Fernando Alonso today said that Stefano Domenicali made a “very responsible move” in stepping down as Ferrari team principal, adding that the former team boss’ decision had been take in the interests of the team.
“I think we need to assess what Stefano decided,” said Alonso in Shanghai ahead of this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix. “He was probably not in the mood to continue and with the feeling of taking the weight on his shoulders. He made a very responsible move. It’s not easy, when you have a very privileged position in a Formula One team to be able to step back and to say ‘maybe it’s better to move’. But he did it; just for Ferrari’s interest and improvement, so that’s something that we cannot forget and now we have to respect that decision.”
Domenicali’s place at the helm of the team will be taken by Marco Mattiaci, who until now had served as President of Ferrari North America and Alonso admitted that he has not yet spoken to the new team boss.
“I haven’t had the chance… [to speak to him]. I don’t know if he’s coming here, I guess so, so it would be a good time to welcome him,” said Alonso of Mattiaci, who arrives in Shanghai this evening. “I don’t really have much to say. I drive the car. He will be good enough to recognise what are the weak areas of the team, what are the strong areas of the team and hopefully improve them.”
The Spaniard admitted, however, that he does not expect improvements to arrive quickly.
“It’s not that in this race we will improve one second, because I don’t think Stefano was doing the front wing or the rear wing or whatever by his hands, so probably we need to wait a little bit of time and see what we can improve and try to help all the team with the new people coming to make us a little bit stronger and try to get back some of the success from the past.”
Team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, meanwhile, said that he had been surprised by Domenicali’s decision.
“Everyone was a bit surprised but it was Stefano’s own decision,” said the Finn. “If that’s how he felt then that’s fair enough and life goes on. Personally, I find it sad, as he is a great guy and I worked with him for many years. But that’s how it goes and I’m sure the team can handle the current situation.”
Regarding his new team principal, Raikkonen agreed with Alonso that improvements will be hard won.
“I have met him before but I don’t really know him,” he said of Mattiaci. “He will find a great team of people around him here in the team who will help him to settle in quickly. I don’t foresee any problems and I am sure he will do a very good job for us. He will have everything he needs to push us forward.
But nothing will change immediately as there are no miracles and we know where we are at the moment. We know in which areas we must improve but it will not happen overnight.”
Finally, Alonso paid tribute to Domenicali’s contribution to Ferrari saying that the former team boss had made “good decisions” while at Maranello.
“As a team principal, I think he made good choices, [did] good things,” he said. “Obviously we missed opportunities in 2010, in 2012. They missed opportunities in 2008 with Felipe [Massa]. If not, he could probably have three championships in his pocket.
“I think he brought in Pat Fry, he brought James Allison, Raikkonen, so I think all the things that people ask from him he was giving to them. [However,] the results in sport are important and the pressure at Ferrari is also quite big, so he made his decision and we will try to move forward in different directions but try to move forward.”