War of words between Alonso and Red Bull as F1 mind games begin early

Early salvos fired in battle between Sebastian Vettel versus Fernando Alonso

Early salvos fired in battle between Sebastian Vettel versus Fernando Alonso

Formula One’s pre-season mind games kicked off on Tuesday with Fernando Alonso having a dig at Red Bull after Red Bull’s Helmut Marko accused the Ferrari driver of playing politics last year.

(L to R): Dietrich Mateschitz (AUT) CEO and Founder of Red Bull with Dr Helmut Marko (AUT) Red Bull Motorsport Consultant. Formula One Testing, Day 3, Jerez, Spain, Thursday 9 February 2012.Marko, a close advisor to Red Bull’s billionaire owner Dietrich Mateschitz, contrasted triple world champion Vettel’s attitude to Alonso’s in an interview with the company’s in-house Red Bulletin magazine.

The Austrian said that the 25-year-old German, who beat Alonso to the title last year, “was a phenomenon who shuts himself off from the rest of the world, so that he can still call on reserves that other drivers might not have”.

Alonso, by contrast, was “busy with politics and funny comments”.

“I believe [that] we saw the stress [that Alonso] was under towards the end of the season. Saying things like, ‘I’m competing against [Lewis] Hamilton, not Vettel,’ and ‘I’m up against [Red Bull designer Adrian] Newey’,” added Marko. “These psychological skirmishes – we said: ‘Just ignore him.”

Alonso had a 42-point advantage over Vettel at the mid-season break last year but ended up losing out to the Red Bull driver by three points.

Wanted Poster for Championship contenders Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing and Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari. Formula One World Championship, Rd19 United States Grand Prix, Qualifying, Austin, Texas, 17 November 2012.As the battle heated up, so too did the psychological warfare and even as he celebrated the title Vettel spoke out about what he saw as ‘dirty tricks’ and attempts to unsettle himself and the team.

Alonso, who was voted driver of the season by team principals for the way he took the fight to Red Bull in a less competitive Ferrari, made light of Marko’s comments and turned them back on his rivals instead.

“I enjoy reading that Redbull still think[s] we will be the strongest rival for next year! And this even before [we] start testing!! Flattered..;),” declared the Spaniard on his Twitter feed.

The first pre-season test of 2013 starts in Spain on Feb 5 with the opening race in Australia on March 17.

In other comments, Marko portrayed Vettel’s Australian team mate Mark Webber as a driver who could win races but struggled to handle the pressure when in with a real chance of the championship.

Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing and Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing in the press conference. Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Korean Grand Prix, Race, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday 14 October 2012.“It seems to me that Webber has on average two races per year where he is unbeatable, but he can’t maintain this form throughout the year,” he said.

“As soon as his prospects start to look good in the world championship, he has a little trouble with the pressure that this creates. In comparison with Seb’s rising form, it seems to me that Mark’s form somehow flattens out.

“Then, if some technical mishap occurs…he falls relatively easily into a downward spiral.”

Webber had the greater chance of taking the title in 2010 when he and Alonso were the top two going into the final race, but Vettel seized the crown instead for the first of three championships in a row.

That, Marko suggested, had been a psychological blow by the younger man that had gnawed at Webber’s confidence. (Reuters)

Subbed by AJN.

  • Walter

    Marko so full of BS

    Alonso was competing against Lewis and Newey more than against Vettel. Lewis had a car to win if the car make it to the end, hence taking points, and we all know that Vettel with a mediocre car is not able to be more than the car…..

    Webber will never win a WC with Marko in the team or Seb in the Team. I wonder why kept him if he’s so incapable? They said Ferrari should get rid of Massa because of the same thing didn’t they?

  • dimitris

    The point is that Alonso choked when the chips were down, and lost the championship both in 2010 and in 2012. He was outperformed by Massa in the last races of 2012 in a very strong Ferrari.

  • hillside

    Ferrari let the fans believe that their car was doggy but infact, they were a contender. they have a good car, a very reliable one and lead the points for most part of the year. but only to drop the ball in the later part of the season.

    Ferrari is a championship team but from last year. their staff, their poeple in the pit wall and drivers doesn’t have a championship heart to win thats why they crumbled under pressure. well at least Massa showed up in the last few races.

    cant believe people are still crying?! really??

  • Butterfly

    Dr. Marko may have just opened a can of worms here. Fernando will come down on him like a ton of bricks.

    Pretty soon half of RBR will see a psychiatrist at least once a week. First Vettel, now Marko. Horner’s next. :-)

    Bring it on.

  • Nowhereman

    Some of you are idiots.
    The people in the know, the experts already came out and stated that the Ferrari last year was the 4th fastest care on the grid.
    Not 1st, not 2nd, not 3rd but, fourth.
    It was reliable which other were not but, 4th fastest car that lost the WDC by 3 points?
    With Alonso DNFing two races due to Lotus taking him out?
    You think Alonso could of garnered 4 points in those two races if he did not get taken out?
    I hate to think what would of happend if 1. Alonso did not DNF and 2. Massa had a decent year.
    It would of been a walk over for WDC and maybe even the constructors championship.
    All with the 4th fastest car on the grid!
    You guys should be kissing Ferrari’s rear end.

  • Alonso_is_slow


    -Ferrari was not always (many times though) the fastest, but always the most reliable car. Vettel lost at least 80 points due to technical problems, Hamilton more than 100.

    -Alonso crashed himself into Raikonen. Despite all his luck he destroyed his championship.

    I wonder how long Alonso can go on wasting the opportunities for Ferrari while being given a high salary. Montezemolo may already be in talks with Vettel.

  • Butterfly


    Jesus, man, take it easy on the trolls. They hate facts.

  • Shaheer Siddeeq

    @nowhereman Well said

    Its clear that Ferrari have a blessing in Alonso to bring the heat to the others in a car that really has not been the best.. but its about time that Ferrari really got their act together and stopped being comfortable that Alonso will always save them from embarrassment … He deserves a great car and losing by mere single digit points does not help him anymore than help anyone… I would pray to see anyone compete in the cars Ferrari produced over the last 3 years and replicate or better the results Alonso did… Its sad that there are Fans out there that do not see the bigger picture when it comes to driver pedigree.. That’s what makes F1 thrilling and an exciting sport.. Without the driver skill how can a car be of any use :D.. This is what a driver like Alonso brings to the table

  • Erich Lacher

    Alonso Is also a good driver in the present Ferrari Team.

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