Alonso a ‘class act’ – Montezemolo

Tue, 23 October 2007, 01:16

In the days after the 2007 championship climax, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has reserved some high praise for Fernando Alonso.

Kimi Raikkonen stole the crown from McLaren’s championship leader Lewis Hamilton and reigning title winner Alonso in Brazil on Sunday.

And while Montezemolo had little admiration for Alonso’s McLaren’s stable-mates, he heralded the 26-year-old as an “extraordinary driver”.

“Alonso is a class act in every respect. I very much appreciate his sportsmanship,” Montezemolo is quoted by the news agency EFE as saying on Tuesday.

He added: “Despite losing the title by a single point and perhaps only due to the mismanagement of his team, he arrived at the press conference and immediately congratulated Raikkonen.

“He showed that is he also a champion off the track,” Montezemolo said.

Alonso has been speculatively linked with a switch from McLaren, where he is openly uncomfortable, to other teams including Ferrari.

By contrast, Montezemolo characterised Hamilton’s driving errors at Interlagos as borne out of “youth and nerves”.

“Had he stayed behind the Spanish driver, he was champion,” the Ferrari president said, referring to Hamilton’s slide off the road whilst attacking Alonso on the first lap.

“It was recklessness, perhaps because of nerves. In any case his achievements must be recognised as extraordinary, because of his youth and his inexperience. So he deserves respect and congratulations.

“But it is true that he has not yet faced any setbacks.”

Montezemolo also said he was not overly anxious about McLaren’s ‘cool fuel’ protest, which could potentially see the title handed back to Hamilton.

“In formula one, anything can happen, but as we have seen in the past in these circumstances, you remove the points of the team, not the drivers,” the Italian remarked.

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