Montezemolo gets tough with Alonso: Where do they go from here?
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  30 Jul 2013   |  7:27 am GMT  |  526 comments

In an extraordinary statement issued on the Ferrari website last night, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo publicly attacked his lead driver Fernando Alonso for disloyalty at a time when the team needed to “close ranks” following a disappointing showing in Hungary.

“The Ferrari I saw in yesterday’s race doesn’t sit well with me,” said Montezemolo – and he wasn’t just talking about the performance on the track, but about the way his team was functioning.

According to the statement Montezemolo was particularly unhappy with comments Alonso made about the car, after he trailed in a distant fifth in Budapest, unable to compete at any stage of the weekend with the leading Mercedes, Red Bull and Lotus cars. But there is no reference to any specific comments and Alonso has said the same thing for some time; that Ferrari needs to find developments which work in order to compete.

There is no reference to the signal of disloyalty put out over the weekend by Alonso’s contact with the Red Bull team, but this is surely the subtext of Montezemolo’s loss of temper.

The statement refers to “rash outburash that, while understandable in the immediate aftermath of a bad result, are no use to anyone.”

Alonso had said that “as a birthday present (he was 32 yesterday) I would like the same car as the others”. But there doesn’t seem to be any specific comment anywhere which goes overboard in criticising the team.

However Ferrari’s statement goes on:

“That was a reference to the latest comments from Fernando Alonso, which did not go down well with Montezemolo, nor with anyone in the team. So, when Montezemolo called the Spaniard this morning to wish him a happy birthday, he also tweaked his ear, reminding him that, “all the great champions who have driven for Ferrari have always been asked to put the interests of the team above their own. This is the moment to stay calm, avoid polemics and show humility and determination in making one’s own contribution, standing alongside the team and its people both at the track and outside it.”

Montezemolo was announced as President at Ferrari in November 1991, in a turbulent period literally days after star driver Alain Prost was sacked for criticising the Ferrari team.

In over 20 years at the helm, he has never publicly criticised a driver like he has done with Alonso. If this is the public side of the outburst, one can only imagine what was said privately. Ferrari has been around for decades and has had many great champions pass through its doors. Alonso has been given leeway to criticise the team in the past four years, something Michael Schumacher never did, but clearly Montezemolo has decided that enough is enough. No driver is more important than the team.

The underlying tone of menace was also enhanced by a note that during the technical debrief at Maranello, Montezemolo presented each of the engineers with a knife – to put between their teeth as they fight to resore Ferrari to the top. Swashbuckling stuff and the message is crystal clear.

Alonso has made no response as yet, issuing a tweet at around 20-00 CET, saying “Fantastic birthday!!! Thanks to all..!!!! Happy!!”

The big question however is, can this relationship continue or is there a permanent wedge between Ferrari and its lead driver? And does Alonso have any realistic chance of a Red Bull drive? If not where would he go? And how would Ferrari replace him?

The only top line driver potentially free to move is Kimi Raikkonen, whose manager Steve Robertson was in Budapest for talks with Red Bull and Lotus. He said on Sunday night that he was “close” to sorting Raikkonen’s next contract, but these developments may change things a bit. However Raikkonen was shown the door by Montezemolo in 2009, paid not to race for the team in 2010, as he had a binding contract, so there are bridges to be repaired there and it would seem an awkward fit at this stage.

* According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Ferrari is starting a three day test today at Magny Cours with test driver Pedro de la Rosa. The team is using a 2011 Ferrari, as the FIA Sporting Regulations permit, but it appears not to be a Pirelli test – that would be ironic given that Montezemolo also criticised the Italian tyre manufacturer for changing tyres mid-season and artificially affecting the competition, contributing to Ferrari’s loss of form.

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1

“No driver is bigger than the team”…

I have often wondered if we F1 fans actually watch the sport to support our chosen drivers or a team? I may be mistaken but I feel, unlike say football, F1 fans back a driver/s first then the team (of course this is not to the exclusion of enjoying the entire racing spectle in its entirery). I for one back Alonso before Ferrari – if he moves to RB or Lotus, I will watch him with just as much interest. Pretty sure Hamilton, Vettle, Kimi, Webber fans feel the same way, no?

2
Marcus in Canada

James, if Alonso is worried about Ferrari’s ability with the new era F1 engines and is looking elsewhere, is there ANY chance of McLaren-Honda…?

3

When talent is lacking, tensions rise… it’s natural.

Alonso has always had a question mark over him – he has been beaten by Massa and a rookie on many occasions…

Time to face reality at Ferrari.

4
nicolas nogaret

monty orders investigation of race pace in hungary ?

who does he think he is kidding ? what does every team do after every race !!!

and now he says alonso was correct …maybe he has just noticed that if alonso goes there is no other top driver available to replace him !

5

Lots of differing comments chaps,but why is everyone so convinced that alonso cant return to McLaren,seems to me that they probably need each other,mclaren also needs a new sponsor at end of this season and thats not going to be easy with current results,would be much easier with fernando on board,whitmarsh has said an announcement will be made at the end of this season,that could and probably does mean that no deal is currently in place,he cant go to red bull with vettel there,it just wont happen,this is F1 after all…….

6

I am no Vettel fan, but no one can stop Vet from winning 5 titles in a row.

There are lots of similarities between Schumacher and Vet (known fact available in wiki), this one is exception, SCH won 5 titles in a row at latter stage of his career, whereas Vet will do at the beginning. Vet will end up winning 2 titles at the end of his career in Ferrari to even things out between him and his idol.

This is the truth, no one can stop it.. Everyone just deal with it.. Also Alonso. 😛

7

Remember all those “Vettel to Ferrari in 2014” rumours a while back? It seems to me that this is the real story. We know from past experience with Kimi and Michael that as soon as LDM thinks there is a better driver out there he will start to criticize you publicly, no matter how big a superstar you are. I think that both Ferrari and Red Bull are now in a situation where Seb is their number 1 choice and Fernando the second best option, Is there a contract for Vettel at Ferrari that requires Fernando to not take up an option for next year? Maybe that’s why Luca has started with the insults, to help Fernando make up his mind to go, thus leaving the way open for Seb.

Red Bull, meanwhile will be doing everything they can to encourage Vettel to stay, but will need a contingency plan if he does leave. I think that if Seb commits to Red Bull long term they will go for Ricciardo as his team mate. A one year deal would bring Kimi in, and if he goes at the end of this year Fernando will do a straight swap, probably with Ricciardo as team mate. All of this ignores Santander’s influence of course. Perhaps with Spain’s massive financial problems they aren’t able to pay enough to dictate Alonso’s retention, or maybe they won’t continue with the sponsorship programme at all.

It will be interesting to see if the big announcement at Monza will be about drivers, sponsors, managenment or technical staff.

8

People trying to compare his years at Ferrari with Schmui’s years at Ferrari. Well it took 4years for MS to win his 1st with Ferrari. MS struggled against Newey cars several times too hill/Villeneuve/hakkinen. Is JV better than Schumi? Nope just a lucky average driver in a fantastic car. Vettel is just another driver in a fantastic Newey car

9

I agree totally with your assessment of Villeneuve, but I think Seb is much better than Jacques. He just needs to win with another team to prove it.

10

Not comparable, Villeneuve 1 title, Vettel 3 titles.

11

If Luca was a real leader he would take the blame himself.

But he is not a leader. He is a member of the wealthy ruling

class and he has never known what it is to struggle from humble beginnings.

I could buy a Ferrari tomorrow morning if I wanted to, and

I could pay cash for it. But the sad truth is that a Ferrari these days is just an expensive FIAT, and Luca is a pretender to the abilities which the Commendatore,

Enzo Ferrari, had in spades.

Luca deserves to watch his entire team melt down around him, and I believe that is what will happen.

Alonso is a great driver and Ferrari has not supplied him

with adequate machinery. That’s not Alonso’s fault and

Luca comes across like a twit for taking Alonso to task,

when he should instead have been taking the team which designs the car to task many months ago.

12

[Mod] At the time of LDM being brought in Ferrari was in the weeds. Their road cars were crap, their F1 programs were crap and their brand had been diluted in ways that make the Abu Dabi theme park look absolutely tasteful by comparison.

13

the move hes talking about is turning down RBR. Hes happy where he is. Has his freedom. RBR will want too much from him and he doesn’t like to be hassled. Lotus now have the money to build a top car. 2014 will be interesting.

14

If Alonso gets booted then his career will effectively be over. I don’t think he’ll go back to Renault/Enstone yet again, but he’ll have nowhere else to go.

I have to say you can’t blame Ferrari though. It has been many years of excuses now and a point inevitably arrives when it’s time to try something different. Maybe they even feel they should have won 2010 and 2012. Alonso’s a top driver but if he had had one fewer unnecessary shunts those seasons then we wouldn’t be having this conversation now. Maybe Maylasia this year was one too many for them.

I guess only they have the data to tell who is better between Alonso and Kimi.

15

James,

Any truth in kimi to Ferrari 2014?

16

It’s an insurance policy….

But I don’t see him returning

17

Gerhard Berger is quoted in German media, that he thinks Fernando would be crazy not to try and drive for Red Bull in 2014.

18

I think Fernando has been the stand out performer for a few years now (and I am not a fan), i believe he has extracted the maximum more consistently than any other driver….BUT…I also believe that the F1 world has been sensationalising his achievements because of Massas form. I dont think the car has been anywhere near as far off the pace as it is made out to be. It is just as easy to overly praise Alonsos form as it is to underestimate just how bad Massa has been. Never recovered from the accident in my opinion.

19

If you remember Bahrain 2010 GP, First race for massa after the accident in 2009. Massa has Out qualified Alonso and put the Ferrari in front row

Now please do not come up with excuses like massa is worse because of accident or confidence or the hockhenheim 2010 non-sense.

I am no fan of massa quite the opposite yet he drove very well for Ferrari when he had the quickest car at his disposal. Ofcourse massa lacked consistency through out his career

Ferrari have failed to produce a top draw machinery like the did in 2008 (F2008), ever since 2009 the CAR was a red truck like prost pointed out in 1991. Alonso can wring a lap time out of any abysamal machinery. Alonso Did it with Minardi, Renault and Ferrari

Ferrari are not good enough, i will not blame massa for his poor performances.

Remember this, unless Ferrari can beat RBR and newey they will not win anything no matter who ever drives for the team.

20

I dont disagree with you that its not a great car just pointing out that Massas inability to drive a car thats not right for him is making Alonso look far better by comparrison and i believe his achievements are overinflated as a result (not to take anything away from him). When Massa is on form he can be great and bahrain is a track he has always excelled at however his good races are now few and far between and i dont think he has recovered the consistency of 08, recent example would be the consecutive crashes in monaco, canada and germany.

21

Interesting that JA says that he saw Button/Di Resta’s manager coming out of a meeting with Red Bull, and surely other must have done too, but it’s caused hardly any Publicity at all, and potentially either of the two would be a better fit for Red Bull.

I think someone’s PR machine has gone in overdrives, but I don’t get what Alonso has to gain, Red Bull might be looking to de-stabilising Ferrari, in which case it’s working, although Ferrari aren’t really their biggest Rival at the moment, and the Kimi Chatter doesn’t look to destabilising Lotus too Much.

22

Montezemolo presented each of the engineers with a knife – to put between their teeth as they fight to resore Ferrari to the top.

that’s a typo error

should read – Montezemolo presented each of the engineers with a knife to stick into each others backs. ha ha

23

Some observations:

1. Monte and Alonso are both frustrated. Monte because he can’t deliver the car to Alonso. Alonso because he can’t get the team to work for him. >> Remedy: James Allison

2. To add to Monte’s anguish. Ferrari hasn’t won any championships yet. Neither Driver’s nor Constructor’s championship. >> Remedy: Ferrari desperately need a second solid driver. Get Kimi, the Hulk or Rosberg.

3. Monte must be really annoyed that no one is considering Ferrari as a serious contender in 2014. >> Remedy: Fix your team.

4. Alonso is highly regarded in the paddock, yet his options to join another top team seem very limited. Red Bull is flattered but will stick with Vettel (and Raikkonen). >> Remedy: Here’s Alonso’s chance to show his true Greatness and transform the Scuderia into another championship winning force again. If not, his other best option is Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton doesn’t mind having Alonso as an opponent. Rosberg would move to Ferrari in this scenario.

24

Fernando – Ferrari is bigger than you!

25

Kimi have received an offer to drive for Ferrari in 2014!

26

Apparently, the Ferrari offer to Kimi has been confirmed from several sources. Also, it’s been made long before the Hungarian GP.

But wait, that’s not all. The latest rumour is that Kimi has already signed.

As unlikely as it seems, it’s not totally impossible. The word is that Kimi is very highly regarded at Ferrari, except maybe by LdM. Also, Kimi has always said that he’s in good terms with the team and holds no grudge to them. Ferrari aren’t signing with Massa anymore, so they need a replacement. Suddenly FA is talking to RBR. Kimi tells everyone that his future decision may look stupid to some.

You put the pieces together.

27

I hope you are right!

Would be fantastic!

28

I just do not see this happening. I think Alonso would find a way to leave Ferrari and I think that Ferrari would take Kimi until Hamilton or ideally Vettel is available. I just do not want to believe that Hornet will allow Vettel and Alonso to drive for the same team. Not going to happen!

29
bronwyn collier

My guess is that Olli K is right and Ferrari have made Kimi and offer and Alonso is not happy. I can’t see Red Bull taking him on though so he might have to stay at Ferrari with Kimi. That would be an interesting scenario for the onlookers!!!

30

Yeah, according to German Bild-magazine they have made offer to Kimi before Hungarian GP.

31
bronwyn collier

Kimi said a curious thing at the drivers press conference, along the lines of people might think the move he makes for next year looks “stupid” from the outside. That made me wonder if he was going back to Ferrari as moving to Red Bull or staying at Lotus wouldn’t look stupid! I was surprised the press didn’t say much about that comment at the time.

32

Wait a second, here!

Ross Brawn is stepping down at Merc…?

Ferrari has a new designer.

What is Michael Schumacher doing…helping his wife’s business????

Stranger things have happened.

33

if only lol!

34

I’m not a fan of Alonso, dislike him ethics as a man, but I try to be fair in my judgements, and therefore I greatly respect him as a driver, top class.

Having stated that, I don’t think Alonso said anything out of the ordinary.

In fact when Alonso speaks, I often pay close attention, as he’s very acurate on the situation with the car and F1 in general, seems almost an F1 analist

So to me it seems Montezemolo is essentially criticizing Alonso for not being stupid, for having a brain and using it.

From all I remember, Alonso always spoke very highly of Ferrari as a team, and the only thing he’s ever pointed out where the weaknesses of the car on a particular weekend, in a very truthful way

I guess to Montezemolo no-one can say the earth revolves around sun, and not the other way around!!!

35

Have the same thinking about Alonso as you – an awful personality and a phenomenal, best driver. I think it is not about what Alonso said publicly, it might be something he said to the team or LDM…something we do not know. It might be he was saying this for some time already. I do not think LDM reacted to this very normal comment Alonso made.

37

So next news is on Rosco and Hami? Next race can’t come soon enough and I’m afraid it’s anything but close.

38

calm down Fernando, it took 5 years for Schumi to win, and then he won 5 in a row !

39

Except Ferrari were a complete shambles when he went there. They hadn’t won a drivers championship since 1979. They had to be rebuilt from the ground up and he achieved it.

Alonso parachuted into a team that was good enough for a 1-2 finish in the first race of 2010. They gave him cars good enough to win championships with in 2010, 2012 and 2013.

40

Yeap….so maybe Massa will win then if the car is good.

42

Kimi won championship on his first year…according to german newspaper bild ferrari has made an offer to Kimi which is better than RBR has made to him.

43

That would certainly explain Alonso’s sudden interest for Red Bull, especially if he was not told beforehand, and explains the whole situation regarding Montezemolo’s rebuke. It also explains Kimi’s comment that his choice may appear as stupid to some. We are in for a thriller!!!

44

The first of many storms in a teacup over the next 4 weeks. How I hate this time in the season!

I can’t think of any driver in any team, who hasn’t at some point in time, criticized the car and/or team to a point where management acknowledge publically that they’ve rebuked that driver.

Schumacher, somewhat ironically, may come the closest to angelic status in this regard.

45

Exactly! Finally someone has said it! Storm in a teacup especially when we arrive at the break!

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