Montezemolo: Alonso is a great, but drivers come and go while Ferrari remains

 Luca Di Montezemolo stands in front of a picture of Enzo Ferrari

Luca Di Montezemolo stands in front of a picture of Enzo Ferrari

Ferrari and its fans: the priorities are very clear for Luca di Montezemolo, points he stressed in an interview published in the Italian daily paper, Corriere della Sera and here we reprint several sections.

Montezemolo didn’t just focus on Ferrari, because in his interview with sports editor Daniele Dallera, he also made some points on the current state of Formula 1 in general.

“Our fans should never be forgotten, they deserve respect and therefore they are entitled to get satisfaction. We must work for Ferrari and for them,” said the President. “Let me make it clear that it’s Ferrari I’m interested in. Drivers, we’ve had a lot, some very good, some great, but drivers come and go, while Ferrari remains.”

Montezemolo didn’t mince his word when speaking of the current state of the team, on the back of a disappointing performance at the Hungaroring and of Alonso’s frustration that is getting ever more complicated: “Fernando is a great driver and I understand him, he is a bit like me: he wants to win. He must just remember that one wins and loses together and for its part, Ferrari must give him a car capable of starting from the front two rows…It doesn’t sit well with me seeing [that] our car is not competitive. That’s why I intervened, even if I didn’t want to abuse my authority over my men.”

Luca di Montezemolo with Fernando Alonso

Luca di Montezemolo with Fernando Alonso

“However, it had to be done. But how? We started so well, we had begun the world championship with a very competitive car, maybe even considered the best. But something happened and instead of moving forward we went backwards. Therefore the right attitude, the one I am taking from now on is as follows: understand the mistakes, fix them and after this careful analysis develop the car in the right direction. We must put our heads down in this return match, as I describe this second part of the season after the break, a break I don’t like, but we have to adhere to it.”

These difficult times do not however rule out the hope of a comeback, which according to Montezemolo are based on two facts: “Firstly, our DNA, Ferrari’s and mine, has a characteristic that we never give up. We must get back on the path we were on up until Barcelona. We can do it. Secondly, Spa and Monza are two circuits that could suit the characteristics of our car. Yes, the conditions are in place to give a strong signal of a recovery and, on top of that, I expect results from our engineers who must demonstrate their worth. Then, please, let’s not forget that last year, at the last race, for a few laps, Alonso was the virtual world champion, at the wheel of a Ferrari and definitely no other car, which confirms [that] this team knows how to be competitive.”

Luca di Montezemolo watches Felipe Massa during the Spanish GP weekend

Luca di Montezemolo watches Felipe Massa during the Spanish GP weekend

Montezemolo returned to the subject of Alonso and also talked about Massa. “Fernando has given a lot in these last years and I repeat, his disappointment, which came about mainly after Silverstone, where all of us expected to be more competitive, is understandable. But I didn’t like some attitudes, a few words, some outbursts. And I said so…I reminded everyone, including the drivers, that Ferrari comes before everything, the priority is the team. Rather like a family father pointing out the need to respect some family rules: I wish to underline the concept of family values…Felipe is a quick driver and a great guy. But in the past days, we were very clear with him: both he and us need results and points. Then, at some point, we will look one another in the eye and decide what to do.”

There was also time for some words about the team boss, Stefano Domenicali. “Stefano was born and raised with us from all managerial points of view. But as a sportsman, he knows he needs results. However, when one talks about Domenicali, one truth is king: under his management we have one one constructors’ title and come very close to three drivers’ titles. Two of those we could easily have won and then people’s opinion of Domenicali would be very different. There’s one thing I remind him of very often: he has to get the most out of every individual in his organisation, never be satisfied and if necessary, take some drastic and painful decisions.”

Having dealt with Ferrari, Montezemolo moved on to other topics, starting with a look at the strongest rival of recent years, Red Bull. “I’ve been around in F1 for quite a while, since the Seventies, so I don’t envy anyone anything. With the current regulations favouring aerodynamics, Red Bull was clever in getting a great designer, Adrian Newey, to get the most out of all aspects of the regulations. I will digress: this aspect of the rules is, in my opinion, a mistake and therefore needs changing. Luckily, the hoped for changes are coming. We don’t make drinks and I say that with all possible respect for those who make drinks, we are not a sponsor, but we design and build cars of the very highest order.”

Ferrari committed to Formula 1

Ferrari committed to Formula 1

“We will stay in F1 as long as it can be considered a test bed for advanced research, the highest technology and worthwhile for a great company like Ferrari, which is known and appreciated around the world. F1 also has to be a clean sport without any of the monkey business we have had to put up with in recent years. From next season, we will have a completely different F1, finally less dependent on aerodynamics. I build cars not planes. We will finally have testing again and not a farce like what we saw this year with one team doing illegal testing without even paying the right penalty for it.”

“In this case, I would have expected more clarity and courage from the FIA. On the other hand, the benefits gained by the team that carried out the secret banned testing are watched by everyone: before then, it had not won a single grand prix, then after the test it won three out of five races. These are the sort of serious incidents that affect F1’s credibility and alter the championship.”

As to the future of the highest category of motorsport, Montezemolo repeated well known stances: “Sooner or later a generational change always occurs. It’s not too long until we reach the post-Ecclestone era for reasons of statistics. As for the rest, I don’t want to talk about it. We will have to prepare for a new cycle, capable of tackling the urgent matters and the need for a new F1.”

Luca di Montezemolo with Bernie Ecclestone

Luca di Montezemolo with Bernie Ecclestone

“I believe the management of this sport, which let’s not forget is not just a show, should be entrusted to a group of men open to new ideas, who know about racing but also about marketing and communications and are sensitive to the demands of the fans, those who come to the circuits and therefore pay for the tickets and those who watch on TV, while being able to involve the sponsors and not alienate them.”

“But be careful, I don’t want to have discussions with Ecclestone, I have had some in the recent past, because he was too talkative on the subject of Ferrari, but surprisingly silent on the subject of the illegal tests carried out by Mercedes. I know Bernie’s strengths and weaknesses, but let’s be very clear on one point, no one else will ever do for F1 what Ecclestone has done.”

Subbed by AJN.

Part of the interview was given over to someone well known in Maranello, the current FIA President, Jean Todt. “When he was in charge of the race team here, he didn’t just do a good job, he did a great one. At the Federation, he has a different job. It’s not easy, he inherited a divided institution full of tension, from Max Mosley. He has a political mandate, he needs the consensus that will allow him to develop transparency, also when it comes to the rules, in a world as complex as F1.”

Inevitably, the subject of tyre cropped up and their ever more important role. “It’s true, we are a bit too dependent on the tyres, however at the same time, one must recognise that Pirelli has shown great courage and ability and, as Italians we must feel proud of the efforts of one of our great companies in F1. No polemics, but I have only pointed out that I don’t feel it’s right to change the type of tyre at the midpoint of the season, for cars designed and developed with different tyres, which is another element that contributes to organising the hierarchy. And who knows if for next season, for which studies and preparation are already underway, there could not be further changes. We need clarity.”

The interview ended with a look at the reigning world champion, Sebastian Vettel and the possibility of one day seeing him at Ferrari, “Sooner or later, every driver sends messages to Ferrari, a dream to be made reality for every champion. Even Ayrton Senna did it. However, even if I have lots of problems, finding drivers for the future is not one of them. Fernando Alonso is a true great, as I’ve said before. He has proved it and will prove it again, very soon.” (Ferrari / Corriere della Sera)

  • Tamburello_1994

    Hey Luca, U mad bro?

    That cheap shot there at the end wasn’t necessary. I would expect a man like Montezemolo to have a little bit more respect of his competitors win or lose, than come off persnickety, and disrespectful.

    If Ferrari is all that they think they are, They should have no problem beating an “energy drinks team”, such as it were. Sounds like some at Maranello need to look in the mirror and up the game a bit.

  • Henk

    Drivers may come and go, but presidents or team principals seem to stick around for a bit.

  • Butterfly

    At least he acknowledged Fernando’s abilities and that he’s right to be pissed about the whole situation.

    So it means Luca overreacted, doesn’t it?

    Henk:

    Too right, mate. :-)

  • Stoner

    As always Ferrari and their arrogance.

  • Alonso_is_slow

    Alonso’s own team bashing has no limits he has done it at Renault and Mclaren as well. In the same situation Michael Schumacher only simply said: ‘We have work to do’.

    Alonso does not have the quality to be loyal. He is an opportunistic clown, always putting out the blame to others and abandoning ship when there should be cohesion.

    He has given a lot? He has failed to win titles. No matter how much money he asked for, he just cannot do what he promised, winning in a car which not the best.

    But why has Ferrari ever believed that he could win? He has not even beaten his own teammates, except for an over-aged Fisico and the injured Massa. Competitive drivers like Trulli and Hamilton have all beaten him.

    What we have in the end is an overpaid driver screaming for the best car and questioning his own team.

    Replacement needed.

  • Richard Carlson

    It’s a two horse race this year and that does not include the prancing one.

  • Butterfly

    Richard Carlson:

    Well, what else is new. :-(

  • McLarenfan

    A confusing speech but reading between the lines he is saying Alonso is right the car needs a lot of work Alonso should stay as the car will be better or Stefano will be making heads roll.
    Sebastian Vettel will not be a Ferrari driver!
    Jean Todt is not all Ferrari and should be????
    And he is hinting Ecclestone will fade to dust?

  • AlonsoFan

    his words about being world Champion are just a sign of how much he wants Fernando Alonso to be champ with the Scuderia….
    People there is nothing Fernando Alonso wants more than winning Championships with Ferrari and there is nothing more valuable to ferrari than winning Championship with alonso…
    Alonso will IA be 2013 champion..

  • k-15-

    In other words.. Start Packing Slowonso!!

  • Tom Clar

    And some managers overstay their time as well! I have the utmost respect for Montezemolo but if the idea here is they can live without Alonso that is of course true BUT the question is where would they be in points without him? My suggestion is he look across the garage to Massa, a very good driver, who is struggling with what is obviously a difficult car! My question as an experienced manager is when not too much is working well why zero in on what is perhaps the strongest part of the team to pick at? This is a zero percentage move in my view! TC

  • hillside

    relying in false hope.

  • fools

    All I will say is keep the drama to the side (Montezemolo) and fix the bullshit and stop talking. Ferrari have the best driver in F1.

    Deliver a better car for the 2nd half and Alonso will win!

    Alonso for the 2013 WDC!

  • El Raad

    Aren’t you a bit late sir,
    May be two years earlier you could replace Mr. Massa by a better driver, since he is in the team for more than 6years and he done nothing but loosing, he bearly won a couple of races during all this period.
    As for the Aerodynamics designers, its clear for all Ferrari Fans that the car is good but not as good as the others ( Mercedes, Lotus and Red Bull) while every one is developing there cars our Ferrari is going backwords and same mistakes as last year and the year before.
    Talking about the Team leader who was great under the supervision of Mr. Tod, he needs a leader himself, cause neither leading the team nor the race strateggy are satisfactory
    So after all what everybody clearly see and feel, all you have done for the team is blaming Alonco ( the only real fighter for the team) for some words he said !!!!!!
    You have forgotten all those faults and didn’t focus on the team till now
    Dear the team is struggling for the past two years and still isnt time to some serious changes to save the degnite of our great Team FERRARI.

  • JuNaId

    Blame on Wind Tunnel…………… ………

  • Wolf 9

    A driver as good as Alonso deserves a car that works like RBR, Mercedes or the Lotus to see him fighting for the title and not to make ends meet…at this rate Ferrari is draining him out for nothing. As a fan I want to see him fighting in front and not defending in the back the car’s fastest pace most of times…

  • Butterfly

    JuNaId:

    They should lame the guy that puts garbage in the wind tunnel, instead. :-)

    Seriously, I reckon Ferrari’s designs are so crappy they could potentially make any wind tunnel look broken.

  • No99

    They knew what they were getting with Alonso. I’m kind of surprised it took this long to come out. Has he ever been a “team guy?”

    It will be interesting, if Ferrari have reversed the gap after the break, then this all goes away. If they’ve simply closed the gap or lost ground to Red Bull and the others then I suspect that they could have a completely different line up next season. Seems like he’s put himself in a bind, he might be able to bail out of Ferrari but where exactly would he go? I couldn’t see RedBull taking him but simply allowing him to send Ferrari a message. Lotus?

    FWIW, I think RedBull have their act together way too much for Ferrari to edge them out this year. You think Alonso has heard things about the V6turbo that might make him want to jump ship? How many seasons does he legitimately have left? Maybe 3? If Ferrari are off pace with the 2014 car then I’d think he’d want to eject ASAP and try to land on a contender. Maybe just planting some seeds and finding where things are at in case he needs to play that card.

  • Hector

    Alonso is too good to Ferrari, he deserves the best car.

  • Ukwhite

    Fernando is done, too much fresh blood and success hunger in the padock. His future will be just intrigue, politics, moaning… Yes a race here and there, but that will be all. Grosjean can easily beat him, watch out this lad, He will rise one day ;)

  • torque

    When we look back at Ferrari’s F1 history 5 years from now, Fernando Alonso will be one of the “little names”.