Lack of titles put Domenicali under pressure – Alonso

2014 F1 season

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Ferrari’s failure to win any championships in the last five seasons combined with the pressure of leading the team led Stefano Domenicali to resign as Ferrari team principal, Fernando Alonso believes.

Speaking in today’s press conference for the Chinese Grand Prix Alonso praised Domenicali, whose resignation was announced on Monday.

“I think Stefano is a great man, first of all,” said the Ferrari driver.

“I’m close friend of him, this is no secret, we ski together every first of January in Italy in the mountains and we still have a close relationship and we’ve been talking all the week long.

“I think that will continue because we know each other for many years and we work very close for this couple of years. That’s important to separate the work from the friendship.”

Alonso said his former team principal “did good choices, good things” as team principal but his two championship near-misses plus Felipe Massa’s in 2008 put the Ferrari team principal under pressure.

“Obviously we miss opportunities in 2010, in 2012,” said Alonso. “They miss opportunity in 2008 with Felipe. If not probably he could have three championships in the pocket.”

“So I think he brought Pat Fry, he brought James Allison, [Kimi] Raikkonen.

“So I think all the things people ask from him he was giving to them, probably as I said the results in the sport are important and the pressure in Ferrari is also quite big so he made his decision which we respect and we try to move forward in different directions, but try to move forward and I’m happy with the time that we passed together.”

“We need to accept what Stefano decided,” Alonso added. “He was probably not any more with the mood to continue with the feeling of taking on the weight in the shoulders and he made a very responsible move.”

Alonso said Domenicali had acted in the best interests of the team by choosing to step down:

“It’s not easy you know when you have a very privileged position in one Formula One team to be able to step back and to say ‘maybe it’s better to move’.

“He did it, just for the Ferrari improve, for the Ferrari interest so that’s something that we cannot forget. And we have to respect that decision.”

He also pointed out Ferrari should not be expected to improve immediately following Domenicali’s resignation:

“From that point for sure in this race it is not that we will improve one second because I don’t think that Stefano was doing the front wing or the rear wing or whatever by his hands.

“So probably we need to wait a little bit of time and see what we can improve and try to help all the team. With the new people coming to make us a little bit stronger and try to get back some of the success from the past.”

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Keith Collantine
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28 comments on “Lack of titles put Domenicali under pressure – Alonso”

  1. Yes, he’s right, but I think he’s exagerrating a little with 2010 and 2012 “opportunities”. Thing is, the last really competitive Ferrari F1 car was built in 2008. The fact that Massa managed to push the champ to the final race is proof enough that the F2008 was a competitive car indeed. I’m pretty sure that if Alonso would have been at Ferrari in 2008, he would have won the champ. Unfortunately, in 2010 and 2012 the car wasn’t that competitive anymore… and more like Alonso’s talent and consistency positioned him 2nd in the standings. So, I don’t think Ferrari would have done better in 2010 and 2012 if Vettel or Hamilton would have been in those Ferraris. In 2010 and 2012 maximum possible was achieved given the car’s performance. And I think the biggest problem was the inconsistency of the car too. In half races the car was competitive – fighting for podium places – while in the rest of the races Ferrari drivers fought for non-podium places. Same thing seems to be happening now too, since the season started they (= Ferrari drivers) finished lower and lower. This doesn’t seem to happen to Mercedes, RBR and Force India. Their performace seems a lot more linear. And I think this was Ferrari’s main problem with the car in 2010 and 2012 too. It’s hard to be a true title contender when you win 1 race, but in the next race you finish 4th, for ex.

    1. Sorry @corrado-dub but if 2012 was most definitely an opportunity. The WDC was lost on the pit wall, and I’m surprised Montezemolo didn’t call for heads immediately afterwards. Sure, it was an average car, but they still had a massive opportunity to win.

      1. Yeah, that’s for sure, but every team has some little mistakes over a season. And by “little mistakes” I mean something that can cost them like 1-3 places. I find that acceptable. They’re not robots yet. Personally, when I think of 2012, Alonso’s biggest problem was Grosjean presence at Spa. Almost for sure Alonso wouldn’t have won that race, but a position between 3 and 5 seemed more than achievable. And that would have been enough to pass Vettel in standings. Unfortunately for him, and luckily for Vettel, Grosjean did it again, and that meant a race with 0 points for Alonso… which costed him dearly.

        1. @corrado-dub
          While I agree that Alonso was unlucky in Spa and missed out on few points which were vital for his championship bid in 2012 but why do people tend to forget his accident with kimi in Suzuka? Why do people always blame Grosjean as the only reason Alonso lost his WDC battle? Why not Alonso’s mistake in Suzuka is spoken about where if he dint pushed Kimi on grass on opening lap he could have scored some points.

          1. You’re right, there’re more problems that affected him over the year, but I’m talking more about 3rd parties involved in the champ battle (via accidents produced by the 3rd party), especially when an accident like that changes the standings too. Then, GRO accident was very dangerous, a mistake we don’t expect and inacceptable (if I can say this) at this level. But Alonso was very lucky too in that accident because a wheel from another car (GRO’s car if I’m not wrong) passed his head by centimeters. I don’t want to think what would have happened if that wheel would have hit Alonso directly in the head. So, personally, I’m thinking primarily at the Spa accident because it’s a kind of accident that shouldn’t exist in F1 and that can be avoided.

          2. Yes GRO incident was dangerous and after the race ban he had been more careful on the track. But when we talk about WDC title we cant just pick one factor to decide on how it was won or lost. That’s my view point. Anyhow I got what you are saying. :)

      2. There’s too many ‘what ifs’. What if Schumacher, the two Toro Rossos and Webber didn’t just let Vettel by on his climb back through the field in Brazil? Alonso would have been WDC. It really comes down to ‘that’s just racing’.

        I don’t agree with Red Bull’s ability to run 4 car strategies against their opponents if need be, but if the FIA feels it’s legal, then it’s just the way it is.

        1. He also flew past Schu in a Mercedes. Vettel was just a man possessed that day, and no one was going to hold him off. I also think you forget all the trouble Webber caused him– he wasn’t doing Vettel any favors at all.

    2. I don’t agree with your assessment of their 2010 campaign. The F10 was absolutely a competitive car, it even won its debut race. What it lacked in downforce relative to the RB6, it more than made up for in reliability and versatility. Look at the season race-by-race and it’s pretty clear that Alonso was lacking in consistency and really threw away a good opportunity for the Scuderia.

  2. I wonder how much influence Alonso had in Dominecali’s “resignation”, because he was as angry as di Montezemolo.

    1. Somewhere between naff-all and diddly-squat.

  3. Instead of forcing a decent bloke to resign, maybe they should look at themselves and this sense of entitlement to win they seem to have. Rather than accept that Ferrari is a team of the past, not the future, they keep pushing for F1 to go back to suit them.

    Imo, they have zero interest in hybrid for their road cars atm and therefore have no real clue how to get the best from them.

    1. It’s easy to hate Ferrari.. But a team without a clear sense of entitlement towards the podium shouldnt be on the grid. Its that strong competetive tendency that bred McLaren, Ferrari and Williams into the heated title contenders that they are/were (whatever)… Its also what is driving Force India to their recent success, they feel like they deserve to be there and they are acting on it! I say good for them, make hay while the sun shines!

      Hate Ferrari’s arrogance as opposed to their desire to win. They’re a monument in the community.

    2. It’s jumping to conclusions to assume Domenicali was “forced” to do anything.

  4. I guess Grosjean hitting Alonso in Spa, the fuel pump in Singapore, the flat tyre in Suzuka, Hamilton overtaking Glock, the very fast RB8, Vettel and what not are all Domenicalli his fault…

    You might almost say Domenicalli is as responsible for the titles of Vettel as Newey.

    I do sometimes wonder how the world would look at Alonso if he had won in 2007, 2010 and 2012. Maybe the greatest of all time with those 5 titles.

    1. Very good point. How would the world have viewed him?..haha..I always stop and wonder.

      The only person with this many near misses is Prost, who in addition to his 4 titles, finished second on 4 occasions.

      I wont be surprised if Alonso moves to Mclaren at the end of this year…but it will a gamble…but what has he got to loose now anyway? No pun intended, but he has beating the prancing horse to death…it only appears to be getting worse.

      I would really love to see him win another title…but I feel that if he doesnt land a competitive drive elsewhere, he will retire in the next couple years.

  5. Domenicalli had to go because of, among others things, Alonso constant public moaning that Ferrari is unable to give him a fast car, the team is not working enough, the car is not good, the team need to work more, I could have won 22 World championships but Ferrari gave me a car that we don’t understand blah blah blah blah. Four years of that and there you go.
    Enjoy your skiing with Domenicalli, bro.

  6. In 2008 it was swings and roundabouts really. Neither Hamilton or Massa drove a perfect season and Raikkonen was unlucky at times and struggled himself.

    Alonso’s mistakes early in 2010 cost far more than the tactical error in Abu Dhabi.

    In 2012, I think Alonso drove incredibly well but Vettel delivered when it mattered.

    However, maybe it was time for change at Maranello.

    1. Steph (@stephanief1990)
      17th April 2014, 13:24

      2008 was a bad year for Ferrari – the car was a dog in the wet, reliability was pretty poor and Ferrari made that absurd blunder in the pits in Singapore.

      In 2008, 2010 and 2012 at the end of the day the Ferrari was slower than their rivals. The only reason Ferrari ever even stood a chance in 2012 was because of Fernando Alonso.

      1. I’m not sure about that. A little bit inside of me always wonders what would happen if it was Vettel or Hamilton in those Ferraris. Particularly Hamilton in 2010 and 2012, two of his best years. I think 2010 would have been his due to how far he got in the slower McLaren and perhaps his better qualifying would capitalize on the Ferrari starts better and maybe he would have won more races than Alonso. Of course this is a complete maybe, and no discredit to Alonso, his performance in leading the team has been amazing. It’s just something I always wonder.

  7. So a team principal runs a team? So if the team fails i.e pitstop or strategies the principal can be held accountable? I don’t think Ferrari’s failure in the past 5 seasons is Stef’s fault. The have produced an average car for many seasons now and Domenicali is not a designer or engineer, that’s the job of Fry and Alison. Yes there has been team failures but nothing of the sort the Mclaren produced over the past few years, in fact if you were to reference Ferrari team failures against Redbull on the basis that Domenicali was sacked on “his” performance, you would wonder why Christian Horner still has a job. A tradesman is only a good as the tools he has to work with.

    1. @funkyf1

      Duh Horner won 4xwc and 4 constructor titles thats why he as a job.

  8. I believe one of the first priorities for the new team principal will be to keep Alonso at the team. I mean, McLaren may be a gamble, but as he’s nearing the end of his career he may want to change if another team looks a better shot at the title.

  9. IMO Alonso has a good portion of blame to put on himself for not winning in 2010, but in 2012 he was the best driver on the grid and the miss of the WDC was 90% Ferrari’s poor car developments fault.

    Ferrari has been going down a slippery downward slope ever since Domenicali took over in 08.

    1. Could not agree more. Alonso was the weak link at Ferrari in 2010. The F10 may not have been the fastest car that year but it was one of the most reliable, and almost always competitive at the very least. When you look at the points he threw away early in the season with silly errors in Monaco, Silverstone etc. it becomes clear that he should have been champion, regardless of Ferrari’s strategy blunder at Abu Dhabi. He and Hamilton were peerless in 2012 though…

      1. @Hallard None of the ‘big 3’ had their best years in 2010. Ultimately the one in the best car regarding speed and development won the day. Alonso should be cut some slack for joining a new team. He was still adapting to the pressures at Ferrari after a considerable lack of pressure and intensity in 2009 in that awful Renault.

        By the same token, no one was better in the second half of that year than Alonso. To overcome such a mid-season defecit that year in not the best car was an extraordinary effort. Unfortunately Vettel got his act together at the end of 2010 and we caught a glimpse of the awesome potential of the Red-Bull – Vettel combo.

        Domenicalli did a lot right and has got good people in place at Ferrari. But I feel he wasn’t cut throat enough or political enough. For a lot of people that’s a positive but I remember just how much Todt and Brawn seemed to get away back in the Schumi years.

        1. I’m more than willing to cut Alonso some slack in that regard, and I think he still bagged some great results. He won his debut race, and even won at Monza in Ferrari’s back yard!

          But the fact remains that the team provided him the car and the support worthy of winning the championship in 2010, and his mistakes cost them. Alonso and his fans should not pretend that the blame lies elsewhere.

    2. I would suggest that Domenicali is not the sole reason for the decline in form of Ferrari though – I would ascribe a fair amount of that to the technical issues Ferrari have had that extend far beyond just Domenicali’s management.

      How many times have we heard about calibration issues with their wind tunnel? The set up issues that plagued the team in early 2012? The fact that the F14T is reportedly badly overweight and the 056/3 powertrain is significantly inferior to the Mercedes PU106A (perhaps di Montezemolo might regret championing the new regulations – he wanted new regulations to put more emphasis on the powertrains). Domenicali had his issues, but the technical issues – which would be more the responsibility of the Technical Director – point to far deeper issues.

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