Montezemolo slams Ecclestone and Schumacher at end of year bash
3 December, 2012
Dec.3 (GMM) Luca di Montezemolo used Ferrari’s end-of-season event at Valencia to criticise former team driver Michael Schumacher as well as Formula One chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, as he reflected on another season where the Maranello squad played second fiddle to Red Bull.
Directing his attention to German Schumacher, who won five consecutive drivers’ titles at Ferrari, president Montezemolo admitted that he was unhappy that the now-retired Mercedes driver moved over so readily at Interlagos for countryman Sebastian Vettel.
In Brazil, Ferrari’s new ‘number 1′ Fernando Alonso was fighting for the drivers’ title with Red Bull’s champion.
“I was expecting a slightly different final race on the part of Michael Schumacher because he is a driver with links to Ferrari through some extraordinary moments and with whom we feel very close,” said Montezemolo.
The Ferrari president, however, saved his real vitriol for Bernie Ecclestone, who last week described Ferrari’s questioning of the outcome of the 2012 championship as a “joke”.
The affair surrounded an overtaking move by Vettel that, although ultimately declared legal by the FIA, was questioned by Ferrari in the days after the Brazilian finale.
Insisting that Ferrari remains highly critical of F1 regulations including the emphasis on aerodynamics and a lack of testing, Montezemolo said: “Since some people have used the expression ‘It’s a joke’ in recent days, I would like to say that this is the real ‘joke’.”
As for 82-year-old Ecclestone’s criticism of the yellow flag saga, Montezemolo – who is 65 – said: “My father always taught me that you have to have respect for your elders, above all when they reach the point that they can no longer control their words.
“So I will stop there. Certainly, old age is often incompatible with certain roles and responsibilities.”
Full transcript of Montezemolo’s interview at Valencia as supplied by Ferrari:
F1 dominated Luca di Montezemolo’s traditional meeting with representatives of the media. It couldn’t be any other way, above all in Spain: “I will begin straightaway with the ending, that way we can stop thinking about it,” said Montezemolo.
“I’ve already said it but I want to say it again: I am proud of what the team has done and I want to thank everyone for that. In particular I want to thank Fernando, who has had the best season of his career: I must congratulate him because he never gave up and he managed to give more than anyone could have thought possible. It also gave me great pleasure to see a great second half of the championship by Felipe, showing we did well to keep him hanging on before we confirmed he would be staying: he has been with us for many years and this end to the season will be very important to him for the start of next year, not just psychologically.”
“We have had extraordinary reliability and this is down to Domenicali and all his men, just as we have been very strong in our strategies and pit stops: it’s hard to find real errors in these areas. We haven’t had a car at the same high level as the top two and we have to improve this. To win races you have to start at the front and to win the championship you have to win races. I want to win the world championship and I expect a big step forward by the team in terms of organisation, methods and quality of work: if we can give a car that is capable of winning to our drivers then they will do the rest. This year perhaps we suffered a few too many pile-ups but that is a part of the sport and now we must look ahead. I am celebrating 21 years at Ferrari: for me the most important thing is to have always had a team that is united, compact, which works together and takes meticulous care.”
As for the affair that dominated the days after the end of the championship, Montezemolo was very dry: “Some people cried scandal, or said a bit too much. The story is very simple: we saw some images, some of which were broadcast on all the internet sites, and we received thousands of requests from our fans so we did the simplest and most straightforward thing: we asked the FIA what they thought, telling them we would accept whatever decision they took. I think that is the best way to resolve questions when there are doubts. The FIA replied that in their view Vettel had been given a green flag before the passing move and then we said that for us the discussion was closed: you can’t be any more straightforward than that. I would like to take this chance to congratulate Vettel and Red Bull because they won and we like to congratulate whoever wins, hoping and wishing that next year it can be others who are congratulating us. If anyone says a bit too much then I’m sorry but that’s too bad for them.”
Asked for an opinion on some of what was seen in the final moments of the season, in particular the ease with which Vettel managed to carry out certain passing moves on the day in Brazil, the Ferrari president said this: “I was expecting a slighty different final race on the part of Michael Schumacher because he is a driver with links to Ferrari through some extraordinary moments and with whom we feel very close. As for the rest, I don’t want to make any comment other than to underline that in the past we have been strongly criticised for playing a sensible, necessary, right and open team game. I have always told my drivers that they are not racing for themselves but for Ferrari. Ours is one team, you can see that in the pit stops and you can see it on the track and one of the things I most appreciate about Felipe is the fact that he has always been a team player and I know that Fernando has been one too. We have had criticism for how we apply these team games but it’s up to the public and the spectators to judge these things. I don’t like to create controversy for its own sake: we look ahead and everyone makes their own judgement. The behaviour of Ferrari has always prized the team game and the sport.”
Montezemolo also looked to the future of F1: “There are things that aren’t going well in this sport and the moment has arrived to clarify these once and for all in the appropriate places. We can no longer have a situation in which the transfer of technology from the track to the street is reduced to the bare minimum, engines and gearboxes are always the same and the aerodynamics no longer has anything to do with research for road cars. Moreover, it cannot be that in this sport you can’t test. We’ve been saying this for a while and we will repeat it in the appropriate places so for the moment I don’t want to add anything else. But our patience has run out so someone needs to think about whether they want F1 still to have companies that invest and consider it the most advanced research bench for its own cars – as Ferrari has always done since 1950. We are constructors, not sponsors: I’m no longer happy that we can’t do testing on tarmac and that you can’t give any chance for young drivers to emerge – since some people have used the expression ‘It’s a joke’ in recent days, I would like to say that this is the real ‘joke’. Yes, I’m referring to one of Ecclestone’s phrases: my father always taught me that you have to have respect your elders, above all when they reach the point that they can no longer control their words. So I will stop there. Certainly, old age is often incompatible with certain roles and responsibilities.”
Subbed by AJN.