Tuesday 20 February 2018

F1: Ferrari boss lashes out as Italy rages at Alonso pit debacle

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel. Photo: Reuters
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel. Photo: Reuters

Tom Cary

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has responded angrily to criticism from Italian politicians over the Scuderia's failure to secure the drivers' championship last weekend.

Roberto Calderoli, a minister from the far-right Northern League party, said that di Montezemolo should resign after a "demented strategy" cost Fernando Alonso a possible third title.

The Spaniard needed only to finish fourth to claim the championship but a decision to pit him early in the race in an attempt to 'cover' title rival Mark Webber led to him getting stuck in traffic; he ended up seventh.

Such is Ferrari's emblematic status to Italians that the team's self-confessed error became a national talking point.


Di Montezemolo reacted to Calderoli's comments in withering fashion. "When the statesman Calderoli will achieve in his life 1pc of what Ferrari has done for this country in terms of industry and sports, then he'll deserve an answer," he said. "For all of us it's a difficult day. The night hasn't lessened the bitter taste after the sad end to an extraordinary season.

"We're sorry to see that there are some politicians on the outside who are ready to push for the guillotine when things go badly.

"We don't understand anyone who revels in self-defeatism, who sinks into the culture of 'everything's gone wrong, we have to start all over again'."

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali is not thought to be in any danger of losing his job.

Alonso was denied a World Championship that should have been his for the taking. Although the damage to Alonso was personal, he refused to blame his team.

He said: "Waking up was hard after the disappointment, I can't deny it. It hurts to come so close to the goal and see it slip away like that, but that's the way sport goes and we have to accept it. We are a team. We win and we lose all together."

Sebastian Vettel was still reflecting on his spectacular year and believes his positive response to mid-season criticism was vital to him becoming Formula One's youngest world champion.

The German Red Bull driver found himself in the firing line after the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa when an overtaking manoeuvre on culminated in the 23-year-old spearing into the side of Jenson Button's McLaren.

That incident, however, proved a turning point for both drivers as it was the beginning of the end for Button's title hopes.

"Coming into the year I had a clear goal, to win the championship, and I was very focused on that, working very hard, harder than before," said Vettel.

"After what happened in Spa I got a lot of bad press. It wasn't easy at that time, with a lot of people saying bad things and trying to knock us down. But that's when you realise who your friends are, who belongs to you and who is supporting you.

"It was important to invest my energy into them, in order to get it back. At some point I accepted the fact that sometimes things don't go your way, but in the long term there's something called justice.

"That is what has happened, at least in my calculation, and it has turned out to be right." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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