There will be an Italian referee in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. It is Emanuele Pirro, 48, winner of five Le Mans. The Italian driver will join the three professional stewards in what promises to be a hot race, and not just because the circuit is located in the middle of the desert. He will have heard this catchphrase about Red Bull Racing which could ask Sebastian Vettel to let Webber pass him.
"They'd be crazy if they didn't".
How will you evaluate a possible squad order?
"We will monitor and try to rise to the occasion".
What do you think of the Ferrari trial for the overtaking at Hockenheim between Alonso and Massa?
"There are so many ways to get one rider to help the other. Coded messages are the rule, but not so much to deceive the FIA as to prevent them from being understood by the adversaries. It is naive to speak transparently over the radio".
Doesn't it seem strange to you that for the first time they called an Italian in the direction of the match just when Alonso is playing for the championship?
"No, they had already asked me for availability at the beginning of the year. I had offered myself for Monza, but then my schedules were incompatible".
Worried about liability?
"I hope no controversial conditions arise. It's not an easy job. At Misano and Monza they invited me to see how it's done: they were important lessons".
Difficult? With all those cameras and slow motion at your disposal?
"This is the mistake riders make. When you're behind the wheel you think it's just you, you expect everyone to be watching you, and sometimes you don't understand why the marshals don't act quickly. Instead you are one of 20 or 22 to keep an eye on at the same time. I would take the young riders to see how it works".
Many decisions this year have been controversial.
"If you hurry, you risk losing some detail and therefore making a mistake. If you reason calmly, you risk intervening when it's too late. As a young man, I often got angry with the commissioners. Then, looking back at the images even years later, I almost always realized that they were right. The important thing is that there is homogeneity of judgment".
Fed up with the chatter from Red Bull Racing, which doesn't give orders but expects the drivers to obey common sense and team spirit, Fernando Alonso stops the discussion:
"I will not waste an ounce of energy pondering what my opponents are doing. I think about winning or finishing second, in order to become world champion however the others finish".
The Spanish gives a clean break to the cloying alternation of declarations. Thursday, November 11, 2010 continues the theater. While from Austria the owner of Red Bull Racing, Dietrich Mateschitz, thunders almost indignant:
"Our riders will each do their own race, at the cost of losing the title".
In Abu Dhabi as team principal, Christian Horner (recently nicknamed Order, which in English means order) says:
"We won't give any instructions to our riders, but I'm sure they'll do the right thing to help the team".
In recent races Sebastian Vettel preceded Mark Webber, who went faster than Fernando Alonso. If the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ends in the most likely order, the title would go to Fernando Alonso. If, on the other hand, Sebastian Vettel were overtaken by his teammate, the latter would become world champion. Now it is fair to ask: is the good of Red Bull Racing given by the useless success of one driver or by the much heavier one of the other? Sebastian Vettel says:
"Be patient, Sunday you will know what I have decided to do".
When asked on the same subject on the eve of the Brazilian Grand Prix, the German driver replied:
"If Mark needs help, call the doctor's car".
Today, evidently, the tone has changed. Sebastian Vettel's only hope is that Fernando Alonso finishes fifth. If that doesn't happen, the good Sebastian Vettel will make himself available to Mark Webber at the end of the race. Fernando Alonso knows what can happen. Therefore he takes his countermeasures, ignoring the outside world and rediscovering the inspiration that made Ferrari fly to Hockenheim, Monza and Singapore.
"My job is not to believe or not to believe that our opponents will switch positions. From free practice to the Grand Prix, I will work to reach my goal: first of all the front row in qualifying or, if possible, pole position".
Win, win, win. He has nothing else on his mind. Jenson Button argues that he should finish at least eight points clear, as he allegedly obtained seven irregularly when he overtook Felipe Massa in Germany.
"Detachment is the least of my problems. One, eight, twenty-five points, nothing changes".
His dedication is obsessive, a mix of science and superstition. Every ritual, every gesture, every detail must be taken care of as in the last victories: this way mistakes are avoided and anxiety is relieved. The #14 obsesses her: it is the lucky charm (with the #14 she won the first karting World Championship) that she pursues in all aspects of life, from the hotel room number to the seat on the plane. #14 is also the day of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. In Fernando Alonso's opinion, it's not a combination. On Friday 12 November 2010, there was a thousandth of a second difference between Mark Webber (third) and Fernando Alonso (fourth) in free practice. Friday in Abu Dhabi becomes the mirror of a season at the last gasp, of balances that will perhaps only be broken on the last lap. One thousandth means six centimetres. It is a time interval that thought does not consider, but that the Formula 1 stopwatch measures, because a draw is not allowed. There will be a winner on Sunday evening, although the three contenders could finish with the same points (Vettel crossing the line first, Webber second, Alonso fifth: in this case the title would go to Sebastian Vettel because he has the best placings). More than a final, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is an extra time that can be decided by a stroke of genius, by luck, by an unexpected event. Or from another driver. Let's take Lewis Hamilton. In theory, he too plays the game, although he is detached (he is 24 points behind Alonso, the victory is worth 25 points). And he also risks playing it well: last year he went fast, in practice he set the best time ahead of Sebastian Vettel. McLaren mounts a new wing that finally works. There are all the ingredients to break the Red Bull-Alonso balance. But for whose benefit? For the first time in its history, Ferrari is rooting for its historic rival.
"Maybe they win".
It is whispered in the Maranello team garage. The sport of the weekend is the calculation of probabilities, to be performed in a very short time. You ask any of the insiders, and they update you with the results: what happens if Lewis Hamilton wins? It happens that with a fourth place Fernando Alonso is World Champion. The second most practiced sport is the conspiracy: are we sure that Lewis Hamilton wants to help the Spaniard, with whom in 2007 in McLaren he quarreled for an entire year until he threw away the season? The prevailing opinion is that the English driver hates Mark Webber just as much for the incident in Singapore, and that he is not such a thoughtful type. If there is to speed up, he does it without much reasoning, as he himself declared:
"I will go to the max. I risk nothing, my opponents do".
The other doubt concerns Red Bull Racing and team orders: everyone is sure that the team's interests will prevail over those of FairPlay and that, if necessary, Sebastian Vettel will be overtaken by Mark Webber. Rather, we bet on the modalities: at the start? At the pit stop? On the last lap? What if the safety car comes out in the finale and you can't overtake anymore? By Sunday some English bookmaker will invent the odds. Alonso has the scenarios very clear in his head, stored in that high-capacity hard disk that is his brain. But he doesn't want to hear about it:
"I always think these days. I'm thinking about improving the car, getting a good set-up, choosing the gear ratios. Calculations do not interest me. I know I need a first or second place, the rest doesn't matter".
He says it was a good Friday, that important information was gathered, that there were no technical problems.
"The car took to the track just right. Now I'm more optimistic. I don't feel anxious. Maybe a few minutes before the start I'll feel a weight on my stomach, but for now everything is fine. We are calm, Domenicali (Ferrari's team principal, ed) gives us serenity".
Calm is mixed with adrenaline. The challenge is to undermine Red Bull Racing in qualifying and slip them in at the start.
"We are closer than in the past. The F10 drives easily and there's still potential to unleash".
The Soft tires didn't perform well due to the dirty track. A thin layer of desert dust had settled on the asphalt, carried by the rain that fell on Thursday morning and Wednesday evening. In Abu Dhabi, it rains on average four times a year, so half of the 2010 rainfall ran out in the Formula 1 week and the race should be dry. The conditional is a must, because the weather offices do not rule out another splash. That would be a record: Abu Dhabi can't remember three close days of bad weather since the richest metropolis in the world was nothing more than a Bedouin encampment. Better not to inform the pilots: they would have an anxiety crisis. When the last qualifying lap begins on Saturday 13 November 2010, the one that alone is worth as much as the eighteen races run so far, Fernando Alonso finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time: in the middle of traffic a handful of seconds from end of session. Ahead of him are Felipe Massa who is pressing Nico Rosberg who is tailing Lewis Hamilton who is slowing down to distance himself from Rubens Barrichello. It is a traffic jam that threatens to make him lose a second in a challenge that is played on the edge of the cents. Alonso follows the textbook procedure: he overtakes his teammate, decelerates enough to clear three hundred meters of track in front of him and starts the lap of his life just in time. That he succeeds: he concludes with the third time, in a strategic position. The results of the opponents combine as not even the most optimistic of Ferrari fans would have dared to ask. Sebastian Vettel takes pole position for the tenth time (a result that may not be in his favour: no one has ever lost a championship with such a fast car), Mark Webber is only fifth, the victim of pressure he struggles to manage. McLaren, stoic in its insistence on development to the last minute and fitted a new wing, got in the way. Lewis Hamilton is second, Jenson Button is fourth. The two McLaren drivers protect Ferrari and isolate the two Red Bull Racing, eliminating the risk of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber exchanging positions. What are the dangers for Fernando Alonso? The usual. It's the unexpected events of Formula 1, a mix of fatalities and mistakes that have already decided many races this year, only now there's no time to fix them: slow starts, problematic pit stops, wrong strategies, breakdowns, accidents, safety car . Abu Dhabi hosted a tired Grand Prix a year ago, closing a World Championship already won by Jenson Button with the Brawn GP. Now the Yas Marina circuit becomes the stage for one of the funniest sprints. The crossings of results leave open four candidates. But Fernando Alonso's is more solid than before: Nano can run in defence, study his opponents, adapt his strategy. If he comes second, it's done. If he finishes fourth and Mark Webber doesn't win, that's it. Sebastian Vettel consoles himself:
"I got ten poles, I approached the records of people like Mansell, Senna, Prost and Schumacher. It's not that bad. I'm starting from the ideal position, we'll see how the others go".
His teammate is the portrait of sadness: 34 years old, a formidable single-seater, a season at the top and the awareness that this is, or was, the opportunity he has always been waiting for.
"The fat girl hasn't sung yet".
Says Mark Webber in front of notebooks and cameras, referring to opera. It means that the last word has not been said.
"What happened to me lately? Nobody cares about the shopping list of excuses".
In the race he will try to shake off the pressure that is oppressing him and run serene, waiting for the song of the fat girl. This time the weight of the responsibility that belongs to the favorite is on Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard hasn't changed his expression for three days. His head is already at the first corner. He was sure he'd get to play for this title. Perhaps he hadn't foreseen a detail: that his ally at the decisive moment was Lewis Hamilton, the colleague with whom he quarreled throughout 2007 until giving the triumph to Ferrari. Darkness has now fallen on Yas Island when the president of Ferrari, Luca Montezemolo, leaves the circuit, expected at the dinner hosted by the Abu Dhabi royal family. He greets the team members and delivers a joke to the journalists:
"Ascribe to me what you want".
But immediately afterwards he adds:
"The important thing is that you compliment Alonso. Without taking anything away from the other riders, he really did a great lap".
The Ferrari president is satisfied, high fives with his collaborators, the Spaniard's third place on the grid - albeit with all the necessary precautions - is an excellent encouragement for the final chapter of the championship.
He repeats to Fernando Alonso:
"He starts from a satisfactory position, even if now we have to wait and see how the race goes".
The presence of the president underlines the importance of this Grand Prix. Of course, the title is decided, but there is special expectation for the Maranello team in this corner of the Arab world. Either for the stock relations linking Abu Dhabi to Ferrari, or for the new, majestic Ferrari World, the largest indoor theme park in the world, whose red dome stretches out to touch the circuit. Finally, you also want for small but significant details: like those spectators who wander around the paddock with a Cavallino cap over the traditional white dress that reaches down to their feet. With Fernando Alonso fighting for the title, Luca Montezemolo fully plays the role of captain. He's there, on the low wall, during rehearsals, his eyes glued to the monitors of the times. He chivalrously goes to greet the Red Bull Racing team principal, Christian Horner, and stops to shake hands with Michael Schumacher, standard bearer of many triumphs with the Maranello team. He talks to the riders, then inquires about the latest developments with the team principal, Stefano Domenicali, and discusses with the technical manager, Aldo Costa. Men who grew up within the Ferrari team:
"A detail that makes us very proud".
A team, recalls Luca Montezemolo, used to being at the top and managing crucial moments in the championship finale:
"The first season in which I experienced the assignment of the title in the final race was in 1974 at Watkins Glen, in the United States, with Clay Regazzoni at the wheel. It didn't go well, but we made up for it the following year by winning with Nicki Lauda".
In the more recent history of Formula 1, then, Ferraris have rarely been missing.
"From 1997 to today, apart from two unfortunate years, we have always been in a fight. Despite everything, I always get excited to experience moments like these. Even my wife is surprised, but she is really like that".
Shortly before the tests, in the Ferrari paddock Juan Carlos had embraced Fernando Alonso:
Dressed in a blue blazer and shirt without a tie, the King of Spain arrives on Yas Island, the artificial island that hosts the circuit, to support the Ferrari driver who is experiencing the decisive act of the World Championship. It was the president of Ferrari, Luca Montezemolo, who welcomed Juan Carlos to the headquarters of the Maranello team: a warm greeting between the two, immediately joined by a member of the royal family of the Emirate and by Emilio Botin, president of Banco Santander, the giant banking sponsor of Ferrari. They are all around Alonso, they encourage him, they compliment each other. Juan Carlos, as a good omen, mentions the successes of Spanish sportsmen, the wish is to see the chain lengthen. Fernando Alonso gives him a smile, and says:
It is evident that in a sport in which every minimum detail can be decisive, it is not possible to be sure of a victory. Alonso knows it well. But how do you contradict the king? And then, Fernandito knows his own strength. Thus, he doesn't care if some men in red shirts hurry to touch whatever iron object is within reach: he greets the guests, goes to put on his overalls and returns to the track to play the first act of this last F1 show in 2010. Third place in qualifying is an injection of hope for Ferrari fans. It was known that Red Bull Racing would be at ease among the curves that caress the yachts of the Navy, but if Sebastian Vettel appears inspired, Fernando Alonso manages to keep Mark Webber behind. In the paddocks, you practice calculating positions and scores, while Fernando Alonso focuses your attention on the start:
"Let's see how the first 10-20 meters go to evaluate if it will be appropriate to try to attack or if it will be better to defend ourselves. Let's remember that the World Championship is not won at the first corner, but there you can risk losing it".
That stretch of asphalt will be hot, and not just because of the 30 °C that the sun gives Abu Dhabi. But all 55 laps promise emotions:
"Yes, it will be a long race, anything can happen. We saw it in Korea, with Red Bull's mechanical problems or in Brazil with pit-stop problems. But we are in an excellent position to play this challenge".
Merit of a qualifying that arrived with the thrill for that last lap which began a few seconds from the red lights.
"But no, we had calculated with the team that we had a sufficient margin. It was a very tight session. Our first attempt in Q3 wasn't great as we had traffic problems, but we knew we had the potential to do better and we did".
Even if the first corners of the last lap didn't seem to suggest great optimism.
"I started the lap thinking about saving the tires for the last sector. I did it, everything is fine".
Put like this it seems easy. Fernando Alonso speaks calmly, remains focused on the race.
"One day to go, we still need a perfect day".
Ferrari, the Italian fans and the king sincerely wish it. Sunday 14 November 2010, at the start of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel maintains the first position at the start, followed by Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, who overtakes Fernando Alonso at the first corner. During the first lap, at the corner of turn 6 Michael Schumacher is the author of a spin; he remains in the middle of the track and is hit by Vitantonio Liuzzi's car, which grazes his helmet. The entry of the safety car is necessary, which leads the group for 5 laps. When the cars return to the place of the accident in the laps behind the safety car, they do not pass on the track used by the race but use an external variant. During these laps many drivers stop to change tyres, including Vitalij Petrov and Nico Rosberg. On the restart, Robert Kubica passed Adrian Sutil to move up to ninth place. In the following laps Sebastian Vettel sets a fast pace to the race, which only Lewis Hamilton is able to handle. Behind is Jenson Button, followed by Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber. The Australian with the outside right wheel hits the barriers but can continue. The same Australian driver stops to change tires on lap 11. During lap 12, Fernando Alonso's track engineer Andrea Stella says:
"Webber stopped in the pits, because he said he was losing the rear tires and Vettel in front is also losing time on Hamilton. So it doesn't look too bad".
And Fernando Alonso replies:
"If you think Felipe can overtake him in one lap (Webber, ed), call him in".
Andrea Stella replies:
"Yes we are thinking about it. Don't worry, we're thinking about it. Stay focused on Button now".
During lap 13, Felipe Massa also returned to the pits, but returned to the track in sixteenth position, behind Jaime Alguersuari, without being able to pass him. Therefore, during lap 14, Fernando Alonso asks:
"Where did Felipe go out?"
Andrea Stella replies:
"Behind, but Webber lost a lot of time behind Alguersuari, so let's focus on us now. maximum concentration".
Fernando Alonso replies:
"We have a lot of understeer. Graining at the front".
Andrea Stella replies:
"Okay, but you're clearly the fastest car on the track right now, so let's keep it up".
But then, surprisingly, during lap 15, Fernando Alonso was called to the pits. At this juncture of the race, Chris Dyer, worried about Mark Webber's recovery, decided - against the advice of the team - to call the foil back to the pits. Fernando Alonso returns to the track ahead of Webber, in twelfth position. The Spanish asks:
"Race situation, are we safe in fourth position?"
And Andrea Stella replies:
"We have to pass Renault in front, because we believe it will never stop. It won't stop anymore. So we need to overcome it".
In the following laps, the Spaniard filled the gap on Vitalij Petrov, but did not find the opportunity to overtake. Therefore, during lap 21 Andrea Stella says:
"If we can pass Petrov, then we can catch Button at the stop, so it's really important to pass Petrov now".
Between laps 23 and 24 both Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel returned to the pits, but the Briton was unable to overtake the Red Bull Racing driver; Jenson Button is now leading the race. While Robert Kubica passes Kamui Kobayashi and climbs to third place. In the following laps Lewis Hamilton put pressure on Robert Kubica but without passing, while Sebastian Vettel gradually recovered from Jenson Button. In the rear, Fernando Alonso is always stopped by Vitalij Petrov, even though his position improves thanks to the pit stop of those who haven't stopped yet. During lap 27, Andrea Stella repeats:
"I know and see that you are doing your best, but really it is essential to pass it. I know you're doing your best".
During lap 30, it became clear what Fernando Alonso needs to win the title. Andrea Stella says:
"Our championship now depends on passing Petrov and Rosberg. We can do it. 30 laps".
Fernando Alonso replies:
"Is there any chance of Hamilton winning the race?"
Andrea Stella's answer extinguishes all possibilities:
"Ninth. At the moment Vettel would win".
During lap 39 Jenson Button returned to the pits, and rejoined the track behind Lewis Hamilton. Now Sebastian Vettel is again leading the race. A few laps later it was Robert Kubica who changed the tyres, but thanks to the good margin over his pursuers he was able to rejoin the track in sixth place. Fernando Alonso's hopes of winning the World Championship are now almost zero. During lap 42, Andrea Stella says:
"There are 14 laps to go. Use the best of your talent. We know how big it is. Use it".
But during lap 43, Fernando Alonso replies:
"There is a pin at turn 14 in the middle of the track. It's dangerous. Maybe a Safety Car?"
Nothing happens and Sebastian Vettel wins the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, ahead of the two McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. Nico Rosberg is fourth, followed by Robert Kubica and Vitalij Petrov. Fernando Alonso is only seventh, Mark Webber is eighth. Thus, Sebastian Vettel becomes the youngest World Champion in the history of Formula 1, at 23 years, 4 months and 11 days. Furthermore, he becomes World Champion after leading the standings only at the last race of the season, like John Surtees in 1964 and James Hunt in 1976. Once upon a time there was a blond boy with a fresh driving license who in 2006 was called to drive a Formula 1 BMW in free practice on Friday in Turkey. His name is Sebastian Vettel, he is German, no one has ever heard of him and at the end of the session he is the fastest. Skeptics think he ran on less fuel than the others, but Michael Schumacher intervenes:
"Keep an eye on him, he came to train at my kart track in Kerpen and he was a phenomenon".
The following year, with a very slow Toro Rosso, Sebastian Vettel missed the podium in Japan due to naivety (he bumped into Mark Webber under the safety car: it was destiny that the two entered a collision course), in 2008 at Monza he gave the first and so far only victory for the former Minardi, in 2009 he was vice World Champion with Red Bull Racing, in 2010 he became the youngest F1 World Champion, canceling Fernando Alonso's record. A lightning career with the blessing of Michael Schumacher, of which he could become the heir. Always cheerful and smiling, Seb is the 2.0 version of Michael Schumacher: compared to the master more communicative and faster in qualifying, perhaps less evil. Having crossed the finish line, the German driver starts crying:
And follows a series of indecipherable verses, pure joy. Sebastian Vettel presents himself at the press conference and prefaces:
A five-minute monologue follows which the two McLaren drivers, 2008 World Champion Lewis Hamilton and 2009 World Champion Jenson Button, listen benevolently, welcoming them to the club of grown-ups.
"I had only one thing to do. Try to win the race. The car was extraordinary, the start was crucial, but Lewis stayed behind".
An unstoppable ride, free from errors.
"Until I crossed the finish line I knew nothing about my opponents. In the last ten laps I was wondering why they were constantly giving me advice on the radio on how to finish the grand prix. I didn't understand why the boys were so nervous. I sensed that I must be in a damned good situation".
After the checkered flag there was a momentary pause in communications between driver and garage. Then the voice of the engineer:
"It seems to be going well, but we have to wait for the others to finish the race".
Still in a competitive trance, Sebastian Vettel begins to realize the sense of the enterprise:
"I was wondering what he meant by him. I hadn't looked at the big screens, I hadn't wanted information on my opponents so as not to lose concentration. At one point he yelled at me: you are World Champion".
His triumph recalls that of Kimi Raikkonen with Ferrari in 2007. In the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel recovered nineteen points on Alonso:
"I remember that, Kimi. No one on the eve believed that he would make it. Did anyone really expect that here Ferrari, with the pace it had, would finish seventh from third place? Sometimes happens. And I'm delighted to add my name to the list of champions, alongside those of Senna and Schumacher. And of the two boys here by my side".
He adds addressing Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. In the end he returns to the question of team orders: was it right not to help Webber in Brazil?
"It's proof that in sport you never know how it ends and every single point risks becoming invaluable. Someone calls it destiny, others give different explanations".
If Fernando Alonso is the favorite of King Juan Carlos, Sebastian Vettel enters the good graces of Angela Merkel. The chancellor sent him a congratulatory message:
"He showed his skills as a true champion, keeping a cool head and thus changing the course of events in the last race. He is a true champion, who at the age of just 23 already enters the history of sport".
And in the meantime he jokes Adrian Newey, the wizard of designers, who designed the Red Bull RB 06:
"The best ideas come to me in the shower".
The Briton is a brilliant technician, having already won a series of World Championships with Williams and McLaren. He is 58 years old, he was born in Stratford upon Avon, the country of Shakespeare. An aeronautical engineer, he also worked in Formula Indy in the United States, also triumphing with one of his cars in the legendary Indy 500. The car designed this year by Newey dominated the entire season, taking nine victories in nineteen races, fifteen pole positions (record) and the two world titles. A single-seater full of inventions, with which Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber made good and bad times on the track. If the team and the riders hadn't made several mistakes, the World Championship would have been over for months. Only the tenacity of Fernando Alonso and the work of Ferrari extended the season until the last Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi. Super refined aerodynamics and mechanics. The rear suspension with struts, the nose and the very high chassis, above all a new air extraction system in the rear, made the single-seater powered by the Renault engine (not the most powerful, but very flexible) an almost unbeatable weapon. And very fast on the flying lap, as demonstrated by the successes in qualifying. Many doubts were raised about this car, which was too strong, during the year. At first there were suspicions that the RB 06 sags too much on the asphalt. Then inquiries into the front wings deemed excessively flexible. But in the end no one was able to prove illegality. Red Bull Racing is so competitive that it can afford to ignore the strategies, focusing indifferently on one driver or the other. Even if the bosses of the team have never hidden the hope of applauding Sebastian Vettel World Champion and Mark Webber loser. They succeeded. But Ferrari gave him a lot of help. The disappointment is in the shining eyes of emotion of the men of the Maranello team, it is in the tears that even Fernando Alonso struggles to hold back when he returns to the paddock greeted by applause. Regret mixes with fatigue and vanished hopes after an exhilarating comeback. The Spanish driver embraces Luca Montezemolo, the Ferrari president cheers him up, exchanges a few words with him, then addresses the whole team:
"Come on guys, I don't want to see you too downcast".
Because defeat burns, just as those images on TV with Sebastian Vettel washed down with rose water (no champagne in the Emirates) cannot fail to hurt, but the Ferrari president does not want us to forget how much good there was during the 'year:
"The ending let us down, but it was an exciting season".
He had already explained it to the team immediately after the checkered flag, gathering all of them in the garage behind closed doors:
"I want to thank you for your work, your commitment. Thanks to Stefano Domenicali, who always kept the team together. We can't be happy with the result, but you were great, we're going out with our heads held high".
Later, when the crowd leaves the Yas Island circuit and anger is vented in a fist pounded on the table, the Ferrari president rewinds the film of the day.
"Of course, to say that we are down in the dumps is an understatement. It would have been enough to keep the position we had at the start, or even that famous fourth place. Instead we lost when maybe we were convinced it wasn't going to happen. For this we have to swallow an even more bitter pill".
In the paddock, only the strategy error is discussed, Luca Montezemolo knows that criticism is coming and does not evade the issue.
"Something we could have done better, not everything worked perfectly. On the other hand, there have been races in which Red Bull wasted good opportunities, this time it was us who conceded something. There was a conservative focus from the team. The impression I got is like when in football it is said that a team was afraid to win. But it's a completely new and largely Italian team, which continues a tradition of excellence. Since 1997, except for two years, we have always won or fought to the end. I'm proud of these guys, because we started the season with a win that masked the problems a bit. Vettel had a better car. The team has demonstrated what I define as an extraordinary reaction, with a spirit of sacrifice, working day and night. We went into the last race in the lead and I'm sure few observers would have predicted this just a few months ago".
And it is precisely the team that angrily welcomes the comments arriving from Italy, those declarations by Minister Calderoli on the insane strategy implemented by the pits, followed by the attack on Montezemolo with words that try to transport the climate of Italian politics to the sand of Abu dhabi:
"He made us ashamed of being Ferrari fans, we expect his resignation. Instead of playing political cricket without hitting one, you learn how to handle a victory in the World Championship".
Concepts also taken up by Maurizio Gasparri, president of the PDL senators, who invites the president to meditate and do his job well.
"It's sad to see people trying to advertise themselves like this".
The men of the Maranello team comment. And if Montezemolo explains that he does not want to respond to the Northern League exponent, he is a spokesman to articulate the official reply:
"We want to remember the work of the men and women of Ferrari. There is a great Italy that does not give up and fights to the end. He often wins, sometimes he loses, but he doesn't give up. Instead, there are little people who systematically cheer against the country and its symbols. Luckily they are a minority".
Better to think about the fans, says Montezemolo:
"To the many red flags I saw at the circuit as well as at Ferrari World".
The theme park that stands next to the circuit. Or, better think of the first year of her marriage to Alonso.
"A very strong, extraordinary rider, if he hasn't won it's not his fault. He has instilled confidence in the team, I want to thank him for the work done on and off the track, with will, with determination".
Obviously, the same report card cannot go to Massa:
"Yes, we expected more from Felipe, but I'm sure he will be able to redeem himself".
Luca Montezemolo approaches the engineer Aldo Costa, technical director of the team. His head down, little desire to smile.
"I had complimented her on the eve, I confirm them now".
They discuss the departure for a few moments, how some aspects can be improved. The curtain has just fallen on the 2010 season, but the next one is already demanding attention. Ferrari remains in the Emirates for a series of tests and the president is thinking about the car with which to challenge for the title in 2011:
"It will be essential to start with an immediately competitive car".
Good job then.
"We've been working on it for weeks. We want to win".
Red T-shirt, Bermuda shorts, a thread of beard, Fernando Alonso is the image of despondency after the Abu Dhabi race. But he does not pass the responsibilities on anyone for a strategy that has turned out to be a loser
"Decisions are made together and we did it. You have to choose in an instant. Of course, we were attentive to what Vettel was doing, but we had to decide whether to mark Rosberg and Petrov or Webber who was going faster. It was difficult, we decided on the second option, now we know it was the wrong one, the worst. But it's not just a matter of strategy, everything went wrong".
At what moment did he realize that he had lost the World Championship?
"On the last lap, when I saw Vettel cross the finish line on the big screen while I was still at turn 11. Up until that moment, I hoped that a turn in our favor could happen".
After the checkered flag he joined the Russian Petrov, waving a hand towards him. What did that gesture mean?
"Frustration, for those forty laps that I had stayed behind without being able to overtake him. It was known that Renault had focused on speed, but in this race we saw an aggressiveness never noticed in the whole championship in him".
Do you regret not resisting Button more at the start?
"It was difficult to do more, when I put in second he had already joined me. The start was one of the downsides of this race, as was the entry of the safety car, which favoured the pit stops of the cars behind, upsetting the standings".
He closes the season second by four points. Where do you think you lost them?
"In a nineteen-race championship, the title didn't fade away today. But I can not focus on a precise moment. Of all the stages, Ferrari may have lost 20-25 points, but Red Bull maybe 100. I think Monte Carlo was the worst race, Monza the best".
What is good about this season to carry into 2011? And what will have to change?
"Except 95% of what we did. The relationship with the team, a united team. The passion and will to win with which we have worked are the hallmark of Ferrari's identity. On a personal level, then, having overtaken Fangio and Lauda as victories represents a not negligible result".
The negative part remains. What does it put in?
"The mistakes of the drivers, the strategies that didn't work, that bad luck that befell us in Valencia or Silverstone".
In what state of mind are you preparing to play a rematch?
"With the awareness that Ferrari has in any case had a year of ten. And with the belief that they can be stronger. We know we have to work on competitiveness, that a new regulation awaits us and that there will be little space for testing. But I have no doubts, believe me, that I will fight again for the World Championship".
Chris Dyer, the strategist, cries in despair, Fernando Alonso can't rest. Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali admits his mistake and defends the team:
"We tagged Webber with both of our drivers and underestimated the traffic problems. We remain proud of having come this far to contend for the World Championship against an opponent faster than us".
Of all the ways you can lose, this is the bitterest: by a wrong choice after seven perfect races and an unprecedented comeback. The gaffe is in the decision to call the riders to the pits in the early stages of the race. It's a defensive tactic: Ferrari wants to be sure that Mark Webber stays behind Fernando Alonso, so it copies his strategy, without realizing that the real rival is Sebastian Vettel. The German pilot flies undisturbed towards his fifth victory of the season: the one that changes his life. With hindsight let's try to imagine a different race: Fernando Alonso postponed the pit stop and remained in Jenson Button's slipstream, who had taken third place away from him at the start. He runs his beautiful Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and becomes World Champion without taking too many risks. Was it difficult to imagine such a scenario even in the chaos of a race, aggravated by the initial accident between Michael Schumacher and Vitantonio Liuzzi?
No one is looking for excuses among the men of the Maranello team:
"We are paid to make decisions in advance. If we get it wrong, it's our fault".
Still missing from Felipe Massa, who was unable to pass Mark Webber at the start, nor to get rid of Jaime Alguersuari's Toro Rosso.
"We changed tires at the wrong time. It was a mistake. On the other hand, Red Bull has committed many more, otherwise the championship would have ended two months ago".
Stefano Domenicali defines defeat as a punch in the gut:
"It hurts, but now we need to react. We have to carry on to 2011 the good things we have achieved and improve by learning from mistakes".
Testing starts again right here in Abu Dhabi: the new test driver Jules Bianchi at the wheel on Tuesday 16 and Wednesday 17 November 2010, then the two race drivers on Friday 19 and Saturday 20 November 2010 to test the new Pirelli tyres.
"Next year we will have to be competitive from the start. We are Ferrari, we are condemned to win".
Chris Dyer cries a long time Sunday night.
"Losing like this hurts, really hurts".
It feels like a symbol of a team defeat that falls on only one. The mistake is the same as everyone else's, but the consequences are catastrophic.
"Getting a strategy wrong is like designing a single-seater two tenths slower than the competition".
But if the tactics are wrong in the decisive match, you risk crucifixion. Uguzzoni, who made mistakes in the past, has remained, Chris Dyer will leave. Australian, 42 years old, hired in 2001, worked in the test team for two seasons, then became race engineer for Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen, winning the 2003, 2004 and 2007 titles. In April 2009 he replaced Luca Baldisserri as head of track engineers. His best move this year was in Monaco: Fernando Alonso's pit stop on the first lap, with a comeback from last to sixth place. The worst: qualifying in Malaysia in the rain. His most delicate task is the choice of strategies during the race. If the Grand Prix proceeds according to computer-predicted patterns, everything is automatic. Otherwise (a safety car, a surprise move by the opponents), you have to react within seconds. At the low wall sit the team principal, Stefano Domenicali, the technical director, Aldo Costa, the sporting director, Massimo Rivola, the engineers of Felipe Massa (Rob Smedley) and Alonso (Andrea Stella). Plus Chris Dyer. The decisions are collective, shared with the pilots via radio, but the debate is not that of a condominium assembly.
"The last word belongs to me".
Chris Dyer says. In Abu Dhabi, the last words that made Alonso lose the World Championship were:
"Pit in this lap".
Lap 15. Around lap 20 it was clear that Fernando Alonso would not be able to pass Vitaly Petrov and that the race was forfeit. And the human drama of Chris Dyer began. The sense of the state of mind around him is in one of Andrea Stella's last radio communications to Fernando Alonso:
"Put all your talent into it".
At the end of the race, the Ferrari website reports the thought of Chris Dyer, who had locked himself up in his closet in desperation.
"We made a wrong strategic decision, it is useless to look for excuses. We looked too much at what was happening behind us without seeing what was in front of our noses".
A clearer statement of his will also be released on Twitter:
"Forgive me, it's my fault".
But Ferrari denies it, saying:
The mystery remains: why does anyone bother to pretend to be a character who works behind the scenes? Is it revenge the result of professional envies? The author of the fake twitter has not been identified nor will it ever be. And Dyer goes back to work in the pits of the Yas Island circuit for a four-day test. Fernando Alonso publicly acquits him:
"We win and lose all together and our season was ten".
A few days later, Wednesday 17 November 2010, the two days of testing for young drivers who aspire to F1 ended in Abu Dhabi with a sensational performance. Daniel Ricciardo, the 21-year-old Australian of Italian origin, set the absolute record of the circuit, lapping with the Red Bull in 1'38''102, improving by 0.3 seconds the time set by the new World Champion Sebastian Vettel in the qualifying race. Also in evidence are Jérôme D'Ambrosio (Renault), Bird (Mercedes), Gary Paffet (McLaren). Jules Bianchi, with Ferrari, sets the fifth fastest time, lapping in 1'39''916. Two test sessions of the new Pirelli tires will start on Friday with all the teams. Felipe Massa will start for Ferrari. Red Bull Racing will have Sebastian Vettel do all the work. Formula 1?
"More overtaking and less pollution".
Ferrari in Abu Dhabi?
"She got pissed off and lost".
"We will regulate them".
From the office overlooking Piazza della Concordia in Paris, while the tests for young people are concluding in Abu Dhabi, Jean Todt talks about his first year as international president of the Automobile industry. On a cabinet there is a photo with the three people he is closest to: his son Nicolas, his partner, the actress Michelle Yeoh, and Michael Schumacher. On the opposite wall, a planisphere that looks like a gigantic risk in which 51 blue flags represent the countries already visited.
"Do you know how many people die on the roads every year? 1.300.000. If we didn't intervene, in 2010 they would rise to 1.900.000. More than malaria or AIDS".
Is his mission road safety?
"Yes. We want to halve the number of road deaths in a decade. We will also hold the drivers accountable: if they commit serious infractions, they will risk being granted a superlicence".
And on the track?
"F1 has direct responsibilities towards society. For 2013 we are thinking of 1600 turbo hybrid direct injection engines that consume half as much. When I go to the showrooms they show me cars that travel 100 kilometers with 4 liters of petrol. A single-seater needs 100: total madness".
Does a sustainable sport remain spectacular?
"We have to encourage overtaking. In Abu Dhabi they were impossible".
Do you speak as an ex of Ferrari?
"I speak as president of the FIA. Take Hamilton: he had fresh tyres, he would have lapped two seconds faster than Kubica and yet he was unable to pass him. From now on, before homologating a circuit, we will evaluate its spectacularity, as well as safety".
Some fans argue that with her on the wall Ferrari would not have lost.
"I'm happy to have left a good memory, but maybe instead of seventh and tenth place we could have made up for a tenth and a fifteenth place. I wasn't there, I don't know what I would have done".
He will agree that a gross mistake was made.
"It's easy to criticize someone who has failed a success that seemed impossible to lose. When the pressure rises, a Grand Prix becomes a small war and the opponents (Red Bull, ed) have managed to create nervousness in Ferrari".
Why did he leave Maranello?
"I thought my period was over. Today, for me, Ferrari is only one of twelve competitors, but I'm proud to have left behind a good group".
Was it embarrassing having to judge your former collaborators for overtaking Hockenheim?
"I delegated the inquiry and did not attend the world council hearing. In the future, legal issues will pass through a commission of twelve experts".
What did you think of that episode?
"Orders have been banned since 2002, however I wondered: how many have been given softly since then? The difference is that Ferrari's was anything but soft. It was a provocation against the regulation".
Will the rule be abolished?
"It will be regulated. F1 is a team sport, each team will take responsibility for their own behaviour. No lies or coded messages like: save petrol will be tolerated".
The most sensational team order remains his at Zeltweg 2002: what did he say to Barrichello to convince him?
"I shouldn't have told him anything. We agreed beforehand: if you're in front after the pit stop, you have to let Schumacher pass without making a mess. He agreed: after all, a rider is paid to accept certain decisions. Instead he stayed in front. I called him fifty times and told him clearly: he dodged at the last corner, the audience booed, Schumi gave him first place at the podium ceremony and Ferrari was fined for the violation of protocol: $500.000".
"Repentant, because in hindsight it could have been avoided: Schumacher would have won the championship anyway. But I would have regretted it more if I had lost the title by a couple of points".
Once the official tests have also concluded, Monday 22 November 2010 Sebastian Vettel is celebrated in Heppenheim, his hometown. For the title of F1 World Champion conquered on Sunday 14 November 2010, in Abu Dhabi, he reveals to the German media:
"Alonso still hasn't congratulated me".
On the other hand, he is celebrated by 50.000 people:
"I'm living a dream and I hope I don't wake up. Right now I'm very confused and almost deaf".
Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso, are you still thinking about the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix?
"No, I'm over the disappointment. Sadness has become will to win, motivation, aggressiveness in approaching 2011. If you lose a final like the Netherlands did against my Spain, you immediately feel bad, then you think about it and you realize that you still did better than Brazil , Argentina and, unfortunately, Italy".
How did you live the two days after the race?
"When you come close to winning a world title, the sensations are intense. Then luckily on Friday we were already back on track for testing with the new Pirelli tyres. I saw the positive reaction of the team and I recharged".
Is it true that during the race they had asked you if you agreed to bring the pit stop forward and you answered yes?
"No, it's not true: they didn't ask me and therefore I didn't answer anything".
Will the defeat lead to any changes in particular to the low wall, where strategic decisions are made?
"Abu Dhabi is the most recent Grand Prix and the one that has its eyes set on. Let's not forget that the same team put me in a position to win even in conditions of technical inferiority. And I am proud to be a part of it. We have to grow, but you have to evaluate us for the whole championship, not for the last race".
Good resolutions for next year?
"We want to be competitive right from the start. I arrived in Bahrain in 2010 when I still didn't know the names of the mechanics: now it will be much easier".
What are Ferrari's strengths? And the weaknesses?
"We are very honest with ourselves, we know what to work on. And so do our opponents. We expect to still be in the fight against Red Bull, McLaren and Mercedes".
The return of Kers and the mobile rear wing: how is Formula 1 changing?
"These are rules to encourage overtaking and the show. In theory they are good, hopefully in practice too. Applied in the last championship, however, I don't think they would have changed the outcome".
How did you feel in the first test with the Pirelli tyres?
"It's not a drastic change. There is continuity, the riding style remains the same".
Here in Valencia a year ago you were full of good hopes. How has Fernando Alonso changed today?
"I am happier. In Renault I had spent two seasons trying to qualify in the top ten. I am a competitive person, so I was looking forward to being able to win again. With Ferrari I succeeded five times, I surpassed Fangio and Lauda in number of successes, two legends I never dreamed of reaching. Then the environment, the way of working, the Italian character similar to the Spanish one. In Maranello I was reborn".
The team that doesn't win must be changed. Ferrari does not escape the golden rule of sport and is preparing a reinforcement campaign.
"But there will be no revolution".
Ensures, Sunday 28 November 2010, Luca Montezemolo. There is talk of adjustments, improvements, dynamic stability, because someone will arrive with the shopping campaign and someone else will be moved to a different job. The Maranello team plans its future in Valencia, during the Ferrari day, the event that closes the season: same location (the Ricardo Tormo circuit which hosts F1 tests and MotoGP races) where Fernando Alonso was presented a year ago , the man of providence. In the meantime, the climate has changed: it was one of hope at the end of 2009, it is one of anger now, after the defeat in Abu Dhabi. There are no technicians.
"They are working on the new car. In 2011, Kers will return, which we have already developed. And the movable rear wing will be introduced. Let's just hope there are no surprises in the interpretation of the rules. The doping of 2009 (the double diffuser of the Brawn which later won the World Cup, ed) was enough for us".
Do you suspect? Montezemolo denies:
"It's just doubts".
Wealthy Ferrari customers whizzed along the track, hitting each other and accumulating damages worth tens of thousands of euros in just a few laps, then it was the turn of the pilots and testers for the traditional exhibition with the single-seaters. Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, the limping Giancarlo Fisichella and Marc Gené (both recovering from accidents) and Luca Badoer, now in the role of the ex. For him, a historic test driver, 132.000 kilometers at the wheel of Maranello cars, his racing career was over at the age of forty. The president announced it to him during the Valencian dinner on Saturday evening. He remained imperturbable, then vented:
"I would have preferred an official communication to a public statement".
It is the first head to fall, albeit innocent: in the regime of limited tests, the work of the testers is extinguished. With him gone, there are still three left in Maranello: the aforementioned Giancarlo Fisichella and Marc Gené and the latest arrival, the 21-year-old Frenchman Jules Bianchi, the only one who has any hope of piloting the F1 single-seater. The next adjustments concern the men present in the pits. The goal is to make better use of people's characteristics and prevent them from making bad decisions. The obvious example goes to the strategy adopted in Abu Dhabi, that unfortunate decision to call Alonso to the pit stop too early. Chris Dyer, chief of engineers, took responsibility. However, the men from Maranello point out, other teams have made mistakes this year, albeit in less crucial moments: McLaren favored Ferrari's success at Monza by making Jenson Button's pit stop wrong, Red Bull Racing did the same at Singapore with Sebastian Vettel. Ferrari will try to put the strategist in a position to make the right choice, without creating the condominium assembly effect. The remote garage will therefore be strengthened, i.e. an encore wall that works in the factory during the races and has all the tools to evaluate the correct choices. Among the new men there will be Pat Fry, a former McLaren engineer, who arrived in the summer with the title of deputy technical director, and who will be fully operational from 2011. The fixed points remain the pilots.
"Alonso is an extraordinary driving force. And I expect Massa to return to the one from 2008, the one who lost the title at the last corner: my biggest disappointment".
Felipe Massa, at the moment, does not seem willing to come out, admitting that he has disappointed. When asked about his performance in Abu Dhabi he replied:
"It was the strategy's fault".
And in the meantime, the new World Champion says:
"Driving a Ferrari is a dream, my goal".
Said by Sebastian Vettel, who has just won the World Championship with Red Bull Racing, it is a phrase that does not go unnoticed. The German, out of love for his country, also adds Mercedes to his list of dreams to come true. Finally, he focuses on his team:
"But now I'm happy at Red Bull, I still have two years of contract and big plans. We have to defend the title, this will already be challenging and quite complex".
Two days later, Tuesday 30 November 2010, in the presence of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, over 2,000 guests attended the official inauguration of the Ferrari Theme Park in Abu Dhabi. Representing the Maranello factory are the president Luca Montezemolo, the vice president Piero Ferrari, the managing director Amedeo Felisa and the team principal, Stefano Domenicali, accompanied by the drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa. President Luca Montezemolo says:
"I want to thank everyone who made this dream a reality. Six years ago this was just an idea, even an ambitious dream. The Park represents the combination of innovative technology and tradition and is dedicated not only to Ferrari fans and car enthusiasts but to our entire family. The whole Ferrari world is there".
Staying on the Ferrari theme, Tuesday 14 December 2010 Lance Stroll, dark hair and a beautiful amber complexion, son of Lawrence Stroll, a partner of the designer Ralph Lauren, will race in Italy during the summer of 2011. Canadian from Montreal, the little Stroll has achieved a series of successes both in the States and in his country, with repeated pole positions, in karts, both in his mini category and in the upper junior category. A natural talent that he has been cultivating since the age of five, when he had begun to fall in love with it, following the feats of Michael Schumacher on television. A few months earlier, Lance Stroll had been in Maranello on a visit, meeting Stefano Domenicali and Luca Baldisserri, as well as some of his young colleagues. And he had also had the opportunity to enter the cockpit of the F10.
"For me that was a dream that became reality. An incredible feeling, the most beautiful in the world. I am very excited by the idea of entering the Cavallino school. I feel very lucky. And I am aware that I am on the right track. Looking back, champions like Schumacher, Button, Hamilton and Alonso started driving karts at a very young age. If one wants to become an F1 driver, this is the way forward".
Ferrari has already signed the 12-year-old from Quebec, a long-term deal and will continue to follow and train him. Luca Baldisserri admits that he followed an initiative already taken by McLaren, which put Lewis Hamilton under his wing and led him to conquer the World Championship. Lance Stroll will not only compete in kart competitions in the KF3 and KF2 series, but will also participate in some stages organized by the Academy. He will have as classmates the Italian Raffaele Marciello, the French Brandon Maisano and the other French Jules Bianchi, already appointed third driver by Ferrari. School is not easy. Mirko Bortolotti and Daniel Zampieri know something about it, rejected for having failed to meet expectations. The internships for aspiring champions will be open to anyone who wishes to request them. An application form will be available on the Ferrari website in the next few days. The chosen ones will be able to follow the lessons and be included in the Academy.
"Alonso deserves 9 and a half, Ferrari 8, in Massa I give 7 less".
Luca Montezemolo accepts the game of report cards during the traditional end-of-year dinner in Maranello with the Italian press. And he says:
"When you don't win, you can't expect top marks, but it was an exceptional year in terms of commitment".
The title vanished in the last race due to a wrong strategy.
"We called two riders to the pits. Had we had three, we would have called three".
Abu Dhabi's mistake is freeze-dried in a joke. A month ago it had been disappointment and anger. On the positive side, in the opinion of Luca Montezemolo, there is the fact that the team managed to win or fight for victory in the last race, like thirteen other times in the last fifteen years. On the downside, some mechanism that didn't work. If Alonso was great, he fitted in very well, he brought confidence and spends his days in Maranello working with the team, Massa has had a fluctuating season.
"I expect that in 2011 he will return to the levels of 2008, when he lost the World Championship because of us, for a refueling error in Singapore and an engine failure in Hungary. Here we have the problem of brothers. First there was that of Schumacher, who then went racing with Mercedes. Now Massa's: Felipe didn't always go on the track".
The Brazilian in Germany got angry. And he took a lecture.
"What I had to tell him, I told him. I don't like whining from complainers. He said: they asked me to let my partner through. Of course I asked you, so what? We don't race to let a driver win, but Ferrari. In light of the results, it was the right decision".
Team orders were prohibited and the Maranello team was fined $100.000. Jean Todt lifted the ban in recent days: the first step in a series of reforms that the Maranello summit has at heart. First of all, the third single-seater: a revolution that would have made it possible to bring Valentino Rossi into F1 or to retain Michael Schumacher, avoiding opening the doors of the Circus to single-seaters good at best for GP2.
"It's absurd for a fast rider like Jarno Trulli to take a three second gap on the lap. Instead, they take one of our cars, color it however they want and put their sponsors in it. It would be a way to give space to young riders or motorcycle champions".
What if the third car beats the first and second? Montezemolo smiles:
"It's okay that masochism was fashionable in F1 (see Mosley's parties, ed), but there is a limit. If it happened, it would mean that we are in bad shape".
Second reform project: allow more tests.
"We are the only sport in which you cannot train. It's like asking Milan and Real Madrid to play in smooth shoes if it rains or not to prepare for the Champions League".
The president recalls an anecdote about Luca Badoer, who is ending his career as a test driver this year:
"At the end of the day I called Todt, who reassured me. Not satisfied, he telephoned Badoer, who presented me with a different picture. When Todt found out about it, he muzzled Badoer".
Third point, the show: circuits where you overtake, races shortened by 10 minutes, calendar limited to eighteen or nineteen races.
"In 2011 there will be twenty: too many. The organizing countries must host only one grand prix each".
The future: in mid-January in Madonna di Campiglio, during the usual Ferrari press meeting, the team's news will be revealed, in the name of dynamic stability, as the president wishes.
"It will be about small tweaks, because too many changes hurt".
The new single-seater will be presented between 25 and 31 January 2011, which will begin testing in Spain on 1 February and make its debut on 13 March 2011 in Bahrain.
"We have to be immediately competitive".
Who will be the opponents?
"Red Bull, which has been building the best single-seater for a couple of years, McLaren and Mercedes, which will come back strong".
A few words about the absentees.
"Flavio Briatore? You miss him. On Formula 1 he has shareable ideas. Kimi Raikkonen? He is as rich as a Croesus and enjoys rallies".
At the end of the evening, the topic slips into politics, but lasts for the space of a question. What do you wish for Italy?
"No comment, let me do my job. I'm so happy that we have so many things to do here at Ferrari".