Montezemolo: “This championship is still in our own hands”
Maranello, 8 October – It was a hard blow, but definitely not a knock out one. Fernando Alonso’s Japan trip left him with a bitter taste in his mouth as he saw his lead over his closest rivals reduced to a bare minimum, without even getting the chance to show what he could do, given his race didn’t even last four hundred metres. However, it has not diminished his will to fight for a title that is still well within his grasp. The same can be said of Ferrari, who have no intention of throwing in the towel. That is clear from the comments of President Luca di Montezemolo on www.ferrari.com, the day after the race, a race which on the plus side, saw Felipe Massa return to the podium after a break of 35 grands prix. He produced a splendid performance to take second yesterday at Suzuka.
“It’s at times like these that I want to see the Ferrari I know,” said Montezemolo. “A team that is focused and that holds its nerve. I will speak to Fernando by phone soon to give him even more motivation with which to tackle these last five races, with the bit between his teeth, as indeed I expect all the team to do. Yesterday’s second place for Felipe was very important in this final part of the season when his contribution is even more vital,” he continued. “I expect a huge effort from our engineers who have already shown they are capable of that and we are perfectly aware that this championship is still in our hands.”
“We know we can count on the strongest driver around at the moment and it’s only mistakes from others at Spa and again at Suzuka, that have prevented him from having a more comfortable lead over his rivals,” concluded the President, referring to the last couple of incidents involving the Spaniard “Let’s not forget that, but for those two collisions, today Fernando would have had at least 30 points more and that’s a conservative estimate. In sport, as in life, the wheel turns and we must not forget that: recently, it has not done so in a positive way for us, but it does not take much for it to change direction.”
Indeed, the sort of result Alonso could have got yesterday afternoon was there for all to see when looking at what his team-mate did. Massa was on the pace all weekend, apart from one lap, his second flying one in Q2, when for reasons that remain unclear, he could not find the grip level he’d had a few minutes earlier, when he made his first run on used tyres. The Brazilian drove an excellent race, managing his tyres impeccably and pushing at just the right time prior to his first stop, which allowed him to get ahead of Button and Kobayashi as he rejoined the track. Then Felipe managed the gap he’d built up calmly, never coming under threat from the Japanese Sauber driver or the English McLaren man. It’s true that, out in front, Vettel was uncatchable but given the pace of the only F2012 in the race, what could a driver like Fernando have done? One must not forget that, the previous day, fate had dealt him another cruel blow, in the shape of the yellow flags, which robbed him of a spot on the second row, which had been easily within his grasp.
Certainly, the Ferrari engineers have a lot of work to do to respond to the step forward made by Red Bull in these last two races, but it’s equally true, that this year, as never before, every race seems to have its own tale to tell and the hierarchy changes quite easily. Understandably, Fernando was rather frustrated yesterday when he left the circuit, but he is also well aware that he can count on a team that is totally focused on the task of giving him and his team-mate the best car possible. And Ferrari knows it can count on the best driver possible.