Life according to Luca di Montezemolo, the capo di tutti capi at Ferrari
21 December, 2013
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has been a busy man hosting traditional festive season events at Maranello, including a traditional pre-Christmas meeting with Italian media and staff parties at Maranello. Along the way he was inevitably asked for his opinions on a wide range of Formula 1 related developments, on which he always has an opinion. Here we catalogue the juiciest ‘sound bites’ from the verbose ‘capo di tutti capi’ at the Reds.
On yet again finishing second to Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel – the fourth time in as many years – Montezemolo said: “It’s obvious I’m not happy with the way things went. However, it’s also true that we are the only team in the world for whom it’s seen as a tragedy to come second, which seems something of an exaggeration to me. Clearly, we now need to win and we’ve had enough of finishing second. However, it was a great season for us in GT racing, where we won all over the world.”
“These wins are also very important on a commercial level, because these series put us even closer to our customers. It was nice to beat marques like Porsche and Aston Martin, despite the fact we were at a disadvantage because of the regulations. On the subject of this class of racing, I would repeat that, even if it is a fascinating challenge, the Le Mans 24 Hours is not an immediate objective for us: maybe we can talk about it again in three or four years [time].”
On Stefano Domenicali and the way forward for Ferrari: “In recent years, Domenicali has done a great job to bring us back to the cutting edge. For example, we improved on the strategy front and I believe that again this year, we were the best, thanks to a much more scientific approach.”
“We also improved in the area of simulation and in the simulator, partly thanks to the drivers who are practically full time on this, such as [Pedro] De la Rosa and [Davide] Rigon. We have also improved our infrastructure, for example with the renovation of the wind tunnel: for a few weeks now it’s been operational again and we are no longer obliged to use the Toyota one in Germany.”
“In 2013 we were the best at carrying out the pit stops, as we were the previous year. Now we have a highly rated engineer, James Allison in the role of technical director: he knows a lot of the people already, having worked with them in Maranello during his first stint at Ferrari and he has a very good organizational brain. He and Pat Fry complement one another perfectly. To sum up, everything is there for us to win and to do well.”
The 2013 season was a year of change for Ferrari on the driver front, with Felipe Massa leaving at the end of the season to make way for the return of Kimi Raikkonen.
On Massa: “Felipe was a real Ferrari man and together, we went through some marvellous times. I think we took the right decision, both for him and for us. Too late? I don’t know, but I’m sure that in his new team he will have new motivation and I hope he gets the satisfaction he deserves.”
On Raikkonen: “I am pleased [that] I followed Domenicali’s recommendations regarding Kimi: when I met him, I saw he was on great form and extremely motivated and I was pleased to see how warmly he was received both inside and outside the team. I think the pairing we have, along with that at Mercedes, is the strongest in the 2014 Championship.”
On Fernando Alonso: “He is the strongest of all and there are no problems with him. He was right to get mad, as we have to give him a competitive car, something we didn’t do in the second half of the season.”
On the raft of changes coming into effect in 2014 – including the all new V6 turbo engine era: “There will be a lot of changes, some strongly supported by us, such as the return, albeit partial at the moment, of testing. The design of the new powertrain was very demanding, but it’s really fascinating. It is vital that the factors that make the difference are rebalanced: it’s impossible for Formula 1 to keep going with aerodynamics counting for 90% of the story. Next year, reliability and the ability of the drivers to manage the race in a very different way to the past will be vital.”
On the type style of Formula 1 fans can expect in 2014: “I think races will be even harder to follow compared to what they have been in the past. It concerns me that one could see in some parts of the race, that the drivers will seem more like taxi drivers than racers, with all due respect to that role. What happens on track will have to be well explained if we are not to run the risk of seeing the number of spectators decrease still further, both in the grandstands and in front of the television. Is all this a good thing for Formula 1? I don’t know. We will see how it goes…however it’s important to have some fresh air.”
On double points introduced buy the FIA for the season finale: “I can’t say I like this idea very much as it seems rather artificial and not very sporting. I think the time has come to all sit around the table with the other teams to discuss the overall approach to F1 and, with that in mind, I want to organise a meeting in the second half of January, here in Maranello. I want to talk constructively, without discussing anything to do with competitiveness but putting forward proposals in a transparent manner, without any under the table agreements. There should be more dialogue between the teams when it comes to discussing the problems affecting F1.”
On the issue of cost cutting at the pinnacle of motor sport: “We are in favour of a three year plan to reduce costs, which should be achieved in a gradual manner, taking into account the characteristics of each team. The theme of the third car is back in the news: for example, we know that there’s an American team that would be ready to come into Formula 1 if it could use one of our cars. On this topic, we cannot disregard the USA when thinking of the future, just as we cannot think of doing without some of the historic races.”
On FIA president Jean Todt: “I expect, now that he is well versed in how the Federation functions, in his second term, Todt will push for its modernization, as there is a need for innovation, even in this sector.
On F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone: “I speak with Bernie Ecclestone often: as long as he’s there, there will always be a certain type of management but when, sooner or later, his time will come to an end, then the structure will also change. There will no longer be a number one, but more of a structure with someone at the top filling the role similar to that of a company managing director. It’s true [that] we now have a commitment to the end of 2020, but we are already on the eve of 2014, so there is not that much time left…” (Compiled by Apex)
Subbed by AJN.