Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari adventure is underway. The two time world champion has begun the programme of seat fitting and preliminary work with the Scuderia.
Alonso has been quite vague recently when asked about when he would be free to join his new team. I asked him about it on the Friday of the Abu Dhabi weekend and he said he did not know. He has some links with Renault sponsors and negotiations are ongoing to put an end date to engagements.
Ferrari’s official website confirms that the Spaniard arrived at Maranello around 8am, met with team principal Stefano Domenicali, saw the wind tunnel and met Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo. He also did a few laps of Fiorano in a road going 458 Italia.
Unlike Michael Schumacher’s first day with Ferrari, which turned into pageant, it was a low key visit, due to the vagueness of the sponsor situation. This suits both sides in may ways, as Ferrari has generally disliked being seen to hire champions, preferring to create them instead. The image of an all conquering hero riding in to Ferrari’s rescue doesn’t play well. In Schumacher’s case, after 17 years of failure, it was slightly different and an exception was made.
According to today’s Gazzetta dello Sport, Alonso is scheduled to appear at the Ferrari Day celebrations, later this month, which are taking place at Valencia on 13th to 15th November. It has always been a source of fascination as to why Ferrari chose to organise their event at Valencia. It served to feed the speculation that a deal with Alonso was done.
As it turns out they may have an event with neither of their 2010 drivers present, as Felipe Massa’s wife is due to give birth to his first son any moment. However it is likely that a deal will be done to allow Alonso to make his public debut with the team.
Alonso is optimistic that Ferrari’s strategy of stopping development on the 2009 car in July in order to focus on 2010 will pay off. The team was caught out this year by the effort it threw into contesting the 2008 championship until the final race.
“I’m not worried about the 2009 performance because next year everything starts from zero again with refuelling and narrower front tyres,” said Alonso.
As with his two previous world championship winning seasons, Alonso knows that scoring plenty of points in the opening races of the season is key to getting control of the championship battle.