get that away from him.
        Even if Alonso gets #1 status at Ferrari now, he earned that.

        Lets assume Massa stays at Ferrari for 2013. If Massa beats Alonso in the first 4 races, you think Ferrari will then ask Massa to give switch places with Alonso? I seriously doubt any team would do that in favour of a driver who is slower.

  20. Sharjeel says:

    Hmm….interesting line from Luca, James what about Heikki? i believe he is very decent driver NOW, Plus there have been talks of MSC there for last hurrah ? i take it not more than BULL****!
    whats your thoughts james?

  21. Alex Attard says:

    My only comment is why Ferrari are still so obsessed on Massa and not trying in one of the young generation drivers. If I was in their shoes I would have snapped Perez. As a McLaren fan I’m happy that next year he drives for McLaren. I would like to see Di Resta in a great car like Ferrari. Not to mention Kovalainen who in my opinion will suit Ferrari as a number 2 driver as they like.

    1. mike says:

      Felipe is one of the nicest guys on the grid :)

  22. Steve says:

    “the strongest driver Ferrari has ever had,”

    This is VERY disrespectful to ALL their previous drivers, I find it very very annoying and a crazy thing to say. Yes Fernando is exceptional but that was a stupid thing to say and very disrespectful.

    1. I think they meant strong as in complete.

      Prost was smart and calculating, but lacked the outright speed of some contemporaries. Villeneuve was very quick, but hard on cars and crashed a fair bit. Schumacher was very much like Prost – sometimes lacking the outright speed. Mansell was a reasonable mix of every necessary element. Kimi sometimes lacked motivation.

      Alonso is very quick. He can carry the car, help develop it, think up race strategy on the fly, works well with the team, is a good overtaker, and can always deliver an awesome lap. He is the strongest combination they’ve had.

      I don’t find it disrespectful, as they are the only ones that are able to make that judgement, as they have access to all of the data and been present when all of those drivers have been involved (or at least been told stories that would confirm or deny one driver’s superiority over another).

    2. Justin Bieber says:

      Why?? Luca has been at Ferrari since the 70s.. If anyone can make that claim its him!

      1. David Ryan says:

        Because it overlooks drivers like Alberto Ascari and Juan Manuel Fangio, for one thing – drivers who won the title for Ferrari and to whom Alonso (with respect) doesn’t really hold a candle in comparison. Certainly not Fangio. I have much respect for Alonso’s achievements and his determination behind the wheel, but I find some of the fawning praise towards him bordering on sycophancy if I’m honest.

  23. SJ says:

    I would need someone to explain this article!
    Very ambiguous comments from Ferrari, and no clear explanation of what this does and does not mean?

    1. marcelo valois says:

      Like everything else in F1, by the way.

  24. Hmm… Schumacher’s free to take that second seat! With a pole and a podium, he’s done better than Massa! That might cause a bit of tension in the team. ;-)

    Of course, Schumacher could return to his old Group C team, Sauber. Sauber would love it, as I am sure the sponsorships would come rolling in. If they lose Telmex with Perez (which might not happen since Vodafone is a title sponsor at McLaren), I am sure tons of companies would love to be associated with Sauber.

    Now, here’s a twist that popped up in my mind… we all know that Sauber has a good relationship with Ferrari, but I am sure Peter Sauber still has a few Mercedes connections from when his team was the factory-supported Mercedes team in Group C, and early in their foray into F1. If it became Team Sauber-Mercedes, Mercedes could keep Schumacher in their ads on TV, Sauber could get free engines and maybe a bit of cash, and there would be a few more silver cars on the grid.

    Unlikely, but fun to ponder.

    1. Barry S. says:

      Norb Haug + Peter Sauber + MSC = Schumacher/Mercedes F1

    2. CHIUNDA says:

      A bit late for those negotiations to happen seeing we are only 6 races to end of the season. Or are you thinking about 2014?

      1. Oh, just playing around with a very far-fetched “what if” scenario. I think Schumacher has finally hung up the F1 helmet for good. I just hope he doesn’t decide to jump back into bike racing!

  25. Matt Gibson says:

    James,

    What do you think the chances are of Schumacher going back for one last year at Ferrari ?

    Surely that would be a match made in heaven in terms of PR.

    1. MISTER says:

      Nil.
      Schumi just announced his retirement.

  26. Pranav says:

    James, where do you think is Schumacher going to end up? Some trash websites have reported that there might be some chance of him ending up at Ferrari, which sounds way too romantic to be true.

    Reading some interview, he stated that the motivation was still there; which tells me that he might still keep racing in 2013.

    I’m sure you know more than I do about this situation. Care to give your opinion?

  27. ronmon says:

    The best young free agent driver has been signed to a multi-year deal by a team with smart management. Ferrari could have had him, but they chose to dither for some unknown reason(s) and they have now lost him. He was even in their young driver program.

    Now they are stuck with the under-performer currently in their employ or some third-tier driver that no other big team wants. Whomever they sign will be less than they could have had if they had acted decisively. Is this some sort of Italian thing? It is definitely an opportunity lost.

  28. Peter C says:

    Nice for the paying race fans!

    Perhaps McLaren should do the same, instead of treating their drivers fairly.

    Also, rather insulting to MSC, when LdiM says Alonso is the strongest driver Ferrari have had.

    It seems that Michael is being slapped a lot at the moment.

    1. Rach says:

      Must live in a cloud cuckoo land if you think Mclaren treat their drivers fairly

      1. Peter C says:

        Maybe you could say what YOU think, rather than just tell me I’m in cloud cuckoo land?

        I was thinking along the lines that McLaren have always let their drivers compete with each other, rather than have Team orders.

        Ferrari generally don’t.

  29. pl_levy says:

    Howdy, maybe you think that I’m crazy but I still belive that sooner or later Kubica will take second place along with Alonso. Surely it may not happen next season, but I’m almost sure that he will be a third driver for 2013. Remember that Kubica is one the best drivers in understanding how car works (or what doesn’t work) – that knowledge is not only crucial for 2013 but especially for 2014, which will provide a huge change in f1. If Kubica will be able to race and Massa’s result will be poor then he could jump for a second seat in the middle of a season.

    1. David Ryan says:

      Kubica still needs to achieve full mobility in his arm and race fitness, so with respect I feel any talk of a return by 2013 or 2014 is highly optimistic. For the record, Kubica has said likewise. Let’s give the guy a chance to work out whether he can actually still drive the car as he used to before we try and shoe-horn him back onto the grid.

  30. Paul says:

    Nice story James. Nice to read something not about the Hamilton saga.

  31. Niner says:

    That’s very interesting.

    I would have thought Schumi’s five titles with Ferrari might have qualified him to be (at least) one of the “strongest drivers” they’ve ever had, but from Montezemolo’s comments of wanting a driver who won’t “bother him” I’d say there’s absolutely zero chance of seeing Schumi racing for the Scuderia next year.

    I’d say Massa’s chances are looking better and better.

    1. Jim Dee says:

      Well if alonso is the strongest ever how can schumaker be a threat?

  32. george says:

    surley schumacher has a chance at the ferrari seat to

  33. TitanRacer says:

    Ferrari does things their way and it is certainly different from any other team on the grid…
    if Massa has a good w/e in Japan, I think he will be re-hired for 2013.
    have never been a big Ferrari or Massa fan, but u know what? they have really gone way beyond any biz I can think of in giving Massa an opportunity and I truly do respect that…

  34. Avinash says:

    Hi James, this little development was surely forgotten in the hamilton-merc saga of last week. Never heard a word about it until now.

    But James I clearly remember Alonso saying in one of the thursday press conferences that he has a say in who will be his team mate at ferrari and we have heard reports of him vetoing Lewis’ arrival there.

    In the meantime has the opinion in the italian press changed about vettel to ferrari? I remember you telling that some well informed members of italian press believed something was definitely agreed upon. Is that why there is a deliberation about Massa or a ’1 yr prove yourself FI driver’ talks happening?

    So in case ferrari sign a driver for just 1 year, be it Massa or either of Force India drivers, do we need to put more weight behind the rumors of vettel to ferrari?

    1. Kay says:

      “But James I clearly remember Alonso saying in one of the thursday press conferences that he has a say in who will be his team mate at ferrari and we have heard reports of him vetoing Lewis’ arrival there.”

      Finally!! Someone speaking with some sense, knowledge and everything that goes in in F1!!

      Had enough of those who kept saying about Alonso just waits and hears from LdM etc etc etc…

      Cheers! :D

  35. Tom Westmacott says:

    Fascinating. The quote could be interpreted as ‘if Fernando wins the WDC with us, then he will gain veto power over any future team-mate decisions’. Perhaps his Ferrari contract contains such a clause?
    Only one possible interpretation though.

    1. Kay says:

      Don’t think LdM needs that clause to be written in order for him to decide whether Alonso has a say or not in his teammates. LdM is the boss himself! :D

  36. kfzmeister says:

    I’m a little disappointed in the reporting of this story. First of all, Paul and Nico are small names. What have they really accomplished? Massa has been within a point of the driver’s championship. That alone, satisfies that argument. Do you really expect anybody else but Massa to drive next to Alonso next year?
    Your headline could have been written better. It seems provocative. I’m disappointed.

    1. Anop says:

      Can’t compare Massa (2012 spec) with Di Resta and Nico H. One has to compare Massa (2005 spec) with others if one has to.

      Massa back then was no better than Di Resta or Nico H now.

  37. Val from montreal says:

    It would be in Ferrari’s best interest to put Schumacher in that second car …. If Massa was’nt so dissapointing in 2006 , MSC would have probably won the title that year because Massa would of taken points off both the Renault drivers …, 6 years later , Massa still cannot help his team mate in any shape or form …. Italy and the tifosis would go nuts if Montezemelo annouces Schumacher’s return to Maranello …. But of course , the media are doing their best avoiding this discussion ….. The faster Schumacher leaves formula one , the happier they will be ..

  38. forzaminardi says:

    Massa has to go. Hulkenberg or di Resta may not be the Next Big Thing, but they’re young, professional drivers who aspire to success, as opposed to Massa who, if we take Alonso’s words literally, is only there because he once won a few races. If everyone took the same attitude as Alonso was expressing, and di Montezemolo seemed to confirm with reference to Perez “not being experienced enough”, then F1 would have died out when Fangio retired – because compared to him, no one would match up, would they? Certainly no one would have been willing to take a punt on a young bushy-eyebrowed lad from Spain, flogging about in a Minardi…

  39. JF says:

    I think you need to be cautious interpreting verbal Q/A sessions when conducted in a language that is not your own. There are so many strong drivers in the field right now that it difficult to deliver a truly stand out (phenomenal) performance, even for likes of Ham, Vettel and Alonso. Really one can only deliver a phenomenal screw up (Maldonado, Grosjean, Schu). And who knows, maybe guys like Charles Pic are delivering Senna-esque performances just to finish at the bottom in the machinery they have.

    1. Kay says:

      By Senna do you mean Ayrton or Bruno? Big difference! :D

      I haven’t seen Pic pulling out a massive chunk of time out of the car than what it’s capable of. Ayrton Senna can do that with any car though.

  40. Don Farrell says:

    As great a driver Alonso may be…. he must remember he’s part of a team. Unless he can win every race and give Ferrari enough points to win the Constructors championship he’s going to have to accept a better driver than Massa as his team-mate.

    1. JamesR says:

      Wasn’t that the point FA was making?

  41. Peter says:

    There clearly isn’t a great relationship between Schumacher and Di Montezemolo because every man and his dog knows that Schumacher was by far Ferrari’s strongest driver.

    1. GhostWriter says:

      Well said. A clearly over emotional chap.

    2. I think he seemed very strong due to his work ethic. He was able to test/practice every day of the week. He treated it like a 9-to-5 job, testing the car all day. Ferrari also had two wind-tunnels running 24/7, making him look that much better.

      If Schumacher had today’s in-season testing bans back in the 1996-2006 era, he may not have had half of the championships and wins that he did. Also, he excelled with technology that is banned today, working week after week to optimize traction control, etc. Beyond that, Ferrari was *the* Bridgestone team; they got preferential treatment, and I seem to remember hearing that they ended up with different spec tires than other Bridgestone teams. That can’t hurt his chances either! He also excelled in the refuelling era, where any consideration for the car or tires was out the window, and each race was little more than 60-70 qualifying laps. Alonso has proven his ability in that era, as well as in the latest non-refuelling era.

      Also, we mustn’t forget that Schumacher does have a propensity to crack under pressure, which could be considered a pretty big flaw.

      If we gave Alonso all of those advantages, we would certainly see similar domination.

  42. AndrewJ says:

    James,

    I seem to recall that there are fairly consistent rumors that Vettle has already signed something with Ferrari for 2014.

    Do you have any feel for how concrete these rumors are?

    If Ferrari have already committed to an Alonso/Vettle pairing in 2014, then they would only need to find somebody to tide them over for until Vettle arrives. They may opt not to “upset the apple cart” (where Alonso is said cart ;-)) and stick with Masa, or they may feel able to take a risk on a new driver like Di Resta or Hulkenburg. Or even go with a safe bet like MSC for 1 year – just to tide them over until Vettle arrives.

    1. James Allen says:

      No, I”ve written on this before, Italian colleagues insist there’s something up, but it makes no sense for Vettel or Alonso

      1. Andy R says:

        History suggests that teams go for the best Team combination. They can sell the idea to the driver that if you beat the current best, you are undoubtedly the best. Much like what Button would have been sold on Hamilton or way in past Senna on Prost et cetera.

        May happen!

      2. APAAPSPASPAAASA says:

        How about someone like Webber who may be unhappy at RBR and if given a year or two at Ferrari wouldn’t mind seeing out his days in F1 driving for the scuderia.

        Webber wouldn’t pose a threat to Alsono. Webber also wouldn’t mind only going for 1-2 years and would be competitive while moving on when Alonso’ replacement comes in to do 2 years as the understudy before taking over from Alonso as Alonso passes 35-36 or so.

        You thoughts of a bigger name like Webber getting the seat for similiar logic?

      3. James Allen says:

        He already turned it down

  43. le chat noir says:

    Doesn’t that lend weight to the idea of MSC on a one yesr contract.

    Alonso the best, so know your place.
    Ferrari have no expectations for him to rattle Alonso.
    He’s not a little name.

    Bring it on

  44. Phill says:

    I have to agree with Luca on many levels. Firstly, Alonso the best driver Ferrari have ever had, erm, give it 5 years and let’s see, Michael was pretty handy after all!
    But about a partner to Alonso, hmm, it has to be balanced by someone talented, as Alonso says, more talented than Massa, a hard feat to carry, but to also get along with Fernando. I can’t see chucking any driver in without talking to Fernando, with his 5 year deal with Ferrari, he is a key member of the team, and must have a say in what happens.
    But, I honestly hope Massa can pull back the results, and stay on.
    For now, let us just enjoy the racing!

    1. Kay says:

      I see Kovo as possible (to my dislike), but imo he is only slightly better than Massa in terms of performance, and won’t be able to do much to help Alonso.

  45. GhostWriter says:

    “I have cried in this job twice; in 1975 at Monza when Niki [Lauda] won the championship for Ferrari for first time in 13 years,” Di Montezemolo said. “The second was when Michael came out of the car for the last time at a track day. It was very moving. I was convinced the main reason Michael stopped was the sponsors, the testing, the press, every day the same. He said to me that if he could arrive on Saturday for qualifying and come back on Sunday for the race he would carry on. I don’t know what the possibilities are at Mercedes for this other guy called Michael. For me it is difficult. If I talk with him as a friend and see this determination [to race again] I am pleased. But as Ferrari chairman I’m sad. He has given a lot to Ferrari and received a lot from us. This is why we have to accept that there is another Michael, not the real Michael that we knew.”

    LLuca di Montezemolo

    1. GhostWriter says:

      This quote was from 2009… Luca is still clearly upset.

    2. CarlH says:

      Never seen this quote in full before, thanks.

  46. Franco says:

    Great blog as always James. Do you think there is any chance MS getting a one year contract as a sort of final goodwill gesture from LDM or do u think he has burnt his bridges?

    What’s so dissapointing is that everytime I read about their 2013 driver lineup I always feel for Kubica as he deserved that drive.

    1. James Allen says:

      I don’t think so, it’s not a very sentimental business

  47. Ant says:

    I don’t see why Ferrari would even consider Di Resta, I read a comment in another website that he would seriously challenge Alonso…. Please! If these are the two names which are being considered then let’s stick with Massa and then see if the Vettel deal happens. However, if Ferrari do go with Di Resta and he proves me wrong then I’ll happily eat humble pie

  48. Tom in adelaide says:

    Perez wasn’t ready but DiResta is? That’s comical.

    1. nns27 says:

      because diresta is not erratic and inconsistent like perez

    2. nns27 says:

      because he is not erratic as perez

    3. AuraF1 says:

      It’s comical for sure. Di Resta – he’s all about the passion! A nice lad for sure but honestly I fall asleep during his interviews. He’s the exact opposite to his fiery surname.

      ‘so Paul are you excited to be signed up for Ferrari?’

      ‘well the sponsors are very happy with my performances on the adverts where I appear as a crash test dummy – oddly they won’t let me speak…’

  49. David says:

    My reading is that Alonso this season has blocked Hamilton going to Ferrari, Perez going to Ferrari and maybe even Vettel going to Ferrari, at least for now. If so, Montezemolo may be simply saying ‘basta’. They’ll take the decision on the second-tier driver Alonso is demanding, but warning him that he needs to prove he’s worth losing all this other talent he’s blocked by actually winning the championship for Ferrari.

  50. Warwick says:

    Riccardo should get the drive. Fast enough and has the talent

  51. DanW says:

    If Massa departs, Ferrari should hire the driver who actually is the strongest Ferrari ever had. And it ain’t Lauda. I think that guy becomes available in very late November and already knows how to find the bathroom.

    If they ink that deal, winged porcine might actually fly.

    1. GhostWriter says:

      LOL, it certainly isn’t Lauda.

  52. Without being able to provide my own interpretation of the Italian – I can try to provide my own interpretation of the strategy that Ferrari is following

    I think simply that the number one priority for Ferrari at the moment is to win the drivers world championship. Given Fernando is probably the best driver in the field, it seems sensible that they will look to maximise the opportunity he has now rather than try to develop for the future by bringing in a Force India driver.

    Given this, the conclusion appears to be that the team will choose whatever outcome they feel is best to ensure the Fernando is happy and in the best position to win either this year or next.

    So should Fernando win this year, I think we will see Msasa replaced with Schumacher to hold the place until Vettel is free from contract. Should Fernando not win, I think Massa is safe as this would result in the least disruption for the team and allow then to focus on maximising the opportunity for Alonso next year

  53. Vic says:

    Alonso is the strongest driver they have ever had?

    Excuse me, where were Ferrari before Schumacher came to them?

    I think that comment on Alonso alone is enough for me to come to the conclusion Schumacher will not have a fairy tale ending at Ferrari.

    1. Was it Schumacher, or Rory Byrne?

      Was it Schumacher, or testing every day of the week and running two wind-tunnels 24/7?

      Was it Schumacher, or boat-loads of Fiat and Marlboro money?

      Was it Schumacher, or the incredibly impressive traction control systems they had?

      Was it Schumacher, or the bespoke Bridgestones that Ferrari ended up with?

      Put Alonso, Vettel, Hamilton, or even Webber, Rosberg or Kovalainen in that situation and they would be five-time champions. Ferrari had a ridiculous advantage in the early 00′s.

      1. James Allen says:

        Fair points, however…

        You win in F1 by making the most of everything under the rules and circumstances of the day.

        That was how to win in the early 2000s, and Schumacher was the master at getting a winning situation around him.

        Today the rules are different – just the testing ban and the Bespoke Bridgestones tells you that.

        So you cannot say Alonso would have done XY or Z in Schumacher’s shoes, in same way as you can’t say Alonso would have won 5 world titles in Fangio’s shoes.

      2. Oh, I know it was an era of big spending, where a driver’s “talent” also includes who you can help bring to a team as well as getting yourself into a team that has the budget to buy the necessary talent to dominate and test enough to have a bulletproof car that is also immensely competitive.

        There’s the old saying “A racing car can only ever be two of the following: fast, cheap and reliable.” Ferrari dumped tons of cash into making their cars very fast and very reliable. Some cars were as quick, and some cars were as reliable, but none could achieve both.

        Today’s “all-encompassing talent” includes your commercial/marketing prowess, whereas in the early 00′s, it was a case of finding the right team to nestle into that had a massive budget for endless testing and technical staff that rivalled NASA. Each era had its own specifics as to what was needed to get the best package to win.

        However, what I was referring to was raw talent; how good is driver X when, and only when, he is behind the wheel. With that rubric, eliminating car, team, tire and testing advantages, it’s hard to say whether Schumacher was actually better than Alonso, Raikkonen, Hakkinen or Montoya. Of course, it’s impossible to know for sure, but a rough idea could be gathered by looking back to see the differences other drivers had to overcome to even challenge him.

        My last paragraph was a bit of an exaggeration, but I think it would be fair to say that if Irvine almost won a title for Ferrari when Schumacher was out of the picture, a bunch of other drivers would have definitely capitalized on at least two or three titles in that span of five or six years.

      3. David Ryan says:

        I think that’s doing a bit of a disservice to some of the others on the grid in that era to be honest. Mika Hakkinen was hardly a mug, after all, nor Kimi Raikkonen in his prime or Montoya and Coulthard when they were on form. Nor was young Alonso, come to think of it. Likewise, McLaren and Williams were very well financed and resourced, and most of the time produced cars which were there or thereabouts. The only years in which Ferrari had total dominance were 2002 and 2004, and by common consensus Schumacher was on top form in both those seasons as well. Admittedly he was helped in 2004 by McLaren and Williams messing up their designs, but it’s not as if the rest of the grid was filled by newly-promoted Formula Ford drivers. I’m not Schumacher’s biggest fan by any means, but I’m happy to give the man credit where it’s due – particularly given his role in building the so-called “dream team” in the first place.

      4. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Hakkinen was able to score two world championships while Schumacher was surrounded by the dream team of the century. That would indicate to me that Hakkinen is definitely one of the best.

        Despite having this huge advantage, Raikkonen and Montoya were able to come close to beating him, and Hakkinen and Alonso actually achieved it. Instead of making them out to be lesser drivers, I would say it makes them out as much better drivers that were able to challenge Schumacher despite the disadvantage of a lesser budget.

        Williams had some great BMW power, but didn’t have a designer on the level of Newey or Byrne there that could create a chassis with a decent aero package. McLaren had Newey, but frequently had engine failures and one year pushed the envelope too far and they couldn’t race their new design. Also, no other team had their own test track and two wind tunnels. No other team had bespoke Bridgestones. No other team could afford to test all day every day. Ferrari had a leg up on the competition no matter how you look at it, and Schumacher capitalized on it.

        He’s still an awesomely talented driver, clearly, but without the team around him that he had, he would not have achieved nearly as much as he did, and many other drivers would have been able to show that they are on his level.

        So going back to what you said, it’s not that Schumacher isn’t talented and was surrounded by recent karting graduates; Schumacher was quite talented but was able to rise above those that are equally as talented (Raikkonen, Hakkinen, Alonso, Montoya, et al), and that his rivals could have been all-time greats had the playing field been a bit more level.

  54. Racyboy says:

    I’m in no position to argue with the man who’s had his finger on the pulse of Ferrari for decades, But really… ” the strongest driver Ferrari’s ever had” ?? A big statement and a premature one.
    A statement that can only be made after Alonso wins 5 championships for the team….completes a race stuck in 5th gear, makes up 20seconds in 20 laps, and the list goes on.
    If the #2 driver decision is subject to Fernando’s approval then Massa stays.
    There was a brief moment earlier this week when it seemed Michael was looking for a drive and Ferrari were still undecided about Massa’s future and I thought there maybe a slim possibility of a reunion. Then I remembered Monza 2006 and the body language of Schumacher and Montezemelo.
    I was a Ferrari fan long before MS turned up, so after watching them get their butts kicked for years, MS was a godsend. I watched every boring race totally dominated by Michael and it was beautiful.
    Alonso’s good, no question, but he hasn’t won the WDC for the Scuderia just yet.
    As for Michael, he’s an addict and I can see him in a midfield car just to be there.
    When asked about retirement,Mark Webber once said “F1 is a pretty big needle to take out of your arm”.

    1. Look at my reply, above, regarding the advantages of having Rory Byrne on your team, bespoke Bridgestones, two wind-tunnels running 24/7, testing like it’s a 9-to-5 job, and more Marlboro money than anyone knows what to do with… who wouldn’t be a five-time champ in those conditions?

      1. Racyboy says:

        Fair point…Not to mention Brawn and Todt, but it all has to come together. Look at Toyota.

        1f it wasn’t for a little bad luck and a couple of stupid decisions Schumacher could have won 10 championships.
        The man was a machine.

      2. Luke Harrison says:

        ” more Marlboro money than anyone knows what to do with…”

        Suggesting they don’t receive that anymore? I think Phillip Morris is still one of the team partners.

      3. They do, but now Red Bull is throwing lots of cash at it, as is Vodafone-Lucozade-Johnnie Walker-Bahrain-Mobil 1-McLaren-Mercedes.

        Also, all that extra cash isn’t as important now, now that the RRA is in effect. No more wind-tunnels running day and night, no more testing teams running cars all week, no more multitudes of spare cars, no more upgrades to the chassis design (resulting in “b-spec” designations that would occasionally get tossed around), no more endless engine development.

        All the stuff that cost the most money now is limited, but when it was open Ferrari certainly had the biggest budget to throw around (Toyota had a big budget too, but didn’t realize their potential for other reasons).

        So yeah, they still have that Marlboro money, but they have far less to spend it on.

  55. thejduge13 says:

    Massa was world champion for 30 seconds in 2008. This was the result of consistent good driving all year so he has the pedigree.

    Of course since then there was the injury, but that’s either resolved now or never will be.

    Luca said Perez wasn’t ready, not enough time in F1 – so how then are the Hulk and Di Resta?

    Smacks to me of a motivational kick for Massa in the vain hope of getting the constructors title – or maybe Schumacher is a possibility under consideration.

  56. tom in adelaide says:

    Just a thought – could Jaime be on their radar? Surely he is a far better option than DiResta or Hulk? His knowledge of the tires would be quite an asset to Ferrari.

  57. Hal says:

    My take on it is that if Alonso doesn’t have a WDC by 2014. Door is open for another top driver (maybe Vettel – although in my mind he is not the complete package of Alonso). Hamilton of course is out of the Ferrari picture.

  58. Truth or Lies says:

    Ferrari know they have a poor car and have lucked into a position whereby Alonso is leading the championship. He’s driven well but the team hasn’t really performed and the results of Alonso, hide some significant engineering issues.

    If you compare the steps McLaren took from Germany on, Ferrari have had nothing like this during the entire season, except maybe the improvements around Monaco/Canada that saw Massa’s season significantly improve.

    With an eye on what happened in 2010, Massa improving and not wanting to derail whatever contribution he can make to help Alonso hang in until the end of the season, Ferrari won’t rock the boat by announcing Massa’s replacement just yet. The closer Alonso gets to the title and if Massa’s driving ok, then he’ll be retained.

    The funny thing is if Ferrari have a quick car next year and Massa has a good start to the year, he could be a Ferrari driver again in 2014. I just don’t see how Vettel and Alonso would work out together and why either of them would want it.

    1. Curro says:

      Let’s be fair to Ferrari, they have consistently been among the fastest teams in the pit-stops, solid 3-second stops, no dramas and no time lost. The car has not broken down all year. Strategy wise we have not seen the cock-ups of previous years.

      Definitely not the quickest car, but “the team hasn’t really performed” is a bit harsh.

  59. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Interesting post, but I would rather want to read your guess… WHO IS IN FERRARI IN 2013?
    Maybe a post with a poll here?

    My guess: HULKENBERG!

  60. AmandaG says:

    How ambiguous is that?

    My guess (and it is a guess), is that all that Luca is saying is leave Alonso alone. He is a driver (in the WDC fight) and he doesn’t make the decisions as to whom his teammate will be. That is down to Ferrai. We will let him know who his teammate will be when Ferrari make the decision. As it stands he has no input in the decision making process for his teammate will be, should he win a WDC with Ferrari then we would consult him on the matter.

    Or it could have been a public slap on the hand from Luca to Alonso for publically speculating.

    The strange thing is that this is not clarifying the Vettel situation which makes perfect sense from the Ferrari perspective. From an outside perspective I can see some sense as to why both Seb and Fernando would go for it, but I don’t know either of them personally so I can’t really comment further on that.

  61. FastTJR says:

    Of course it is not my decision, but if it were I would let Massa go.
    This is no reflection on his personality or him as a person – his dignity back in 2008 remains a role model performance.
    Unfortunately, while on his day Massa can be quite quick, there are too many days when he is inexplicably off the pace. To deliver the Constructor’s title, Ferrari needs a driver that can deliver consistently. Di Resta or Hulkenberg, for example, may or may not be that driver, but give them a chance to show that they are, Massa has had the chance and unfortunately fallen short.

    1. Ed Bone says:

      The Ferrari/Brawn/Schumacher era has long gone, and its clear that the current configuration at Ferrari is nowhere near the level of that utterly dominant partnership.

      Although I hated it, there was a good reason why Schumacher had an inferior team-mate, he was just too good. 5 consecutive WDCs tell the story. It is hard to argue with that.

      Fernando cannot expect priviledges he has not earned, and my feeling is that Ferrari are growing a little impatient with him. If not they should be, and with themselves also.

      Even if Alonso wins the WDC, it will be on the back of McLaren failing Hamilton and losing him races, and an under par Red Bull, with Alonso playing the points game – hardly a great spectacle for the fans.

      Ferrari should wake up and smell the capuccino – get yourself two world class drivers, or at least an upcoming driver and a WDC.

      #1 status in any team should only exist when it is mathmatically impossble for the other team mate to win, but even then its pretty questionable from a sporting perspective.

  62. Alex says:

    Man how pathetic Massa is right now,his own boss is telling everybody that he is and will continue to be a marionet. Shame on Massa if he still considers himself a racing driver.

  63. Sensei.GT says:

    Massa should leave before he is pushed out. Why stay where they don’t want you? I’m sure Peter Sauber would love to have him back, and I’m sure Massa would love to beat Alonso in a Sauber!

    Massa é mais rápido do que você!

  64. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    Don’t forget that only a few drivers have really beaten Michael in his prime when he had the right tools. Those being Fernando at Renault and Mika at McLaren. You could argue that Damon and Jacques are in the same category, but I feel in those years they had a far superior car.

    1. Yep. Imagine if Ferrari ousted Schumacher for not getting the job done after 2000, and hired Hakkinen? Suddenly Mika would have been the 7-time champ and Schumacher would have been thought of as the guy that was almost good enough to be considered a “great”.

  65. F1Ray says:

    As with Schumacher, Alonso is becoming more talked about than Ferrari. Something that irks Mr Di-Montezemolo, so he feels the need when in front of a camera, to have a little dig at the relevant driver, to let people know he is more important. Given the shortfall in his team’s ability to produce a clear race winning car, he would be better talking about how he intends to rectify that situation.

  66. Elie says:

    Ah Ferrari -what a hilarious bunch ! Alonso the strongest driver of all time yet Lauda won titles, Schumi won 5 for gods sake ! and a certain Finn won one in his first year & was essentially dumped half through the next. I would suggest that Vettel will come to Ferrari in 2014 and Fernando will be dropped like last nights dinner if he hasn’t got a title before then !!- that’s very obvious to me- unless something else happens to Vettel.

    It’s now become very obvious also why they did not sign Perez- because he was even more of a threat to Fernando than Di Resta or Hulkenburg !!

    Luca Di Montezemolos comments of “first you must win the title ” and don’t worry about the other driver – you just do what your supposed to do! Given its 3 years now!- also I would suggest Ferrari are seriously copping criticism for not signing Perez- James is there some regret on Ferrari for not signing Perez ?- I sense this could be the case.

    It’s also laughable that with a couple of ok performances from Felipe ,Ferrari will forget where he has been for the last 3 years and seems the likely candidate for 2013. I note too the return of the Ghostwriter effectively cancelling out and Schumacher return.

    All I can sense from Ferrari is a great deal of regret these days. One wrong decision after another since 2006. They deserve this for the manner in which they served these decisions.

  67. Mr_Peabody says:

    If LdM wants to light a fire under Alonzo and Massa, Ferrari should let them race freely. Better yet would be to put Massa ahead and get his confidence restored.

    The problem with MSC returning to Maranello is that there is more loyalty to him than others. The Prince LdM would not find this acceptable.

  68. clyde says:

    Dear Admin
    I am a regular reader of your esteemed website. Of late i have been having problems posting to this website. When I click “submit”, the site reloads but my post is not displayed please unblock me if i have been blocked due to some error

    It would be nice to join the discussions.

    Warm Regards.

    PLEASE REPLY IF YOU CAN READ THIS

    1. James Allen says:

      We are getting the messages through fine, thanks

      We’re running a test over the weekend for a fix

      1. clyde says:

        thank u

  69. Simon Haynes says:

    How does all this fit in with Vettel (supposedly) going to Ferrari in 2014?

  70. Andrew M says:

    Seems like fairly standard carrot and stick stuff – “Alonso is the best driver we’ve ever had but he hasn’t won anything yet so he’s not getting the run of the team.”

    1. GhostWriter says:

      exactly. its just business for Luca.

  71. Enzo carrelli says:

    If Ferrari want to win team championship. Need strong driver alongside Fernando . Michael and Fernando together , just like Prost and senna , an explosive duo! Dream team!

  72. Ed Bone says:

    No chance of Schumacher back at Ferrari he’s announced his retirement today.

    http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/103042

  73. Matt W says:

    To be perfectly honest I think it is obvious that Alonso has some say over the choice of team mate. It may be politically clean for Montezemelo to look like the ultimate boss, but I don’t think it is born out in reality.

    There is absolutely no way Alonso would sign for a team at this stage in his career to share the number 1 spot. I don’t think that is a bad tactic and wouldn’t criticise Alonso for it, arguably the 4 most successful drivers of all time (Schumacher, Senna, Prost, Fangio) have all had that philosophy and it works.

    Whilst Alonso probably won’t get the absolute ultimate say, I’m sure he has something in his contract to ensure whoever else they hire will have to defer to him.

  74. Simon says:

    I like Massa, he would have been a worthy champion in 2008 but I do think that since the accident and based on his performance over past few seasons that it’s time for Ferrari to try some new blood.

    What I don’t understand with all the speculation over Hulkenberg and Di Resta is why Ferrari would take either of them when they openly said Perez was not ready. All three will have two years of F1 racing behind them at the end of this season. Clearly Di Resta and Hulkenberg have a longer track record in a variety of lower formulas but that doesn’t always count for much when you get to F1.

    Ignoring that disconnect in Ferrari’s thinking I actually believe Hulkenberg is a good long term bet and deserves the chance but what hope has he on a one year contract going up against Alonso?

  75. chris green says:

    usual stuff from ferrari.

    i take montezemolo’s comments with a grain of salt.
    basically this is ferrari’s position.

    ‘we hold f1 in such contempt that we will never field 2 star drivers – we don’t care about the constructors championships – its not worth winning’

    ‘because of our latin antescedents there can be only be one lion in the coliseum’

    as for the comments about the underwhelming performances of the candidates for massa’s seat – that’s a complete joke. i don’t think any other driver could do worse than massa in that car over the last few seasons.

    f1 is about being in the right car at the right time – massa has missed the boat.

    of the major teams in f1 – ferrari is the only one that cannot or will not support two top drivers.

  76. F12012 says:

    Win the title or its Vettel in 2014, I wonder if they will still be saying Alonso is the best driver in F1 then

  77. Tom Haythornthwaite says:

    James, to what extent do you think Schumacher might like to manage a team? I think he would probably be excellent, but would it excite him?

  78. david nelson says:

    Hmmm….Luca di Montezemolo says that Perez isn’t ready for Ferrari. Outside of the 6 WDCs on the grid, Perez surely is the one driver stepping up to the plate. His best results this year stand out dramatically. Perhaps L di M’s statement was an attempted put-down after the horse had already bolted.

  79. Sophie says:

    I just read it all as Luca gently but very firmly telling Fernando to get back in his box a bit. Reminding him that:

    1) Alonso’s job is to deliver driver titles for Ferrari, not select the team and
    2) He is yet to actually *do* this and should therefore devote all his energies exclusively towards making *that* happen before seeking to expand his job remit.

    The ‘strongest driver’ thing is not something I necessarily disagree with (personally) but I suspect it was said here to soften the public rebuke implied in Luca reaffirming his own authority as the man in ultimate charge.

    Interesting story!

  80. JR says:

    Alonso today: “winning the World Championship this year would be a miracle”.

  81. Rafael says:

    If this is Luca threatening Fernando to either win the title for Ferrari (now!) or he start’s looking for someone else who can, then clearly he (Luca) needs to take a good look at the mirror! Since joining Ferrari in 2010, Fernando has been nothing short of stellar – always placing/scoring a lot higher than he should be. Sure he’s had his own share of costly mistakes (e.g. Monaco, UK + Belgium 2010), but more often than not it’s Ferrari who’s been handicapping its own championship campaigns by either: (a) consistently producing/developing sub-standard (but bullet proof) machinery, often only the 3rd, 4th or even 5th seeded in the field, or (b) poor strategic calls during the race (e.g. Abu Dhabi 2010, Canada and UK 2012), and/or (c) both!

    In fact, it should be Fernando doing the threatening since it’s been the team who has failed to consistently provide him a winning package. Remember how the once great Michael Schumacher was powerless to stop his rivals in ’96, ’97 and ’98, all of whom were great drivers but also driving far superior cars? And remember how even Ayrton Senna was made to look helpless vs. the superior machinery of his rivals in ’92 and ’93? Those are examples that highlight how even great drivers can only do so much to drag and keep themselves at the sharp end. The rest is for their teams to produce a consistent/superior package.

  82. Klaas says:

    Did you do the Q&A yourself James? Because I haven’t found any source on the Internet about di Montezemolo saying that.

    1. James Allen says:

      It was reported in Italy, which is where I picked it up.

      Here it was drowned out by the Hamilton announcement on Friday morning.

  83. nusratholla says:

    …And the drivers who win the world championships are given golden parachutes is it? :)
    First it was Schumacher then it was Kimi Raikkonen.

    They Replaced Schumacher with Kimi at his helm.. then they started developing the car for Massa when Raikkonen after won the championship.

    I must admit… Michael and Kimi are Jean Todt Champions then Ferrari champions.

    Post Jean Todt irrelevant to the resources they posses, they are not as Lethal as they were.

    Last Two World Champions for the team: Kimi & Michael.

  84. nino says:

    I’m Italian and to tell you my opinion, LDM get lost in translation even when you do not need traslate.
    He is just a bit clumsy with interviews.
    That’s all.

  85. joep01 says:

    I was speaking telepathically w/ Nic Todt and as long as Massa maintains his current level of form and continues scoring points while taking them away from Alonso’s challengers without upsetting the Spaniard, he’ll get renewed for another year. I think. Or did I just imagine all that?

  86. Enzo says:

    Ferrari is not only shutting down the Renzo Piano windtunnel for calibration, they’re building a complete new one, work starts November this year and they hope to fully operate it by January 2015.

  87. Erik W says:

    This is all smokescreens to get Massa to feel there is a chance to still drive at Ferrari next year. To help Alonso to the title.

    I am sure they made up their mind already and everything is signed for 2013.

    I have Di Resta as the number 1 candidate for the drive. For several reasons.

    Don’t forget this when the Ferrari driver lineup hits :)

  88. David Ryan says:

    I think to be honest Ferrari should probably be more concerned at their inability to design, build and run two cars competitively over the course of a season, which seems to have been the case since at least 2009, than who is going to fill the second seat. If the F2013 is a pig then they may as well put a poodle in the cockpit for all the good it’ll do in helping them win the constructors’ title. Also, I’m not sure di Resta or Hulkenburg have done anything to show they’d be a shoe-in for the role – they seem to have entered the rumour mill based on availability as much as anything. Next thing you know it’ll be Maldonado and Senna being linked to the seat…

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