Ferrari’s traditional end of season sign-off, the Ferrari World Finals, has been the scene of some triumphant scenes in the last decade, but not today.
Over 15,000 Ferrari fans are in Valencia to see the last rounds of Ferrari’s own racing series and to see a demonstration run of the F1 car.
Fernando Alonso will attend the event, but there is not much to celebrate after the team missed the drivers’ title by 3 points, having enjoyed an advantage of over 40 points after the summer break. He will drive the unloved F2012 car for the last time.
Next season he will drive car number 3 in the world championship, with Felipe Massa in car 4, according to the FIA entry list published yesterday. (NB Close inspection of the list shows that the HRT team has not entered next year’s championship, so there will be just 22 cars)
The team can draw many positives from the 2012 season on one level: they beat McLaren in both drivers’ and constructors’ championships despite having a demonstrably slower car all year.
But they finished second in both championships and know that the driver’s title was within their grasp; with better work from the technical department and better luck at the start of the Belgian and Japanese Grands Prix, they could have won it.
Team principal Stefano Domenicali has not attended the event in Valencia, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.
Domenicali was at an event in Madrid on Friday and explained the background to Ferrari asking the FIA for clarification on Sebastian Vettel’s overtake on Jean-Eric Vergne in Brazil, which sent scaremongering headlines around the world last week of a threat to Vettel’s title.
Bernie Ecclestone has described the episode as a “joke” and there are some suggestions in the Gazzetta dello Sport this weekend that relations between Ferrari and Alonso have possibly been “frayed” a bit by the episode, which originated in Spain,
“It was incumbent on us to ask the Federation for a clarification, given everything that was going round on the Internet,” said Domenicali. “We had no intention of belittling the merit of the title winner, but it was right to have the matter completely cleared up. The FIA has replied and we have noted their answer and now consider the matter to be closed.”
“In the championship that’s just ended, we definitely had the best driver, the best reliability and a level of excellence when it comes to the work on the pit wall and during the pit stops. What was lacking was the car, despite the fact we staged a recovery after the very complicated start. We also lacked a bit of luck, especially with the incidents at Spa and Suzuka. That’s why I’d give Ferrari a 7.”
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo spoke to the team in Maranello at the end of last week, trying to rally them after a season of coming second.
“There were at least two cars, the McLaren and the Red Bull, that were better than ours,” he said.”Therefore having managed to get ahead of at least one of them in the Constructors’ and keeping Fernando in the fight right to the end, was very significant and I wish to thank you for that.”
He asked every employee to raise their game, “by a millimetre” in order to guarantee that they build a car capable of winning from the first round in 2013.