Fernando Alonso has dismissed reports that he criticised his Ferrari team via radio message following qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix, claiming that the broadcast messages have been misinterpreted.
It was believed that Alonso’s comment, ‘genius’ was directed at the team, after he was out qualified by his team-mate Felipe Massa, who the Spaniard had been attempting to slipstream to increase his chances of a strong grid position for Sunday’s race.
However, Alonso has confirmed that was not the case, and in fact the message was a sarcastic comment to his team for missing the opportunity to get the 32-year-old out in front of Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes, who was on a quick lap.
“The radio messages have been misunderstood, as is often the case when you don’t experience something first hand: the word ‘genius’ refers to the fact that we could have got out before Rosberg had gone by on his quick lap, but this should not raise any doubts about the impeccable job from the whole team.”
The Spaniard also clarified that earlier radio messages, which indicated his frustration that Felipe Massa was too far ahead to provide a slipstream, had been broadcast at a misleading time and that the strategy had in fact actually worked just as expected.
Besides the misinterpreted radio messages, Alonso appeared pleased with the day’s work, thanking his team-mate Felipe Massa for the slipstreaming assistance throughout the session, while remaining positive about the performance of his F138, which he believes is as close to the Red Bull RB9 as it has been all season.
“Here at Monza the slipstreaming strategy is often used: having a car three to four seconds ahead of you allows you to gain a few tenths and for that I must thank Felipe, especially in Q3 when I came up behind Vergne’s Toro Rosso and he waited for me.
“Today, we were able to run competitively in all three sessions and get closer than ever before to the rear wings of the Red Bulls: for the first time, there are not so many cars between them and us, apart from Hulkenberg who was very strong in Q3. We will have to try and pass him on the first lap so they don’t get away from us”.
Felipe Massa in the sister Ferrari was absolutely thrilled with his qualifying session, just beating his team-mate to 4th on the grid and thanked Mark Webber for a tow on his flying lap, which he claimed made all the difference as the chequered flag fell.
“I am very pleased with this qualifying result because, compared to yesterday, the car has improved and this makes me confident for the race”, said Massa. In Q3, I managed to put together a very good lap, making the most of Webber’s slipstream. It was a great help having him ahead of me by four seconds and even if maybe I lost time at Ascari, I am still satisfied with my performance.”
The Brazilian, who finished 3rd at Monza in 2012, insists that his Ferrari team are ready for whatever comes on race day, even if there still remains some doubt over the weather, with rain forecast, stating that he simply wants to reward the Tifosi who have flocked to Monza to see their beloved scarlet cars.
“We were well aware that at a track like this, it would be very important to have both cars in the top four and that tomorrow’s race will be a tough one. Even if the weather forecast is uncertain, we will be ready for anything and will try our best to get all the potential out of our car.
“It would be fantastic to give all the fans who are here at our home race to support us with so much affection a reason to be happy.”
Ferrari President, Luca di Montezemolo, who was in attendance at Monza on Saturday, explained that he understood Fernando Alonso’s disappointment at only being 5th on the grid for the Scuderia’s home race, but insisted that at Ferrari “you win and lose together.”
“Fernando is a great driver, who has done a lot for Ferrari and he is right to be unhappy at not securing better results: from that point of view, I am more unhappy than he is, but in a great family, you win and lose together and now I’m expecting the team to do their very best”.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic