Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has urged his team personnel to use Felipe Massa's swift recovery from injury as their inspiration to bring the Scuderia back to the top next season.
Addressing the staff at Ferrari's traditional Christmas lunch at Fiorano today, di Montezemolo admitted that this year's F60 had been a poor car, but said the team should take heart from the determination with which Massa had battled back to full fitness after his serious head injury
"This has been a very bad year, not up to Ferrari's usual standard," said di Montezemolo. "There were several reasons, but we have a history and a culture of not looking for excuses.
"None of us is happy with the ways things went: we were hardly ever competitive enough to fight for the win and that is not our style. However, every one of us has the will and the ability to react and get back, not just to being very competitive, but also to winning.
"The symbol of our desire to fight back is really Felipe, who knew how to deal with a very difficult and dramatic situation and all of us can take that as our example next year."
Massa expressed his gratitude to the Ferrari team members for their support during his recovery.
"I want to thank each one of you for your support after the accident," he said during the event. "What happened to me this year was unbelievable and I took so much strength from you to recover as quickly as possible. The heartfelt warmth I felt from Ferrari is something I will never ever forget as long as I live. I assure you that my determination to get back on track and to win has never been this strong."
Di Montezemolo is confident that Ferrari's 2010 pairing of Massa and Fernando Alonso will be able to make up for the team's 2009 frustrations.
"We will have a great driver pairing," he said. "We know Felipe well and we know how much he wants to make up for this year. Fernando Alonso joins Ferrari at the best possible time for him and for the team.
"We will have a strong and determined team, which has proved it can react when the going gets tough, made up of skilled people who really want to win again. I thank you in advance for your efforts, while the congratulations will have to wait for next year."
The team president also paid tribute to former driver Kimi Raikkonen, who lost his seat to Alonso and is switching to the World Rally Championship.
"I'm sorry he's not here today," said Montezemolo. "All the same, I wish to thank him on behalf of all of us for what he achieved in his three years with Ferrari. He staked his place in our history by winning the title in his first season, which was partly thanks to help from Felipe, to whom he repaid the compliment the following year. And in this difficult season just gone, he managed to score our only win of the year. I wish him the very best for the future."