Berthold Bouman, F1 Correspondent
During a Christmas dinner with the Italian media, Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo reflected on Ferrari’s 2011 season. The Scuderia finished third in the Constructors’ Championship, while Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa took fourth and sixth position in the Drivers’ Championship.
Certainly not a good year for the Maranello-based team, but Montezemolo did see some light at the end of the tunnel. “A very disappointing year, with the only great moment coming with the win at Silverstone,” said the Ferrari boss, referring to Alonso’s victory during the British Grand Prix, Ferrari’s one and only win this season.
“Alonso had a great season: he is the best driver in Formula One and that’s nothing new,” Montezemolo commented about his Spanish star driver.
He was less happy with the performance of Massa, as he stated, “Massa is the first to admit disappointment at the way his year went, a feeling we share, but I hope and believe that with a faster car and one that warms up its tyres better, Felipe will be competitive once again.” And added, “We should not forget he was often quicker than Michael [Schumacher] or Kimi [Raikkonen], when he was team-mates with them.”
Montezemolo also seized the opportunity to speak about Formula One’s political climate, and explained why his team had left the FOTA (Formula One Teams Association). “We have left FOTA of our own accord and without consulting anyone else, because we were tired of the compromises dragging it down. And let’s be clear, if one is part of a club then everyone has to respect its rules, otherwise what’s the point?”
But he was also optimistic all problems can still be resolved, “However, I still believe that we can have a common vision between the biggest teams when it comes to the future and I will push to the maximum to seek out common objectives.”
He also referred to the knee-jerk reactions of the FIA (Federation Internationale de L’Automobile) concerning the blown diffusers and engine mapping during the British Grand Prix, “All we want are clear rules and interpretations. Situations like the one in Silverstone must not happen again, when the rules changed three times over the course of a Grand Prix weekend: on that occasion, Ferrari decided to sacrifice its own interests to avoid a fall out that would have damaged Formula One, with all the accompanying comments that we did not want the agreement because we were not competitive.”
Since then, a lot has been achieved Montezemolo said, “In 1991, we sold 2300 cars, today it’s over 7000. We exported to 20 countries which has become 58, with a tenfold increase in turnover.”
Montezemolo also led the Scuderia Ferrari Formula One team in those 20 years, and under his reign Ferrari went on to win another eight Constructors’ Championships and six Drivers’ Championships with drivers Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen, together with Jean Todt, who has succeeded Max Mosley as FIA president, and Ross Brawn, who is now Team Principal of the Mercedes GP team.
Montezemolo was positive about the future of the legendary Italian marque and concluded, “We have to be very pleased with what we have achieved and the next twenty years will see a Ferrari that is still very innovative on the road car front and that will continue racing as long as the races, Formula One first and foremost, provide the opportunity for advanced research for our cars.”