Behind the scenes at Ferrari – Alonso imagery takes over
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  04 Jun 2011   |  10:50 am GMT  |  91 comments

On my visit to Maranello this week organised by Shell, I was lucky enough to have dinner at Montana restaurant, which is right next to the Fiorano test track and which is like a canteen to Ferrari’s drivers and management.


Montana is a key piece in Ferrari folklore – on the walls are helmets and signed sheets from all the key drivers in Ferrari’s history as well as others like Nelson Piquet. In the era of the Dream Team, it was a key part of the reason for the success as exiles like Ross Brawn, Rory Byrne and Jean Todt would eat together in there, underlining the principle that the family that eats together stays together.

Gilles Villeneuve loved the place so much he used to have an apartment upstairs.


When Michael Schumacher drove for the team he would eat dinner there every night, often in the private quarters of Rosella and Maurizio who run the place. When I wrote the biography of Schumacher in 2007, I spent two hours with Rosella getting background stories on how Schumacher came to view her like a second mother, especially after his own mother died.


When you walk into Montana today the image of Schumacher and Rosella is still there but on this visit it was very clear to me that imagery of Fernando Alonso is now taking centre stage in the restaurant. There are two large photos of Alonso, one on either side of the room, in an affectionate clinch with Rosella.

And to symbolise the change of idol, above the bar are Schumacher’s helmet and Alonso’s helmet facing each other.


Alonso’s new five year contract with Ferrari is a massive vote of confidence in the team. He is the new idol and Montana symbolises that very clearly.

A signed set of Alonso overalls greets all diners at Montana

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1

I was lucky enough to eat at the Montana as the company I worked with had a logistics contract with Ferrari. Being a Ferrari fan I initially asked my hosts to take me to the famous Cavalino Restaurant (where Enzo Ferrari used to agree the deals with the drivers including Nigel Mansell). I was told that this was more of a tourist attraction now and the REAL Ferrari canteen was the Montana. They were spot on as we walked in and then went to queue for the Antipasti there were Ferrari technicians dressed in the usual red uniform on virtually every table. As to Massa not being in evidence in the Montana , in his defence I have to say they his “images” were also conspicious by their absence when he was Michael’s team mate , at the height of Michael’s domination. So , the fact that Alonso’s images are now slowly taking over and Massa’s are nowhere to be seen is no cause for concern or speculation.

By the way , the food was superb.

2
Andrew Simmons

Id LOVE an Alonso book! I often feel like im the only British Alonso fan. I supported him when I was 11, and he was driving a black car (which black cars were my favourite). But as I grew older and fell more and more in love with his driving style, his abilities, his charisma and his overall actions. I’m 21 years of age now, and I support him more than I have ever done.

out of every driver on track, I cannot remember a more faultless driver. He’s made mistakes, but less than anyone else. He has the perfect amount of controlled aggression. He can be so cool in the cockpit one second, but then he can be a demon the next.

To me, he will always be better than the likes of Schumacher, Vettel, Hamilton or Button. He didnt need a dominant car of a second per lap like schumacher or vettel. He isnt as prone to accidents or getting penalties (rightfully) Like lewis, and unlike Jenson, he can drive around problems, he doesnt need a perfect set up to get every inch out of the car.

People slate his 6 tenths comment, but you look at this and last year. Either massa is just downright rubbish, or Alonso genuinely is that half a second faster

3

I’m happy to hear what James had revealed about him finding some Kimi imageries as well. Maybe the cold Iceman ain’t cold enough for the Tifosi?

a fellow Kimi fan

4

With all the telemetry available, it would be very interesting to get some insight on data Ferrari have comparing their different drivers. F1 is data driven is an understatement. The 5 year deal for Alonso might also indicate that Ferrari have telemetry data that indicate FA is as good or better than Kimi or even the great MS in his prime. Certainly they were driving different cars for different rules/eras but they do have a baseline for comparison: Massa and test driver Marc Gene.

Gene have recently said he thinks Alonso is even better than Schumi w/c of course a lot of people immediately discounted bec. Gene is Spanish. He might have access to telemetry data that we don’t.

Macca’s data in 2007 probably showed that LH in his rookie season was just as good as FA. While these days, Ferrari’s data no doubt shows how much better FA is than Massa these days so the ominous, “Fernando is faster than you.” message to Felipe in last year’s German GP.

Perhaps, Red Bull also has internal data showing just how much better Vettel is than Webber justifying that their decision to back Seb is more than Maketing driven.

5

¿How many drivers in Ferrari history or even F1 history had achieved that amount of confidence from the team in his first year? It’s something amazing.

6

Did you doa video of the restaurant James, it looks very tacky in the pictures.

7

Kimi is always passed over…. last time I checked he is the only title for Ferrari in 8 seasons…. he also saved them in ’09 from having a winless season in a car that felt like it rivaled todays HRT.

I am glad Kimi won at a rare time at Ferrari where there were no favorites… it is clear they are back to the Schumacher type days with Alonso… just don’t see Alonso duplicating those feats

8
Michel Edward

Just so you know, Schumacer can speak Italian.

9

It didn’t rival the HRT. GP2 cars are ok rivals for the HRT. The Ferrari was slow and horrid but not that slow.

Kimi I think will get similiar treatment as Prost in Ferrari… although Prost nearly won. Kimi did. Both were fired. Both not the most enegmatic guys, both bloody fast, both up against fast ‘latins-ish’ in a McLaren.

10

Kimi would not win anything in an HRT let alone finish on the podium. I miss him too but lets not get carried away here…

11

I said “felt like an HRT”

I know it was not that bad of course….

12
Ricardo Consulini

I am not surprised Alonso is taking over. I am italian and have always loved Shumacher for the victories he brought home. But the guy didn’t even had the decency to learn how to speak our language. Alonso is the complete package. He is fast, committed and speaks italian.

You’ve got to love him.

Avanti Fer Avanti !!

13

Every italion I met said exactly the same thing. And I was thinking come on guys he is an f1 driver, his job is to produce results. He could be doing a lot of better things for Ferrari than learning italion for the sake of popularity. Am I the only one who sees this logic?

Alonso learned it in his early days.

14
Ricardo Consulini

Pointless to discuss that. Alonso is better than schumacher anyway. And in a growing english speaking world, it’s nice to see people taking their time to learn our language, which is classic and beatiful.

15

i remember reading or hearing somewhere last year that the alonso is the most popular ferrari driver with the tifosi since gilles v away years ago before i was born. could have something to do with this.

16

Hi there James.

Last year I bought the book Schumacher – The edge of greatness and I actually felt like I was reading something trully amazing for the in-depth of the stories in there. And, actually, as I went seeing the nowaday races from Schumacher I kind of start to understand all of that.

I actually posted this comment because of the Rosella story here and the ones you relate in the book. It’s kind of amazing to see how that woman see (and saw) the drivers come and go. She must have really good stories about them…

Cheers James!

17

This is why i love Ferrari so much ! The people from Maranello do have that passion you do not find elsewhere. When Ferrari loose, they cry; when they win they become mad…

Ferrari is beauty, passion, emotion, history and know how. An extremely mix you cannot find in other teams. Sometimes it works, somtimes it sucks but it always is interesting.

I am a fan for more than 3O years and I always was a fan. Also in the bad days when f.ex. Alesi (one of my favourite drivers with Gilles Villeneuve; I remember the beautifull race in France with René Arnoux !) was driving the red car. Even in bad times this team was interesting. I remember Alesi taking pole at Monza (or racing for pole). That was racing !

There is only one team that comes close to Ferrari and that is Mc Laren.

18

I think that despite not winning a championship for them as of yet, Ferrari have embraced Alonso because he has completely emerged himself into the team. Something that Kimi failed to do?

Schumacher did the same, and perhaps they loved him because of that commitment more than the championships he brought to them. Though those were good too.

Glory can be found in victory or defeat.

19

They have the driver. Now they need a car.

20

Does Schumacher still maintain a relationship with the restaurant? Is it surprising his presence has been reduced considering how they were a second family to him?

21

It’s a bit different to “The Otter” just up the road from the MTC in Woking 😉

22

James,

How about a report from the new McLaren Production Centre to see the new MP4-12C come to life?

23

Sounds good

24

Or a walk through about how Red Bull have combined caffine, sugar and Xtreeame! events..

But inall seriouness…

@ Williams to go through the new Jaguar

(Intesting that Jaguar is owned by Tata who have bought NK his HRT seat while Tata through Jaguar does business with another F1 team. Would have thought that Tata would hae found a different electric hybrid engineering business if they were all serious about connetions with F1 and hence the reaosnf or fudning NK a seat).

@ Mercedes would also be nice… Something on the Saftey car maybe? Does it have TC/ABS, how modified is it? From Road car with logos painted on it to Race Spec racer

@ Lotus with Caterham

@ GL with the new Lotus’.. no matter how stupid they are

@ Virgin with Marussia! Wouldn’t mind that!

25

James a bit off topic but how easy is it to actually transfer technology from the F1 cars onto a normal road car. Would be good to see how someone like Mclaren do it and also how it then filters down to a normal priced car.

Thanks

26

What about Kimi? He is a WDC for them?

27

I was lucky enough to be invited on a guided tour of the factory in 2006 & staying at the Plant hotel right across the road from the famous gates. We went to Montana’s one evening & just by looking at all the different items collected over the years & the people associated with it just shows how important it is to Ferrari. Plus the food was very, very good.

28

No Kimi? He did won for Ferrari..

29

Behind the scenes at Ferrari?

It’s a restaurant 😀

It is fascinating to see how important Alonso has become to Ferrari. It seems as if Ferrari expect him to win many championships, and signing him until 2016 shows just how much confidence they have in his ability.

James, how many titles do you expect Alonso to achieve with Ferrari?

30

Depends how good a car they build him. He’s been in contention for four of the last six championships. This year looks tough and the opposition is very fierce. He should win at least one, but he’ll be hoping for a couple more I would think

31

James,

I agree totally, first he must have the car. And I think what makes Alonso unigue, among other things is that he has the talent to wring the most out any car he’s in, plus at this point his experience is a plus. That great hole shot in Spain was a wise guy letting the boys beat themselves while he rode away. Also, it’s my impression that Alonso has a work ethic similar to The Schu. For what it’s worth, given the cycle of team dominance, I think Alonso got win at least two more championships with Ferrari.

Great website, thanks.

32

I will be very surprised and impressed, as I’m sure most people will be, if Alonso could ever achieve what Schumacher achieved with Ferrari.

33

…or indeed any racing driver in any team for that matter

34

James,

Did many around Ferrari express how they now feel about Schumacher’s comeback?

35

Don’t get me wrong fernando is a bloomin great driver but he effectively hasn’t achieved anything yet at Ferrari. So why is he held in such high regard.

And I wonder if kimi spent much time there haha

36

THere is lots of Kimi imagery in the race bays and in the museum interestingly

37

As a massive Kimi fan, that pleases me. Glad he hasn’t been given the cold shoulder.

38

The problem with Alonso is the he either will achieve it all for Ferrai… much like schumacher… ot it will all end in tears after a spat… I think its a bit premature of Ferrari to worship like Schumacher before he has even won a title for them.. At least Kimi won a title for them….

Really I feel it sumarises why Ferrari are were they are right now… Most teams in that position knuckle down, say very little work hard unitl they get there… it seems this is not the way for Ferrai and that may be part of the problem.

39

It’s not all about titles mate!

40

So if they knuckle down in the kitchen they will get better results on track?

Sorry, I couldn’t resist. 😉

41

This is a really interesting insight into the culture inside Ferrari. Absolutely fascinating 🙂

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