There is only one team that can lay claim to participating in Formula 1 from its inaugural season in 1950 until today, and that's Ferrari. Yet, the Scuderia, whose founder was “forced” to make road cars to finance its racing activities, is now threatening to leave the sport because it disagrees with its rules.
“Formula 1 is still our life, but without Ferrari there is no Formula 1, just as without Formula 1 Ferrari would be different”, said the Italian company’s CEO, Luca di Montezemolo commenting on the future of F1 during the Ferrari Mondiali event.
According to Montezemolo, F1 is heading the wrong way: “We race not just for the publicity it brings us, but above all to carry out advanced research aimed at all aspects of our road cars: engine, chassis, mechanical components, electronics, materials and aerodynamics, to such an extent that the technology transfer from track to road has grown exponentially over the past twenty years.”
Could this be sour grapes after another disappointing season for Ferrari, in which it lagged behind not only the all-conquering Red Bull, but also McLaren, achieving only one win?
Montezemolo doesn’t think so: “What is not so good is that 90% of performance is now based exclusively on aerodynamics. Another negative is that ours is the only sport where no testing is allowed. We are building cars, not helicopters, rockets or planes.”
Ferrari’s CEO also says that he supported fielding a third car, which could spice up F1 even more.
“We believe the interest of the fans, media and sponsors would increase if there’s a bigger number of competitive cars than cars that are two or three seconds of the pace”, he remarked, adding that “it would be nice one day in the future to see one of our cars running in American colors, or Chinese, or maybe those of Abu Dhabi.
Subsequently, Ferrari tried to clarify the issue through the Horse Whisperer column in its website, saying that Montezemolo’s statements were misinterpreted and he did not actually make any threats:
“Montezemolo's observations were seen by some as a sort of ultimatum or even a threat to leave Formula One, but the Whisperer can assure you that it was nothing of the kind. For starters, the words 'leave' or 'ultimatum' did not even feature in his pronouncement, but what really needs to be stressed is that Montezemolo spoke in a totally constructive fashion, which is usually the case with the president of a company that has always been in Formula One and who has the future well-being of the greatest form of motorsport so close to his heart.”
On the other hand, if Ferrari’s CEO wasn’t threatening to leave, one can’t help but wonder about his closing phrase: “If Formula 1 still wants Ferrari it must change and go back to being at the cutting edge of research, while always keeping an eye on costs. We are not in F1 as sponsors, we are constructors.”