Fernando Alonso 'proud' Ferrari were honest about ploy to demote Felipe Massa
Decision paid off after Spaniard jumped to fourth at the start
By William Esler. Last Updated: 19/11/12 3:18pm
Fernando Alonso says he is proud Ferrari were honest about their decision to deliberately demote Felipe Massa before Sunday's GP.
Scarcely an hour before Sunday's race, the team broke the seal on the Brazilian's gearbox, triggering an automatic five-place grid penalty, in order to promote Alonso to the 'clean' side of the track.
'The reason for this was for strategy considerations, with the objective of maximizing Alonso's start potential given that he's still in with a chance to win the drivers' championship,' the team confirmed in a statement. 'We've always maintained that the interests of the team come before that of the individual drivers and this has always been our very transparent policy. '
The gamble paid off as the drivers on the 'dirty' side struggled to get away and Alonso jumped from seventh to fourth at turn one.
"It was a decision from the team as starting sixth and eight we were likely to be ninth and 10th into the first corner, so we started on the 'clean' side and I am very proud of the decision and very proud of the team for telling the truth," the Spaniard told Sky Sports F1.
"Not many teams when they made that decision would have done that."
Alonso also praised his Brazilian team-mate for taking the penalty with good grace and hopes he can maintain the pace he showed in Austin in his homeland next weekend.
"Felipe was fantastic all weekend," Alonso added. "He was quicker than me in Q1, Q2, Q3 and today was very similar so we need this pace from Felipe in Sao Paulo to help. Red Bull will be strong and we need all the team united."
Team Principal Stefano Domenicali insisted the team were right to exploit the rules in their favour to keep the title fight alive.
"The more we think about it, the more it was the right thing to do to keep the Championship alive until the last moment," Domenicali said.
"I did not want to lie, I just wanted to tell the truth. It would have been easy to do that, but that is not my style. And I think because of the situation at Ferrari it is clear that the team is the most important thing in this situation and considering the data we had about the left side of the grid we knew there was very bad grip.
"I discussed it with both the drivers and Felipe understood and I am thankful for that because drivers always want to be at the top but that is the spirit of Ferrari. I think at the end of the day, in my shoes, if any other Team Principal would do a different thing, they are lying."
Alonso finished third, whilst Massa recovered from his demotion to take fourth and Domenicali was pleased with the team's recovery having struggled in qualifying.
"Considering the situation we had last night, I think the objective had to be to take the fight to the last round," he added.
"We did the maximum today and clearly today and yesterday Red Bull and McLaren were faster than us and the only thing we could do was to try and make the right choice and the right thing and today I am happy that despite Red Bull winning the Constructors' we go into the final race in the fight.
"And we will not take it for granted after the last corner because remember in Brazil in 2008 we were winning but at the last corner we lost the Drivers' so I have that memory in mind."
Rain is forecast for the race in Brazil and Alonso feels that is his only hope of still taking the title.
"With normal race in dry conditions I think Red Bull would be first and second and we would be sixth and seventh but in wet conditions anything can happen," the double-Champion said.
"More strange things could happen in the race and maybe it goes in our favour. We say today Webber retired, sometimes it is alternator, sometimes KERS, sometimes water - but always that car. Maybe in Brazil it will change car."