The first official press conference of the Italian Grand Prix weekend featured both Ferrari drivers on the six-man panel, a testament to the importance of Scuderia Ferrari here in Monza. The buzz everyone gets when coming into the royal park for the first time in the week clearly put our Spaniard in a positive frame of mind. “I’m optimistic,” began Fernando Alonso when asked how he felt about Sunday’s race at the Temple of Speed. “In Spa we saw we had made a step forward and we plan to keep moving in that direction and continue to improve here in Monza. The track characteristics should help our performance so we have everything in place to have a good weekend. We need to deliver on Sunday in the race, but we arrive with confidence and ready to fight. However for a better test of how we are improving we must wait for Singapore, when we will run maximum downforce. For now, we will concentrate on this weekend, trying to do the maximum and finish ahead of our main rivals.”
One questioner suggested that only two wins from the next two races could keep the Spaniard’s title hopes alive. “We have won a total of two grands prix so far this year, so it is too optimistic to think we can win the next two races,” commented Fernando. “A more realistic target is to finish ahead of Sebastian. However we only closed the gap to him in Silverstone when he retired and we must change that situation. So I’d be happy to finish in front of him here and in Singapore. To finish ahead of him means to be on the podium because we know how strong he is. If we cannot do this and if we keep losing points, then it will be time to think more about the 2014 project, but for the moment there are still massive points available and important weeks ahead. We believe we can do it.”
Alonso has been in the news this past week for two-wheeled reasons, having acquired a top level Spanish professional cycling road race team. There were concerns from the journalists this meant that Formula 1 was not getting his full attention and Fernando immediately set them straight on that point: “It was a lot of work for one week, using a lot of phone batteries, but now it is more or less complete, all the decisions and work for the cycling team will be passed on to other people,” he explained. “We have a lot to do in the next months, as the first race is in mid-January in Australia and this is a very ambitious project, but I will not give much of my time to this project as we are fighting for the World Championship. I have been passionate about cycling since a very young age and use it as part of my training and my life. I have good friends in the cycling world. With this project I want to bring together the best things from both sports: from cycling there is sacrifice, determination, discipline, training. And I want to bring the best things of Formula 1, of which there are many, to my cycling team.” So no thoughts of taking a year out of Ferrari to concentrate on bikes? Clearly not: “I’m in the best moment of my career and I don’t want to miss a single opportunity and I will give a hundred percent to motorsport, which is my passion and my career. For at least the next four or five years I will be a hundred percent committed to F1.”
Fernando Alonso, aware of the current situation of Spanish cycling and knowledgeable of the sad news of the definitive disappearance of the Euskaltel Euskadi team, decided to take an interest in the state of affairs of the Basque team with the intention of evaluating its acquisition in order to guarantee it’s continuity. After various days of intense negotiations between both parties, carried out with maximum discretion, we are pleased to announce that the Spanish sportsman has reached an initial agreement to buy said cycling team and so avoid its demise.
The double F1 World Champion’s great enthusiasm for cycling is well known; apart from including this sport in his daily training routine, he has always felt a special passion for this particular world on two wheels. From an early age, the Spanish racing driver adopted the values transmitted by this sport; values which are an integral part of his personal and professional life philosophy and thanks to which he has been able to grow and reap success in his own sport.
Transparency and zero tolerance; the pillars of the new undertaking.
Enthusiasm, seriousness, sacrifice, evolution and transparency are the words on which this team will build its foundations. Alonso is thrilled to be forming an active part in cycling and to be able to improve the image of this sport. Transparency and “zero tolerance” will therefore be the fundamental pillars on which the foundations will be laid for this exciting sports project.
Continuity. Transition. Internationality.
The new team will honour the contracts of those cyclists currently under contract to Euskaltel Euskadi for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. The wish is to provide continuity and grow the team little by little, incorporating top names from the cycling pack with the intent of a moderate transition towards an international project whilst medium to long term, there is the firm intention of becoming a global model.
Thanks to Euskaltel and the Basque fans.
Fernando Alonso, conscious of the economic difficulties within the sports world in general, wishes to convey his enormous gratitude to Euskaltel for their involvement and support during all these years, having transformed the orange team into an international cycling icon. He would also like to thank Euskaltel for their good will and predisposition during the negotiations which have been conducted discreetly and cordially with the sole intention of saving the team. At the same time, the Spanish racing driver would like to thank the Basque fans, who at all times and in spite of the difficulties, have supported the team. Fans who Fernando would like to ask to continue supporting this new project with the usual passion they transmit to the racers.
As of today we will start to work against the clock, with maximum effort and humility, and transferring the best of our professional experience, in order to be capable of starting the first races of the 2014 season with a new team, full of desire and with a fighting spirit.
“Today’s result shows that the outcome of qualifying bears little relation to the result on Sunday, although I think that even if I’d started from pole I would still have finished second, because Vettel was quicker. At the start we immediately made up some places and all in a rush, first passing Button, then Rosberg and Hamilton, so I found myself six seconds behind Vettel, but if one looks at the final gap of 16 seconds, we can but congratulate him and his team. The car worked well in all conditions, with a full fuel load at first and then with a lighter one at the end and, on top of that, the extra speed we had on the straight meant I could overtake without taking too many laps to do so. We know we have made a step forward and that we have recovered some of the competitiveness we had lost in recent races. In Monza and Singapore we will see the next steps in this process. The updates used in this race worked well and, even if they were aimed at this particular circuit, they are the results of work that goes on twenty four hours a day, at home and at the track. That makes us optimistic for the coming races, because our goal still remains the same, namely to fight for the title right to the end”.
“When you end up ninth and tenth, clearly something has gone wrong and only analysing the data will be able to tell you what exactly, especially as the car was more competitive than in recent races. That’s partly down to the updates introduced here, which we had been working on since mid-July, when it was clear we had problems. Bad luck definitely played its part, because if the cloud that appeared in Q3 had not moved just before the end of the session, then maybe those who were last at that time would not have improved. In the final part, I spun on my first lap, a mistake which definitely cost me, even if by my next lap at the same point, at Turn 14, I had already made up three seconds. I feel reasonably confident for the race, especially as the variable weather conditions mean anything can happen and it’s not a given that one finishes where one starts. Of course, we must make up a lot of places, but at least we have the knowledge that we have closed the gap to the favourites and that we can be competitive in the dry. We saw that in Q2 and in the mixed conditions in Q1. Only the rain is the big question mark, because so far this weekend, we have never run on a track that is wet for its entire length”.