Following the hopeful optimism that Fernando Alonso will this weekend pull off another Valencia-style smash and grab victory contained in Friday’s Spnaish headlines, today the country’s media have had a change of heart, latching onto Ferrari President Luca Di Montezemolo’s admission that the team have not been “able to give Alonso a more competitive car”.
Di Montezemolo, who recently confirmed that he’ll take a more hands-on role at the Scuderia following the departure of Team Principal Stefano Domenicali and the appointment of the F1-inexperienced Marco Mattiacci, made his second appearance in five races here yesterday and delivered the message, eagerly lapped up by the Spanish media, that the team needs to help its double champion.
“I’m sorry for not being able to give Alonso a more competitive car”, he said, adding that that he understands that “Alonso is frustrated”.
National sport newspapers Marca and As include Montezemolo’s concerns in the headline, establishing straight away that the problem is the car, not the driver: the President isn’t happy and nor are the team or Alonso, and the only way to sort this out is to give the Spaniard “a competitive car.”
Fernando isn’t where they’d like him to be, but the Spanish media have made sure they see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Montezemolo has set a date for the team to react, explaining that he expects “a major improvement on the car in Canada.” You can be sure that, from now until Montreal, the media will be expecting that improvement to be Alonso’s salvation but, in the meantime, and only because the boss is doing so, they can also downplay his expectations.
As a consequence, and as a result of Alonso’s fourth-place laps in both of Friday’s practice sessions and an eventual 1.5s deficit to pacesetter Lewis Hamilton, expectations for qualifying and the race have been adjusted. Sport newspapers El Mundo Deportivo and Diari Sport focus straight away on how Alonso struggled to ge
t the most out of yesterday’s two sessions, explaining that he was not entirely satisfied with the start to the weekend and why he had found it difficult out on track. “There wasn’t much grip, we had less downforce than at other races and, in my opinion, the tyre choice is too conservative for this track,” Alonso lamented.
The comparisons with other epic Alonso wins have disappeared from this morning’s pages, but just like As and Marca do with their Montezemolo stories, El Mundo Deportivo and Sport also search for that light at the end of the tunnel, hoping for a positive result: “We have to be smarter than our rivals in terms of making the right changes for qualifying” they quote; the exact same words that the Car & Driver website use in their headline. So, there it is, despite the more measured response, informed by the Ferrari boss’ comments, hope still springs eternal in the newspaper columns and website pages.
Tabatha Valls Halling
at the Circuit de Catalunya
NOTE: Di Montzemolo’s presence yesterday was no surprise among our Italian sources. The feeling there is that Marco Mattiacci’s appointment as Team Principal isn’t quite a cut-and-dried tale of the former Head of Ferrari North America being the chosen disciple of the Ferrari President, but that the new Team Principal is a star performer within the wider FIAT organisation and has substantial backing from that quarter. That support that may ultimately not sit too easily with Di Montezemolo, hence the tighter focus on the Scuderia’s operations.