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Tennis: Ferrari running out of patience

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Formula One may be on its summer vacation, but that hasn't stopped Ferrari promising more major stories as they fight a mounting crisis over their lost form.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo felt it was essential that he reprimanded two-time champion Fernando Alonso for airing his disappointment in public.

He also made clear that the team is in dire need of inspiration after three years of Sebastian Vettel-led Red Bull domination.

Di Montezemolo's intervention, following Alonso's misjudged outburst, reminded many observers of a similar set of events more than 20 years ago.

Then three-time champion Frenchman Alain Prost was fired by the Italian outfit for comparing his car to a lorry.

This came about in 1991 when Prost said his Ferrari 643 was no pleasure to drive -- and suggested it would be easier to drive a truck.

He made the comments after the Japanese Grand Prix and was promptly dropped for the final race in Australia and replaced by Italian Gianni Mobidelli, the team test driver.

Prost did not drive again for Ferrari.

After sitting out 1992, he won his fourth title with Williams in 1993.

Alonso, following the Hungarian Grand Prix where he finished fifth, was asked what he would like to be given as a gift to celebrate his 32nd birthday (on the Monday after the race) and replied by saying "someone else's car".

It may have been tongue in cheek -- given that his friend Mark Webber is leaving Red Bull at the end of the year -- but it was enough to make Montezemolo phone him personally and make his feelings clear.

The Spaniard can consider himself fortunate to have escaped a stronger sanction.

Di Montezemolo, who also addressed the team and made clear that they must improve on a record that shows their last victory was Alonso's triumph in Spain in May, said: "Fernando is a great driver and I understand him -- he is a bit like me, he wants to win.

"But he must just remember that one wins and loses together and, for its part, Ferrari must give him a car capable of starting from the front two rows. It doesn't sit well with me seeing our car is not competitive.

"That's why I intervened, even if I didn't want to abuse my authority over my men."

Having survived, Alonso heads into the final nine races knowing he has to make up 39 points to catch defending triple world champion Vettel with a maximum of 225 points available.

He knows he has to succeed and do it Ferrari's way.

Di Montezemolo added: "Fernando has given a lot in these last years and I repeat, his disappointment, which came about mainly after Silverstone, where all of us expected to be more competitive, is understandable, but I didn't like some attitudes, a few words, some outbursts.

"And I said so. I have reminded everyone, including the drivers, that Ferrari comes before everything."

Di Montezemolo also dished out some stiff reminders to Brazilian driver Felipe Massa and the team's highly-paid technical and engineering staff.

"The priority is the team," he repeated.

"It is rather like a family father pointing out the need to respect some family rules. I wish to underline the concept of family values at Ferrari."

And on Massa he said: "Felipe is a quick driver and a great guy, but in the past days, we were very clear with him.

"Both he and the team need results and points. Then, at some point, we will look one another in the eye and decide what to do."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130810/tennis-ferrari-running-out-patience