Step Forward Luca di Montezemolo
For a sport at the cutting-edge of technology, some things never seem to change in Formula One. Team mates reportedly don’t get on, rival teams make accusations of cheating (it’s not nearly so glamorous when it involves the accountants’ books though) and Ferrari stomp their feet and say they’re going to quit the sport they’ve been an almost continuous part of… except that they’re not going to do anything of the sort.
Yes that one again. Formula One would be a poorer place without Ferrari, in all senses of the word poorer but I certainly don’t think it’s finally going to happen this time.
For one thing, Luca di Montezemolo’s demands don’t seem that unreasonable. The sport should be road relevant? Isn’t it already trying to by developing energy recovering systems and switching to small, more efficient turbo engines – a realistic pattern for the future development of road cars? “What is not so good is that 90 per cent of performance is now based exclusively on aerodynamics and another negative is that ours is the only sport where no testing is allowed,” said di Montezemolo. There are not many who would argue with that statement, indeed Ferrari are late in joining this particular party.
Of course, that old chestnut of the three-car teams has come up again – it does make me laugh when di Montezemolo starts banging that particular drum: “Finally, there’s the issue of the third car, which mark my words, we support not so much for our own interests but more for those of the sport in general,” pleads Ferrari’s president. “We believe the interest of the fans, media and sponsors could increase if there is a bigger number of competitive cars on track rather than cars that are two or three seconds off the pace, being lapped after just a few laps.” It’s an argument that makes sense but that boat has sailed, there are twelve teams and realistically, four would need to step aside and Ferrari’s threat to move to pastures new is hardly going to make a difference to them in that case. Besides, if Ferrari really want to “provide opportunities for the youngsters [they] are bringing on in the Ferrari Driver Academy” they can always follow the Red Bull model and run a ‘four-car team’. Ultimately, the back of the grid is a drama story in itself and it’s why all the teams are valued in their own way – Formula One is much more than race day as the gossip columns and Bernie Ecclestone’s more wilder throw-away comments pay testament to.
Despite the comments flying around the internet since the interview came out, what’s almost certain is that actually, these newspaper headline generating comments have nothing what-so-ever to do with FOTA, the FIA, FOM, the concorde agreement or anything Formula One. Greece’s Prime Minister has stood down and it is feared that Italy, the eurozone’s third biggest economy, could become the next victim of the debt crisis. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi faces a crunch vote on public finance on Tuesday – Berlusconi on the rack as the BBC’s European editor describes it. And waiting in the wings to replace him…
…step forward Luca di Montezemolo.