Monaco GP: Fernando Alonso is 'best driver in world' say Ferrari

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer in Monaco
Hamilton pips Rosberg in practice one

Ferrari have described Fernando Alonso as "the best driver in the world" after he said he felt a lack of support from his "closest friends".

Mercedes boss Dieter Zetsche described Alonso as "perhaps the best F1 driver" on a factory visit in Spain on Tuesday.

Alonso said: "It's good to receive good comments but it's funny when you see the opposite in your closest friends."

Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo said Alonso "gives 200% in races" and dismissed any notion of a rift.

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The Italian's comments came in a statement by Ferrari following a day of fevered speculation at the Monaco Grand Prix in the wake of Alonso's remarks.

The 32-year-old double world champion was asked about Zetsche's praise on his arrival in Monaco on Wednesday.

He said: "It's always welcome when people see your job in a good way and respect what you try to do and what you try to achieve.

"It's sometimes, not sad but sometimes strange to see good comments and good compliments from people from outside and from the side that is supposed to be close to you there are the opposite comments. That's motivating for me."

His remarks were interpreted by some as a barb at Di Montezemolo, who last summer publicly admonished the Spaniard after he said in a TV interview he wanted "someone else's car" for his birthday.

But Ferrari said on Wednesday that Alonso had been referring to critical articles in the Italian media in recent days.

Di Montezemolo added: "Fernando is the best driver in the world, who always gives 200% in the races.

"He knows how much I count on him, even away from the race track, in terms of his contribution and the impetus he gives to the team.

"I think it's incredible that there are still some so-called experts who don't understand that and are always looking for a polemical situation that simply doesn't exist."

Ferrari have been going through a turbulent period in recent weeks.

Their former team boss Stefano Domenicali resigned after Alonso and Raikkonen finished ninth and 10th at the Bahrain Grand Prix last month, which was attended by Di Montezemolo.

Domenicali's replacement Marco Mattiacci has already said the team would bring in new staff if they felt they would add to the team.

They are believed to have made an approach to Red Bull's design chief Adrian Newey, but he has insisted here in Monaco that he is "committed to Red Bull for the foreseeable future".

Di Montezemolo added that Raikkonen was "another incredible driver" and said both "need a competitive Ferrari and giving them that is our sole objective.

"We are working very hard, starting with Marco Mattiacci, who knows what needs to be done and who will instigate many changes at a technical and organisational level and in speeding up the decision-making process.

"That's what I want, as do our drivers and our fans, while all the rest is just idle chat."