Montezemolo: 'Drivers come and go at Ferrari'
3 August 2013
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has explained to journalists why he felt it was necessary to rebuke the team's star driver Fernando Alonso at the start of the week following the Hungarian Grand Prix.
The official Ferrari team website had carried a story in which di Montezemolo was reported as feeling that "there is a need to close ranks, without giving in to rash outbursts that, while understandable in the immediate aftermath of a bad result, are no use to anyone."
The article went on to confirm that this was specifically in response to some of "the latest comments from Fernando Alonso, which did not go down well with Montezemolo, nor with anyone in the team."
The website went on to quote from di Montezemolo's conversation with the two-time world champion, in which he had told the driver that "all the great champions who have driven for Ferrari have always been asked to put the interests of the team above their own," adding: "This is the moment to stay calm, avoid polemics and show humility and determination in making one's own contribution, standing alongside the team and its people both at the track and outside it."
On Friday, di Montezemolo spoke with Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper about just why he had "tweaked his ear" while calling Alonso on the Spaniard's 32nd birthday, and said that he hadn't liked the impression that Alonso was putting himself above the team
"Fernando has given a lot in these last years and his disappointment, which came about mainly after Silverstone, where all of us expected to be more competitive, is understandable," Montezemolo said. "But I didn't like some attitudes, a few words, some outbursts. And I said so.
"I reminded everyone, including the drivers, that Ferrari comes before everything, the priority is the team," he continued. ""Our fans should never be forgotten, they deserve respect and therefore they are entitled to get satisfaction. We must work for Ferrari and for them."
Di Montezemolo's further comments that drivers "come and go" at Ferrari will have raised eyebrows, given that Alonso's manager Luis Garcia Abad was seen in discussions with Red Bull Racing team boss Christian Horner in Budapest last week. Abad denied that the conversation was about a possible switch to the world championship-winning team in the near future and said that it was regarding another driver who is also his client.
But di Montezemolo's comments this weekend hardly suggest that the team is bending over backwards to keep Alonso happy to ensure his long-term future at Maranello, either.
"Let me make it clear that it's Ferrari I'm interested in," he said. "Drivers, we've had a lot - some very good, some great. But drivers come and go, while Ferrari remains."
However, di Montezemolo did move to cool any potential public rift with Alonso - with whom he's always got on very well in the past - by praising the driver's ability and insisting that they were still close.
"Fernando is a great driver and I understand him, he is a bit like me: he wants to win," said di Montezemolo. "He must just remember that one wins and loses together and for its part, Ferrari must give him a car capable of starting from the front two rows.
"It doesn't sit well with me seeing our car is not competitive," di Montezemolo admitted. "That's why I intervened, even if I didn't want to abuse my authority over my men."