Ferrari has given a surprising and somewhat rare look into the machinations surrounding its actions in Formula One, by providing two of its biggest fans--and critics--some face time. Those fans were Riccardo Verdelli and Gian Maria Lamberti, who in the recent past have posted a number of barbs via social networks regarding the performance of Ferrari in Formula One.
In an hour of face to face chat, primarily with Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali, Verdelli and Lamberti were able to ask all the questions they wanted. Topics included Ferrari’s jibes at Red Bull Racing after a race, Fernando Alonso’s criticism of his car, Felipe Massa’s length with the team, the possibility of Robert Kubica joining the team, and much, much more.
Some choice exchanges are reproduced below:
From left to right: Kimi Räikkönen, Fernando Alonso, Stefano Domenicali and Felipe Massa
Verdelli: “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 favor 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 [Luca de] Montezemolo intervened and in private, so did I.”
Lamberti: “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 [Kimi] Räikkönen 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 Räikkönen 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.”
Lamberti: “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: “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.”
Lamberti: “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.”