Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo rebukes Fernando Alonso for recent comments
Spaniard is asked to put interests of the team above his own
Rare public criticism comes after media speculation linking Alonso with a switch to Red Bull
The future of Fernando Alonso at Ferrari has been thrown further into confusion after the Spaniard was publicly rebuked by the Italian team’s president Luca di Montezemolo on Monday.
The two-time world champion probably did not expect to receive such an unwanted gift as he celebrated his 32nd birthday.
Rumours linking Alonso with the possibility of a move to Red Bull, given the departure of Mark Webber at the end of season, had swirled around the Formula 1 paddock in Hungary this weekend.
This followed news of a meeting between Alonso’s manager Luis Garcia Abad and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner on Friday.
The waters were further muddied on Sunday when Alonso, asked what present he would like for his birthday after dropping to third in the championship standings - courtesy of his fifth place at the Hungaroring, replied: “someone else’s car.”
The Spaniard added that improvements were needed if the Ferrari was to win the world championship.
It is unclear precisely which remarks prompted Ferrari to place a statement on their website explaining how the president “tweaked” Alonso’s ear in a telephone conversation, after comments “which did not go down well with Montezemolo, now with anyone in the team.”
“All the great champions who have driven for Ferrari have always been asked to put the interests of the team above their own,” Ferrari’s official website quoted Montezemolo as telling Alonso in a birthday call.
“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.”
Since joining Ferrari in 2010, Alonso has failed to build on the world championships he won in 2005 and 2006 with Renault.
He has twice come close to triumphing with Ferrari - only to be beaten by Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel by the narrowest of margins on both occasions.
Alonso lost out by four points in 2010, while last season’s championship saw the German win an even closer contest - pipping his rival by just three points to win his third straight title.
Following comments made by Montezemolo last year, there would be considerable irony if Alonso were to end up as the stable mate of his major race rival.
As media reports suggested that Vettel would move to Ferrari in 2014, the Ferrari supremo reacted by saying he did not want “two roosters in the same hen house.”
“I don’t want problems and rivalries,” he added last October.
Vettel added further intrigue to the situation on Sunday by declaring that he would prefer to be joined at Red Bull next season by Kimi Raikkonen, rather than Alonso, on the premise that the Finn has always been “very straight” with him.
After ten races of the season, Alonso lies third in the standings - his 133 points one fewer than Lotus driver Raikkonen - while Vettel leads with a tally of 172.
The Spaniard’s contract with Ferrari is not due to expire until 2016.
In a separate development on Monday, Ferrari confirmed that former Lotus technical director James Allison will join the team in September.
Allison’s departure from Lotus was revealed in May and he will assume the role of chassis technical director.
“At the same time, Pat Fry will take on the new position of Director of Engineering,” Ferrari said in a statement. “Both men will report directly to the Team Principal, Stefano Domenicali.”