As Ferrari rises from the ashes of an agonising drivers' title defeat in the last race of the campaign for the second time in three years, Stefano Domenicali has sought to rouse his troops into action, insisting that 'it's in these moments that true sportsmen know how to use the energy to start again and look to the future with effort and determination'.
Fernando Alonso entered the F1 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix finale in pole position to clinch the coveted crown, eight points clear of Red Bull Racing rival Mark Webber and 15 ahead of Sebastian Vettel – and knowing that a runner-up finish around the Yas Marina Street Circuit would suffice no matter what his two adversaries pulled out of the bag.
As it transpired, of course, Vettel was the man on-form in the Middle East, as Webber struggled to keep pace – on the face of it, opening the door for Alonso to secure the trophy. Except when the Australian pitted just a fifth of the way into the grand prix with deteriorating tyres, Ferrari elected to cover him – and in so doing, critically took their eye off the ball with regards to race leader Vettel.
As the young German maintained both his composure and his advantage at the front of the field, Alonso and Webber found themselves mired in traffic – traffic that neither was able to make any impression upon. Whilst they went on to take the chequered flag a lowly seventh and eighth respectively, the 25 points Vettel earned for victory proved enough for him to improbably steal the laurels by just four points – leaving Ferrari to depart the scene and return to Maranello heads bowed, licking their wounds and prepared for the inquisition.
It might have been a crushingly disappointing and bitter pill to swallow when on paper, the Scuderia
had held the world championship crown in the palm of its hand – just as it had done with Felipe Massa at Interlagos two years earlier, only for the extraordinary events of the final lap to snatch it away again – but now, urges team principal Domenciali, is not the time for regrets.
“What happened [in Abu Dhabi] was a negative episode, but it can't cancel out all the good things that we've seen this season,” the Italian underlined. “We owe the fact that we returned to fight for the title until the end to the great work on the 2010 car that we already began at the end of last year. It's also down to our cohesion and capacity to react that we showed in the most difficult moments of the season.
“It's like when you get to the final of the Football World Cup and it goes to penalties – if you manage to put away all five spot-kicks, you're a hero – if you miss one, you're a donkey. It's easy to curse those who miss their penalty on the last day of the championship but, perhaps, someone else let in a calamitous goal at the first match of the season. The points are always worth the same, whether it's the beginning or the end of the season.
“We must not forget that we were up against a car that was better than ours, there's no doubt about that. We simply gave Red Bull a present, but we didn't lose the championship here – or at least not just here. I could cite other races where we left important points on the track, without counting grands prix like Valencia and Silverstone where there were certainly unfortunate episodes.
“We've worked so hard over these twelve months, and the results have been seen. We must be proud of what we've achieved, even if it's clear that we're also the first to get unhappy about not winning. There are some areas that we can improve, I think above all regarding the performance of the car that definitely has to go up. Our engineers know that well, and I expect an important reaction from them.