It’s not the first time I’ve heard that Fernando Alonso is all about Fernando Alonso. I spoke to people at Ferrari during and after Alonso’s employment there and there was a collective sigh of relief when Sebastian Vettel joined the team.
Those sentiments were brushed upon in a recent interview over at F1’s official website by none other than Luca di Montezemolo, former Ferrari president who hired Alonso. Luca says there were really three reasons Alonso wasn’t as successful at Ferrari as he could have been.
“Number one, to be honest, he was unlucky to be in Ferrari when Red Bull was the same, or very close to being, as Ferrari at the beginning of the 2000s,” said Montezemolo in the most recent episode of F1’s official podcast.
“The second, I don’t like to but I have to say this, he was unlucky. He lost the championship in Brazil in 2012 when Sebastian [Vettel] in the first lap crashed with [Bruno] Senna.
“Or, when the team made a big mistake in 2010, when it was enough to finish fourth, and we lose the championship at the last race.
“Third, his character. The biggest difference between Michael [Schumacher], and also Niki [Lauda], is he was Alonso – not Alonso [with] Ferrari.
“When he wins, he’s happy. When he doesn’t win, it’s the problem of the team, he’s unhappy.
“He’s less close to the team than Michael and Niki.
“Particularly in the difficult moments. To be close to the team in the good moments is easy.”
As one might expect, Fernando didn’t like the comment and took to Twitter to rebuff the comment.
😂😂😂😂😂😂! It had to be a reason not to follow this account until now. Today you remind me again!! President never said that. Specially after scoring 80% of the points for our team. We race hard, together, with all our heart and we fought until last race for championships ✊️
— Fernando Alonso (@alo_oficial) March 26, 2019
The reality is, champions like Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Michael Schumacher, Ayrton Senna and others aren’t in the sport to be malleable team players, they are there for one thing—to win championships. Sometimes those goal eclipse the team aspect and focus on the driver’s needs, desires and goals. Think Lewis Hamilton when he refused team orders and knocked Alonso’s feet off the desk at McLaren. Vettel and Multi 21 at Red Bull. Alonso and his time at Renault.
There is a fine line, however, and I would argue that there was a time when Lewis’s self-focus pendulum swung too far to his side of neutral. It was around the time I heard to same critique from people within his team. He realized he was pulling away from the team and people that he relies on to win him titles and he very wisely tacked his course and draped the team around him.
Perhaps no one is more referred to in this sense than 7-time champion Michael Schumacher and you can hear in Luca’s commentary how Ferrari still revere him for his work ethic and team-centered approach. It is something Vettel is trying to replicate and so far, it hasn’t produced titles. Regardless, Alonso never seemed to come close to getting the team behind him like Schumacher or even Vettel has.
Irrespective, all of that is history and Ferrari now have a big hill to climb with Vettel at the helm. Can they reverse their pace deficit in Australia as they head to the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend? Can they reverse course and take the fight to Mercedes or will we be reading about the three reasons Vettel didn’t win a title with the storied Italian team?
Hat Tip: F1.com