“First Alonso should win the title, then we won’t hire a team mate who bothers him”
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Oct 2012   |  7:00 pm GMT  |  207 comments

Last Friday, somewhat lost among all the furore over the announcement of the Hamilton-Mercedes transfer, there was an important note made by Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo in a Q&A session at the Paris Motor Show. It was the session where he confirmed that Ferrari would need to shut down its wind tunnel in either December or January for calibration checks, which has had reasonably wide coverage.

In the same session, Montezemolo talked about Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa and there were a couple of important lines to note, for better understanding the full picture when the time comes for the team to announce who will drive alongside Alonso in 2013.

The first point was that he described Alonso as “the strongest driver Ferrari has ever had,” which is quite some claim.

But then he responded to Alonso’s line from Singapore that, “If the team decides to change Felipe, anyone who arrives has to be better than Felipe. I’ve seen a lot of names written, and I don’t know if they have been written with the head or the heart. With all the names you hear, if you compare what Felipe has done in Formula 1 and what these little names have done in Formula 1…”

Montezemolo said, “He’s right that there aren’t any “phenomenons” in circulation. But first Fernando should win the world title and then we will certainly not put anyone alongside him who would bother him. It is the case that the decisions on drivers are taken by us, obviously sharing them with him. Massa has been very strong in the last two races. I’m taking a few days to reflect.”

This is interesting on a couple of levels; first by agreeing with Alonso that the possible candidates for the seat are “little names” it makes for some uncomfortable questions if and when then should hire a Di Resta or a Hulkenberg. Also the use of the word “share” is interesting. In Italian he says that of the decisions “ovviamente condividendole con lui”, which literally means “obviously sharing them with him.” I take that to mean that they will share their decisions with him, rather than that he would have a share in making the decision, but there is a slight ambiguity there which is intriguing.

Meanwhile Massa said this week, “The best way to deal with this situation is to race without thinking about the future. My future is important, but now what counts are results. I feel good. At Suzuka we can be very competitive because there are plenty of fast corners which suit the F2012.”

There is a feeling that one of the two Force India drivers has a shot at the Ferrari drive. There’s been a suggestion at large for a few weeks now that one of them is on some sort of option for a one year deal, a kind of “prove yourself” opportunity.

The team seem to be in no hurry to decide, but the market is now shifting into gear with the log-jam of Hamilton/Schumacher/Perez having been cleared, so it may not be too long before we learn what Ferrari plans to do.

Ferrari is rallying in the Constructors’ championship thanks to 26 points from Massa in the last three races. They are now in third place, 14pts ahead of Lotus and 16 behind McLaren.

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2

I think to be honest Ferrari should probably be more concerned at their inability to design, build and run two cars competitively over the course of a season, which seems to have been the case since at least 2009, than who is going to fill the second seat. If the F2013 is a pig then they may as well put a poodle in the cockpit for all the good it’ll do in helping them win the constructors’ title. Also, I’m not sure di Resta or Hulkenburg have done anything to show they’d be a shoe-in for the role – they seem to have entered the rumour mill based on availability as much as anything. Next thing you know it’ll be Maldonado and Senna being linked to the seat…

3

This is all smokescreens to get Massa to feel there is a chance to still drive at Ferrari next year. To help Alonso to the title.

I am sure they made up their mind already and everything is signed for 2013.

I have Di Resta as the number 1 candidate for the drive. For several reasons.

Don’t forget this when the Ferrari driver lineup hits 🙂

4

Ferrari is not only shutting down the Renzo Piano windtunnel for calibration, they’re building a complete new one, work starts November this year and they hope to fully operate it by January 2015.

5

I was speaking telepathically w/ Nic Todt and as long as Massa maintains his current level of form and continues scoring points while taking them away from Alonso’s challengers without upsetting the Spaniard, he’ll get renewed for another year. I think. Or did I just imagine all that?

6

I’m Italian and to tell you my opinion, LDM get lost in translation even when you do not need traslate.

He is just a bit clumsy with interviews.

That’s all.

7

…And the drivers who win the world championships are given golden parachutes is it? 🙂

First it was Schumacher then it was Kimi Raikkonen.

They Replaced Schumacher with Kimi at his helm.. then they started developing the car for Massa when Raikkonen after won the championship.

I must admit… Michael and Kimi are Jean Todt Champions then Ferrari champions.

Post Jean Todt irrelevant to the resources they posses, they are not as Lethal as they were.

Last Two World Champions for the team: Kimi & Michael.

8

Did you do the Q&A yourself James? Because I haven’t found any source on the Internet about di Montezemolo saying that.

9

It was reported in Italy, which is where I picked it up.

Here it was drowned out by the Hamilton announcement on Friday morning.

10

If this is Luca threatening Fernando to either win the title for Ferrari (now!) or he start’s looking for someone else who can, then clearly he (Luca) needs to take a good look at the mirror! Since joining Ferrari in 2010, Fernando has been nothing short of stellar – always placing/scoring a lot higher than he should be. Sure he’s had his own share of costly mistakes (e.g. Monaco, UK + Belgium 2010), but more often than not it’s Ferrari who’s been handicapping its own championship campaigns by either: (a) consistently producing/developing sub-standard (but bullet proof) machinery, often only the 3rd, 4th or even 5th seeded in the field, or (b) poor strategic calls during the race (e.g. Abu Dhabi 2010, Canada and UK 2012), and/or (c) both!

In fact, it should be Fernando doing the threatening since it’s been the team who has failed to consistently provide him a winning package. Remember how the once great Michael Schumacher was powerless to stop his rivals in ’96, ’97 and ’98, all of whom were great drivers but also driving far superior cars? And remember how even Ayrton Senna was made to look helpless vs. the superior machinery of his rivals in ’92 and ’93? Those are examples that highlight how even great drivers can only do so much to drag and keep themselves at the sharp end. The rest is for their teams to produce a consistent/superior package.

11

Alonso today: “winning the World Championship this year would be a miracle”.

12

I just read it all as Luca gently but very firmly telling Fernando to get back in his box a bit. Reminding him that:

1) Alonso’s job is to deliver driver titles for Ferrari, not select the team and

2) He is yet to actually *do* this and should therefore devote all his energies exclusively towards making *that* happen before seeking to expand his job remit.

The ‘strongest driver’ thing is not something I necessarily disagree with (personally) but I suspect it was said here to soften the public rebuke implied in Luca reaffirming his own authority as the man in ultimate charge.

Interesting story!

13

Hmmm….Luca di Montezemolo says that Perez isn’t ready for Ferrari. Outside of the 6 WDCs on the grid, Perez surely is the one driver stepping up to the plate. His best results this year stand out dramatically. Perhaps L di M’s statement was an attempted put-down after the horse had already bolted.

14
Tom Haythornthwaite

James, to what extent do you think Schumacher might like to manage a team? I think he would probably be excellent, but would it excite him?

15

Win the title or its Vettel in 2014, I wonder if they will still be saying Alonso is the best driver in F1 then

16

usual stuff from ferrari.

i take montezemolo’s comments with a grain of salt.

basically this is ferrari’s position.

‘we hold f1 in such contempt that we will never field 2 star drivers – we don’t care about the constructors championships – its not worth winning’

‘because of our latin antescedents there can be only be one lion in the coliseum’

as for the comments about the underwhelming performances of the candidates for massa’s seat – that’s a complete joke. i don’t think any other driver could do worse than massa in that car over the last few seasons.

f1 is about being in the right car at the right time – massa has missed the boat.

of the major teams in f1 – ferrari is the only one that cannot or will not support two top drivers.

17

I like Massa, he would have been a worthy champion in 2008 but I do think that since the accident and based on his performance over past few seasons that it’s time for Ferrari to try some new blood.

What I don’t understand with all the speculation over Hulkenberg and Di Resta is why Ferrari would take either of them when they openly said Perez was not ready. All three will have two years of F1 racing behind them at the end of this season. Clearly Di Resta and Hulkenberg have a longer track record in a variety of lower formulas but that doesn’t always count for much when you get to F1.

Ignoring that disconnect in Ferrari’s thinking I actually believe Hulkenberg is a good long term bet and deserves the chance but what hope has he on a one year contract going up against Alonso?

18

To be perfectly honest I think it is obvious that Alonso has some say over the choice of team mate. It may be politically clean for Montezemelo to look like the ultimate boss, but I don’t think it is born out in reality.

There is absolutely no way Alonso would sign for a team at this stage in his career to share the number 1 spot. I don’t think that is a bad tactic and wouldn’t criticise Alonso for it, arguably the 4 most successful drivers of all time (Schumacher, Senna, Prost, Fangio) have all had that philosophy and it works.

Whilst Alonso probably won’t get the absolute ultimate say, I’m sure he has something in his contract to ensure whoever else they hire will have to defer to him.

19

No chance of Schumacher back at Ferrari he’s announced his retirement today.

http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/103042

20

If Ferrari want to win team championship. Need strong driver alongside Fernando . Michael and Fernando together , just like Prost and senna , an explosive duo! Dream team!

21

Seems like fairly standard carrot and stick stuff – “Alonso is the best driver we’ve ever had but he hasn’t won anything yet so he’s not getting the run of the team.”

22

exactly. its just business for Luca.

23

How does all this fit in with Vettel (supposedly) going to Ferrari in 2014?

24

Dear Admin

I am a regular reader of your esteemed website. Of late i have been having problems posting to this website. When I click “submit”, the site reloads but my post is not displayed please unblock me if i have been blocked due to some error

It would be nice to join the discussions.

Warm Regards.

PLEASE REPLY IF YOU CAN READ THIS

25

We are getting the messages through fine, thanks

We’re running a test over the weekend for a fix

27

If LdM wants to light a fire under Alonzo and Massa, Ferrari should let them race freely. Better yet would be to put Massa ahead and get his confidence restored.

The problem with MSC returning to Maranello is that there is more loyalty to him than others. The Prince LdM would not find this acceptable.

28

Ah Ferrari -what a hilarious bunch ! Alonso the strongest driver of all time yet Lauda won titles, Schumi won 5 for gods sake ! and a certain Finn won one in his first year & was essentially dumped half through the next. I would suggest that Vettel will come to Ferrari in 2014 and Fernando will be dropped like last nights dinner if he hasn’t got a title before then !!- that’s very obvious to me- unless something else happens to Vettel.

It’s now become very obvious also why they did not sign Perez- because he was even more of a threat to Fernando than Di Resta or Hulkenburg !!

Luca Di Montezemolos comments of “first you must win the title ” and don’t worry about the other driver – you just do what your supposed to do! Given its 3 years now!- also I would suggest Ferrari are seriously copping criticism for not signing Perez- James is there some regret on Ferrari for not signing Perez ?- I sense this could be the case.

It’s also laughable that with a couple of ok performances from Felipe ,Ferrari will forget where he has been for the last 3 years and seems the likely candidate for 2013. I note too the return of the Ghostwriter effectively cancelling out and Schumacher return.

All I can sense from Ferrari is a great deal of regret these days. One wrong decision after another since 2006. They deserve this for the manner in which they served these decisions.

29

As with Schumacher, Alonso is becoming more talked about than Ferrari. Something that irks Mr Di-Montezemolo, so he feels the need when in front of a camera, to have a little dig at the relevant driver, to let people know he is more important. Given the shortfall in his team’s ability to produce a clear race winning car, he would be better talking about how he intends to rectify that situation.

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