Fernando Alonso has been given a very public telling-off by Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo for comments that the Spaniard made after the Hungarian Grand Prix that triggered rumours the two-time World Champion was considering quitting the Italian team.
While the team didn’t go as far to suggest which of Alonso’s comments caused the grief, it would suggest that his negative comments about the car’s performance at last weekend’s race – in which he finished fifth – were the trigger.
Particularly, it would appear that an off-the-cuff comment he made – suggesting that “someone else’s car” would be an ideal 32nd birthday present – led to suggestions that he was making a late bid for the vacant seat at Red Bull Racing next season.
His cause was not helped by the fact that his manager, Luis Garcia Abad, held not-so-secret talks with Red Bull Racing team principal during the weekend.
All parties denied that the discussions related to Alonso, with Abad also known to represent promising Spanish racer, Carlos Sainz Jr, who tested for the Milton Keynes squad at the ‘Young Drivers’ test at Silverstone a fortnight ago.
“There is a need to close ranks, without giving in to rash outbursts that, while understandable in the immediate aftermath of a bad result, are no use to anyone,” the statement read.
“That was a reference to the latest comments from Fernando Alonso, which did not go down well with Montezemolo, nor with anyone in the team.”
The team added that di Montezemolo personally phoned Alonso on Monday to wish his star driver a happy birthday, but also took the opportunity to put him on notice for his behaviour.
“This is the moment to stay calm, avoid polemics and show humility and determination in making one’s own contribution, standing alongside the team and its people both at the track and outside it.”
Alonso’s disappointing weekend saw him lose second place in the Drivers’ Championship standings to Lotus’ Kimi Räikkönen by one point after the Finn’s second-placed finish. He lies 38 points behind championship leader Sebastian Vettel, who finished the race in third.
Alonso should not consider Ferrari’s comments idly, as the team has been known to sack drivers for openly criticising the team’s performance. Back in 1991, the outfit fired Alain Prost before the end of the season after the Frenchman likened that year’s car to a truck.