Montezemolo explains Alonso-Raikkonen switch, denies Santander link (Video)

Posted on

| Written by

Montezemolo: "It is not the sponsors that choose the drivers"

As well as dropping big fat hints about Michael Schumacher moving to Mercedes, Luca di Montezemolo has also responded to claims about his choice of driver line-up for 2010.

He denied bring Fernando Alonso on board purely to keep new sponsor Spanish bank Santander happy:

The role of Santander? Certainly, they are happy, but it is not the sponsors that choose the drivers: we have never operated like that and we never will.
Luca di Montezemolo

It’s interesting that he’s chosen to make such a comment – this is, after all, F1’s most successful team signing F1’s most successful active driver (at least until Schumacher returns).

I never found the ‘Ferrari signed Alonso just to please Santander’ claims very convincing. Regardless of whether Santander wanted Alonso in the car, it’s not hard to see why Ferrari would.

In the same speech Montezemolo played down claims of dissatisfaction with Kimi Raikkonen:

Let’s make one thing clear, we were very happy with everything Kimi did for Ferrari during his time at Maranello: he won the world championship in his first year and played a vital part in our taking the Constructors’ title in his second year, while in this difficult season he at least managed to secure us one victory.
Luca di Montezemolo

Why drop Raikkonen then? Here’s Montezemolo’s explanation:

We realised that our team needed a driver capable of really getting involved with the engineers, a characteristic that was not part of Kimi’s genetic make-up, even though he is an amazingly talented guy.
Luca di Montezemolo

In a special video he also stated he expects Alonso and Felipe Massa to work together:

I expect a lot from both of them. They know that they have to drive not for themselves but for Ferrari, for the team.
Luca di Montezemolo

Watch the full video below:

What do you make of Montezemolo’s speech? How do you think Alonso and Massa will get on in 2010? Leave a comment below.

Ferrari and Alonso

Image (C) Ferrari spa

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

49 comments on “Montezemolo explains Alonso-Raikkonen switch, denies Santander link (Video)”

  1. Ferrari can get all the sponsors in the world so to me, the idea that a sponsor dictates to them is ridiculous. Maybe the deal was hurried along because of hatever reason but they would never be ordered around. Alonso is widely regarded as the best on the grid right now and Kimi was probably the fastest but he was flawed.
    2010 will be excellent. Alonso and Massa will definately be a real challenge to each other and there should be a massive rivalry but I really doubt it will implode like Lewis and Fernando in 07.

  2. Mouse_Nightshirt
    19th December 2009, 13:31

    I think Luca has really put the cards on Fernando’s table. He’s a spectacular driver, but I question his gamesmanship. It will be interested to see if Fernando can properly “bed-in” with a teammate who has a decent skillset.

    Either we disprove the idea that Alonso is a rubbish teammate or we finally confirm that Alonso needs mollycoddling and cotton-wool to drive his best.

    1. Alonso won’t fall out with anybody this time, and I have three reasons.
      1. Hamilton, being a rookie, took Alonso by surprise when he was at McLaren. This time he is fully aware of Massa’s ability.
      2. If he throws his toys out of the pram again, Alonso will never get a drive at a top team again.
      3. If Schumacher does go to Mercedes, Massa might miss his influence in the Ferrari garage and it might make it a bit easier for Alonso to establish himself as the number one.

      1. but no one seems to remember that Alonso already had a discussion with Massa after a race and suddenly they are the best friends… I don’t buy it

      2. I agree… but it wasn’t just that Hamilton surprised Alonzo… when a team is giving a rookie preferential treatment over a two time champion that says a lot about that teams management.. I think Alonzo will be amazing in scarlet and he will help Massa be a better driver…

        1. They weren’t giving Hamilton preferential treatment. Alonso demanded preferential treatment and didn’t get it. He even went so far as to blackmail the team to get it.

          1. When Alonso AND Kovalainen both come out and say that McLaren are giving Hamilton preferential treatment regardless of how talented Hamilton is, it does make you think.

          2. Hamilton did get preferential treatment with Kovi, but not with Alonso. That was just a bad mix of toys and prams I’m afraid.

          3. Genuine question, but can someone post links to articles, from reputable sources so not something like The Sun, that have Alonso and Kovalainen going on the record as saying Hamilton receives preferential treatment from McLaren. I know Hamilton got updates first this year but I wasn’t sure both drivers had actually complained on the record.

  3. I think Alonso attracted Santander to Ferrari, not the other way around.

    1. I think so too.

  4. I agree that Ferrari probably wouldn’t let sponsors dictate drivers etc and Alonso is naturally attractive to Ferrari but I think that Santander definitely had a lot to do with him joining Ferrari for 2010 as opposed to 2011, aided of course by the whole Renault crash gate affair. Afterall, wasn’t it Santander who agreed to pay Kimi’s severance? IIRC that was the case but it’s been many months since that was all agreed so I don’t remember where I read it.

    1. I agree that Santander would have had a lot to do with it…paying Kimi off etc without them they probably would have waited in my view but ultimately the decision to hire Alonso was Ferrari’s.

      1. Exactly what I’m saying. :)

        1. Well then I definately agrre! Very good points there three4three (sorry I think I read it wrong before)

  5. Alonso and Massa will definately be a real challenge to each other and there should be a massive rivalry but I really doubt it will implode like Lewis and Fernando in 07

    Agree: I don’t see the team imploding – as long as everyone involved learns from past mistakes, whether their own or those of others. Given the backlash at the Schumacher years and McLaren’07, Ferrari have already (preventively) insisted on parity within the team and I’m sure they will do everything possible to keep that going through the season (publically, at least, that is.) But I think that Alonso will also have taken something away from his year at McLaren in the way of wilingness to compromise to some extent. As well, no matter their results on the track, somehow I don’t see Alonso feeling as threatened by Massa – ergo, he will be more gentle with his teammate this time around.

    Finally, if Schumacher comes back and Mercedes is neck and neck with Ferrari and McLaren, I think that those rivalries will overshadow internal pressures within the teams.

  6. Paige Michael-Shetley
    19th December 2009, 14:37

    Some thoughts on this:

    1) I don’t think there’s much conflict between what Raikkonen and LdM have said. Both said that Ferrari were happy with his performance as a driver. The only difference is on the role that Santander played, although I don’t think Kimi was really implying that Alonso is a pay driver; just that Santander’s influence was a factor. (Which LdM doesn’t really refute, he just refutes that it was a deciding factor.)

    2) LdM says that Ferrari realizes it needs a driver capable of engaging with the engineers. Well, reportedly, they already had that with Massa, who is an extroverted personality and reportedly is friends with the engineers and mechanics, including guys in the other half of the garage. So if you read between the lines, LdM is essentially saying that, despite this trait, Ferrari views Massa as insufficient.

    Given this interpretation as well as other statements made by Ferrari personnel about Alonso’s arrival, I think all the claims of “equal status” at Ferrari are rubbish. Clearly, Alonso is the man Ferrari views as the team leader. It’s a shame for Massa, who not only proved he could contend for a championship in 2008, but was also arguably the driver of the year in 2009 until his accident at the Hungaroring.

  7. I never understood suggestions that Ferrari signed Alonso to keep Santander happy, this would only be valid if Alonso was no good but he is rated as one the best drivers currently in F1.

    Santander signing with Ferrari being influenced by Ferrari signing Alonso is much more believable, but it is not as if Ferrari would struggle to attract sponsors if they hadn’t signed Santander.

  8. How do you think Alonso and Massa will get on in 2010?

    like an ice cream in an oven.

    1. lol, I agree

  9. For me this is a very confusing statement. First: happy with Kimi and then realizing that they need a driver with another mentality. WTH he wants to said? I cant get, sorry.

    For me this sounds as an excuse. He is realizing that their driver´s management is looking like a big mess to the fans right now.

    First: they put two Latin and temperamental drivers competing in the same team. Second: let the most identified Ferrari man go to another and powerful team.

    Luca is realizing that the Tifosis who knows the team´s history well will start to wonder if Michael begin to beat them in another team. Luca is trying — between the lines — to explain that the move with Alonso, despite let Michael go, is a correct one.

    Just a thought, but I think Ferrari is in the middle of political big mess and this could hurt the team in 2010.

    1. Becken – agree with you
      the great Ferrari family is getting doubts…maybe they’re starting to understand that you can’t guarantee victories with money ,social skills and a team communicating in italian…sure they’ll have some nice time but you need also good leadership, engineers and drivers. And the whole Santander bussiness has given them bad publicity -> less fans -> which maybe leads to less sponsors in the future?? THAT makes Luca nervous…

    2. In my opinion, Ferrari lost a great driver to get another great driver, and lost 25m in the process. No net gain, only loss; unless Santander was indeed an influential factor for Alonso signing – in which case maybe Ferrari have made some money on them despite losing on Kimi.

      Overall their driver management is indeed somewhat questionable.

      1. Alonso is hungrier for wins, and has a longer shelf-life ahead of him.

  10. Kimi is arguably faster than Massa, why not sack Massa?

    1. Because a lot of the money in F1 is tied to marketing, not the actual racing. Kimi may have been arguably faster, but Massa is more likable and thus more marketable. Also Massa is far more willing to do the marketing work while Kimi wants to just drive.

      1. Kimi is the more marketable diver. He has a fanbase world wide that Massa would be envious of. His fans love him (yeah I’m one).

        He may be harder to deal with though privately in the team and if you can switch to Alonso no loss.

        1. Ferrari as a brand is bigger than Kimi, Alonso, Massa combined :)

          The reasons for Kimi’s sacking are just what Luca stated.

          His 2008 problems would never have occurred if Kimi had communicated effectively towards his engineers. Ferrari was left with 2 options. 1- Fire engineers and get new ones, 2 – Let go of Kimi and get new driver.

          Ferrari chose the cheaper option. Simple business at work. Add to this Santander’s eagerness to see Alonso in their sponsored car and willingness to pay off Kimi, it was a done deal.

        2. Then Marcus you will be happy when Kimi returns in the Red Bull… that seems evident with his Red Bull backing in WRC… Kimi and Vettel would be a great pairing fr 2011… :)

        3. Kimi isn’t more marketable, despite his strong fanbase, for one very simple reason… Kimi won’t do marketing work. If Kimi were interested in doing the PR work, then yes he would be more marketable. The way things sit, however, a driver with possibly a smaller fanbase who will go out and do public appearances and marketing work is far more valuable than one who might have a larger fanbase but refuses to do the appearances/work.

    2. I dont think that Kimi is “arguably faster than Massa”, anyway, Santander is, right now, a big player in Banks marketing here in Brazil, what suits Ferrari sponsor strategies.

    3. Because he had the accident…good tempo for Massa…

  11. I think another factor behind dumping Kimi a year before his contract was up is Renault. All year there has been speculation about the future of the team. If you were to wait a year to get Alonso you’d have to be confident he would be available to drive in 2011. Renault would have been the most likely place for him to drive in 2010. If Renault had pulled out, where would Alonso have gone and would that team have held out for a multi-year deal? Granted someone certainly would have been agreeable to a one year deal, but would any of the teams willing to do that appeal to Alonso? If not, would Alonso then tie himself up in a two or three year deal to get a better drive, which would mean Ferrari would have to wait to get him in their cockpit.

    1. Spot on. So it’s a bit of push and a bit of pull, for Alonso and for Ferrari.

  12. Ferrari made a wise decision. Surely the sponsors probably had something to do with it but just looking at the facts Alonso is the best choice any team can make (except for McClaren). I don’t think he’s been a rubbish team mate at renault, in fact, that cheating traitor Piquet Jr. spoke highly of him as did Romain Grosjean. I do think he’s going to be the no. 1 driver. Except Hamilton, Schumacher and possibly Vettel there’s no one who comes close. He’s really great at car set-up as well. Ferrari needs a driver who’s able to do that, Alonso needs a team that can provide a winning car, so it makes sense.

    1. Don’t underestimate Massa! ;)

  13. As a McLaren fan, I couldn’t care less what the red car brigade does with the “tohuwabohu” that will definitely occur next year :-)

    What do I think?…. I think Kimi is telling it how it is and di Monte is hiding behind words. We have seen these things before.

    @Becken: When your former employer writes in your retrenchment certificate that your contract was terminated “mutually”, it just means that you were FIRED! So, what di Monti is trying to explain is thus: “We have this big bank as sponsors and they want to pay-off one of our drivers. It will be morally incorrect to chose an injured driver for the pay-off so lets get rid of the one who hates corporate assignments , and that is Kimi”. The rest blah-blah you can forget.

    Consider also why Fisico was lent to Ferrari, because Force India had a commercial advantage over the deal (engine bills or so…). So if Monte tells us sponsors do not chose drivers, that’s a fact but their sponsorship money do play a big role in the choosing process!!!

    1. As a McLaren fan, I couldn’t care less what the red car brigade does with the “tohuwabohu” that will definitely occur next year

      well then, don’t post anything. Your “tohuwabohu” occurred with McLaren.

      What do I think?…

      who cares what you think then, you only care about one team.

  14. Well, everybody knows that the deal was done before Massa’s accident, for 2011, and he (Massa) was the one that was going to be fired…

    With the accident, everything went “difficult” and PR standars dictate that you can’t get ride of a “disabled” just for this reason.

    So, Ferrari in the end had to keep Massa and fire Kimi, a pitty, i think the tandem Kimi-Alonso would have been the best for Ferrari.

    Sorry for my english and as i don’t write very often i will wish all of you a very, very, very Happy Christmas in advance :-)

  15. This makes me want to laugh. Montezemolo thinks Ferrari is not pressurised or dictated to by sponsors. Countless times have we been told of teams being obliged to sign certain drivers (for example was it not Toyota who wanted Nakajima at Williams), and he thinks he is immune lol.

    Frankly I’m getting bored at the constant and unrelenting petty unprofessional arrogance and sniping at every opportunity by Ferrari. I know it’s all part of the psychology and headline grabbing strategy but I’m beginning to wish they had left F1…

    1. What’s so arrogant about a team who isn’t short of funding saying that they don’t sign certain drivers for sponsorship money? Not every team is struggling financially like Williams as you think.

  16. Forget Santander for a minute. Imagine we are setting up F1 Fanatic GP, which will race for the first time in 2010. If we had (in my little fantasy world) an unlimited budget for drivers, and we had secured Ross Brawn and Adrian Newey together to build us a rocketship of a car, who would we have?

    Alonso would be at the very top of the list, along with Lewis, Vettel and Kimi. Would Massa make the grade as one of the top flight? No.

    The point is that Alonso is awesome, even though I’m someone who was going for Lewis in their intra-team battle a couple of years ago. He is fast, a great passer, great qualifier, great in the wet (hungary ’06 until his wheel fell off, nurburgring ’07 vs Massa)great on setting up a car, and he’ll tell it like it is if he’s not happy (Monza 2006 for example).

    Ferrari would have been mad not to sign him on talent alone. The Santander deal is a bonus. The shame is that Kimi will not be there too. Kimi using Alonso’s set ups to sort the car – lightning.

    1. Would Massa make the grade as one of the top flight? No.

      Don’t underestimate him.

  17. Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year to everyone! I know the Mclaren fans are putting down the Ferrari pair, but Mc, Ferr, RedBull and Mercedes are gonna make 2010 a memorable year because there are tonnes of quality.

  18. Like a cat and adog – mark my words!

  19. Thia what Montezemolo said ‘I expect a lot from both of them. They know that they have to drive not for themselves but for Ferrari, for the team.’
    I doubt Alonso will take this seriously.

  20. Between them I bet Alonso will be the WC,but I believe Massa can work with the team better than Alonso.

  21. Some people seem to dismiss the idea that after two years in purgatory at Renault, Alonso will have done no reflective review of the Mclaren saga. I am sure there would have been many nights where Alonso has reflected on what happened there, and how he could avoid it again.
    This does not mean it is impossible for such a situation to occur again, but i think he would defiantly try to avoid it again.

  22. Ha, ha, merchant of Ferrari.

Comments are closed.