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In the wake of the third occasion on which his team has lost the title at the death, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has paid tribute to the Italian outfit and its drivers.
Despite having a car that was clearly uncompetitive, Fernando Alonso gave 100%, the F2012 flattering to deceive. In the latter stages of the season, with teammate Felipe Massa now raising his game, the Spaniard was twice eliminated within yards of the start, realistically the two-time world champion's title hopes over long before Brazil.
Speaking to Italy's RAI Uno, Montezemolo, though clearly disappointed at his team's failure, paid tribute to all involved, reasserting his deep pride in the Maranello outfit.
"Certainly not winning the title is the cause for great sorrow and great regret, because we always want to win and we came close," he said. "I am proud of the work done by the team in having produced the most reliable car, for never having got the strategy wrong and for making no mistakes at the pit stops.
"Right to the end, the team did its duty," he continued. "Even if we are the team that scored the most points in the last five races, even if I was pleased to see our two drivers on the podium yesterday, we lacked a car quick enough to get us to the front of the grid and that was the main problem we had all season."
Echoing Alonso's comments yesterday, Montezemolo admitted that in 2013 there must be no mistakes, the car must be a winner straight out of the box.
"What happened this year stems what happened the previous year," he said. "On this topic, I will be asking for an in-depth analysis and an improvement in the organization and work methods, because next year, we want to have a winning car right from the first race, which has not been the case these last two years."
Asked how he feels Alonso will react to this, his second 'defeat' in three years, at a time when he is driving better than ever, Montezemolo said: "He will react like the whole team: the team is working to achieve what I have asked of them, which is to have a car that is quick out of the box and immediately competitive. Fernando will react in his way, pushing even harder, aware that he will be unbeatable in a competitive car. As for the car, Fernando is partly right, on condition that, in 2013, we maintain this amazing reliability that has allowed us to come second in the drivers' and constructors' championships. However, he's right that we need a quicker car."
Finally, Montezemolo paid tribute to the fans, the faithful who have supported Ferrari through thick and thin. "I thank them all for their great support. We were hoping to win for them too, but we can be proud of having been, once again this year, contenders right down to the last lap of the last race and all of us here in Maranello are working flat out to win next year. We will give it our all."
Despite Montezemolo's "pride" in the team, many believe that in the wake of the 'failures' of 2010 and 2012, the Italian team will seek a total reorganisation, frustrated to have been beaten by a newcomer, a newcomer with an energy drink in its blood as opposed to racing.
Since buying Jaguar, Red Bull, the drink company which owns the team, has built an outfit that in a few short years has out-classed others that have been in the sport for decades. If Ferrari is to re-take its place at the top of the sport it too will need to bring in the best talent that money can buy. Team founder Enzo Ferrari could never handle being beaten by the Garagistes, being beaten by an energy drink maker is something quite different.
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