Will Alonso launch a new era for Ferrari?
McLaren
Will Alonso launch a new era for Ferrari?
Posted By: James Allen  |  14 Jan 2010   |  6:46 pm GMT  |  215 comments

Fernando Alonso held his first press conference in Ferrari colours today. He spoke about his desire to win many championships with Ferrari, to end his career there and denied requesting number one status at any stage of his career. He also said that he expects to have a good relationship with team mate Felipe Massa.

Picture 7
His theme was that joining Ferrari was the culmination of a long journey in his career, that he was now at home in the Ferrari family. But being Alonso, he couldn’t resist an edgy comment about his McLaren days, suggesting that he felt like a number two to Lewis Hamilton. He kept referring to ‘minorities’ who continue to talk negatively about his behaviour at McLaren in 2007, it clearly bothers him that he has not been able to set the record straight about that time – due to the non-disclosure clause in his severance contract.

“I’m not saying to the team that I want to have anything better for me,” he said. “What I do is work 110 per cent with the team and if the team is not working 110 per cent too it’s not right. I’m a guy who will push everybody to do their best job possible, as their push me to do the best job possible.

“I never asked to be number one driver in any team in my career and that’s coming from nowhere, and keeps repeating again from a minority. But what I don’t want to be, for sure, is number two, like it happened sometimes in 2007.”

It is rare for Ferrari to hire a world champion – they have traditionally liked making champions. When they do it, it tends to be someone pretty special and it comes at a time when the driver is mature in his career and the team needs a boost. In the 1950s they hired Juan Manuel Fangio, in 1990 they got Alain Prost, in 1996 they hired Michael Schumacher and now, at the age of 28, Alonso joins that elite group.

This time around, the team isn’t in bad shape, like it was in 1996. They had a poor year in 2009, but in the two previous years they won races and championships. But Alonso is there to stop any rot setting in. He has been hired for his leadership qualities and because, for all the talent and speed of a Raikkonen or a Massa, the management believes that a team like Ferrari needs a killer in the car.

Alonso said that there had been a lot of waiting around to get started, thanks to the winter testing ban, which he criticised. But he has done as much as he could to get the lines of communication open with the team,

“We have had contact, especially with my race engineer and the technicians of the team,” he said. Ferrari confirmed to me this morning that Alonso will inherit Kimi Raikkonen’s crew, which means that he will be engineered by Andrea Stella.

“We kept exchanging emails and phone calls and I’m always updated about the development of the car so we can be perfectly ready when the tests start in February, ” he added.

“We have worked well. From day one I found myself at home at the team. There is like a family feeling from the start. He added that he was “100 per cent sure” that he would end his career at the team. Mind you, Raikkonen said the same thing in 2006.

“For any driver, coming to Ferrari is the best thing you can do in your career,” Alonso added.

“It’s almost impossible to find the motivation to race for another team after racing for Ferrari, because you will never find the same environment or have the same feeling due to its history.

Inevitably he spoke also about Michael Schumacher’s return. Alonso is the only driver on the 2010 grid who has beaten Schumacher to a world title and he admitted that the motivation is very strong to beat him.

“His return is good for the sport. For the fans, 2010 at the start will be very interesting. It’s a motivation for me of course. When he wasn’t here, of course there was that lack of motivation,” he said.

As for emulating Schumacher’s feats, in the Italian language conference he said, “Winning seven world championships would be difficult, if not impossible in F1 today. But certainly I will try to win as many as possible in the next few years.”

Schumacher’s arrival heralded a new era for Ferrari – the question now is, will Alonso be able to emulate him and carry the team forward?

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1

Comments like these make me wander if I am getting rather too old. Do you realize that Schumacher was making his mark while Senna and Prost was racing? By saying that Lewis would shock him is an insult to other champions who shared the track with him

2

Given a competitve car, spot on strategy team & pit lane crew ( 2008, 2009 were absolute shambles ), he will do great. I agree with F1- Fan, Massa will be shown the door at the end of 2010 season, i believe he won’t be 100% fit, add to that he won’t keep up with Alonso’s pace, & don’t rule out Schumacher / Alonso at Ferrari. When Ferrari signed Alonso , Schumacher said, ( Fernando with Ferrari, that’s something I like a lot. I was involved from the very beginning in this decision, and I always liked the idea. I am sure Fernando will feel well with us, and I can only say: Welcome, Fernando! ) or may be R Kubica will drive alongside Alonso. With all respect, the drivers title will be between Alonso & Schumacher specially with the refuelling ban in place.

3

Ok maybe 3 is a bit of a stretch, but it reall is possible. He has at least 10 years if he is good as everyone says he is. A ten year period allows 3 people to achieve 3 WDC victories and still have room for a wildcard. When MSC went to Ferrari would anyone have predicted that he would win 5 in a row? Particularly after the first couple of years.

4

James, care to let us know why you think this will be the case? I find this odd as surely the brit press is going to milk the jb lh lineup and rivalary to the extreem. It will be like England going to a worldcup with half a chance to win only for the press to poor sour grapes at every op!

5

The field being closely packed together is irrelevant when discussing team mates as they are driving the same car. Kimi really showed his class towards the second half of 2009 for the following reasons: 1. He was bouyed psychologically by Massa’s absence and the downfall of Messrs Badoer and Fisichella. 2. He was driving to save his career. These two facts imply that he is not as calm and collectedl as everyone likes to make out and that he does care, as demonstrated in Spa were he drove like a mercenary. 2010 is shaping out to be such a great season, my only regrets are that Kimi won’t be there too join in the bunfight between past and present WDC’s.

6

Fenman,

You clearly weren’t wAtching alonso when he drove a minardi and performed miracles or the fact he won two wct against a man who had not been truly beaten for half a decade! You think dotting down a few lines like you do based on no facts means anything to anyone?

7

Alonso has never asked to be numver 1 driver? He’s a forgettable chap. Remember the time he blackmailed Ron Dennis during Hungary 2007 after the qualifying fiasco telling him to slow Lewis down or he’ll go to the FIA with his and De La Rosa’s e mails? Does he think we’re idiots?

8

You could probably ask yourself why you believe this fairy tale made up by the british press.

9

Don’t think it’s a fairytale – pretty much all papers were saying it, not just British. The guy’s a cry baby, accept it.

10

pretty much all papers uh?

you took your time and read what the rest of the world is saying, yes?

then, surely, you should have no problem in giving us JUST 3 examples of a non-british paper talking about the twisted personality of “Evil Alonso”, the villain who brake-tested Lewis…..

I’m sorry to disapoint you mate, but this fictional character only exists in the British tabloids and on the minds of those prone to voluntarily switch off their ability to have an opinion of their own.

11

The ITV website today quotes Massa: ““Although I’ve always worked very well with Kimi I’ve spoken more to Fernando over the last three days than with him in three years.”

Interesting comment…

12

I just think Kimi didn’t give a damn which is why I’m not sad that he’s gone rallying.

Iceman was very fitting.

13

Alonso – obviously a very capable driver being arguably the best but I my self am not sure of the team itself. Stefan Domenicali is no Jean Todt that’s for sure, Rory Byrne went a while back, no Ross Brawn there. Of course, Alonso himself is no Schumacher.

14

Alonso is full of it. What number 2 treatment ever allowed him to beat and steal points from Hamilton at both Monza and Spa 2007 (way late in the championship, mind you)? Regardless, none of this would be a topic of discussion had he been fast enough to keep Hamilton in check and rightfully lead the team both on and off the track. The rest is history…

15

Will 2010 truely be an unusual season? Four teams, Red Bull, McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari in with a chance to win? Do we really believe all four teams will be competitive? Look at McLaren and Ferrari last year! Remember the double diffuser, and how that device impacted the championship. And now Ecclestone wants to implement ‘shortcuts for passing’! There is still time for Bernie to screw everything up.

16

In my opinion Alonso on his own is not enough to launch a new era at Ferrari. I find Domenicalli unprepared for his position and a the whole team is a bit week in terms of strategy and decision making.

17

Yet again Little Mr Inadequate tries to hint that Hamilton had a better car, it is the only way he can continue the Legend of Fernando the Unbeatable. Sowing the seeds, knowing how hysterically the Spanish press will propagate the lie, whilst having said very little.

2010 looks like it will be between McLaren, Merc and RBR, Ferrari at best in 4th. Massa is very quick, still so I hope, Alonso is not going to like being beaten by a driver more established in the team. If this happens more than once of twice I can see the usual snide remarks being made to Spanish Journalists and it all starting up again.

Nobody has asked the questions about Santander’s money either, it bought his seat and paid for Kimi to be moved aside, yet Banks are in great financial trouble and you have to wonder what exactly Santander are up to.

18

santander is not in trouble. And 25 million euros it’s just peanuts for them. The money always helps, but if you don’t deliver, there is just so much it can do for a driver.

And santander is after what every bank in the world is. Investing a dollar, and getting two or more out of the deal.

19

I’ve picked up this morning that Alonso also said in Italian that he would need three races to get to his maximum with the car.

20

With the amount of money and resources Ferrari injects into their F1 project, plus having Alonso & Massa as drivers I was expecting Ferrari to have the most competitive car on the grid. Now Alonso saying it’s going to take 3 races!!!!! If they froze the development of F60 to build F2010, I wonder why it would take Alonso so long to get the maximum out of the car. He is double world champion, not Giancarlo Fisichella.

21

…..and that seems to be consistent with Alons’s past, by race three/four the car is where/how he wants it.

22

That’s known as covering ones tracks……….

23

Not sure if link’s from other websites are allowed on here, but I thought this was a telling photo of how Ferrari really feel about the new sponsorship deal they have with Santander:

http://joesaward.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/ferrari-drivers-madonna.jpg

24

Lack of motivation?

He should be motivated by the fact that he has never beaten Lewis.

“For any driver, coming to Ferrari is the best thing you can do in your career,” Alonso added.

Hmm not the view that MS would share. In the context of “joining a team”, the best thing a racing driver could do is to join an underdog team and turn it around not joining the most successful team and get a winning car straight away.

One must remember that Alonso does not share the same values that MS had.

He is not prepared to go through thick and thin. He is not willing to sacrifice a couple of years in making a winning car. If Ferrari were going Williams’ way, he would not stick to the team for a resurgence. He will talk to another winning team.

Mark my words tiffosi before you blame Schumi.

25

Not only Alonso, no driver would remain in an uncompetitive team for years if he has the chance of joining a better team. They would be mad if they did, considering the fact that the sporting career is not a long one.

Do you think Hamilton will stick to Mclaren if they can’t provide him with a winning car? do you think he is ready for that? you must be kidding.

Alonso is no different to any other.

The same applies to any area of life. If you know you are good and you have got the talent, and you have ambitions, you want the best for yourself and you fight for it. You don’t stick to a job or a company if they don’t give you what you need, you leave the job if you can and find a better one.

26

the two thing i hate about formula one:

1. Alonso

2. Ferrari

27

Nothing to argue about 1, but please reconsider 2. I do, out of respect for Felipe, Ferrari’s sole 2010 driver.

28

what about politics. Don’t you hate those?

29

Formula One is not your sport then mate

30

Maybe F1’s not for you then 🙂

31

Only history will tell, but if anyone has a chance of doing it, it is Alonso. I wish him the best luck as 2010 is going to be an incredible season, especially with the genius Schumacher back with Ross Brawn, so whoever wins this years championship will set the tone for the new decade.

32

Yes, Alonso will launch a new era of winning at Maranello.

I think he will win at least 3 more titles.

I think that Schumacher will win one more as well, judging from the testing times today.

33

so many titles, so little time.

34

Calling Major Tom, earth calling 😆

£ more titles with the drivers currently in F1, Vettel, Hamilton, Kubica to name just 3.

Alonso will be lucky to win another one ❗

35

The tires alone beat Michael Schumacher in 2005 and 2006 – most likely, some FIA deal with Bridgestone to slowdown Michael’s win, and to appease the other sponsors…

Alonso has proved he is very weak mentally, and is not good enough to beat a rookie Hamilton…

Alonso may not win any races in 2010, and worse still, he may not even beat Massa too often…

If he struggles as bad as I think he will, I expect him to age at a rapid rate in 2010…

36

Not bad. Not bad at all.

37

I think you answered that question in your article James. The point is that, when Michael won his first championship with Ferrari ten years ago, he was the first man to do so since Jody Scheckter in 1979. That is a very, very long time for a team as big as Ferrari.

I remember them back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, and they clearly were playing second fiddle to Williams and McLaren. I remember Gerhard Berger’s win at Monza back in 1988 and the Italians went berserk. They simply had not expected, in their wildest dreams, that a Ferrari would win the race.

Michael Schumacher, Ross Brawn, Rory Bryne, men like these, changed that. They made that team champions, when they were previously cannon fodder, which is not where they belonged.

Alonso has entered the fray after there worst season since 1996 probably, but to a team that still has the experience and resources to succeed. Alonso certainly comes across as Schumacheresque in his motivation and self belief, and is without doubt no wallflower when it gets down to the nitty gritty.

Many questioned his claims three years ago when he suggested that he gave the McLaren a performance advantage during testing, of up to a second if my memory is correct. Many lauded his ability to turn an average car into a winner. It certainly was put to test in the years since a Renault, and to some extent, was proven correct.

Fernando clocked two back to back victories in 2008, in a Renault that nobody thought was able, even in his hands. That is impressive, Crashgate aside.

So he ticks most boxes, that is for sure. But the performance advantages afforded to Schumacher between 2000-2004 will not be bestowed on Fernando. The competition has raised the stakes, and alot of the drivers are young and new talents have emerged. As I always said, Michael was the best driver in the best car in the best team at the right time. A time when Ferrari enjoyed a period of reliability that lasted years, and the likes of McLaren and Williams were not.

38

Im no Ferrari fan but defo an Alonso fan. Sure, he acted like a big kid at McLaren and was caught out for it. The only reason we were somewhat forgiving was that the guy is an out and out racer and an amazingly quick driver. As we all know the best drivers have that killer instinct. No compromise is their modus operandi. That’s what makes them the best. Although I like and respect Massa for the way he has developed in recent years. I still remember his Sauber days. He is no match for Alonso and I believe this will be shown to all next season. I sincerely hope this is not the case but time will tell.

From my experience,I think the coming season will be one to be remembered for many a year.

Just cannot wait!!!!

James, keep up the good work.

Cheers, Craig

39

Alonso was always way over rated ! We can say that Schumachers engine blow up at Suzuka 2006 made Alonsos career .. if that little twist of fate wouldnt of occured, MS was going to win the 06 championship and Alonso would only be a 1 time champion … Alonso is overated and Massa will always be underrated ! I hope massa proves everybody wrong and beats alonso just like he did to the overated Raikkonen !

40

You must be lying to yourself. Alonso lost 16 points in Hungary and Monza due to failures.

Aside from that, the Suzuka 06 engine failure cost Schumacher a net 12 points (Alonso +2 from 2nd, Schu -10 from 1st). But Alonso won by 13 points.

Alonso won that battle.. taste it!

41

massa is a good qualifier but doesnt have the race craft of a kimi or alonso

that is the reason he doesnt have the wc tag

42

Great post once again. I think Nano Alonso is a great ambassador for the sport and I think Ferrari should make the best use of this. In many ways, Alonso is a PR dream, focused without been disrespectful to the other party. As much as I think highly of Kimi Raikonnen, I don’t think he gave the other teams and drivers the respect that they warranted.

Although Michael Schumacher is returning this year, I feel is may be only be returning in name and reputation and I feel the performances may not be there. I would like to see Nico Rosberg keep up with him, this would provide the foundations for a future champion.

For the 2010 season. I would like to see Sebastian Vettel crowned champion.

Thomas Churchill

43

At the end of the day, it boils down to whether Ferrari can produce a championship winning car because Alonso looked good last year in a subprime car and he wasn’t winning races in it for no fault of his own. I can’t see the golden days of Ferrari dominance somehow magically returning with the competition being as stiff as it has been recently. I think we’re into a new era of racing and I for one am more than happy to see 6 or more different drivers share the limelight than 1 or 2 from yesteryear!

44

Well Fernando and Filipe together added an interesting dynamics to the new season. I saw Lewis’s interview where he described the upcoming season the most exciting season yet. He was also generous enough to say that he is not the No. 1 driver, Jenson being the reigning world champion. Now the big teams apart from Red Bull have got two German, two British & two Latin drivers, plus four world champions. When did we see a grid like this? So I couldn’t agree with Lewis anymore.

Fernando said that he didn’t ask to be no. 1, at the same time he doesn’t want to be no 2. Filipe is good enough to beat Fernando on track. So I have no question in my mind that both drivers are going be equally treated in Ferrari. Now, will Alonso resume the sheer dominance of Ferrari again? I do not think so. There is at least 6 (maybe even 10) cars are worthy of winning the championship. When Rubens was in Ferrari it was obvious that Schumacher was the no. 1 driver. To be honest, as harsh as it sounds Rubens were never good enough to win the world championship. Schumacher earned his status in Ferrari. In the end Ferrari is the one who benefited from that situation the most. But Alonso is by far the closest driver to Schumacher in terms of aggression, driving style and the obsession of winning. Sooner or later the old rivalry between Ferrari & McLaren will resume I believe. As Fernando labelled Ferrari as the last team of his career, I do believe there is a huge chance that Ferrari will be the team and Alonso the driver to beat for the next Era. However, it all depends on how well the team work together to give Filipe and Fernando maximum reliability. The generation of John Todt, Ross Brawn and Schumacher combination is over. Therefore, the new generation of Ferrari got some huge shoes to fill in. Fernando and Filipe fits pretty well with the team. Kimi is a terrific driver, but he certainly doesn’t fit into a team like Ferrari.

I read that Alonso refused to answer if Flavio has got anything do with him anymore as far as driver management goes. My question is James; will Flavio be allowed to manage drivers if the Paris court rules against the FIA appeal? Who is Alonso’s manager now?

45

I guess he will. Manager is Luis Garcia

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