Ferrari faced criticism for their tactics as Fernando Alonso lost the world championship in the final race of 2010.
One Italian politician went so far as to demand Luca di Montezemolo’s resignation over the strategic mistake that dropped him from fourth to seventh in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
That prompted a strong reaction from the Ferrari president.
|Felipe Massa||Fernando Alonso|
|Qualifying time comparison (Q3)||1’40.202 (+0.41)||1’39.792|
Believed he had not crossed the line soon enough to start his final lap in qualifying and backed off. Unfortunately he was wrong – and missed the best opportunity to improve his grid position:
I reached the exit of the final corner, I saw the red light and, instinctively, I thought I had not got there in time to do the flying lap.
In fact, I had made it, but I did not push immediately as hard as I could have done, so I came back to the pits when I realised I would not have improved my time. It?óÔé¼Ôäós a real shame because I could definitely have done better and therefore started further up the grid.
The team pitted him early in the race in an attempt to get him out ahead of Mark Webber. It didn’t work – and he spent the rest of the race stuck behind Jaime Alguersuari, finishing tenth.
The strategic mistake that decided Alonso’s race has been picked apart in detail here:
While that tactical error was costly, just as big a part of Ferrari’s problem in Abu Dhabi was that their car was not as quick as the McLaren.
It was all Alonso could do to split Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button in qualifying to start third on the grid – at that advantage was gone within a few seconds of the start.
Alonso’s frustration got the better of him on the way back to pits and he gesticulated at Vitaly Petrov, who had kept him behind for 39 laps.
Alonso had gone off on three occasions as he tried to pass Petrov, nearly hitting the Renault on lap 23.
After the race he said:
It?óÔé¼Ôäós a shame to get to the end of the season and then lose the title at the final moment, but that?óÔé¼Ôäós racing, that is sport. Everything went wrong today, from the start itself to the strategy.
With hindsight, it would have been better not to pit so soon, but it?óÔé¼Ôäós easy to say that when you have all the facts: however, it was definitely not an easy decision.
Team principal Stefano Domenicali said that error in Abu Dhabi should not be singled out as the only reason for them losing the championship:
We must not forget that we were up against a car that was better than hours, there?óÔé¼Ôäós no doubt about that. Yesterday we simply gave Red Bull a present but we didn?óÔé¼Ôäót lose the championship here ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ 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.
It?óÔé¼Ôäós 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?óÔé¼Ôäós the beginning or the end of the season.
He apologised to Alonso for the team’s mistake:
I would like to thank Fernando again for all that he has done in his first year with us. We knew his talent but having had the chance to have him in our team has made us appreciate his qualities as a man and as a leader.
I can understand what he has gone through in these last few hours and I?óÔé¼Ôäóm very sorry for the error that the team made. He?óÔé¼Ôäós believed in us to the end and he?óÔé¼Ôäós been exceptional about placing his faith in us. Yesterday we didn?óÔé¼Ôäót manage to win the title together that we?óÔé¼Ôäód chased until the end with great tenacity. But we will do everything to manage it next year because Ferrari has only one magnificent sentence to endure: to win.
The team have faced stinging criticism in Italy, not least from one politician, Roberto Calderoni, who demanded the resignation of Luca di Montezemolo. The Ferrari president responded saying:
When the statesman will achieve in his life 1% of what Ferrari has done for this country in terms of industry and sports, then he’ll deserve an answer.
Luca di Montezemolo
Enzo Ferrari’s son Piero Ferrari, who was present to watch the team in Abu Dhabi, added:
I’m astonished and saddened by certain statements some politicians and a minister of the Italian Republic made after yesterday’s race.
It has never happened in my entire life at Ferrari that politicians intervened during good and bad moments in our life in motorsport, and I want it to stay like this. But if we want to have a look at how much Ferrari has done for Italy’s image around the world, then I can only say that it is definitely much more than certain politics have done.
2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
- 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: the complete F1 Fanatic race weekend review
- Drivers’ and teams’ end-of-season photographs
- Alonso’s role in Ferrari strategy revealed in pit messages
- Hamilton: McLaren learned a lot in 2010
- Button vows to address qualifying weakness
- Vettel ends season on a high to snatch title
- Ferrari hit back at criticism of race strategy
- McLaren rediscover their form at final race
- New engines help Renault to best result of 2010
- Schumacher not blaming Rosberg for crash