Ferrari's Mattiacci hails Alonso influence

Marco Mattiacci has hailed the motivating effect Fernando Alonso has had on Ferrari this season given his on-track performances.

Ferrari Team Principal Marco Mattiacci looks on during the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix

Throughout his Ferrari career, the double world champion has been the guiding light, conjuring results seemingly beyond the capabilities of his car.

That has again been the case this season, with Ferrari's maiden foray into the 1.6-litre turbo-charged era so far falling short of pre-season hopes and expectations.

Single-handedly, with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen struggling in the same equipment on his return to the Maranello marque this year, Alonso has given Ferrari fighting chances for podium finishes in races.

In particular, Alonso has been involved in some sensational duels in the last two races, notably with Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel during the British Grand Prix and the German's team-mate Daniel Ricciardo in last Sunday's race at Hockenheim.

For team principal Mattiacci, witnessing Alonso push himself and the car to the limit has fired up the Ferrari workforce.

"When you see your driver driving like that it is very motivating for all the team," said Mattiacci.

Asked whether he would like Raikkonen to be doing the same thing, the response was an obvious one as Mattiacci said: "Indeed!"

The car itself has rightly come under fire from all corners, although in Niki Lauda's case, Mercedes' non-executive chairman pushed the envelope a bit too fair at the start of the week when he described it as "s***".

That resulted in an apology from the three-times champion, who won two of those titles with Ferrari in the 70s, to president Luca Di Montezemolo and the Ferrrari fans.

"I was wrong and I do not make any excuses," said Lauda, via Italian daily Gazzetta dello Sport.

The Austrian went a step further on Thursday by speaking to Mattiacci personally at the Hungaroring, scene of this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix.

"Everybody is free to make comments," said Mattiacci.

"I have the utmost respect for Niki Lauda. For me, he is an iconic figure from my childhood, and in particular for Ferrari.

"He came to our pit to apologise. I honestly felt very uncomfortable that I should receive an excuse from such a champion who has been put in the middle of something.

"It's clear he is a friend of Ferrari, and again I have the utmost respect for Niki, so chapter closed."

Ahead of Saturday's qualifying, Alonso was fourth quickest at the end of Friday's two practice sessions behind - surprise, surprise - title-fighting duo Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in their Mercedes, along with Vettel.

Hamilton, who has won this race four times in seven attempts, was two tenths of a second quicker than Rosberg on both the medium and soft-compound Pirelli tyres.

It was not all plain sailing for Mercedes as Hamilton at one stage complained about his brakes, a concern after his front-disc failure during qualifying in Germany, whilst Rosberg had engine issues.

McLaren's Jenson Button was 1.752 seconds back in ninth, with Marussia's Max Chilton down in 21st and just over four seconds in arrears.



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