Maranello, 23 October – It was a special day for two 30 year old Italians, who are great fans of Scuderia Ferrari, but not the sort to go easy on criticisms. They were chosen to experience a day in Maranello but, above all, to meet one of the main targets of their barbs via social networks.
Because Riccardo Verdelli, a designer from Arezzo and Gian Maria Lamberti, head of web marketing for a company in Mantua, have not gone easy on Ferrari in recent months: in order to give them a chance to speak directly to the team without any virtual filters which maybe allows for more criticism, the Scuderia decided to organise, along with the Italian daily sports paper, Gazzetta dello Sport,” a meeting in order to put across in the clearest manner just how important the fans are to them and how closely they are listened to.
In an hour of face to face chat, Riccardo and Gian Maria were able to ask all the questions they wanted, even the most awkward ones: and this is a faithful account of what was said.
Starting things off was the one who reckons he is the “most malicious” and he touched on various themes. “I don’t like it when after a Grand Prix, there are incorrect jibes aimed at Red Bull that then fall apart. And then there’s Alonso complaining about his car after every race. I’d like to see him get his ears pulled about that, but instead you almost seem to share his sentiment. On top of that, it’s not nice that in Austin last year, you sabotaged Massa’s gearbox to favour Alonso. Ferrari is a legend and certain slippery styles should be left to the others. There should be more sportsmanship.” Domenicali: “You are in front of the most sportsmanlike person in the world. In all the races, whether you see it or not, I congratulate our rivals. In Austin, we did not sabotage the gearbox, but simply made the most of an article in the regulations which allowed us to break the seals. The interests of Ferrari come above all else: if we had lost the Championship by the number of points we’d have lost there, the evaluation of what we did would have been different. Unlike the others, we speak openly about what we are doing. The little digs at Red Bull? It’s a way of relieving the tension and making light of it, as is clear from the tone of it. Alonso? If I have something to say to him, as would be the case with my engineers, I would do it behind closed doors and in a harsh manner. But externally, I will always defend the team. When he crossed the line, president Montezemolo intervened and in private, so did I.”
The second guest’s turn: “Why have you kept Massa up until now? After the accident in 2009, for me he was no longer the same and I’m happy Raikkonen is coming back.” Domenicali: “”There are two reasons. From a medical point of view, there is no proof that the accident left any permanent damage, such as problems with his sight or reflexes. And then there’s the gentility which would demand that we give a driver who hasn’t had much luck, the chance to show he deserves to stay with us. If Felipe was unable to deliver the performance we hoped for, it was mainly down to a hyper-sensitivity to a car that was too nervous at the rear, but in 2008, he almost took the title and I consider him as a world champion. We took Raikkonen because we wanted more. When we replaced him with Alonso, he was not happy and so he returns with a great desire to do well.”
Back to Verdelli: “Is Ferrari considering Italian drivers? Can you see someone suitable for F1 on the horizon?” Domenicali: “We feel this responsibility, so we created the Academy for youngsters. With Antonio Fuoco and Raffaele Marciello, in whom we are investing, this year we have won two championships. Will they drive a Ferrari one day? I hope so. But we need to find the right categories to get there. Furthermore, it will be important to work with CSAI to produce a path for growth at an affordable price. We have started by creating F4 as the first step after karts.” Lamberti again: “What has Red Bull got that you haven’t? I’ve heard talk of strange mappings…” Domenicali: “Everyone is trying to work that out. But it’s pointless make accusations if there is no proof. The FIA can check the control unit, and if they find nothing than Red Bull is obviously doing a good job.”
Verdelli picks it up again: “After four years without winning the championship are you still sure about your choice of taking on Alonso?” Domenicali: “If in the past four years we have come close to the title twice, it is partly down to him. Unfortunately, we have not been capable of giving him a car that matches his talent. You compare him to Vettel, but when you have a better car, everything is more straightforward.” Finally a question from left field: “Was there really the intention to take on Kubica and will he be back in F1?” Domenicali. “Yes, we were keeping an eye on him. Unfortunately, I don’t think he will be back, because with his physical problem, he would struggle in certain limited situations which require reactivity. It’s a shame.”