Fernando Alonso paid tribute on Thursday to former Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali, who sensationally quit this week, and admitted that he had not even spoken to the new man at the helm.
Domenicali stepped down on Monday, after a torrid start to the season, culminating most recently in the team’s drivers trailing in ninth and 10th in Bahrain two weeks ago.
“Stefano is a great man, first of all, and I am a close friend of his — that is no secret,” said Alonso in a press conference ahead of Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix.
“We still have a close relationship, we have been talking throughout the week, and that will continue because we have known each other for many years,” added the two-time world champion.
He was replaced by Marco Mattiacci, former president and CEO of Ferrari North America, and Alonso confessed he knew little about his new boss, who was absent from the circuit on Thursday.
Alonso added that he did not even know if Mattiacci would turn up in Shanghai for the weekend.
However, team sources indicated to AFP that Mattiacci was flying in on Thursday night and is due to meet his team for the first time on Friday.
Nevertheless Alonso stressed that it was paramount to support the new boss and move forward. “We need to give him time and get the team behind him,” he said.
“We are really hoping that he will be successful and everyone is looking forward.”
As for the reasons for Domenicali’s sudden departure, his close friend Alonso — who goes skiing with him on January 1 every year — was more effusive.