Fernando Alonso today took his first bow as a Ferrari driver, appearing at the Ferrari finals day in Valencia.
When it was announced earlier in the year that this important day in the Ferrari calendar would take place in Spain, it was yet more proof that a deal to take Alonso to Ferrari was in the pipeline, as it subsequently proved.
Alonso is under contract with Renault and related sponsors until December 31, but he was allowed to attend the day, wearing a Perry Como-style golf sweater.
“It is a very important day to me, a very happy one, the first day I could enjoy all the atmosphere and all of what the Ferrari world means,” he said.
“It is already a great feeling to have the whole team together…I hope we are going to have the best team in 2010. The first impression was really good. In 2010 I hope to fight for the world title together with Felipe and that all the fans can be proud of us and our professionalism.”
There was an amusing moment when Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo got a Ferrari California Spyder stuck in the sand below the grandstands, much to the amusement of his drivers, who were sitting on the back of the car. They were picked up in another Ferrari by the mayor of Valencia who was following behind.
Di Montezemolo promised that after a “year on vacation” Ferrari would “return to win the world championship.”
“We will have the two best drivers in F1 next season, with the intention of hitting the heights of 2007, ” he said.
Wishing to underline that the competition between the two is to be focussed on making Ferrari win, rather than develop into a self-destructive feud, he continued,
“They will drive for Ferrari and not for themselves, otherwise there are plenty of other teams out there. Massa is motivated, hungry and ready. Alonso is the best driver in the world, along with Massa.”
There was an emotional moment for Massa when he climbed behind the wheel of an F60 Ferrari for the first time since he crashed one at Budapest in July and did a few laps, “Today is better than a victory for me,” said the Brazilian, who reported no problems with driving the car again.
Montezemolo also announced that Moto GP champion Valentino Rossi will test a Ferrari F1 car again in January and that next year’s Ferrari finals day will take place in Abu Dhabi, to coincide with the opening of Ferrari World, the largest indoor theme park in the world.