Ferrari have always been about Ferrari. I think we’ve become accustomed to that level of thinking over the decades. Whatever is or isn’t happening at Ferrari these days, it does strike one as odd that they would have a talent such as Fernando Alonso and let the relationship wither on the vine during lean years.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo can be as apoplectic as he wants because he has every reason to be unhappy with the current form of his Formula 1 team but failing to do the little things that keep his star driver tethered to the team physically and emotionally seems like a rookie mistake or perhaps a trenchant approach to the aforementioned “Ferrari first” mode of thinking.

Arguably—and not very much so—Alonso is the best driver on the grid. Mercedes know this and have said as much with team boss Toto Wolff and Mercedes chairman Dieter Zetsche saying:

“Alonso is probably the best driver on the Formula 1 grid. Fernando has always proven it – and in uncompetitive cars.”

It’s is indeed a bit strange to be praised by other teams who recognize your abilities when the very team you are with has little to say other than hinting at occasionally putting you in your place. Fernando Alonso agreed as AUTOSPORT mentioned:

“It’s always welcome when people see your job in a good way, and respect what you try to achieve,” he said.

“It’s sometimes strange to see good comments and compliments from people from outside, and the opposite from people who are supposed to be close to you.

“It’s motivating for me and good to see good comments, and funny when you see the opposite in your closest friends.”

When your team is off the boil, surely your public comments are centered on finding your way back and what changes need to be made. That’s understandable. But forget the current year—when was the last time you heard Ferrari praise Fernando other than post-race throwaway quotes regarding his fine performance?

Maybe Fernando isn’t the easiest person to work with? Maybe he’s a bit of a prima donna? Regardless, he’s the best hope Ferrari have in winning a race any time soon if the team get the car sorted. The move to bring Kimi Raikkonen back has proven to fall short of any silver bullet to success with Alonso still firmly on top of the head-to-head performance between the two drivers.

If there wasn’t much to this story then it would have died down but Ferrari felt there was enough white noise to offer a formal statement on Thursday saying:

“Fernando is the best driver in the world, who always gives 200 per cent in the races,” di Montezemolo said.

“He knows how much I count on him, even away from the racetrack, in terms of his contribution and the impetus he gives to the team.

“I think it’s incredible that there are still some so-called experts who don’t understand that and are always looking for a polemical situation that simply doesn’t exist.”

See? That wasn’t hard was it? It seems things are not very pleasant these days between the Spaniard and Ferrari and with all the moves at Ferrari over it’s lack of performance, one wonders if Fernando will ultimately be a casualty of the team’s inability to produce a competitive car? It would be a shame as Fernando is the least of their worries at this point and could have been a real savior had they found a modicum of pace in 2014.

An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Luca d sounds a lot like the prancing horse whisperer

  • And is it me or does “even off the race track” hint to the incident when Alonso wished for a fast car for his birthday?

    • Leave it to me to get the quote wrong and only to proof read after I have posted, oh well…

  • “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.” This applies to a financial statement as much as it does to a F1 driver, car designer, or entire team. Luca needs to think less like a lifestyle brand and more like a racing team again. Let’s show improvement every race weekend. Few teams have the resources Ferrari has to get better and better, but I cringe when I hear the words “internal Ferrari politics”.

  • I remember in the 90’s when Jean Alesi got in trouble with the Ferrari bosses for describing the car he was driving as a very expensive red tractor. Ferrari seem to have always gone in patches of unsustainable greatness. If they got into such a patch with Alonzo onboard, it would be the winning package, but they will have to be quick to deliver.

    • Actually, that would have been Prost in 91 and Ferrari fired the then three time world Champion one race before the end of the season despite him putting the car way above where it should have been race after race. I mean, it took a misguided Senna who took out Prost in the first corner of Suzuka to end Ferrari’s best hope for a title in a decade…and a decade before Schumacher finally delivered them the title again.

      So Alonso should count himself lucky to be at a more liberal Ferrari today. 20 years ago, he wouldn’t be driving there anymore, not after everything that happened last year.

      • UAN

        Or count himself unlucky for NOT being fired, and perhaps driving for Merc today lol. Prost went on to win another WDC after he was fired. Ferrari continued to wallow for many years after.

        I wonder if somehow that lack of being able to take criticism contributes to not being at the very top? People internally may too quickly accept “this is good” rather than but we can make it a bit better, and that keeps them towards the front of the grid, but not on top of the grid.

        • I’m sure that this “Ferrari above all” attitude is very defining, resulting in the good, the bad and the ugly throughout their racing history.

          On the one hand, it may indeed lead to an environment that is hostile towards productive criticism. On the other hand, it’s also why Ferrari never gives up and has stuck to F1 for so long whereas others have come and gone, making Ferrari the brand it is today.

  • Todd, I think you’re a bit unfair regarding Kimi. I wouldn’t call his signing a failure and it’s not clear to me that Alonso is firmly on top. He’s on top, sure, but not firmly as Kimi seems to finally get to grips with his car. Certainly in Spain Kimi’s performance was on top, but he suffered from a strange strategy.

    So while I agree with you that Ferrari should have signed Hülkenberg as a man for the future, I think Kimi might still become Alonso’s equal in that team. I certainly don’t think it was a mistake to sign him despite my preference for Hülkenberg. Both were good alternatives.

    • If I cam e across as suggesting Kimi is a failure then that’s a bit heavy handed for sure. Kimi is ace, he’s just not completely comfortable in that car yet. We all know what Kimi can do once he’s settled and the car handles the way he wants it. Ferrari was hoping he’d hit he ground running and that hasn’t happened so in that sense, Fernando is still on top there. We need to give Kimi some time though.

  • I think Luca’s comments are just ego stroking. I don’t think Fernando NEEDS to hear that he is the best driver on the grid and consistently out drives the car. He knows it. Luca’s comments seem like they were meant to put out some kind of political fire… but probably ended up fanning the flames.