Team principal Stefano Domenicali says Ferrari considered signing Polish driver Robert Kubica but now doubts whether the 28 year old will be able to return to Formula 1 following injuries sustained in a rally crash.
Kubica was set to drive for Renault in 2011 when he suffered injuries in a rallying accident. He has since returned to driving, competing in the World Rally Championship (WRC). The Pole leads the WRC2 standings, the second tier in the WRC, and will take part in Wales Rally GB next month.
But despite saying earlier this year that he is keen for a return to Formula 1, Kubica still does not have the movement in his arm which is required to compete single-seaters.
Speaking in an interview on the Ferrari website, Domenicali said: “Yes, we were keeping an eye on him. Unfortunately, I don’t think he will be back, because with his physical problem, he would struggle in certain limited situations which require reactivity. It’s a shame.”
Domenicali also discussed Fernando Alonso’s recent criticism of the team. Alonso voiced his concerns about the team after his title challenge fell away but was publically rebuked by Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo.
“If I have something to say to him, as would be the case with my engineers, I would do it behind closed doors and in a harsh manner,” said Domenicali. “But externally, I will always defend the team. When he crossed the line, president Montezemolo intervened and in private. So did I.”
But Domenicali added that the team needed to give Alonso a better car in the future. Alonso is 90 points behind Red Bull’s championship leader Sebastian Vettel with just four races remaining.
Domenicali said: “If in the past four years, we have come close to the title twice, it is partly down to him [Alonso]. Unfortunately, we have not been capable of giving him a car that matches his talent.”
Felipe Massa is leaving the team at the end of the year after eight seasons, with Kimi Raikkonen replacing the Brazilian. Domenicali rejected claims that Massa was never the same driver following his accident in the 2009 Hungarian Grand when he suffered a fractured skull.
“From a medical point of view, there is no proof that the accident left any permanent damage, such as problems with his sight or reflexes,” said Domenicali. “And then there’s the gentility, which would demand that we give a driver who hasn’t had much luck the chance to show he deserves to stay with us.
“If Felipe was unable to deliver the performance we hoped for, it was mainly down to a hyper-sensitivity to a car that was too nervous at the rear, but in 2008, he almost took the title and I consider him as a world champion.
“We took Raikkonen because we wanted more. When we replaced him with Alonso, he was not happy and so he returns with a great desire to do well.”