Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo has spoken warmly of Fernando Alonso and little of Felipe Massa as the illustrious Prancing Horse approaches its 800th F1 start in the Turkish Grand Prix this weekend – with the Spaniard bullish about his prospects of successfully turning the tables on current runaway pace-setters Red Bull Racing.
Alonso led the title standings earlier this season, only for a brace of costly faux pas
– a rather hasty getaway in Shanghai and an accident that wrote his F10 off in Monte Carlo last time out – to somewhat blunt the Oviedo native's challenge and leave him at the mercy of the rampaging Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel. di Montezemolo, however, insists he can easily forgive such errors.
“I only consider the Monaco one, where he was being over-confident,” the Italian told La Gazzetta dello Sport
. “He wanted to test the limits, thinking about the pole and he made a mistake. The jump-start in China was down to tension, but he has team spirit, he's conscientious and [he] has attachment to the team. We are in good shape for the world championship – it's still open.”
Perhaps tellingly, less – far less – was spoken on the subject of Massa, who is ostensibly under pressure to retain his seat at Maranello in 2011 following a series of lacklustre showings in comparison with Alonso and with Renault star Robert Kubica and maybe also Webber waiting expectantly in the wings for an opportunity to supplant him.
Conceding only that the Brazilian – who has returned from life-threatening injury this year – needs to continue to put the team first, di Montezemolo's lack of encouragement must make sobering reading for the 2008 F1 World Championship runner-up.
The 62-year-old went on to allude to some possible changes to Ferrari's technical structure by way of new arrivals 'at the middle levels' for 'stimulus', re-asserted his conviction that the current restrictions on testing were misguided and re-opened the debate about scrapping grand prix Fridays.
“It's been discussed many times before,” di Montezemolo acknowledged. “The promoters don't like it because it cuts down their opportunities to gain revenue, but the teams feel that the complete testing ban has possibly been a wrong route. We need tests to experiment, especially those of us who transfer technology from road-to-car. We want to go back to using Fiorano, in which we have invested a lot. We are constructors, not people who race for a hobby.”
As for Alonso, meanwhile, the double F1 World Champion is eager simply to get back out on-track this weekend to banish his Monaco mishap with a return to the top step of the rostrum in Turkey, having never triumphed around a circuit that his team-mate has all-but made his own.
“Istanbul will be a very important race for us, not just for the championship, but also in terms of the history of Ferrari, as it will be the Scuderia's
800th grand prix,” the 28-year-old underlined. “That will be a further motivating factor to get a good result and try and make it to the podium, hopefully ahead of the Red Bulls.