Luca di Montezemolo has given Fernando Alonso "eight out of ten" for the Spaniard's 2013 season. While the Italian team is struggling to hold third position in the constructors' championship, and Felipe Massa is just eighth in the drivers' standings, Alonso last weekend sealed the runner-up spot behind Sebastian Vettel.
The Spaniard said this week: "I am proud, because we clearly do not have the second fastest car. So finishing second is a great reward for me." However, Alonso has had a somewhat fraught relationship with Ferrari this year, amid critical comments and rumours he toyed with moves to Red Bull and McLaren. Asked to rank Alonso's season, president Montezemolo told CNN: "A good eight out of ten. I think he's really a very, very good driver," he added.
Montezemolo insisted he is not making excuses, but he said Ferrari "paid a big price" for Pirelli's mid-season tyre specification switch. He is also happy F1's rules are changing radically for 2014. "I am very happy to change rules, because I don't like formulas where aerodynamics makes 90 per cent of the performance," said di Montezemolo.
Probably giving Alonso a higher ranking than 8 is Ferrari's team principal Stefano Domenicali, who said the Maranello team "owes him a lot". "And next year, we must do all we can to provide him and Kimi with what they need to win."
But Alonso has admitted he is worried even the radical new rules next year, which many believe will be a clean slate for the pecking order, will not stop Red Bull's dominance. "Red Bull has a one second (per lap) advantage," he is quoted by the BBC, "so they can put whatever exhaust blowing or engine in their car and they are still on pole."
Di Montezemolo had to "tweak" Alonso's ear earlier this year amid a spate of critical remarks, but Domenicali said he can understand the frustration. "His frustration is our frustration," he said. "If you are not able to give a good car or a fast enough car to a driver who is always fighting like hell, it is very important that we focus on how we develop the car in the future," the Italian added. (GMM)