It would seem all isn’t well at Ferrari as rumours of a rift within the team have been rife this week. Following qualifying in India, comments were made by Pat Fry, technical director, suggesting the drivers did not do enough to get high enough up the grid ready for the race at the Buddh International circuit. Allegedly stating that a perfect lap was needed and wasn’t delivered, Fry’s comments were supposedly answered by Fernando Alonso making the point that the team don’t have anyone as good as Adrian Newey, and haven’t worked hard enough on developing the car this season. The pressure the team are experiencing in trying to beat Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel in the race to clinch the driver’s title, seems to be causing cracks to appear in the Maranello team.
Alonso has denied talk about disagreements, but there doesn’t seem to be a holistic team spirit at Ferrari at present. With Red Bull able to win the constructors title this weekend, providing they finish above Ferrari in Abu Dhabi, the focus for the Scuderia is on the drivers title. Therefore, the pressure on the team is coming from the Spaniard himself wanting the team to deliver. There are updates on the car this weekend, including a new front and rear wing, however little difference was apparent following Free Practice 1 and 2. Alonso was fourth fastest following Free Practice 1 behind the McLaren’s and the Red Bull of Vettel. Free practice 2 saw him lying seventh behind the Red Bull’s, McLaren’s and low fuelled Lotus‘.
Alonso has battled with an inferior car all season. He has wrung the life out of it and has made it do things it shouldn’t have been able to do. He is an exceptional talent but he needs a team around him. Feuding within the team could be disastrous for his title winning chances and for the future development of the car. Now it not the time for apportioning blame, it is the time for a leader to emerge and unite the team with a mutual vision.
When Michael Schumacher went to Ferrari they were a disjointed team, a team in a state of disarray. His organised and hard working approach revolutionised the team and gave them a completely different approach to racing, resulting in five driver’s titles and six constructors championships. Although Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso are both able to do incredible things with inferior machinery, they are very different in terms of leadership style. The German is very hands on, giving feedback and supporting the team in ways the car should be developed. Alonso seems to take more of a back seat, leading from afar. Maybe the way he puts pressure on the team needs to change, or maybe they need to step up and do their bit. Whatever happens, they need to show a united front, because at this point in the season when pressure and mind games are at the maximum, any rift could be like gifting an ‘own goal’ to Sebastian Vettel.