Both Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa have spoken out against claims that there is a rift developing between them as a result of the Spaniard's pass into the pit-lane during last weekend's Chinese Grand Prix.
After Ferrari claimed that comments by Massa immediately following the race had been taken out of context and used to stir up trouble between two potentially volatile team-mates, the drivers took the opportunity to put their views forward after returning from Shanghai. Alonso, in particular, was keen to set the record straight, aware of the reputation he continues to bear after his acrimonious season with McLaren in 2007.
"If the other car would have been green or grey, we'd all be celebrating this manoeuvre, but instead we're just losing time with polemics, where there is nothing to say," the Spaniard insisted, "Felipe and I are racing and we know that the team's interest is the most important thing. We know how to behave and we've shown it on other occasions during these first races. It's definitely not the duels on the track, creating problems inside the team, and I know this by experience. If someone wants to make a fuss, it definitely won't ruin the spirit of Ferrari.”
Massa, too, said that the team came before either driver's personal goals and, having travelled home with Alonso, blamed outsiders for stirring the issue.
“As happens quite often, there's always someone who wants to create some confusion,” he said before heading home to Monaco with his family, “The situation between me and Fernando is the one it always has been and an overtaking manoeuvre won't change it. I already explained after the race what happened and I think it's useless doing it again, but obviously there's someone who doesn't want to understand.”
Ferrari management have dismissed the moment as little more than a 'racing incident' brought about by each driver being keen to gain an advantage after being delayed by early pit-stops. The return of rain over Shanghai forced all runners to look to the pits and, with Ferrari calling both its drivers in, Alonso knew that he would come off worst if he was forced to queue behind his slower team-mate. The Spaniard was also facing an extra stop, having had to serve a penalty for a jump start, and was keen to make up for the error.
“It was just a racing incident,” team principal Stefano Domenicali confirmed, “We only saw it afterwards on the television replay, [but] there is absolutely no problem between the two drivers. When you are always racing to win, you can have moments like this."