Fernando Alonso was not right for Ferrari because he was “demotivating” the great team.
That is the claim of Luca di Montezemolo, who was still president of the Maranello marque when in late 2014 the wheels of Alonso’s departure were already in motion.
“I had the feeling that Fernando had got it into his mind that he could never win with Ferrari,” Montezemolo said, “and that if he was in a Mercedes he could win with one hand.
“This was very demotivating for everyone,” the colourful 68-year-old, who was ousted by Sergio Marchionne and now leads the Italian airline Alitalia, told the forthcoming April issue of Motor Sport Magazine.
But Italian Montezemolo insists that Alonso’s exit has nothing to do with his talent.
“Let me be clear,” he told the correspondent Mark Hughes during an interview in Rome. “I believe Alonso is probably the best 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 is unbelievable — a machine.
“But we needed motivation and it made me think what we needed for the future,” Montezemolo added.
He credits the great former Ferrari champion Michael Schumacher for helping to steer his protege Sebastian Vettel towards the red-coloured team.
“I recalled that when I was trying to convince Michael to return with us after Felipe (Massa)’s injury in 2009 he was saying ‘The guy you need for the future is Vettel’,” said Montezemolo.