Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo made his customary Saturday visit to Monza with a clear message to the tifosi and the team itself.
“We had hoped to win in our 60th anniversary year, but the truth is that the car is disappointing,” he told Italian media. “And some circumstances have not favoured us. I’m thinking about the interruption in Monaco, the incident between Alonso and Button in Canada and then the safety car always there.”
Montezemolo had said before the start of the season that “Ferrari is condemned to win”, but the only win this year has been at Silverstone, a race where the engine mapping rules were unique, so the race stands as something of an anomaly.
The important message from the president was that team principal Stefano Domenicali has his support and will not be replaced, “Domenicali stays, as do all the key men,” said Montezemolo.
Ferrari made some changes this year and the group is being allowed a chance to prove itself with Pat Fry in overall technical control, having replaced Aldo Costa. Costa was too cautious as a technical director, not wanting to take chances. But when confronting a team like Red Bull, with a technical leader like Adrian Newey, sometimes you have to take risks. McLaren is a good example of this. When their car proved slow in winter testing, they took a big chance, remaking the back end and arriving at Melbourne with it for the first race, without track testing.
The onus is on Fry to build a creative design team, keep it stable and deliver the goods. Alonso is signed for five years so the driver is in place. But he needs the car.
“We recognise that we have not been the team to beat for five years,” Montezemolo said.
Montezemolo’s old rival Flavio Briatore, also making a visit to the paddock, filled in the gaps,” Either Ferrari gets more creative, or Red Bull will have a huge advantage in 2012.
The loyal fans in the half-filled grandstands at Monza have everything crossed.