Fernando Alonso said yesterday in Monaco, in response to glowing praise from Daimler boss Dr Zetsche, that it would be nice if some of the people closer to him would voice such kind words from time to time.
The Italian media took this as a jibe at Ferrari president Luca Montezemolo, whose ‘ear tweak’ rebuke last summer – when Alonso said he’d like “another car” as a birthday present, having earlier engaged in conversation with Red Bull – still stings the Spaniard, apparently.
Today, at a road car event in Maranello, Montezemolo heaped praise on his lead driver, with quotes that were reproduced quickly on the official Ferrari website.
“Fernando is the best driver in the world, who always gives 200 per cent in the races,” he said. “He knows how much I count on him, even away from the race track, in terms of his contribution and the impetus he gives to the team.
“I think it’s incredible that there are still some so-called experts who don’t understand that and are always looking for a polemical situation that simply doesn’t exist.
“The truth is that he and Kimi, another incredible driver, need a competitive Ferrari and giving them that is our sole objective.”
Earlier in the week, Dieter Zetsche, the chairman of Daimler, parent company of Mercedes, said, “Alonso is perhaps the best driver on the grid, demonstrating it even in a slightly less competitive car.”
Zetsche (below left) was got a close-up look Alonso’s abilities in the tumultuous 2007 season when the Spaniard raced a Mercedes-powered McLaren, narrowly missing out on the world championship to Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen. It is the only time in Alonso’s F1 career that he has worked with Mercedes.
At the same time, Ron Dennis has again reiterated that he holds no grudge against Alonso for the rancorous end to their relationship in 2007 and that he would welcome him back. But he acknowledged in an interview in the Italian press today that McLaren need a competitive package to attract drivers of Alonso’s calibre.
“With the 2015 Honda car we hope to have just that,” he said.