An outraged Ferrari has continued its 'bitter' diatribe about what it perceives to have been a gross 'injustice' meted out to double F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso in Sunday's European Grand Prix – with the Scuderia's
President Luca di Montezemolo describing it as 'a very serious and unacceptable event that creates dangerous precedents' and risks 'throwing a shadow over the credibility' of the sport.
Alonso and Ferrari were left seething at what they saw as the excessively light punishment handed down to McLaren-Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton for breaking the rules after he overtook the safety car on his way to the pits in Valencia in the wake of Mark Webber's spectacular accident on lap nine. What's more, the stewards' inexplicably lengthy deliberation – taking a full 16 laps to announce the British star's drive-through – subsequently enabled him to build up enough of a cushion over his nearest pursuer to successfully retain second place.
By contrast, in return for dutifully waiting in-line behind the safety car before making his own pit-stop for fresh tyres, Alonso – and team-mate Felipe Massa – lost sufficient time to drop well down the order, from where the Spaniard was able only to recover to eighth in the final reckoning. In the immediate aftermath of the race, the Oviedo native accused governing body the FIA of having 'manipulated' the outcome, with Ferrari agreeing that the situation was 'a scandal' [see separate story – click here
“All the kids in the stands know that you cannot pass the safety car,” railed the 22-time grand prix-winner, who had been the quickest driver on the circuit when the incident occurred. “When the safety car came out, I was one metre behind Hamilton. I finished ninth (eighth following Sébastien Buemi's post-race penalty); he finished second. I respected the rule, he didn't.”
“The difference between us and Hamilton is that he committed an infraction and we did not, but his penalty had no effect on his result,” echoed Massa, who reflected that Valencia was 'another horrible race' on a personal level in F1 2010. “I think that errors were made in the way this situation was managed. From then on, our race was practically one long procession in traffic with no chance of changing anything. A real shame, because we could have done really well.”
Those sentiments are palpably shared by the pair's employer, with both di Montezemolo and Ferrari Vice-President Piero Ferrari calling upon the FIA to closely investigate what happened, and the Prancing Horse's team principal Stefano Domenicali acknowledging that Alonso's race was 'ruined by the situation' and that 'we have to ensure our sport remains credible in the eyes of those involved and those who follow it, at the track and in front of their TV screens'.
“I am incredulous and bitter, not just for Ferrari, but for the sport as a whole, as this is not the sort of thing one expects from professionals,” blasted Ferrari, the second and only surviving son of the legendary Italian marque's founder Enzo Ferrari.
“For a long time now, I have also followed races in championships in the United States, where the appearance of the safety car is a frequent occurrence, but I have never seen anything similar to what happened at the Valencia circuit. If it raises some doubts over the actions that led to a false race, to me that would seem more than reasonable.”
“The result of the race was misrepresentative,” concurred the ever-outspoken di Montezemolo. “Ferrari, which showed itself to be competitive in the European Grand Prix, paid a price that was too high for respecting the rules. Meanwhile, those who didn't follow the rules were penalised by the race officials in a way that was less severe than the damage suffered by those who did respect them.
“That is a very serious and unacceptable event that creates dangerous precedents, throwing a shadow over the credibility of F1. We are sure that the FIA will fully analyse what happened, taking the consequent necessary decisions. Ferrari will watch this with interest.”