Ferrari boss keen to show Schumacher his drivers are better
Scuderia Ferrari
Ferrari boss keen to show Schumacher his drivers are better
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Jan 2010   |  4:05 pm GMT  |  116 comments

Ferrari is hosting its annual media and sponsor event in the Italian ski resort Madonna di Campiglio this week and that means that there will be plenty of Ferrari-related headlines for the next few days.

Picture 4
Today it was the turn of team principal Stefano Domenicali to speak. He talked about Ferrari’s need to get back to the front of the grid, he spoke about the importance of fuel consumption this season, now that refuelling is banned and he talked about history, recent history.

“Let’s not forget Fernando is the only driver on the track who in his career has beaten Michael [to the world championship]. Fernando has everything to beat him,” said Domenicali, recalling the 2006 season in particular, where it was a straight fight between Schumacher and Alonso for the title.

Although Alonso’s chances were not helped by a controversial incident at Monza, when he was penalised for blocking Felipe Massa in qualifying, which handed Schumacher an open goal for the race, Schumacher’s chances were wrecked when his engine blew at Suzuka. It was a great scrap and I felt that it was the handing over of the baton. Schumacher was tired and had lost the motivation to perform at the only level he knows how to – the maximum. But now to everyone’s surprise, he has decided that he can still operate at that level and a comeback is achievable.

Back in 2002, when Juan Pablo Montoya was the exciting new guy challenging Schumacher in races, I remember asking Michael privately who he thought his greatest threat was going to come from. He said it was not Montoya, nor was it Kimi Raikkonen. Instead it was Alonso, who at that time was a Renault test driver. He’d seen enough of him from testing and in his 2001 F1 season with Minardi to know that Alonso would be the one to take his crown, just as Ayrton Senna immediately identified Schumacher in 1992 as the one.

Schumacher’s decision to abandon his deal with Ferrari and sign up to race with Mercedes has not gone down well with the Ferrari fans around the world, known as “tifosi” considering the move an act of betrayal. It is clear from Domenicali’s careful words that the team feels a little let down. I think the comeback surprised them; I spoke to some team members when the Schumacher to Mercedes rumours were gathering pace in late November and they seemed calm and said they had no reason to believe he would not honour his deal with them.

“Leaving the Ferrari family is difficult. The tifosi are not happy with the choice that he made -and not just the Italian ones, ” he added. ” What has happened has left its mark. Now we have to turn the page. We have to show Michael that this is a strong team. We want to win. But we must also remember that Michael has given a lot to Ferrari as well as what Ferrari has given him. His presence will be another stimulus for our team.

“Michael…is an extraordinary and strong driver. But Fernando and Felipe are able to beat him even if Michael is still very strong.”

Domenicali confirmed that motorcycle ace Valentino Rossi will test a Ferrari F1 car at Barcelona on 21 and 22 January – this will be a two year old car which will not be affected by the testing restrictions.

The pressure on Domenicali is significant this season. The team has won three of the last six world championships – two constructors’ and one drivers’ but last season was a blank and a return to winning ways is essential, especially now the investment has been made to drop Raikkonen and hire Alonso.

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1

Ferrari was Michael’s first choice to make a comeback. But Ferrari preferred Massa (schu’s lapdog)over Michael. That’s just outrageous.

Ferrari are the real traitors.

LdM’s quote, “Michael can drive with us as long as he wants to” proved to be a lie.

I cant wait to see Michael win the grand prix of Italy in a Silver Arrow.

– Schmidt

2

@James Allen.

Great article James. I remember you mentioning Schumacher’s predictions about Alonso during your ITV race commentary back in 2002. I can remember being very surprised by this at the time, after all, as you pointed out, it was Montoya and Raikkonen who were taking the fight to the German.

What I found fascinating by Schumacher’s comeback was the reaction from drivers who had never raced him, especially from the likes of Vettel and Hamilton. Even to men like these, who are both very talented and gifted drivers, Michael Schumacher is the high water mark. The standard of greatness if you will.

For well over a decade, an F1 driver was judged on his ability to challenge and beat Michael Schumacher. Very few achieved it, only two men won more than one championship during his reign.

Schumacher has raced the very best drivers of the last two and a half decades. He raced Prost and Mansell, and for too tragically a short time, Aryton Senna. Famous names came and went during his career. Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve, Mika Hakkinen, Juan Montoya to name probably the most famous I can think of for now.

To these modern drivers like Hamilton and Vettel, it must be surreal. It would be like a heavy weight boxer getting to go toe to toe with Ali for twelve rounds. It is as good as it gets.

For Ferrari, it must hurt to see Schumacher go, but go he has gone. It is almost as if, in a funny way, Michael realised all those years ago that it would be a man like Fernando in his Ferrari one day. That it could not last forever.

I am certainly not complaining, especially if Michael comes back with the same hunger and conviction as during his heyday. His biggest problem is reliability with his Mercedes. If it is anything like the 2009 Brawn Gp car, great! One thing is certain, I have serious doubts that the 2010 Ferraris’ and McLarens’ are going to be tomato cans, and then there is Red Bull, who many have overlooked.

Ferrari achieved unprecedented greatness with Michael, they won five driver’s championships with him and numerous constructor’s crowns. It, if it were in football terms, would be like Manchester Utd fans watching Sir Alex Ferguson join Liverpool or Chelsea. Ofcourse it would hurt, especially if they are successful and you are not.

Ferrari have a great pairing in Alonso and Massa. Both are very experienced, with a combined seventeen years in F1 between them. I don’t think the Scuderia will flounder, far from it!

3

Maybe if that Ferrari Engine didn’t let Schumi down in Suzuka, he would have had 8 and wouldn’t be back for more at Ferrari’s cost. Maybe if they didn’t push him out…ahh, enough speculation.

I throught I was a Ferrari fan, but it turns out I’m just a simple Schumi Fan. Perhaps it’s the fact I’m 35 – I just can’t respect these twenty something kids. A man needs to show these kids how it’s done.

Somehow Schumi has managed to be a bit of an “underdog” and we always cheer for the underdog. With 7 in the can, how he did it – I don’t know.

No matter how you slice it, the man is a genius when it comes to the environment around him for success. No one does it better. This will be one hell of a season.

Can the “old man” still jump on the podium. You bet your ass! And soon you’ll see how high!

4

Come on Michael Schumacher beat Ferrari in 2010 and gain some more revenge on Fernando Alonso.

5

Historically the Italians have had a rough time getting their red fire engines up front in F-1. No, Ross Brawn, Jean Todt, Rory Byre, and Michael Schumacher are not Italian. 2010 Ferrari will be up against it with the English, 2 top teams, and the Germans, 1 top team. Good luck to Fernando, and ‘the midget’ (Massa) for 2010.

6

2006 Schum and Alonso won 7 races each. But Massa [unlike Rubens before him] was allowed to win in 2 races.

Hence Alonso won 2 titles instead of Schums winning 8.

Then, for Massa, he packed in his career early, or so he says.

What one wonders, has Schums himself got out of this strange friendship???

7

i thought were seven titles.

Eight is rossi.

8

In F1 there are always many variables and everyone can beat everyone.

Alonso got 26 points advantage which he gained from largely superior car when MS and Ferrari were suffering engine change and other problems.

Then he got a car that can easily finishes second for the rest of season, lose 2 points in every race.

Largely superior car for the half of the season + second best car for the next half of the season means, he got the best overall package.

But he could only do that when Schumi was the only guy to take points off him. If he is going to compete against multiple contenders, like next season, he will have a big problem.

Still, 2006 championship was quite an achievement for him.

But, I don’t think it was enough to convince that in the same car, same day Alonso could shade Schumi.

Massa owns tracks like Brazil, Turkey etc.. In Brazil 2006, Schumi was faster in quali before the hydraulic failure. That just show the underlying pace of him.I don’t think Alonso has that.

And in Turkey 2006, he was faster then he decided to opt for heavier fuel option in final qualifying round which cost him a place to Alonso with the help of safety car.

9

Alot of people seem to forget that Renault were running a ‘Mass Damper’ which was deemed illegal by the FIA half way through 2006, after that i think Alonso only won one race in the 2nd half of the season. I think ferrari are slightly over-rating Alonso, and Massa will hopefully prove this.

10

Couldn’t agree more!!

11

Joe Saward would be my guess. The only two F1 writers you can trust is you two.

12

I was a Ferrari fan long before Michael showed up. He was fantastic and brought me so much joy and I was sad to see him go, especially as his final race was a gobsmacker.

I’m happy to see him back, and I’m looking forward to seeing Massa kick his butt.

Whatever happens this year, I think it’s safe to say that Schumacher and Hamilton will lock horns.

Felipe for the championship.

13

Massa was Michael’s lapdog.

[mod]

15

Ferrari as an F1 team remind me of the popular kid in highschool. When something finally doesn’t go their way they suddenly think the world is against them and everything is “unfair”.

Alonso in my eyes is F1’s arch-villain. I am hoping he is beaten by both McLarens, both Red Bulls and also Schuey. I also hope Massa beats him.

16

keep dreaming.

17

sweet dreams

18

I thought I was getting sick of Michael towards the end there. In reality I was getting sick of Ferrari. In becoming so “corporate” they’ve lost a lot of the charm that attracted fans to them in the first place.

If the remaining tifosi are so feral that they place blind loyalty above the romance of motorsport then I won’t be quizzing them for any further opinions. That is mass-psychosis and probably can’t be reasoned with anyway.

19

Carlos Tevez left Manchester United to go to Manchester City and he disappointed the Manchester United fans.

It’s the same thing here. You don’t go and play for the rival. You’d never see Wayne Rooney go and play for Liverpool, if anything he’d leave and go to Madrid. Same principle here

20

Everyone says about Brawn / Schumacher – Lets not forget about Rob Smedley and Felipe Massa are they no a powerful combination?? James who is going to engineer Alonso at Ferrari i’d personally like to think it would be Chris Dyer.

21

No, Dyer is too senior for that now. I’ll find out

22

Where do you get that from? Ferrari gave MS everything he needed to win multiple titles including their soul. Austria 2002 ring a bell?

23

Massa has got to get the job done in the next season or two otherwise his seat will probably go to Vettel. If he comes back and wins the world championship this season it will be one hell of an achievement after his accident. In a way I want him to beat Alonso. Felipe Massa for the title.

24

Depend James. Vale won’t want to bow out with gorgeous jorge walking off with his moto gp title plus re regs will keep him interested

25

I think Ferrari and the tifosi are being a bit childish towards Michael’s move to Mercedes, they should respect his decision after what he did for them.

On a different Schumacher matter, many people say he lost the 2006 title because his engine blew at Suzuka which is total rubbish. As Mr Allen has correctly worded, he lost the CHANCE to win it, otherwise you could blame a number of things for the loss like his poor performance in Hungary.

26

Domenicali today;

“We have seen some fans not appreciate Michael’s choice,” he said. “But we should not forget history, what Michael has done with Ferrari, just as we should not forget what Ferrari has done for Michael.

27

That’s good to hear.

28
Carlos Del Valle

James Allen said: “Schumacher’s chances were wrecked when his engine blew at Suzuka”

Well, that’s part of the game. Massa’s chances were also wrecked when his engine blew at Hungaroring 2008. And Senna at Monza in 1989 etc. Sometimes we recall some engine failures and forget others (would our beloved Hamilton be World Champion without that Ferrari engine failure?)

Anyway, I have just finished reading my copy of your book and it is amazing, keep up the nice job.

Carlos Del Valle

29

And if our beloved Hamilton hadn’t won in 2008, we’d no doubt be harking back to some pretty awful stewards decisions that made Massa gain, and Lewis lose. You forgot to mention that didn’t you!

30

Hey, I know what you mean.

It’s like the early 90’s over again… We all wanted Shumi to do well… but not too well! 🙂

31

Hi James, just wanted to ask your opinion…

Ferrari stopped around midway during ’09 to fully concentrate on the ’10 car, so in theory they should have the upper-hand from a development point of view, but at the same time since the ’10 car is more of an evolution of the ’09 design as opposed to major changes (i.e. between ’08 and ’09) won’t it be a disadvantage at the same time as the other teams continued to develop their cars through ’09 and hence have useful data back from the remaining races on their new developments which is more critical with the testing ban in place.

32

Yes, you could argue that their start point for the 2010 car was well behind Red Bull’s for example. That’s the car to watch for me, the McLaren should be better than last year’s car too, but it’s the Red Bull everyone has an eye on

33

Big year for Mark Webber at RBR too – mainly because most people think it will be his last at the team and if the car is as good as it’s meant to be…

But personally I think Mark is one of the finest “#2” drivers out there and a good driver overall. You don’t really want two drivers stealing points off each other.

34

Surely there’s some concern that things could go very pear-shaped for Red Bull this year – if the other teams are going to be building clones of the ’09 Red Bull, they could easily find themselves back in the mid-pack rather than way out in front, where a lot of people expect them to be. They still seem to get reliability issues too.

Having said that, they could build an absolute animal and blow everyone away. As you said James, definitely the car to watch for 2010.

35

Ferrari have definitely got the strongest line-up from where I’m standing. On the one hand, you have Alonso, who is always on the ball, whilst on the other, you have Massa, who, on his day can throw his car around the track faster than anyone. As a pairing, there is surely no match.

I think it’ll take a while for Ferrari to match the pace I expect to see from Mercedes, Red Bull and McLaren, but if anyone can extract wins from a car that is marginally below the level of another, I’d lay my money on these two , every time.

36

I have to wonder why there seem to be a consensus about Schumacher being the one that brought back to the top after years of starvation. I don’t think Alain Prost was a mediocre driver. To me, the key man in ferrari success is Jean Todt. Although I hate that man & some of his methods, I have to admit that without his ability to manage the team, his radical restructuration and the appointment of the right men, you could have brought as many schumacher as you want, Ferrari would not have won so many championships. Now that todt has gone, Dommenicali needs to deliver a good car & good management to get as good results as Todt.

37
hamilton2010champ

alot of the personnel who joined ferrari, rory byrne ross brawn for example joined ferrari because shumacher was going ther as they had previously wokred with him at benetton.

You have to remember when MS joined ferrari in 96 it had been 17 years since theyd wone the WDC. Shcumacher was hired to win it! without him it wouldnt of happened, he almost won it in 97 in a car tha was no match for the williams. If you watched the season from 96-99 you will see just how MS drove the wheels of the car to make up for its performance deficits. Everyone complains that he had number 1 status etc but how often did his teamates actually get themselves into a position where they were in front of him?

i read an interview with ross brawn and he said what made the partnership between himself and MS so sucessful was that brawn could come up with a strategy tell shcumacher how much time he needed to gain an shcumacher could do it…no one else on the grid at that time could have done it thats why the team was moulded around him. see hungary 98 as an example..extraordianiry drive in that race.

Which although we’d all love to see teamates battling 1 on 1 for supremacy..if you want to win championships you have a clear number 1 and 2 driver so that your own drivers arent taking points from eachother!

38

Those Ferrari fans have to realise their utter delusion. Considering Schumacher did more for the team than any other driver in it’s history and no thanks from them? If the tifosi think their team can reach the heights of the Schumacher days then my god are they in for a shock. For one, Domenicalli is a pale pale shadow of his former boss Jean Todt and he showed that today. No expression of gratitude or thanks to Michael, just petty little mind games.

39

Petty mind games??

“We have seen some fans not appreciate Michael’s choice, but we should not forget history, what Michael has done with Ferrari, just as we should not forget what Ferrari has done for Michael”

Hardly petty. Nor mind games.

40

but he seems to me that is like todt, in trying to focus on a number one driver. He talks about alonso beating schumacher, alonso coming at the right moment, alonso…

And at the end, oh!!!, there is also massa.

41

James,

With a two year old car they can not be testing latest aero improvements and tyres. But is it not possible that they can test some updates to the engine for 2010 season and perhaps even some other internals too and circumvent the testing ban?

42

I guess it comes down to trust on that front. But there is a common ECU so I guess the FIA would have some understanding of what’s inside the engine – bit off my patch

43

Back in 2002, when Juan Pablo Montoya was the exciting new guy challenging Schumacher in races, I remember asking Michael privately who he thought his greatest threat was going to come from. He said it was not Montoya, nor was it Kimi Raikkonen. Instead it was Alonso, who at that time was a Renault test driver. He’d seen enough of him from testing and in his 2001 F1 season with Minardi to know that Alonso would be the one to take his crown, just as Ayrton Senna immediately identified Schumacher in 1992 as the one.

Pity you didn’t ask him whether Alonso was likely to be beaten by a rookie (who had worse reliability than Alonso did). I guess that no one could’ve predicted that, but it does put a bit of a damper on the whole “succession” thing, doesn’t it?

44

Hahahaa Hamilton fans are so blind!

45

if mclaren had of backed fernando till the hilt they would more than likely be sitting with 4 out of the last 6 world titles.they backed hamilton and ended up with 1. also add up the error count since hamilton came into f1 and compare it to nando and see what it looks like then.

46

James, you should have asked-“Don’t you think Lewis Hamilton will succeed you?” and that also ni 2002.

47

Let’s not start that again..

48

Fair enough.

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