• Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Ferrari admits strategy error dented Alonso's chances

ESPNF1 Staff
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Fernando Alonso's early switch to hard tyres proved costly © Getty Images
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Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali has admitted his team threw away Fernando Alonso's chances of winning the title with a botched strategy at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Alonso needed to finish fourth to secure the championship if Sebastian Vettel won the race, and he was on track at the start despite losing a position to Jenson Button. However, Ferrari then pitted Alonso on lap 15 to try and cover off Mark Webber's early stop and minimise damage of Alonso's degrading soft tyres.

The decision backfired and Alonso rejoined the race behind Nico Rosberg and Vitaly Petrov, who had both pitted under the safety car. Without passing them, Alonso could only manage a seventh place finish, ultimately costing him the title.

"There is a great sadness at this moment, because to come so close to our goal and to see it slip away for just a few points really hurts," Domenicali said. "We made a wrong decision in terms of strategy for three reasons: we marked a rival [Webber] with two cars [Felipe Massa and Alonso], we were unduly concerned about the wear rate of the soft tyres and we did not take into consideration the difficulty of getting past other cars on the track. Now, there is no point in discussing the whys and wherefores of how we arrived at this choice: win or lose, we do everything together as a team."

However, he said the title was not just lost in Abu Dhabi, but at all the rounds where Alonso dropped points to his competitors.

"This was probably the worst race of the season, but when you lose by just a handful of points, it's clear that the title was not lost here, or at least not just here."

Domenicali is confident Ferrari can challenge again next year and heaped praise on Alonso's efforts.

"I want to congratulate Fernando, who is an extraordinary driver and an extraordinary person," he added. "He demonstrated powers of leadership from both inside and outside the cockpit and we will do all we can to give him and Felipe an even better car next year. I wish to thank the team for the great effort they have always put into their daily work, at the track and at home: few people outside the company would have thought in mid-July that we would have made it to Abu Dhabi leading the world championship.

"Sure, and I repeat myself, now we are sad, but we have to keep our heads held high. We are Ferrari which means we are condemned to having to win, so a second place is a defeat: but this is also part of sport and we have to accept it. Finally, congratulations to Vettel: he had the quickest car and in the end, he was the best, which the points table proved."

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo also hailed the team's and Alonso's efforts.

"Our morale is low after the conclusion to this season, but that's sport," he said. "We had everything in place to win the title with Fernando but today, things did not go our way. All the same, I want to publicly thank the team for being capable of getting to the final round still in the fight for the Drivers' title, staging a fight back which back in July, almost everyone considered an impossible task. We believed in it right to the end and today's result should not cancel out what we have done this season. In all but two of the last fourteen years, Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro has reached the final race of the season either in the fight for the title or having already won it.

"Fernando has had an extraordinary season, demonstrating his strength and determination, always being close to the team and making an exceptional contribution. Domenicali has done a great job, keeping the team united at all times, even in the toughest moments. It will take us a little while to get over this disappointment but we have to keep our heads up and be proud of what we have done. Finally, I want to thank our fans, who have always believed in us: when one sees so many Ferrari flags and so many people coming to visit our park here in Abu Dhabi, I am happy that Ferrari is still operating at a high level, especially for them."

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