Fernando Alonso was spared the Italian media’s wrath after Ferrari opened its 2012 campaign with the troubled F2012 car.
“Alonso once again saved Ferrari from disaster,” said the authoritative La Gazzetta dello Sport, after the Spanish driver drove the car to fifth place in Australia.
The under-pressure Felipe Massa’s opening race, however, “was a nightmare”, the daily newspaper added. Jaime Alguersuari, the former Toro Rosso driver who is now a media analyst, also praised fellow Spaniard Alonso.
“For Ferrari, it is an unique advantage to have a driver like Fernando Alonso,” he told El Mundo newspaper. “He did a sensational Sunday, with intelligence and ambition, which will push and raise the team, I’m sure.”
Alonso remains confident.
“There may be cars quicker than us now,” he is quoted by Britain’s Daily Mail, “but it’s like Manchester United or Chelsea who play badly for a game but still win 1-0. Before this race we were working 24 hours (a day),” Alonso is quoted by Marca, “now it must be 25.”
The Spanish press, however, is livid.
“The fifth place is really a miracle,” said the sports daily Marca. “The car is ridiculous, rendering the team a midfielder.”
Jenson Button, meanwhile, received universal praise from the international press corps, as did the fact that Red Bull’s dominance appears to have been knocked by McLaren.
“That’s good news for everybody except Vettel,” insisted Corriere dello Sport.
The fight, however, has just begun.
“Vettel turned the middling new Red Bull into a good race car,” said Gazzetta, referring to the German’s performance on Sunday, “which is a warning to the opposition. He is still the world champion, and he will be hunting his first triumph of the year in Sepang.”
Tuttosport, meanwhile, said Mercedes – which until Sunday’s race was the talk of the Melbourne paddock – was the “big disappointment” of the 2012 opener.