Fernando Alonso’s ill-tempered comments to Italian media about “wanting someone else’s car” for his 32nd birthday, lifted the lid on what seemed to be a solid relationship between driver and team.
As the fallout rained down Luca di Montezemolo “tweaked” Alonso’s ear, in a bizarre birthday phonecall last week and has now come clear about why he the felt the need to do so.
It was a strange decision to openly reprimand the driver, especially as Ferrari - who are usually very private about internal affairs - decided to make public the telephone conversation.
To make matters worse, the news was revealed just days after the Spanish driver was linked with a shock move to World Championship rivals Red Bull.
Di Montezemolo has now explained his reasons for chastising the driver and for making those comments public.
In an interview with Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper, the Italian was quoted as saying he “understands and shares Alonso’s strong desire to win” but went on to say that “some of the Spaniard’s recent negative remarks had gone too far.”
Di Montezemolo explained: "Fernando is a great driver and I understand him, he is a bit like me: he wants to win.
"He must just remember that one wins and loses together and for its part."
Talking about the team's disappointment after the Silverstone GP, Montezemolo continued to say: "Fernando has given a lot in these last years and I repeat, his disappointment, which came about mainly after Silverstone, where all of us expected to be more competitive, is understandable.
"But I didn't like some attitudes, a few words, some outbursts. And I said so...
"I reminded everyone, including the drivers, that Ferrari comes before everything, the priority is the team.
"Rather like a family father pointing out the need to respect some family rules: I wish to underline the concept of family values."
It’s clear that Montezemolo wants to quash the negative rumours that have emerged after a series of unsavoury remarks, maintaining that Ferrari is still a family with strong ties, values and rules. However, it will take more than brawny rhetoric to win over Alonso.
Since Alonso’s home win at the Spanish GP in May - his second inside three races - he has only managed to finish on the podium twice. He went into the summer break 39 Championship points adrift of Sebastian Vettel who looks to be winning the battle for the drivers title.
The winds of change however favour Ferrari - Spa and Monza two circuits that will hopefully suit the F138. Montezemolo was also quick to admit the car’s failings and is upset about the steady slide in competitiveness, insisting that Ferrari must work methodically to start moving in the right direction.
"It doesn't sit well with me seeing our car is not competitive," he said. "That's why I intervened, even if I didn't want to abuse my authority over my men.
"However, it had to be done. But how? We started so well, we had begun the world championship with a very competitive car, maybe even considered the best.
"But something happened and instead of moving forward we went backwards. Therefore the right attitude, the one I am taking from now on is as follows: understand the mistakes, fix them and after this careful analysis develop the car in the right direction."
The Italian continued, by saying that it was up to the team to “prove their worth” and move forward after the break, with things starting to look up.
The next two race venues will surely help the Ferrari’s ability to compete and get back to winning ways, with Montezemolo adding: "We must get back on the path we were on up until Barcelona.
He added: “The conditions are in place to give a strong signal of a recovery and, on top of that, I expect results from our engineers who must demonstrate their worth."
The comments made were not so much an explanation for his rebuke of Alonso, but more a show of solidarity and team clarity.
With 18 days to go before the Belgium Grand Prix on the 25 August, we shall just have to wait and see if the car, the team and Alonso can get back to winning ways.
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