Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo and the Scuderia's
team principal Stefano Domenicali have both lauded Fernando Alonso's victory in Sunday's inaugural Korean Grand Prix as the just reward for 'determination, hard work, level-headedness and the will to win' – but stressed that now more than ever is the time to 'keep calm'.
Ferrari had at one stage looked to be out-of-the-running for the F1 2010 constructors' laurels on race day in Korea, but leader Sebastian Vettel's retirement with engine failure just ten laps from home changed everything, preserving as it did the Prancing Horse's albeit slim chance of overhauling both Red Bull Racing and McLaren-Mercedes before season's end.
Vettel's misfortune promoted Alonso into the lead, and team-mate Felipe Massa into third place, where the pair would remain to the chequered flag, ensuring that – most significantly of all – the Spaniard will head into the final two grands prix in Brazil and Abu Dhabi with an eleven-point margin over erstwhile pace-setter Mark Webber in the chase for the coveted drivers' crown. Now, the Maranello brigade well knows, is the time to strike.
“First of all, let's just keep calm about this!” urged the ever-pragmatic Domenicali. “It was a fantastic day, in which we turned around the situation in the drivers' championship and also, albeit partially, put ourselves back in a stronger position in the constructors' classification. However, we are well aware the hardest part begins now.
“There are two races to go, and we must tackle them with the same ferocious determination which has seen us fight back in a way many thought impossible. I have said it so often in the past, but I want to repeat it even now – what counts the most in this final part of the season is for the team and the drivers to keep a cool head, along with reliability and concentration.
“This weekend we proved capable of doing that, even in very unusual conditions like those we experienced [in the race]. We are up against very strong opposition, especially in the shape of a team that has managed to take 14 poles from 17 races – to be in this position with just two races to go is already significant.
“I want to thank our drivers – they were great, not making the slightest mistake and managing a very stressful race in very difficult conditions. The team worked very well, and the little problem at Fernando's pit-stop was soon recovered on-track. Finally, I want to say it is an honour for Ferrari to be the first name to go on the winner's trophy for the Korean Grand Prix, in a country that is expanding rapidly and a market that is also growing in importance in terms of our road cars.”
Chief track engineer Chris Dyer praised 'an exceptional job' from both Alonso and Massa 'in extremely difficult conditions, with virtually no grip or visibility in the first part of the race', whilst di Montezemolo echoed Domenicali's sentiments in contending that everybody in the team should be proud of having helped to haul Ferrari back into the fight when at one stage of the campaign it had appeared to be down-and-out.
“What I am most pleased about is that we have shown that with determination, hard work, level-headedness and the will to win, we can get out of the most difficult situations,” underlined the famously demanding Italian. “We are a team that never gives up, and we showed that yet again here. I want to congratulate the entire team, who worked in impeccable fashion – and Fernando, who was exceptional.
“Now, however, we must keep our feet on the ground. The championship is still very open, and we know we are up against very strong opponents. We will have to tackle the final two races with even higher levels of concentration, paying attention to every little detail.”