||Autodromo Nazionale di Monza
||306.720 km / 190,628 miles
Italian GP – In debt to Monza
Marco Mattiacci: “In Formula 1, as in sport in general, there are days to forget and this was certainly one of them. Unfortunately, we had no way of predicting the problem that affected Fernando’s car, but I am sorry that it happened right here in Monza at our home race. Even though we are making progress, we knew that these last two races would be very difficult. Therefore, while it’s impossible to accept a result like this, now our only thought is to get back to being competitive as soon as possible. First and foremost, we must continue to work and to improve, because I’m sure the working practices put in place these last few months will help us get back to the top.”
Fernando Alonso: “After a long run of trouble-free races, it’s a real shame I had to retire just here in Monza, in front of all our fans. I would have liked to have put on a very different race for them. In the first stint we were competitive, but when you find yourself in a group of cars where everyone is using DRS, overtaking becomes nearly impossible. After the pit stop, I found myself at the back of a train of cars and at that point we changed the strategy, deciding to drop back from the group to conserve the tyres and try and attack at the end of the race. But then came the problem with the ERS system. It’s never nice for the team to have a reliability problem, because the guys work night and day to give us the best car possible. What happened doesn’t change my will to win and in order to try and have that happen soon, we will continue to work as hard as we can, always giving our all.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “We knew this would be a difficult weekend and today in the race, we saw the proof of that. Overall, I was happy with the handling of the car and the balance was good, but we lacked speed down the straight and I didn’t have much grip. As soon as I got close to the cars ahead of me, I lost aerodynamic downforce and the car was sliding all over the place. I think I did the most I could today, even if unfortunately I was unable to get the result I would have wanted for our home race, for the team and all our fans. Now we must think of the upcoming races and continue to work nonstop, because we are coming up to tracks that should better suit the characteristics of our car”.
Pat Fry: “On a weekend which we knew would suit the characteristics of our opponents’ cars, trying our best was unfortunately not enough. Having pulled off a brilliant passing move on Perez round the outside at first Lesmo, Fernando then spent the whole first stint in a group of cars all doing the same lap times, with all the drivers benefiting from the DRS effect on those cars ahead of them. Unfortunately, his race ended after the first stop, because of a failure within the ERS system. Even if it’s been a long time since we’ve had a reliability issue, this incident shows how important it is to continue to focus on this aspect. Thanks to a good getaway, Kimi managed to make up one place at the start and another by passing Hulkenberg on lap 6, but he could not make up enough ground to attack those in front. We finished in the points with him, however it’s disappointing that we were unable to do more for the fans. Now, all we can do is look to the future and try and do well starting with the very next Grand Prix in Singapore.”
Italian GP – Kimi ninth, Fernando’s first retirement
Monza, 7 September – While every race carries the same number of points, except for Abu Dhabi, and all teams try equally hard at all Grands Prix, it’s particularly galling to have a disappointing afternoon in front of the home crowd. Therefore, to come away from Monza with just two points thanks to Kimi Raikkonen’s ninth place is not what Scuderia Ferrari wanted for its fans, who are naturally more numerous here than at any other race of the season.
Despite the F14 Ts showing well in free practice, Saturday’s qualifying produced a clearer picture of the hierarchy, which featured nothing but Mercedes-powered cars further up the grid that seventh placed Fernando. Neither Alonso nor eleventh placed Raikkonen were able to make up ground at what was a muddled start to the race, with pole man Hamilton and third placed Bottas dropping back into the pack. Therefore, moving up the order was going to be a very difficult task.
Stuck in the pack with the DRS effect cancelling out anyone’s passing potential, Fernando was cemented into seventh place, making his only pit stop to switch from the Medium to the Hard tyre on lap 21. The Spaniard rejoined eleventh, but four laps later he was forced to park the car at the first chicane, with a problem on the Energy Recovery System. It was Fernando’s first retirement of the year” a bad blow, but it highlighted an incredibly positive statistic, namely that Alonso had not retired from a race with a mechanical problem – in other words, not counting collisions – for 86 races, dating back to the 2010 Malaysian Grand Prix.
Kimi found he lacked top end speed and when he did close on those ahead, his car lost downforce. It led to an entertaining early race duel with fellow Finn, Valtteri Bottas, who eventually got ahead and went on to finish fourth. The Ferrari man made his only stop of the afternoon, to take on the Hard Pirellis, on lap 20 while in ninth place and he rejoined fourteenth. He worked his way up to ninth, but had to give best to Daniel Ricciardo in the closing stages, crossing the line in tenth place, before promotion to ninth, courtesy of a penalty for Kevin Magnussen in the McLaren.
After his poor start from pole, Lewis Hamilton recovered to pressure Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg into a mistake, which allowed the Englishman to go on to record his sixth win of the year ahead of the German, who still leads the Drivers’ Championship. In the Constructors’ classification, the Scuderia has dropped to fourth, 15 points behind Williams, thanks to Felipe Massa finishing third to secure his first podium with the English team. In fact, the Monza fans, who packed the main straight under the magnificent Monza podium, gave the Brazilian former Ferrari driver the warmest reception of all, with the possible exception of the one they reserved for another “ferrarista,” the ever popular Jean Alesi, who conducted the podium interviews.
Italian GP – A bitter Monza for Scuderia Ferrari
Monza, 7 September –The Italian Grand Prix proved a bitter pill to swallow for Scuderia Ferrari, as the team leaves Monza with a meagre two points courtesy of Kimi Raikkonen’s ninth place. Fernando Alonso failed to finish, after a technical problem saw him retire at the start of lap 29.
At the start, the two Maranello team drivers were unable to make up any places and after the only pit stop they dropped a few. When he retired, Fernando was lying tenth, the position that Kimi then took over. The Finn had a difficult start but fought back in the second part of a race that featured plenty of battles. The Finn crossed the line in tenth, but was promoted to ninth, as McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen had to add a 5 second penalty to his race time.
Lewis Hamilton took his sixth win of the season, the 28th of his career, crossing the line ahead of Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg. The German thus maintains the lead in the championship, while Felipe Massa was third for Williams. The next round is in Singapore in a fortnight’s time.
Italian GP – A splash of yellow amidst the red as Nibali visits Ferrari
Monza, 7 September – After welcoming Gregorio Paltrinieri and Andrea Iannone to the Scuderia Ferrari pits at the Italian Grand Prix, today another sports star was with the team to cheer on Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen. Vincenzo Nibali, winner of this year’s Tour de France arrived this morning, meeting Fernando and Team Principal, Marco Mattiacci. This July, “The Shark” as the Italian cyclist is known became the seventh Italian to win the Tour de France, after Bottecchia, Bartali, Coppi, Nencini, Gimondi and Pantani.
The win means Vincenzo joins a select band of those who have won all three Grand Tours, as he also came first in the 2010 Vuelta a Espana and the 2013 Giro d’Italia.
It was Vincenzo’s first visit to a Formula 1 race. “I like this sport a lot but I’ve never got to see the cars this close up and it’s incredible how much technology there is in a Ferrari Formula 1 car. When my racing schedule allows me, I am a keen follower of the main Grands Prix, the ones on the historic track and I even get them recorded. Ferrari represents Italy all over the world and I always cheer on the Scuderia.”
Cycle racing is one of Fernando Alonso’s great interests. “I know him well and he came to see me at the Worlds in Florence. He always watches our races and it’s nice to know that just as I follow his progress, he is also pays attention to what is going on in the world of cycling.”
Italian GP – Montezemolo: “Still a lot to do for Ferrari and Formula 1″
Monza, 6 September – Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo made his traditional Monza visit today, saluting the fans from pit lane, getting a very warm reception from all those in the grandstands, waiting for qualifying to begin. Naturally, he also spoke to the journalists, addressing various topics. “Of course I’m happy to be at Monza,” he said. “This track has a unique atmosphere and for me and for Ferrari it holds many great memories. It was here in 1975 that I won my first title as Sporting Director and assistant to Enzo Ferrari, with Niki Lauda driving. We went through amazing times here with Michael Schumacher, to whom I send all my heartfelt best wishes and in this I also speak on behalf of all the men and women at Ferrari. And it was also here that we enjoyed Fernando’s victory in 2010.”
As for the rumours doing the rounds in the paddock regarding the long term future with Ferrari, the President was brief in his comments. “I think this rumour is kicking up rather too much dust. Last March, I made it clear I was available to continue in my role for a further three years and if anything changes, I will be the first to let it be known.” Montezemolo then spoke of the work still to be done this year, talking about a year with record profits and other matters relating to the road car business, such as the new car that will be launched at the Paris Motor Show and events that are being prepared for October, to celebrate Ferrari’s 60 years in the United States.
When it came to the topic of Formula 1, the President had this to say: “We are working with the new Team Principal, Marco Mattiacci, to revitalize and reorganize our race team. There is still a great deal to do and we must do our best back in the factory to get back to the top.” Then, moving on to another racing topic, Montezemolo returned to the subject of how Formula 1 must change to be centre stage again as far as the media is concerned. “I have told Mattiacci to talk about the regulations in the appropriate environment. We need to put the fans and enthusiasts who watch the races on TV and at the tracks in centre stage. The priority therefore is to put in place simple rules that the public will find easy to understand. We must return to channeling excitement into Formula 1 and to make it clear that this sport is also a form of research. We must stop lowering the level of Formula 1. If someone doesn’t want to go testing, then don’t do them, if someone has excellent simulators they don’t have to do it, but this tendency has to stop. Yes, controlling costs is invoked but this year we have ended up with the most expensive engines of all time.”
The Ferrari President also met with the two drivers and, when asked by the media about Alonso’s contract, he replied, “Fernando has a contract with us to the end of 2016 and wants the same things I want and that the fans want, namely a competitive car.” As for Raikkonen: “I am happy that he is beginning to feel more at ease with the car and I hope that on Sunday he will be able to have another strong race, like he did in Spa-Francorchamps.”
Italian GP – Still all to play for
Fernando Alonso: “We knew that, as usual in qualifying, it would be tough and that the encouraging signs we saw in free practice should not create false expectations. Unfortunately today, we could not have done better, because even though I was trying my hardest, we set very similar times with all four sets of tyres. Now, we must look ahead to the race, which will be a tough one and, given how small the gaps are, it could also be very interesting. Usually here, at the first chicane, there’s a lot of action and you need to be very careful if you want to be in the game. On top of that, it will be very important to manage the tyre degradation, given that the best strategy would seem to be a one-stop. Because of that it means doing a lot of laps on both compounds.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “After a definitely positive start to the weekend, today in qualifying, I was expecting a better result. I experienced some difficulties in the afternoon, as the car was harder to drive, I was struggling to find the right grip level and I was locking the fronts. That’s why, on my last run on the Medium tyres, I made a few small mistakes which prevented me getting further than Q2. Starting eleventh is not ideal but all the same, I will give it my best shot tomorrow. We know we are up against some very strong opponents, but the long run went well and even if the race is another matter, this factor means we can be confident. It will be very important to get off the line well and choose the best strategy. It would be very nice to produce a good result for all our fans who have come to support us here in Monza.”
Pat Fry: “Compared to the morning session, we experienced a few more difficulties in qualifying, in terms of the balance of the car, especially in the fast corners and under braking, areas that are more complicated to manage on a track where you run low downforce. I don’t think Fernando could have done any more with his car. With the race pace we saw in Friday’s practice, let’s hope that tomorrow he can make up a few places and manage the Red Bulls behind him. Unfortunately, with Kimi, we didn’t make it to Q3, which is a real shame after what had been his first trouble-free free practice sessions of the season. Today he suffered a lot with locking the front wheels and at the vital moment in Q2, he lost time going into Roggia. With both compounds we experienced reasonably linear degradation, so even with the high temperatures expected tomorrow, it should not influence our strategy. If we want to score as many points as possible with both cars in the race, it will be important to manage the reliability parameter and try and get a good start.”
Gregorio Paltrinieri a guest of Scuderia Ferrari in Monza
Monza, 6 September–There was a special guest in the Scuderia Ferrari garage today: Gregorio Paltrinieri is the newly crowned 800 and 1500 metres freestyle swimming European champion, titles he won in Berlin in August. While the Scuderia is well used to having sporting champions in the garage, Gregorio is something special, as he comes from the same Modena region as Ferrari, born in Carpi on 5 September, twenty years ago.
“It’s my first time at a Formula 1 Grand Prix and I couldn’t be anywhere else for it but in the Ferrari pits. I’m from Modena and my passion for this marque runs through my veins as it does for all of us from this part of the world. Despite my busy sports schedule, I always follow what’s happening in Formula 1, even if that means recording it. I’ve been a fan since I was a kid and it will always be the case.”
Gregorio was amazed by what he saw in the pits. “From the outside it seems easy when you watch the cars on track, but behind the scenes, there’s an incredible amount of work taking place. One hour before qualifying, the cars were still in bits, then, like an orchestra, the mechanics put everything together with incredible speed and precision.” As an athlete, the champion was particularly interested in what the drivers did. “I watched Alonso and Raikkonen closely, specially in terms of how they managed to concentrate in the middle of all the frantic activity. Even in long swimming races like the ones I do, freeing one’s mind and thinking only about what you must do is vital. I found that both of them were incredibly cool and prepared true champions.”
Italian GP – Fourth and sixth rows for Fernando and Kimi
Monza, 6 September –It was a complicated qualifying session for Scuderia Ferrari at Monza, the scene tomorrow at 2pm of the Italian Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso managed to get his F14 T onto the seventh spot on the grid, while Kimi Raikkonen had to settle for twelfth, although he will start eleventh as Daniil Kvyat has a grid penalty in the Toro Rosso.
Both Ferrari men got through Q1 without any problems: Fernando was tenth and Kimi thirteenth. In Q2, things got more complicated: all the drivers were on the Medium tyres, going for the fastest time possible. Alonso’s first run produced a 1.25.525 which would see him safe, but with a 1.26.110, Kimi was tenth for a long time. At the flag, Fernando got into Q3 in fifth place, but Kimi was unable to improve and ended up twelfth and therefore outside the zone. In the final part, Alonso was seventh after his first run behind Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull.
On his second attempt, the Spaniard improved, getting ahead of the German to go sixth, but then dropped back to seventh when Kevin Magnussen managed to improve in the McLaren right at the end. Fernando is therefore the best placed non-Mercedes powered driver: Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have monopolised the front row for Mercedes, with the second row featuring the Williams duo, with Valtteri Bottas ahead of Felipe Massa, while the third row sees the McLaren pair of Magnussen and Jenson Button. Between the Englishman and Raikkonen come Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo for Red Bull and Sergio Perez in the Force India.
Italian GP – Fernando and Kimi second and seventh
Monza, 6 September –The Ferrari F14 Ts of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen set the second and seventh fastest times respectively, in the final free practice for the Italian Grand Prix. In total, the Scuderia cars covered 28 laps of the Monza track. Both men started on Hard tyres, switching to the Medium compound, the softest of the two tyres supplied by Pirelli, after half an hour.
Fernando Alonso did 13 laps, the fastest in 1.25.931, while Kimi Raikkonen did 15, the best being a 1.26.327. Around halfway through the session, President Luca di Montezemolo arrived in the garage, before crossing the pit lane to wave at the fans, to warm applause. He then stayed to watch the rest of the session.
Lewis Hamilton was fastest for Mercedes in 1.25.519. Splitting Alonso and Raikkonen were the two Williams of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa, Jenson Button (McLaren) and Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull.) Qualifying begins at 2pm.
Italian GP – Monza, as special as ever
Monza, 5 September – The Italian Grand Prix is always a unique event on the Formula 1 calendar and for a variety of reasons, starting with the fact it’s the home race for the most famous team in the sport – you know who that is – so the fans play a particularly important part in creating the atmosphere over the weekend.
Then, this year, there are other factors to throw into the mix, because even if you want to run a car with low drag and low downforce, the fact the cars have inherently less downforce this year, by virtue of the new technical regulations, meant this Friday saw the engineers and drivers heading into uncharted waters.
It was an interesting three hours therefore and, with the usual proviso that Friday times mean little, the tifosi can be allowed a little bit of optimism at seeing the two F14 Ts produce respectable lap times, ending the day running together behind the dominant Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, who inevitably topped the time sheet.
But one still needs to remain cautious about what the Saturday and Sunday scenarios will be, because even if third placed Kimi Raikkonen and fourth placed Fernando Alonso posted times that were closer than usual to the Mercedes, one has to consider that, this afternoon, the top 12 cars all qualified within the same second. Tomorrow will provide a clearer picture, as despite the fact it began to rain a few hours after FP2, a warm dry day is forecast for tomorrow, which means Qualifying should produce a thrilling fight, a fight in which hundredths of a second could make the difference and just getting to the final top ten shoot out should not be considered a foregone conclusion.
Italian GP – A Friday unlike any other
Fernando Alonso: “For various reasons, Friday in Monza is always a bit different to the others, with a special significance for our team in the weekend of its home race. The track characteristics also make it one of a kind: here you run with low aerodynamic downforce, you feel the car is quicker down the straights and lighter in the corners and, as was the case today, you need to try different downforce levels. In general, I’m happy with the work we did on set-up and tyres and especially with the time I did with a heavy fuel load. Towards the end, we were worried we had a problem, but to banish any doubt, we went out for another lap and everything seemed back to normal. Now, we are preparing for tomorrow and we hope to do well for all the fans who were already here today cheering us on from the stands.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “That was a very busy day, but a positive one. We made the most of every minute available to us in both sessions, managing to try everything we had on our programme. In the morning, we concentrated on assessing different aero configurations, in search of the best level of downforce. Then in the afternoon, we opted for an intermediate solution that seemed to produce the best results on both compounds. The difference between the Medium and the Hard is more or less what we expected; the softer one behaves well, but in terms of driveability, I found the Hard wasn’t bad either.”
Pat Fry: “Monza is a special circuit with unique characteristics. The long straights and the small number of corners mean that on Friday one has to work on finding the best aerodynamic configuration. Even if in general, the cars have less downforce, this year it’s more complicated than usual to find the right set-up and decide what is the right level of downforce for the fast corners such as Ascari or the Parabolica. Therefore, in the morning and the afternoon, we worked to improve the cars’ stability and now we will try and optimise our package based on the data gathered from both drivers. Fortunately, we encountered no problems today and it was important to get through the programme, including evaluating tyre performance, as the ability to generate grip from the tyres is even more important when the cars are running in low downforce configuration. Overall, we are pleased with today’s work, but we know we still face a particularly demanding weekend.”
Italian GP – Scuderia Ferrari third and fourth
Monza, 5 September –Kimi Raikkonen set the third fastest time in the second free practice session for the Italian Grand Prix, while Fernando Alonso was fourth. Temperatures were slightly higher this afternoon than in the morning at Monza, as the F14 Ts completed a total of 57 laps between them, which is more than a race distance. Kimi and Fernando continued to work on set-up and ran a comparison between the two compounds Pirelli has supplied this weekend: the Hard, which was also tried in the morning and the Medium, which is faster over a single lap.
Raikkonen did 31 laps, the best in 1.26.331 and Alonso did 26, the fastest being a 1.26.565. In the final half hour, both Scuderia drivers did long runs so as to evaluate the behaviour of the car and tyres over a long run.
Quickest was championship leader Nico Rosberg, who stopped the clocks in 1.26.225 for Mercedes, beating team-mate Lewis Hamilton by 61 thousandths. The third free practice starts tomorrow at 11.
Italian GP – Fernando and Kimi fourth and seventh fastest
Monza, 5 September – The Scuderia Ferrari drivers ended the first free practice session for the Italian Grand Prix in fourth and seventh places. Under overcast skies, but in dry conditions, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen completed 23 and 27 laps respectively, working on set-up, while also starting work on evaluating the Hard Pirelli tyres. Fernando’s best time was a 1.27.169, which puts him fourth, while Kimi stopped the clocks in 1.27.493 to take seventh place on the time sheet.
Lewis Hamilton was fastest for Mercedes in 1.26.187. Jenson Button was second in the McLaren, ahead by whisker of Nico Rosberg in the other Mercedes. Between Alonso and Raikkonen we find Kevin Magnussen (McLaren) and Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull.) The second session starts at 2pm.
De la Rosa: “Monza, unique and special”
Maranello, 5 September – “Monza is a beautiful circuit,” Scuderia test driver Pedro de la Rosa tells www.ferrari.com. “It has several unique features; it is situated in a park, it is very fast and the fans manage to get really close to the drivers. In fact, you usually see them perched in the trees to get a better view of the track, something you never see at any other circuit.”
Brakes, the key. As for the technical side, Monza is definitely a track that puts heavy demands on the brakes. “It’s extremely important to have an efficient system,” continues Pedro. “And you have to do everything down to the finest detail when it comes to cooling the discs so as to have maximum efficiency next time you need them. The car set-up features very low aerodynamic downforce, because there are few corners and you have to favour straight-line speed. On the main straight you hit the highest speeds of the season, as a result of the low downforce aero package and the length of the straight itself.”
Maximum concentration. Physically the race isn’t very difficult for the drivers, although they have to maintain maximum concentration at all times. “You have to pay particular attention to how you tackle the kerbs,” explains the Scuderia Ferrari test driver. “Especially the inside ones. You need to tackle them decisively and do it so that the car literally jumps over them. To do this the driver needs to be very good at calculating the right angle and to ensure that, when the car is back on the ground, he can immediately get back on full throttle.”
Tricky in the wet. “If it rains, then Monza become very difficult, because you have to brake earlier everywhere, at speeds that are still very high,” concludes Pedro. “Furthermore, the Curva Grande cannot be taken flat and the two Lesmos become extremely slippery. Strategy plays a vital role, but now it’s become pretty much obligatory to run the race on a one-stop.”
Italian GP – Again in Monza, Ferrari honours the Carabinieri
Monza, 4 September –As was the case in Canada back in June, the Ferrari F14 Ts of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen will again carry a special logo on their sides, near the mirrors, in this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix. It celebrates the 200th anniversary of the Carabinieri. Apart from the traditional grenade with a flame above it, and the initial letters of the Italian Republic, along the bottom there is also the Carabinieri motto “Nei secoli fedele” and dates with an Italian flag: 1814, the year they were formed and 2014 the year of the bicentenary.
Ferrari chose to carry the logos to stress the links that have always united it to the Carabinieri, both bodies sharing the values of respect for their tradition and history and the fact they are both symbols of Italy around the world.
Italian GP – Raikkonen: “Difficult, but hopefully we are wrong!”
Monza, 4 September -The last championship round in Belgium saw something of a return to form for Kimi Raikkonen and at today’s press conference in the Monza paddock, the Finn reckoned the improvement actually pre-dated that race. “We had a pretty okay feeling in the races before Spa, but something always happened, being hit by another driver, or other small issues,” said the Scuderia Ferrari driver. “It’s very hard to get a good result when you have problems like that. In Belgium, the race itself was probably the first one where we had no issues at all and the result was a bit better. We can have a good race here. We need a clean weekend, so that we start by running our normal programme on Friday.”
The Finn admits the high speed nature of Monza will present some engineering challenges. “We expect to have a little bit more difficult race here because straight line speed is what we are lacking a bit, not so much in qualifying but in the race, where we have a bigger disadvantage,” he explained. “We expected that situation in Spa, but it turned out to be surprisingly good for us, so hopefully we will find something similar here, but we need to wait and see tomorrow. So it should be difficult, but hopefully we are wrong!”
Kimi was generally positive about the fact that part of the run-off area to the famous Parabolica corner has been asphalted. “It’s a pretty fast corner, easy to run wide in the final part and you can have a nasty accident there, when there is just gravel and so tarmac will help a lot. But then we can start getting complaints if people have four wheels over the white line and whether or not they gained an advantage. It’s better because you don’t damage the car and if you go off, you just lose one lap in free practice or qualifying and your race won’t be over, but maybe you just lose a place. So, there are two ways of looking at it.”
As for the rest of the season, Kimi reiterated the team’s intention of simply working as hard as it can over the remaining rounds of the 2014 championship. “Our aim is to be nearer the front because we are not where we should be as a team and we are working hard on that,” he concluded. “If it’s not for the end of the year, then it will be next year, because it will be hard to make big steps from now to the end of the season. We are improving little by little and hopefully we can be in the fight for podiums later in the year.”
Italian GP – Alonso: “One of the toughest races for us”
Monza, 4 September – It’s an unwritten rule that a Scuderia Ferrari driver has to be on the panel for Thursday’s FIA press conference at Monza and that duty fell to Fernando Alonso this afternoon. The Spaniard has a great record here, having finished on the podium in his four last races on the high speed Italian track, including a victory in 2010. But, given the current hierarchy in Formula 1, he was realistic about his chances of making it 5 out of 5. “This is definitely one of the most important races this year for us in front of the tifosi,” began Fernando. “We want to give them a good result on Sunday, but it will be very hard to repeat what we did the last four years and this will be one of the toughest races for us this year.”
However, apart from the specific difficulties of dealing with this high-speed circuit, there were positives emerging from Maranello, reckoned Alonso. “There were signs we were more competitive in Hungary and then we nearly got a podium with Kimi in Spa.” The “main attraction” of today’s conference was the fact that Rosberg and Hamilton were making their first joint public appearance since their controversial collision in Spa a fortnight ago. With Fernando sitting between them on the stage, the Spaniard seemed to be accorded the role of mediator by the journalists. “I don’t know why I’m getting all these questions about them,” said the Ferrari man with a smile and a shrug of the shoulders. “All we can do is watch their beautiful battle from the outside. The problem they have is a good problem – they are fighting for the world championship!”
Alonso was also asked what he recalled about racing at the back of the field, when he began in F1 with Minardi. While admitting it was difficult, not being able to fight at the front, he reckoned life was harder to deal with when he was a reserve driver for Renault: “watching the races from the garage, that was very tough.”
Italian GP – Allison: “Clear ideas and a lot of work to do”
Maranello, 3 September – Before the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, the Scuderia Ferrari Technical Director James Allison met up with some journalists. Here are some of his responses.
Q: There’s a lot of talk about the power unit, with the engine getting most of the blame. Is that really the case? What is lacking in the F14 T?
A: Mainly, we are behind our rivals Mercedes in terms of power, but also when it comes to aerodynamic downforce. It’s difficult to split the blame in percentage terms, as it’s the car as a whole which is not competitive enough. We need to work on every aspect, it’s not just a question of the engine or just the aerodynamics, but also the suspension and the systems. Every part of the car has to be improved so that it can become more competitive next year.
Q: What stage are you at with the 2015 car?
A: We have taken most of the key decisions relating to its design and we have chosen the path to follow to find the performance in the coming months. At the start of the project we made choices as to which areas we have to work on to end up being competitive. We have decided on the architecture of the car and in the coming months we will work on its performance based on the decisions we have taken.
Q: Will a lot change?
A: It will be different in every area.
Q: Fernando has said he is working on renewing his contract. How important is it for you to have a driver like him?
A: A team like Ferrari always needs first class drivers and that’s always been the case. We have always had champions of the calibre of Fernando and it will always be the aim of this team. Having said that, having a driver like him is a big advantage because his ability is beyond question. And to this one can add the fact that he has an in-depth knowledge of the company, which makes everyone’s job easier.
Q: What’s the realistic target for Monza with this car?
A: To find the realistic target for the F14 T at Monza, one has to look at Spa-Francorchamps, as the characteristics of the two tracks are similar, although in Monza, the engine maybe counts for a bit more and the aerodynamics a bit less, so in Monza we can expect a similar level of competitiveness to Spa. We have improved a few things since the last race, but the others will have also made progress and so it’s hard to see the hierarchy being any different to what it was at the Belgian Grand Prix.
Q: Of the remaining tracks, is there one where one can hope for a bit more, to get a win this year?
A: One must be realistic. At every track this season, we have seen a significant gap, usually over a second, to the Mercedes. So I believe they must make a major mistake for us to have a chance of winning. To do so, even with some luck, would be great for all of us, however our aim is to concentrate on improving the car to come to every track with a more competitive car than at the previous race. We must try and get the maximum performance out of every weekend and certainly we can say that in the last two or three, we have improved our car, as can be seen from the fact that both drivers have been more competitive compared to the start of the season and I hope that continues. But, we will need some luck to win.
Q: After the mistake on the grid in Spa on Fernando’s car, are you working with Mattiacci on a change of approach and working method?
A: Yes, we are all working together to maximise any opportunity that comes our way. Having said that, our car’s reliability has never been a weak point, I think we have finished more races than anyone else. We have never had to retire with a technical problem linked to the car in the race and generally, our team at the track is one of the strongest ever seen in Formula 1. It’s a team that doesn’t make many mistakes. At Spa we had a technical problem which helped us find some aspects linked to the way we are organised that can be improved; to be specific, the difficulty in bringing in the equipment we needed to solve the problem in a matter of minutes.
Q: How much ground can you make up in 2015, taking into account that only 48% of the engine can be changed? Is catching Mercedes a realistic target?
A: It’s true you can’t change every part of the engine, but the regulations say the majority of parts that can make a difference in terms of performance on the engine are still free. The 48% is not a binding figure and can be misleading compared to what are the real opportunities to improve the power output of the power unit. The way is completely open when it comes to the rules.
In fact, our problem is not the rules, it’s the time needed to close such a big gap. Therefore we must make the most of every available minute from now to the final moment before the homologation date, which is 28 February 2015. But as I said at the start, it’s not just the engine which has to improve, the chassis needs to also, as does the suspension and every part of the car. I don’t know if we can close the gap in just one year. We are trying, but as Mattiacci said, we are also looking at the medium to long-term future, not just the short term. He wants to get this team back to being ahead of all the rest and to have it stay there for many years. Having said that, we are working as hard as possible for next year, to have a much more competitive car. At the same time however, we are establishing the basis to make Ferrari the benchmark team in Formula 1.
Italian GP – Alonso: “I want to win with Ferrari”
Maranello, 3 September–Before the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, Fernando Alonso was in Maranello where he met the President, Luca di Montezemolo, the Scuderia heads of department and went through things with his engineers. Before setting off for the historic circuit set in the Royal Park, the Spaniard also met with some journalists and here is an extract of their conversation.
Q: What is the braking point for the first chicane at Monza?
A: At the first one, more or less 130 metres before the corner in qualifying and 150 in the race, because you always have to brake a bit earlier with a full fuel load.
Q: What have you got to say to and what can you do for the fans who will, as usual, flock to Monza to see you and Ferrari?
A:Saying is easier than doing. Definitely we must try and have our best race of the year in front of the home crowd. We know what a great experience it is to stand on the podium at Monza, seeing the straight packed with people. I’ve been lucky enough in these last four years with Ferrari to get to the podium four times and it would be fantastic to make it five. It’s a very optimistic goal because unfortunately this year, we haven’t been on the podium too often. We must be realistic, as this will be another defensive and uphill race for us, but anything can happen.
Q: Is it not a bit frustrating to come to Monza at this point in the season, being so far behind, wondering whether or not you can finish on the podium, when in in the past at Monza, you were fighting for the title or for a win in front of your fans?
A: Yes of course. This year has definitely been the toughest in the five I’ve been with Ferrari, in coming to Monza in greater difficulty and without having a really clear idea of what the race can hold for us. In the other years, we were fighting for the title or a podium was definitely within our grasp or maybe even a win. This year however, it’s all much more up in the air and there is no certainty as to what we might be able to do. One can say this situation is frustrating, it can be seen as sad or simply as the reality of the situation. For eleven races now we have been fighting to sort out the situation and become more competitive and I think we have done that. I would say the progress is visible, because in the last three or four races, we have become more competitive: in Hungary, we got a podium finish, in Spa we came close and even at Hockenheim and Silverstone we went quite well. So in the recent races we have recovered and have a better feeling. It’s definitely not enough, because everyone is improving, especially Mercedes, who are dominating the season, given that, while we were two seconds off their pace, now we are still 1.6 or 1.4 behind, therefore the improvements we have made are definitely not enough yet.
Q: Do the improvements seen so far this year give you cause for some optimism regarding next year, or is it still too little?
A: Everything helps, not just us drivers, but also all the people in the factory who are working day and night. If there are improvements, it’s because these people come to the office every morning at 8 with a different feeling and that’s why all these improvements are helping. It’s positive to see that, unlike in other years, at least there is a correlation between the aerodynamic data from the track and the wind tunnel. Everything fitted to the car is giving the results we expected. There is a question mark over the power unit, which, given that development is frozen, means we can’t touch anything and so the inferiority which characterised it at the first race is more or less the same today. For next year, all the changes one can make to the engine remain a question mark: we can do something and so can the others, so we must try and do a bit better than the others.
Q: In your opinion, in 2015, when the power unit will be sorted, what can one expect from Ferrari? Can you fight at the front or what do you expect. Would you settle for a car that can get to the podium and which fights at every race? What is your feeling?
A: As of now, September 2014, the expectations are to have a front running car with which we can fight for the world title, which is what is expected of us and of Ferrari. What’s certain is that we must reduce the gap over the winter and much more than in other winters, because it’s a gap of around one and a half seconds. I don’t know if it’s possible to do that in 6 months. It’s a major challenge for the whole team, because I think we have the ability, we have the structure, so it’s just down to us to work hard.
Q: Based on what you’ve seen of the new project, are you optimistic? Are there elements of the new car that mean you are optimistic and that you like?
A: In all projects there are interesting things. By this point of the year, we know what are the weak points of the current car, we know what doesn’t work and what aspects have put us in difficulty for the whole season. Therefore many problems will be solved for next year. With the radical rule changes for 2014, one could see several build and development philosophies from the three engine manufacturers and also from the various constructors on the aerodynamic front. Maybe, with hindsight, those who are winning now made different choices to us and they turned out to be better. Clearly, the expectation for next year is to improve a lot.
Q: Even though you have a contract for next year, there’s a lot of talk about your future with other top teams interested in you. What do you think of this?
A: I think since last summer there have been stories and news almost all the time and so it’s now been going on for a year. It’s not nice, because it creates a bit of stress and it means it is disruptive for me, the fans and for the people in the team. I am proud there are some teams that say they’d like to have me, because it means they appreciate the job I’m doing. However, on this topic, it’s a year now that I’ve been saying I want to stay at Ferrari and extend my contract. That’s my wish, I repeat it every two weeks, at the end of every race, yet it’s never said, in fact there is a tendency for the opposite to be said. Talk of other teams has never come from my lips, in fact it’s always been the opposite.
Q: You want to renew the contract, as does Ferrari. Why hasn’t it been done?
A: In fact, we’re working on it.
Q: So you are working on the next contract. And so, until the current one expires you are a Ferrari driver and will stay at Ferrari?
A: I have a contract for another two years and as I always say on the subject of rumours and to ensure calm, what I want is to continue for the necessary years. Let’s see if that can happen, but for the next two years at least, there is no problem.
Q: Necessary years for what? To win again? The aim is to stay as long as you are not at the top?
A: Obviously, the most important thing is to win, because that’s the same for all sportsmen. However, I think there are also other things that can make one have confidence nevertheless and be happy in one’s work and I think Ferrari can offer a lot more than “only” winning. Because there is a passion for this team, which as a driver, means you are already proud of what you are doing, independent of the results. The most important thing is to fix the things that are not going well on the car and in the team and to do everything that is needed. Mattiacci also shares this desire to change things and to be more aggressive in our approach to our work. This renewed will to win makes staying at Ferrari even more attractive.
Q: The Monza circuit looks straightforward. But is it?
A: No, not at all, because you drive with very little aerodynamic downforce and so it feels a bit like driving in the wet at another track. Furthermore, when you are travelling at such high speed, it’s harder to be precise. It’s not easy to start your braking at the right place when you approach the first chicane at 340 km/h or the second one at 330. The unique thing about Monza is that, for us, there are five corners: the first chicane, the second one and the two Lesmos and the Parabolica, because Ascari, apart from the first kink to the left, is completely flat. With only five corners, even if you fit new tyres, in qualifying you gain half a tenth in a corner, half in another, but in the end, new tyres are only worth two or three tenths. Or you can do a perfect lap and find you have gained a tenth on a lap when you didn’t give your utmost. That’s the main difference with Spa: there, when you do a perfect lap, you have gained a second over a normal lap and this gives you a nice shot of adrenalin, because you realise when you are on the limit.
Q: Alonso wins in Monza if…
A: I don’t know, it’s not easy. Something unusual would have to happen, maybe with a bit of help from drivers in the top teams, while we need to concentrate on ourselves and give our utmost over the weekend, as we did in Spa and Hungary during qualifying. At Monza we cannot make any mistakes.
Q: Have you set a time limit for your career?
A: No, I haven’t. I am much older than I look from the outside, I’m only 33 and up until five years ago, you only started in Formula 1 when you were in 26 or 27. The fact, is I started when I was 19 and it seems I’m very old, but given my actual age, I’ve still got lots of seasons ahead of me. I could have another ten: Michael Schumacher stopped when he was 43, Pedro de la Rosa is in the simulator every day and he’s 43, so it’s not a question of age. It’s a question of enjoying what you do and to still want to get up in the morning to train, to get on planes and fly to Australia and Malaysia, to race with a top car and to still get a good feeling from it all. As Iong as I have that desire and these feelings, I am not setting a time limit. Sure, this year’s been a bit less fun because the cars are a bit less quick. We need adrenalin and we hope the sport heads back in the direction of more extreme performance so that we go back to Formula 1 really being at the top.
Italian GP – High speed European finale
Maranello, 2 September – Formula 1’s final European appointment of the season takes place at one of the most evocative, atmospheric and historic venues on the calendar, the Monza ‘Autodromo.’ To sum it up in one word, it’s all about speed. For Scuderia Ferrari’s home race, the grandstands will be the usual sea of red, but you don’t necessarily have to be a Prancing Horse fan or Italian to enjoy the magic of Monza: long before he came to Maranello, our English technical director, James Allison, even spent his honeymoon here, working at the 1992 Italian Grand Prix!
Putting aside affairs of the heart, Allison and his team of engineers are working hard to ensure the relative competitiveness seen in Belgium can be replicated this weekend. “Spa and Monza, are both tracks that have characteristics that perhaps don’t bring out the best in our car and so we approached Spa with a little bit of trepidation,” he explains. “Spa has a very high dependency on power and aerodynamics, but actually the F14 T performed respectably in Spa. There are differences between Spa and Monza, but overall the characteristics are such that we hope to have a respectable weekend before heading on for the remainder of the year, racing at tracks whose characteristics we hope will suit us a little bit better.”
The differences between Spa and Monza that Allison refers to essentially come down to the Italian venue having longer straights and fewer high speed corners. “This means it’s extremely important to set the car up in a way that allows you to benefit from those long straights, running the cars with lower downforce and less drag to get good top speeds on the straights,” continues Allison. “Having good top speed on the straights also means you have to be able to slow down for the corners, so setting the car up to be stable under braking is extremely important, as is retaining enough mechanical and aerodynamic grip to be able to wrestle your way round the corners before heading off on another one of the long straights.”
The high speeds involved means this race puts the Power Unit and the car’s aerodynamic efficiency squarely in the spotlight. Apart from demanding total reliability as always, managing the harvesting and discharging of the energy and controlling fuel consumption will provide taxing engineering and strategic challenges, while in pure strategy terms, the high cost of time spent in the pits means a one-stop, switching from the Medium to Hard Pirellis, is the most likely scenario. However, while Sunday’s race will be the shortest of the year in terms of time, it’s by no means the easiest. “Don’t be fooled into thinking that because it’s short, it’s easy or because it has relatively few corners it’s less demanding for the drivers,” says Allison. “Managing cars with small wing settings to suit the challenging corners and chicanes of Monza is not an easy thing.” And on the topic of our drivers, Allison took heart from their Spa showing: “Fernando produced his normal exemplary performance, while Kimi in the race was strong, producing good results as well. We’ve been improving our car over the last several races and that improvement is starting to tell with both of our drivers. It’s something we hope will produce better results in the remainder of the season.”
Home race for Scuderia Ferrari
Maranello, 1 September – This Sunday’s race is the 65th Italian Grand Prix to count for the Formula 1 World Championship and, along with the British GP, they are the only races to have featured on the calendar every year of the championship. With the exception of 1980 when it was held at Imola and won by Nelson Piquet in a Brabham, it’s always been staged at Monza. Over the years, Scuderia Ferrari has won 18 times, a hit rate of 28%, to go along with 19 pole positions and 64 podiums.
Speed, slipstream and scares. With the demise of the old Hockenheim, Monza is the last of the truly old style Formula 1 circuits, although Spa-Francorchamps is also a contender for this category. Down its straights, before they were interrupted by the three chicanes we have today, some of the closest battles in history took place, with dozens of passing moves every lap as cars were able to slipstream each other: the 1971 edition is famous for the closest ever finish, when Peter Gethin won for BRM, finishing just a hundredth of a second ahead of Ronnie Peterson in the March, with the top five all within six tenths. The high speeds have also led to tragedy and the victims include Alberto Ascari, Wolfgang Von Trips, Jochen Rindt and the aforementioned Peterson.
The first wins. Ferrari took its first Monza win in 1951 courtesy of Alberto Ascari in the 375, while second placed Jose Froilan Gonzalez made it a one-two. The Italian won again the following year and after that, there was a pause until 1960, which produced an easy victory, as the British teams boycotted the race in protest against the use of the high-speed oval, built in 1955 and considered too dangerous. Ferrari took the top three spots with Phil Hill, Richie Ginther and Willy Mairesse. The following year, everyone was present, but tragedy struck. Von Trips collided with Jim Clark in the Lotus, dying along with 14 spectators. Hill won in the 156 to become the first American World Champion, but there were tears instead of celebrations.
Key victories. In 1964, Scuderia Ferrari was back to winning ways with John Surtees, who dominated the race in the 158 having shaken off the attentions of Dan Gurney. The win was key to the Englishman getting back in the running for the title, which he won in thrilling fashion in the final race in Mexico. Two years later came an equally important win for Ludovico Scarfiotti, who scored a one-two with Mike Parkes in the 312, which saved the day in an an otherwise lacklustre season.
The Seventies. After three barren years, the Maranello marque won again in 1970 courtesy of Clay Regazzoni who, in the final stages got the better of Jackie Stewart in the March. Five years later, the Swiss driver did it again which was cause for great celebration, as by coming third, Niki Lauda brought the Drivers’ title back to Maranello, eleven years on from Surtees. It was the same scenario four years later in ‘79, this time the title going to winner Jody Scheckter, with team-mate Gilles Villeneuve riding shotgun in second.
The 1988 “miracle”. Scheckter’s win was the last for a very long time for the Scuderia at Monza. In September 1988, Ferrari turned up in Monza with a heavy heart, as it was the first race following the death of the founder Enzo, back in August. In qualifying, the McLarens that had won every race that year, monopolised the front row with Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. Prost retired with a problem, but Senna seemed to be heading for an easy win. However, with three laps to go, the Brazilian came up behind the backmarker, Jean-Louis Schlesser in the Williams. The Frenchman moved over but ended up t-boning Senna who had to retire. It left the door open for Gerhard Berger and Michele Alboreto to take their Ferraris to a one-two. The next day, some journalists wrote that, looking down, Enzo Ferrari had orchestrated Schlesser’s misfortune.
The Schumacher era. There would be an eight year break before seeing a Ferrari on the top step of the Monza podium. It was 1996 and the winner was the great Michael Schumacher, who won again in Monza in 1998, with a fabulous passing move on Mika Hakkinen’s McLaren at the Roggia chicane. In 2000, another win meant Schumacher equaled Senna’s number of victories and he couldn’t hold back the tears in the press conference. He also won in 2003 and 2006, while Rubens Barrichello made his mark in this era, winning in 2002 and in 2004, when the Ferraris had to fight their way back up the order after Rubens had made a poor tyre choice and Michael spun at Roggia.
The Alonso era. The latest win for Ferrari at Monza was down to Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard had previously won in 2007 and in 2010, he had a long duel with Jenson Button in the McLaren, the Englishman finally having to give best to Fernando’s pressure and the performance of the F10. As for Kimi Raikkonen, the Finn has never won at Monza, his best result being a second place in 2006.