Fernando Alonso has been speaking about life at Ferrari in an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. The Spaniard has claimed Michael Schumacher’s decision to turn his back on Ferrari in favour of a return to Formula 1 with Mercedes GP has helped him settle in more quickly with Italian team.
“Now, maybe, we’re a little freer,” Alonso told the Corriere.
When asked about whether life at Ferrari was as he imagined he said, “No, it’s different. It’s even better. I expected to come to the strongest team, being able to benefit from the potential. But Ferrari is much more: it’s a passion, a philosophy, a way of life. I’m contaminated by this emotion.”
Ferrari were disappointed by Schumacher’s decision to leave them and discard all the brand value they had built together in favour of a new programme with Mercedes, for whom he will advertise and promote competing road cars. It is easy to see how this would work in Alonso’s favour, far more than if he had come in to a team where Schumacher was still a consultant, especially given their history.
So far this season, Red Bull has looked like the fastest car in terms of outright pace, with pole in each of the four races, however Alonso still believes Ferrari are the team to beat in the race for the championship.
“Red Bull is stronger in the qualifying and they are very fast; but we can catch up in the race,” he said. “McLaren knows how to develop its cars very fast, but we’re not joking either. Ferrari favourite for the championship.”
The relationship between Alonso and team-mate Felipe Massa will be closely monitored in Spain next weekend after Alonso pulled an audacious move on the Brazilian in the pitlane at the Chinese Grand Prix. It is bound to draw a reaction on the track from Massa, who has seemed sub par in the opening part of the season. He knows that he needs to raise his game and maybe that move will be the trigger for him to ‘get angry’ and take the fight to Alonso. I suspect it will. However Alonso is adamant the two have a good working relationship.
“Felipe and I are complementary,” he said. “While I’m missing something in the corners he has, while I am faster in some sections. Learning from each other is a secret. Who could create problems? [Jenson] Button and [Lewis] Hamilton.”
But when asked if he would repeat the move on Massa if presented with the opportunity again, Alonso stoked the fire saying: “Absolutely yes.”
And you know he means it. It was ruthless, but it was also the move of a champion.