Ferrari entered this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix with a sense of foreboding to be honest... at least that's what it seemed like from Fernando Alonso's public statements. The Spaniard made it clear that the team needed to have a good showing in Hungary or face a summer break full of anxiety over what best to do to salvage the year. As it was, Alonso finished 5th which was 30+ seconds adrift of race winner Lewis Hamilton. Massa was a complete no-show in 8th and nearly lapped.
Ferrari were rumored to be the benefactor of the new tires but as it turns out, the new construction tire in Hungary sent them in reverse when combined with hot ambient and track temperatures and the tight, twisty nature of the circuit. After such a lackluster weekend, frustrations were high and while it is unclear as to exactly what Alonso said publicly, it garnered the attention of Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo and warranted a rebuke...even on Alonso's birthday:
"However, there is a need to close ranks, without giving in to rash outbursts that, while understandable in the immediate aftermath of a bad result, are no use to anyone" said the Ferrari president.
Ferrari clarified the comment on their website by saying:
"That was a reference to the latest comments from Fernando Alonso, which did not go down well with Montezemolo, nor with anyone in the team. So, when Montezemolo called the Spaniard this morning to wish him a happy birthday, he also tweaked his ear, reminding him that, "all the great champions who have driven for Ferrari have always been asked to put the interests of the team above their own. This is the moment to stay calm, avoid polemics and show humility and determination in making one's own contribution, standing alongside the team and its people both at the track and outside it."
Ferrari officially announced the appointment of James Allison to their chassis development team and are looking for solutions to their woes but certainly Alonso's frustration is boiling over and the lesson he may have missed, as Alain Prost should have taught him, is that you keep your comments to yourself and to the team only.
Rumors of Alonso's management speaking with Red Bull in the Hungarian Grand Prix paddock didn't help matters as it has been suggested that there could be a Alonso/Vettel pairing for 2014 but that is a difficult notion to understand as Alonso is said to be signed to Ferrari until 2016. Then again, would you want a driver on your team who isn't happy and doesn't want to be there?
If Alonso were to leave Ferrari, one has to imagine some sort of payoff for the remainder of the contract and Ferrari would not go easily with their position. It also adds to the fuel of a potential return of Kimi Raikkonen to the team as he made an strange statement this week that people may find his choice "odd". With former Lotus F1 technical boss, James Allison, joining the Italian team, a move for Raikkonen has been suggested as a real possibility but many believe that relationship ended on a sour note when the team paid Raikkonen to sit home so they could acquire Alonso.
Ultimately the team has to put the best package they can on the circuit to score the maximum amount of points but the two drivers have to work well together and I doubt Alonso would want to play wet-nurse to Vettel any more than Webber did. Would Raikkonen? Most likely not but his temperament is such that he doesn't really care about politics and missed fortunes when it comes to the record books.
As it is, the pressure Ferrari are feeling at the moment have both team and driver frustrated with the season and with each other and this is never a good combination for the future.