Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has issued a rallying cry ahead of Fernando Alonso’s last-ditch bid to become Formula One world champion.
Alonso goes into Sunday’s season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos 13 points adrift of Sebastian Vettel knowing he has to finish in the top three at least, whilst hoping his rival suffers a rare bad race.
The Spaniard kept himself in touch by finishing third behind runner-up Vettel in the United States Grand Prix in Austin, helped at the start by Felipe Massa who sacrificed his grid position.
If Alonso has any doubts as to what might occur on Sunday he only has to recall 2010 to know what is possible. On that occasion Alonso was on the receiving end as he held a 15-point lead over Vettel going into the final race in Abu Dhabi, but lost out by six points come the conclusion.
The difference this time is whereas both cars were evenly matched two years ago, Ferrari have punched above their weight all season compared to the Red Bull which has again become the class act of late.
Di Montezemolo said: “We can be proud of what we have achieved so far. For the past 16 years, with very few exceptions, we have got used to reaching the final stage of the championship in this situation. Here we are again this season, so that whatever the outcome, we have been contenders. However, pride is not enough – we want to win.
“We go to Sao Paolo with the will to win, knowing we will fight for it right to the last kilometre of the last lap of the race. I know it will be very tough, but I and all of us believe we can do it.”
Meanwhile, Michael Schumacher heads into retirement from Formula One for a second time this weekend determined to savour his farewell finale. Six years ago Schumacher faced an end-of-season showdown in Brazil hopeful of claiming an eighth world title before saying goodbye, only to lose out to Fernando Alonso, then with Renault.
On this occasion, after three unsuccessful years with Mercedes, the 43-year-old at least has the opportunity to revel in the moment when he will compete in his 308th – and final – grands prix at Interlagos on Sunday.
“Interlagos is the right place to round off my career because so much of the fascination of Formula One is rooted there,” said Schumacher.
“I always enjoy the enthusiasm of the fans, and it’s simply a great circuit which has seen many memorable events and always produces spectacular races as the unique layout guarantees plenty of action. For me, it’s also the circuit that brings back my memories of Ayrton (Senna).
“My departure from Formula One will probably be less emotional for me this time than in 2006, when we were still fighting for the title and everything was much more intense. This time around I will be able to pay more attention to my farewell and hopefully savour it too.”
Ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix, Mercedes have not scored a point in their last five races, and Schumacher is currently on the worst drought of his career with a six-race pointless run. It casts a shadow over his string of records, not just his titles, but also of his 91 race wins, 155 podium finishes and 68 poles.
For Schumacher to depart this time around, he would like it to be with a small semblance of dignity.
“I have had fantastic years in Formula One and a lot of support from fans around the world, and I wish to particularly thank them for that,” added Schumacher.
“Of course, I would be happiest if I could say goodbye with a strong race, and I am sure we will be doing everything we can to make it happen.”
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