Luca di Montezemolo: "If the standard engine had passed, 4 or 5 teams would have abandoned Formula 1"
Maranello, 17th December 2008 - On the occasion of the traditional pre-Christmas meeting with the press in Maranello, Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo spoke about the recent economic crisis, in which also Formula 1 and the whole automotive sector is involved. "Enzo Ferrari said to me in the 70s that - crisis aside - we'd always find 1,500 'lunatics' who'll buy a Ferrari. Adjusting the numbers, I think that we'll continue to find 6,000 'lunatics'."
"But we're holding back launching cars already developed for better times. We'll definitely launch the Fiat 500 Cabrio. Other new products might be presented later, including the Alfa Romeo 149." That's the context "which has been accelerated by the crisis we already had to deal with in F1."
As far as the decisions taken by the FIA a couple of days ago are concerned, the President said that with regard to the standard engine "it was an occasion to leave F1. If the standard engine had passed, at least four or five teams would have abandoned Formula 1. And I mean four or five besides Ferrari. That is all of them."
"The FIA did well and also Max Mosley did a good job to talk about the problem of cost cutting. But he was thinking about 2010, that's in the future. But the effects of the actual crisis will be felt in 2009. Last July we had the first meeting of all the teams here in Maranello, founding the FOTA. There was a great atmosphere of unity. We were able to reach a 50% cost cut on engines as of the next year. According to our plan from 2012 a cost cut of 50 will effect the whole budget."
"Since our first meeting here in Maranello we've done some major steps ahead. As of 2009 we'll save 50% as far as the engines are concerned and as of 2012 we'll save 50% of the whole budget."
Asked about his opinion as far as Ecclestone's and Mosley's roles in this crisis are concerned, the President said: "Time goes by and in a few years I will retire too. The crisis might accelerate a process of renovation. I've known Ecclestone since '73 and I think he's done a great job. A few years ago we argued. I called him greedy, because of the revenues, which were distributed 70 percent for him and 30 percent for the teams. Now it's 50-50. We'll have to do more though. We'll see. What's certain is that the time to divide and conquer to rule in F1 is over."
As far as the drivers are concerned the President said: "Lewis Hamilton? He's great. But with all respect I will not change him with Felipe Massa." What about replacements or purchases?: "Usually Ferrari chooses. I'm convinced that it's the Prancing Horse which makes a driver popular."
"Raikkonen came to Ferrari and won the World Championship. That Massa didn't win this year was our fault. It took a certain Schumacher years and when he left everybody was cheering for him. Felipe is extremely popular, as a man and as a driver, but also for the way he coped with the defeat in the Championship."