Barbed comments from both sides of the 2012 F1 title battle look set to shape any potential rematch between Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel next season.
While the drivers themselves may not have too many issues with each other - a couple of Monza contretemps
aside – suggestions that their respective teams have been pushing the boundaries when it comes to rules and sportsmanship continue to rumble on into the winter break.
Vettel's Red Bull squad was once again the focus of the stewards in 2012, as the radical thinking of its design team regularly caused raised eyebrows in other sections of the pit-lane. Although nothing was deemed outright illegal this season, tests were strengthened and ideas quashed on several occasions, helping to keep the title fight alive to the final round.
Alonso, however, has suggested that Ferrari may need to start sailing closer to the wind technically if it is to give him a chance of beating Vettel to the 2013 crown.
“There were several incidents in which the other teams were at the limit, but not us,” the Spaniard told Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport
newspaper, “This has always happened and always will but we, too, have to think within the confines of the rules while looking for some limits, some holes, like the other teams do in order to improve our performances.”
While Alonso appears to be blameless in the incident, Ferrari can hardly regard itself as entirely pure when it comes to stretching the letter of the law, having sacrificed Felipe Massa's qualifying performance in Austin in order to boost Alonso's grid slot and title bid.
Ironically, having endured several stories through the year linking it to Vettel from 2014, Ferrari's reaction to the title bid and its eventual resolution – when it sought clarification on a supposed yellow flag pass by the German which could have affected the destiny of the title – could cost it any chance of pairing F1's two star names in the future.
“Sebastian has the memory of an elephant, he logs everything
,” Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko explained to Germany's Sport Bild
magazine, “And he will
remember exactly how Ferrari behaved after the finale. It was below the belt.”
Vettel won the championship by just three points after securing the sixth place finish he needed to counter Alonso's run to second at Interlagos. A penalty for overtaking under yellow flags would have dropped him to eighth and allowed Alonso to take the crown by a single point.