Alonso hits back at questions about his motivation

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ABU DHABI – Fernando Alonso has responded to comments made by Ferrari team principal Marco Mattiacci about his motivation, saying that the Italian has not been in the F1 operation long enough to make such a judgement.

It was confirmed on Thursday that Alonso will be leaving Ferrari after this weekend’s race in Abu Dhabi after five years with the team, making way for four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel.

Alonso’s departure marks the end of an era for Ferrari as a new regime is set up under Mattiacci’s leadership. In the team principals’ press conference on Thursday, he implied that Alonso’s motivation and commitment to the marque’s F1 programme may have waned.

“We need to thank Fernando for all he has done for us, what we have done together over the last five years,” Mattiacci said. “But at the same time it is clear to everybody that we want both to open new cycles but it was important to do it with the utmost motivation and commitment.”

Speaking after qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix yesterday, Alonso said that as Mattiacci only became involved with the F1 operation in April, he was not in a position to pass comment on his drive and motivation.

“I read the comments and thought they weren’t very good,” Alonso said. “If he tried to mean that I was no longer motivated then I think he arrived too late to Ferrari. He has only been here a few months and probably didn’t see all of the five years that I spent here.

“I’ve fought for every single race and for championships. Probably I was too old when he tried to renew me at the Monza race.

“He kept pushing and pushing and we had a lot of talks. Even in the last moment, again, we had a lot of phone calls and a lot of emails that I still have on my computer.

“Probably at that time maybe I was not so old, but when I took my decision I guess he has to find another driver.”

Alonso makes his final appearance as a Ferrari driver later today in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which you can watch live on NBCSN from 7a ET.

Todd LeDuc advances two positions in Monster Jam Power Rankings

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Neil Elliott held onto the top spot in the Monster Jam Power Rankings, but he has a new driver sniffing his exhaust as Todd Leduc advanced two positions to second this week.

The Stadium Series Green continues to hold the advantage in the Power Rankings with Elliott topping the chart, Morgan Kane in fourth, and Ryan Anderson eighth, but there is an equitable distribution among the other series throughout the field.

Notably, Leduc and his Monster Energy truck in the Stadium Series Red closed the gap with a 38-point overall victory at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. Leduc achieved his win through consistency, pocketing the overall without winning a single individual event. Leduc’s best session was a second-place finish to Mike Vaters II in Overkill Evolution by .001 points.

Meanwhile on the West Coast, Elliott rambled on. Elliott won his sixth skills challenge in seven contests so far. That contributed to his 35 points for the event at PETCO Park in San Diego and allowed him to hold onto the No. 1 slot in the Monster Jam Power Rankings.

Colton Eichelberger also held station. Third last week, he entered the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on a mission in the Triple Threat Series Central. He topped the event points in all four events with timed race wins in each session, ATV race wins in three of the four, three wins in the speedster obstacle course, two freestyle wins and one win in the donut competitions.

MORE: Ryan Anderson and the anatomy of a Monster Jam freestyle run

Morgan Kane and Grave Digger had a rough night. He was ousted from the racing event in Round 2 by Max-D and Elliott. He failed to win either of the other two competitions of the night and ended with 29 points, which was a distant third to Ryan Anderson’s Son-Uva Digger (37) and Max-D (35).

Brandon Vinson moved up to the fifth position with three wins in the Triple Threat Series West. During the weekend he earned seven session wins, including a sweep of the speedster obstacle course and two victories in the two-wheel skills challenge.

Tom Meents debuted on the Monster Jam Power Rankings in 10th by winning the overall in back to back nights of the Stadium Series Yellow. The Saturday show can be seen Feb. 22 at 11:30 p.m. on NBCSN (click here for streaming). The highlight of Meents’ weekend were race wins on Saturday and Sunday, defeating Coty Saucier in a Monster Energy truck on Night 1 and Eric Swanson in Obsessed on Night 2.

Power Rankings

1. Neil Elliott–same
2. Todd LeDuc–up 2
3. Colton Eichelberger-same
4. Morgan Kane–down 2
5. Brandon Vinson–up 1
6. Tyler Menninga–up 1
7. Coty Saucier–down 2
8. Ryan Anderson–same
9. Linsey Read–up 1
10. Tom Meents-new for 2020

Upcoming TV Schedule (All showings on Eastern time on NBCSN)

Oakland: February 22 (Saturday); 11:30 p.m.
Miami: March 1 (Sunday); 12 a.m.
Jacksonville: March 9 (Monday); 6 p.m.
Detroit: March 21 (Saturday); 11 p.m.
Las Vegas: March 28 (Saturday); 7 p.m.
Santa Clara: April 11 (Saturday); 7 p.m.
Philadelphia: April 17 (Friday); 2:30 p.m.
Denver: April 25 (Saturday); 6:30 p.m.
Monster Jam World Finals Racing: May 9 (Saturday); 5 p.m.
Monster Jam World Finals: May 19 (Tuesday); 4 p.m.
Monster Jam World Freestyle: May 20 (Wednesday); 12 a.m.
Monster Jam World Finals: June 20 (Saturday); 2:30 p.m.