It happened today

Disappointment at Abu Dhabi in 2010

14 Nov 2010

On 14th November 2010, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ended with one of the most bitter disappointments in the Scuderia’s history. Fernando Alonso arrived in Abu Dhabi leading the classification, but in the race, he could do no better than finish a disappointing seventh ahead of the man who, going into the race had been his closest rival, Mark Webber. However, Sebastian Vettel, who was 15 points behind the Spaniard in third spot, took the win that was enough to give the Red Bull driver the crown that appeared to be heading back to Maranello.

We have already mentioned in recent days in the posts leading up to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ( how this incredible race panned out: it was a combination of factors – some down to fate, others the result of decisions taken at the time, and others that were the inevitable consequence of previous decisions – that determined the outcome of this sporting drama that, still to this day, one way or another, reverberates in the Prancing Horse’s history. First and foremost because, there can be no doubt that if Alonso had taken the title that night, then opinions held within the company and outside it of many people working in the team would have been very different.

A famous Italian singer, Francesco De Gregori, wrote a song way back in 1982, called “the football incentive of ‘68” in which he tells the story of a very young footballer who prepares for a trial with a football school:

…Nino, don’t be scared of taking a penalty,

it’s nothing special

for someone who considers himself a player

a player is judged for his courage,

altruism and creativity…

On that day, Ferrari missed a penalty, but whoever shot it over the bar and that would be the whole team, as everyone in it wins and more especially loses together, is still judged for that incident. An important, decisive and fundamental incident, but an incident that, as such, must be seen as relative when making judgement on a human being. However, things went and continue to go differently, even if this was like losing the World Cup in a penalty shoot-out, to use another footballing analogy, as was the case in 2008 and 2012, both times with Interlagos providing the backdrop. You have to get to the final to play in it and to do so three times is still no small matter… Here therefore we reprint from the official press release, the words of Luca di Montezemolo and Stefano Domenicali. What they both said to the team, in the back of the garage, when the faces of so many of those dressed in red were streaked with tears, we will keep to ourselves as a precious memory.

Luca di Montezemolo: “Our morale is low after the conclusion to this season, but that’s sport. 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.”

Stefano Domenicali: “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. We made a wrong decision in terms of strategy for three reasons: we marked a rival with two cars, 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. At this time, I would like to thank our fans who have always demonstrated their great affection. 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. I want to congratulate Fernando, who is an extraordinary driver and an extraordinary person. 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.”