PUMA Perspective: Monza

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Was it not simply glorious to see Fernando Alonso sneak past the three cars of him at the start of Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix to lead Ferrari’s home race for five laps?

The sight was, as Stefano Domenicalli, Team Principal of Scuderia Ferrari, overheard a fan say after the race, ‘That [move] alone was worth the price of the entry ticket.’

Fernando went on to finish on the podium, which drove his legion of fans absolutely wild and proved once again that no other team can arouse such joyous emotions as can Ferrari. It is, of course, to be expected that Ferrari’s following in Italy is strong, but the team has won in every country to have hosted grands prix, and still the reaction to the red cars is the same.

But nowhere is that passion more evident than at Monza, and wearing any colour other than scarlet on race day is tantamount to admitting to not enjoying a plate of spaghetti or refusing a glass of lambrusco. It simply is not done, particularly not in the brooding ancient royal park which houses Formula 1’s fastest circuit.

Felipe Massa put in the strong race in the second Ferrari, having lost time earlier when Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber became overly ambitious, tagging the Ferrari into a spin which was to cost the Brazilian all chance of staying with the frontrunners. After the race Felipe was adamant that he could have run in the top quartet rather than finish sixth.

With the drivers’ title race now effectively over – Vettel is likely to seal his second consecutive championship within the next two races, thereby relieving Fernando of his ‘youngest double champion’ title won in 2005/6 – and the constructors’ championship almost certain to go to Red Bull Racing again, Ferrari will now gradually increase its focus on the current car’s successor to ensure a strong start to next season.

As the 2012 regulations are little changed over this year’s, save in the area surrounding exhausts, and KERS, DRS and Pirelli tyres with planned degradation having proven their worth in the 13 races to date, the team can concentrate on honing the existing concept mixed with new philosophies introduced by recently-appointed engineering chief Pat Fry.

Thus with a stable but optimised technical platform and stability in the cockpit – Fernando and Felipe continue for yet another year – Ferrari’s sporting future is assured. In fact, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said in Monza that he is more committed to Ferrari than ever before, admitting he was not satisfied with this year’s results.

“I am unhappy because this year we have not got since the beginning a competitive car. I am tired to lose the championship at the last race; it has happened too many times in the last years.
“So for next year I expect a competitive car with clear rules, and with clear interpretation of the rules [as was not the case in 2009]. So I hope that we can have clear rules and to make a condition to win again the championship now.”

The Italian nobleman, who entered Formula 1 as team manager to Niki Lauda back in 1975, is not only committed to the Prancing Horse, but to Ferrari’s presence in Formula 1, defining it on Saturday as “[a combination of] extreme performance, sport, and innovative technology.” Given that philosophy at the very top, PUMA’s partner team sure faces a bright red future.