As usual, Luca di Montezemolo who wears many hats including President of Ferrari and of Fiat, made his annual visit to Monza to watch qualifying. And also as usual, he was as outspoken as ever on a variety of subjects. Luca di ...
As usual, Luca di Montezemolo who wears many hats including President of Ferrari and of Fiat, made his annual visit to Monza to watch qualifying. And also as usual, he was as outspoken as ever on a variety of subjects.
"This is an important weekend because Monza is always Monza and then on Monday, we present the new Fiat Punto," he began, before moving on to an analysis of the Scuderia's performance this year. "Unfortunately Ferrari has not been very competitive this year, mainly due to lack of grip."
"It is worth remembering that since 1996 we have finished on the podium in Monza so until tomorrow, we can still hope to be there again, but it will be very, very difficult. I hope that our tyre supplier that has done a fantastic job in the past can react and put us in a position to be really competitive at least in the last two races of the season."
Next on Montezemolo's agenda, as he faced the world's press was the future of Michael Schumacher. "I have seen a lot of rumours about Michael," admitted Montezemolo with a smile. "He will decide himself when to stop. I told him this one and a half years ago. If he decides to continue after 2006 we will be very pleased, because he is strong and motivated. He is the best driver in the world, but if he decides to stop at the end of the contract, we will accept his decision."
"Whatever happens, Michael will close his career with Ferrari. Next year, alongside Michael, we have a strong young driver in the shape of Massa. We have invested in him since 2001 and it is the right moment in his career to drive a Ferrari."
If Montezemolo is naturally disappointed with this year's results, he also voiced his displeasure with various aspects of the state of Formula 1 at the moment. "Every years the rules change and I do not like this current qualifying format," he revealed. "It does nothing for the public and nothing for the TV viewers and it is not good for the sport."
"I am old enough to remember some great qualifying, with all the cars on the track at the same time. I remember for example Ayrton (Senna) taking pole at the very last second here in Monza. That is sport that is life. I want competition on Sunday but also on Saturday."
The current one set of tyres per race rule also came in for criticism from Montezemolo. "I do not like to have a race where I have to look after my tyres. If I want to change tyres every lap then I should be allowed to. I don't know why I should use the tyres I raced with on Sunday to drive home with on Monday! It is against the spirit of Formula 1. I look forward to having F1 with better overtaking but I still think the key problems in our sport is that we need extreme technology and research."
"I do not like a championship where tyres are more important than drivers and cars. I am not happy to see the crowds and TV viewing figures going down. I don't like to see boring races and I don't like to see super-boring qualifying. I am not happy to see "taxi drivers" saving their tyres for the last 20 laps of a race. I am not happy to see this current Formula 1."
One story that has captured the imagination of the media is the rumour that multi motorcycle world champion, Valentino Rossi could drive in F1 for the Scuderia. "It is a simple story," said Montezemolo when asked to explain. "Valentino is an Italian superstar. He loves cars and Ferrari and we wanted to give him the chance to drive an F1 car for enjoyment."
"Then we thought to say to him that, if he got tired of winning in motorbikes, why not try to get a new motivation in Formula 1. But there are no guarantees that he will drive in F1 nor that we will give him a drive. But, if after a few tests he can stand in front of a mirror and tell himself that he is ready to win, to win not just to race, then we will see."
"It is the same as with Michael. It is Michael who will decide if he stops and if Valentino decides to race then it is because he feels he is ready to win. It is hypothetical at the moment, but if Valentino proves capable of winning in F1 then why not have him drive a Ferrari?"
Finally, the very future of the sport itself was raised by the press and the President took a positive view of what the future holds for Formula 1. "I am sure that before the end of this Concorde Agreement, before 2008 we will have a strong group of manufacturers all looking forward together to a strong future for Formula 1."
"I will discuss everything with Max (Mosley) not from the point of view of one team only. Because if I had discussed with the FIA four years ago when we were winning everything, simply from the point of view of one team then we would have said we want no changes. And we did not do that. I am in favour of a legalist approach and a strong FIA because they have done a very good job for Formula 1."