Formula 1

Luca di Montezemolo under pressure after Ferrari's Monza meltdown

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Ferrari's year went from bad to worse as they endured their worst home race in 10 years on Sunday.

Kimi Raikkonen salvaged two points for the Scuderia as Fernando Alonso suffered his first mechanical retirement since 2010 at Monza.

Disappointment

Heading into the weekend it was largely expected that the Tifosi would have to lower their expectations as an inferior power unit leaves them trailing behind the dominant Mercedes, however, as Red Bull finished fifth and sixth, Ferrari's woes continued.

Speaking after the race Alonso, who was running seventh before he retired with an ERS failure, believed he could have taken the fight to Daniel Ricciardo.

"It was possible to be fifth to be honest because I think we were quicker than Ricciardo and we were in front of him in that [early] part of the race," Alonso told Autosport.

"Thirty laps from the end we tried to change a little bit the approach and I backed off from the cars in front, and then at that point started having the engine problem.

"[Tyre saving] could work quite well as it did for Ricciardo, so I'm still thinking it was possible to at least try to attack at the end, with a little bit more pace, better tyres. Probably it was more possible than [at the beginning]."

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Lack of power

Once again Ferrari's weakness was down the straights as the powerful Mercedes teams and the slippery Red Bull found overtaking quite easy against the Prancing Horse's.

For Raikkonen, who failed to qualify in the top 10 for the fourth time in five races, he admitted that while the car itself was OK he just didn't have a chance to make progress.

"I caught up with the others, but it was difficult for us to overtake," he explained.

"It was a complicated situation at a circuit like this for us, the balance was there, but we were lacking overall grip and speed."

Pressure on

To have such a difficult weekend is hard enough for the Ferrari team, but to have one at Monza, in front of the home crowd and in front of the Fiat bosses is potentially even worse.

During the weekend, President Luca di Montezemolo had to fend off questions over his future in the role as speculation links him with moving to lead Italian airline Alitalia, however, the man who would likely replace him at Ferrari is keeping the wheels turning.

"It creates the illusion of being outside the rules," Fiat Chairman Sergio Marchionne told Italy's Autosprint when asked about Di Montezemolo's denials.

"Ferrari is a subsidiary of Fiat, but a certain independence from the product and market positioning was important.

"But I, like many others, are at the service of the company," he insisted. "When a company changes its mind, things change."

All about success on the track

It seems too, the increasingly public confrontation between the Ferrari stalwart and his likely successor is purely based on how the team performs on the circuit.

Business wise Marchionne praised Di Montezemolo for his performance but on the sporting front he is much less kind.

"On the economic results (of the road car division)," he said, "Luca did a great job and I congratulate him. But the other side is sports management.

"Ferrari is in F1 to win, I've been a fan for years, and it's hard to see Ferrari in this situation -- with the best drivers in the world, engineers who are really good, and no (title) win since 2008.

"It is essential to have a Ferrari that represents victory in F1, and this is not negotiable -- it is an absolutely clear objective and we cannot accept a situation other than this."

New direction

Questions over Di Montezemolo's future also come at a time when the F1 team is trying to modernise its approach.

Marco Mattiacci was brought in to succeed Stefano Domenicali in April not because of his F1 knowledge, indeed he knew very little about the sport, but instead to bring his business prowess to the team, to make the departments within Maranello work more efficiently, more creatively.

And there has been signs of progress with the result in Monza a blip on a slowly improving picture.

But as changes are made to the way Scuderia Ferrari operates, sooner or later that same approach will see change within the company as a whole and as Marchionne claims at the end of his comments to Autosprint: "Everyone can be replaced."

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