Fernando Alonso has declared himself “proud” of Ferrari’s controversial tactical approach to last Sunday’s United States Grand Prix in Texas. With both Alonso and team-mate Felipe Massa starting on the dirty side of the grid at the Circuit of the Americas, Ferrari opted to break the seal on the latter’s car, so incurring a five-place penalty.
That allowed Alonso to move up from eighth to seventh, while Massa dropped back to 11th from sixth, but with both on the clean side to allow for greater traction off the line.
It proved a successful move as Alonso had launched himself up to fourth coming out of the first corner, eventually finishing third behind championship rival Sebastian Vettel who was runner-up, while Massa produced a strong drive to finish fourth.
That at least allowed Alonso to limit the damage to Vettel, who has a 13-point cushion going into Sunday’s season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix.
Asked if he would be comfortable winning the title on the back of such a move, Alonso said: “I am proud of my team for the strategy decision to start on the clean side with both cars. It worked quite well and perhaps because it worked well maybe that is why rivals are not happy. I am also proud of my team because they told the truth. Not every team has told the truth when they have made strategic decisions.”
McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh and Eric Boullier at Lotus both called into question Ferrari’s decision. Whitmarsh admitted he would have been angered if he had been in charge of one of the teams whose cars were switched from the clean to the dirty side.
Sunday’s race will mark the last time that Lewis Hamilton will be driving a McLaren, at the track on which he enjoyed his greatest moment four years ago when he snatched the world championship from beneath Massa’s nose.
“I leave with just the greatest memories, the best experiences and hopefully a lot of good friends I will continue to be friends with throughout the future,” he said yesterday as he plans to sign off by repeating his win in Texas. “I think I’ll take away only the positive memories of our journey together. Obviously winning the world championship, winning my first grand prix, starting out together and, I guess, this weekend.”
The focus, of course, is inevitably on Vettel and Alonso this weekend, as the 2012 world championship reaches its conclusion. But while Hamilton isn’t about to do anything to jeopardise the chances of either, he will be running his own race and, just as in Austin, says it is up to either Vettel or Alonso to beat him.