Ferrari rebuke Alonso for joke car call on birthday

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 July, 2013, 4:32am

Ferrari dealt Fernando Alonso a rare public rebuke on his birthday for critical comments after Sunday's Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix.

"All the great champions who have driven for Ferrari have always been asked to put the interests of the team above their own," the team website quoted president Luca di Montezemolo as telling the Spaniard in a phone call to wish him a happy 32nd birthday on Monday.

"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," he said.

Alonso finished fifth at the Hungaroring and slipped to third in the championship, 39 points adrift of Red Bull's triple champion Sebastian Vettel with nine races left.

Asked afterwards what kind of car he wanted for his birthday, the double world champion said: "The one the others have".

Asked what he planned to do over the August break, with the season now at its midpoint, the Spaniard retorted: "I will pray".

The Ferrari website said Alonso's comments "did not go down well with Montezemolo, nor with anyone in the team" and said the president had tweaked the driver's ear in their conversation.

During the Hungarian Grand Prix, Alonso's manager was seen entering the Red Bull motorhome, triggering paddock speculation that the champions could be considering the Ferrari driver as a possible teammate for Vettel.

Alonso has a contract with Ferrari to the end of 2016 and is the team's undisputed No1 driver, with Montezemolo usually unstinting in his praise.

Ferrari had earlier announced a reshuffle in their engineering department with James Allison arriving from Lotus as technical director from September 1.

Pat Fry will assume a new position as director of engineering and both men will report to team principal Stefano Domenicali.

Allison, who worked closely with German driver Michael Schumacher in a previous stint with Ferrari, left his last job as Lotus technical director in May.

Ferrari said Allison's arrival was proof of Montezemolo's determination to ensure the team had all the support and resources it needed.

"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," the website said.

It added that the president had made his displeasure with the team's current performance clear. "Montezemolo did not mince his words when it came to asking the team to step up a gear," the website declared.