Luca di Montezemolo has moved to play down the ‘Jerez controversy’ by insisting Fernando Alonso is not in charge at Ferrari.
First, some suggested that Alonso – Ferrari’s undisputed number 1 – had hand-picked Spanish countryman and former McLaren colleague Pedro de la Rosa as his test driver for 2013. Then, it emerged that de la Rosa would be standing in for Alonso as this week’s official test action begins at Jerez.
“Decisions are taken by Ferrari, not Alonso,” insisted di Montezemolo, Ferrari’s imperious president.
Alonso, meanwhile, explained that he needs the break.
“After the end of the last championship, a very hard championship, we had many promotional activities,” he is quoted by Italy’s Autosprint, “and also in the first half of January I was travelling a lot for a number of commitments.
“So as it was not possible to be ready for the first test, we decided to use that time for physical training in a hot country,” Alonso added.
He played down the importance of his Jerez absence.
“The first test of a season is to get a general impression, there is no real work aimed at performance, so I don’t think I am missing a lot.
“I will still be in contact with the team and will be informed about everything, even from a distance.
“But these are the last weeks in which you can relax, because it will then be flat out until November,” said Alonso.
Montezemolo agrees: “Attention will switch to the performance (of the car) for the Barcelona test, which is why Fernando will start then.”
According to Spain’s AS newspaper, Alonso added: “Anyway, at Ferrari we are very fortunate to have other guys who are like an extension of each of us.
“With Felipe and Pedro it is almost like we are all the same person.”
Meanwhile, world champion Sebastian Vettel explained on Sunday that he intends to get up and running in the new Red Bull at Jerez this week.
“Testing is limited,” said the German.
“But Jerez is different in that it is a circuit you don’t race on so I don’t think you miss a lot if you don’t test there.”
At Jerez, a dry and sunny – albeit windy – week of weather is forecast for the opening test, with Speed Week’s Mathias Brunner saying only “a few harmless clouds” are dotting the skies.
And before the circuit kicks into action, McLaren and Toro Rosso have been checking the running systems of their new cars at the Idiada test facility, according to El Mundo Deportivo newspaper.