The Spanish media on Monday blamed Fernando Alonso's near-miss in this season's Formula One world title fight on the tactics employed by Ferrari in the deciding showdown in Abu Dhabi, saying the team "offered" the title to Sebastian Vettel.
"Ferrari muddled it, Alonso paid for it," sports daily AS said on its front page beside a photo of a frowning Alonso taken after Sunday's race.
"Ferrari offered the title to Vettel," the newspaper said in its inside pages.
Alonso finished seventh after Ferrari decided to pit early and the Spaniard got stuck behind Nico Rosberg and Vitaly Petrov for nearly 40 laps while Red Bull's Vettel became the youngest world champion in Formula One history.
"A serious mistake on the part of Ferrari made winning the Formula One title easier for Germany's Sebastian Vettel, the winner at Abu Dhabi," wrote top-circulating Spanish daily El Pais.
"Alonso loses due to a tactical mistake," wrote conservative daily ABC.
Catalan newspapers were even more scathing in their criticism of Ferrari.
"Alonso and Ferrari threw out the Formula One title," said El Periodico while rival daily La Vanguardia said "a fiasco on the part of Ferrari crowned Vettel" the winner.
Italians also scathing
A poll on the website of premier sports newspaper La Gazzetta Dello Sport squarely blamed Ferrari’s pit stop strategy as losing them the race and the championship. Roberto Calderoli, a minister in the Italian government, even asked for Ferrari’s president, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, to resign. “he has made us ashamed to be fans of the La Rossa (the red)” he said.
Comments flooded Gazzetta’s website, ranging from criticising the team’s strategy, to asking for mass resignations from the entire team.
One even called for Fabio Briatore, the banned former manager of Renault F-1 team, to take the reigns “for victory”.“We lacked the final sprint, yes, but I’m convinced everyone at Ferrari, from the president to the last of the mechanics, have done a great job” said Sergio Marchionne, administrator of FIAT.
Montezemolo himself replied to Calderoli, saying “When he has done 1% of what Ferrari has done for this country, then I’ll give him an answer.”