"Alonso is still the best in the world" - Luca Montezemolo
The Ferrari ex-president spoke about the Spaniard's exit: "He thought that with a Mercedes he'd win with one hand, that was very disheartening, we needed motivation".
He arrived at Monza and gave the people who opened the gates to the circuit a hug, hugs too for the guys who opened the boxes, the door of the car ... even though he doesn't have one. Montezemolo is still a star even if he doesn't shine quite so brightly behind his desk at Alitalia, but he still has fond memories of his time as Ferrari president, and of Fernando Alonso.
In an interview with Mark Hughes of Motor Sport magazine, Luca Montezemolo spoke about the sequence of events that led to Fernando Alonso's replacement by Sebastian Vettel in 2015, perhaps the most controversial driver switch in the past few years. It was a controversial move, and despite the fact that Montezemolo had already left a few weeks earlier, he would have been involved in the workings running up to Alonso's departure. Doubts still exist over who left who, and why...
"I had the feeling that Fernando had got it into his head that he would never win with Ferrari", was Montezemolo's explanation, "and that he thought that with a Mercedes he'd win with one hand, that was very disheartening for everyone. Let me be clear: I believe Alonso is probably the driver in the world, even today - certainly on a Sunday. Maybe not in qualifying, where I think Hamilton and Vettel are maybe faster over one lap, but in the race he's unbelievable - a machine".
"But what we needed was motivation, and it made me think about what we needed for the future. I remembered that when I was trying to convince Michael [Schumacher] to return with us after Felipe's injury in 2009 he said, 'the guy you need is Vettel'."
An interesting conversation indeed.