Luca di Montezemolo: "It will be an important year for Ferrari"
Maranello, 7th January 2008 - "Happy New Year to all of you," Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo said. "It will be an important year for all of us, for me personally and, I hope, also very important for Ferrari; because as we have seen by the end of last year and with the first laps of our new single-seater, the existing rules of this season made the car really different. Personally I think that this is a positive change for our sport. I've been with Formula One for 30 years now and the nice thing in this sport is the continuous research in innovation. This year the driver plays a much more important role and we have two drivers plus one, with Michael, who has done some tests during the winter with the new car and who can give us some important support, also thanks to the experience he has driving cars without traction control.
We can count on two very strong drivers. The aim is to win again, but it will be very difficult. I'm not saying that because of superstition. First of all because there are new rules (traction control, the gearbox has to be used for four races in a row, the McLaren system, the new Qualifying), which means that things really change; and then there is our fierce competition, the biggest car manufacturers in the world; this is the big difference to the Formula One we knew in the last millennium. There will be fierce competition, which will make especially the start of the season very exciting; the third point is that we have to deal with a Championship where everybody tries to beat Ferrari. Ferrari has won 7 Championships in 9 years; obviously our aim is to win 8 out of 10. But that also means that we need to work hard on our partners, on simulation, the team and all the details. This year the team takes its last steps in terms of reorganization, confirmed by Todt by the end of 2006. In the year 2006 there was the first change, the year 2007 was full of surprises and we didn't have Michael anymore. At the end we managed to win both World Titles. Already during the sabbatical year of Ross (Brawn) we had young and capable people at the track. This year Stefano Domenicali is head of track operations, next to the three key players Aldo Costa, Mario Almondo and Gilles Simon. This second step takes the team where it will stay for the next years without any traumas happening, rewarding those who knew how to manage our team during difficult times. Our team manager will be Baldisserri and there are many people working in the simulation department. Further we can count on the precious collaboration of Rory Byrne and Fainello's experience. For that I want to thank Jean Todt, to whom I had given only one aim: a dynamic stability of our team, to leave people at the top, able to take their own position. At the beginning of the season I want to add that it will be one without mysteries. And I have to acknowledge the Federation's efforts to manage that Formula One didn't lose in credibility this year thanks to the right decisions.
The race track of Fiorano is very wet today and it is significant to drive under these conditions without traction control. Here at Fiorano we can find Ferrari very confident in its own strength, knowing about the difficulties ahead. But we follow our path and there is lots of work to do. We thought we might not tell too much about what we are going to do. We prefer to go on the track, work and give our best. Referring to his own near future the President said: "I think in two and a half months I'll be much more present here, when I finish my other duties. The company is growing and we have a new site to build road cars, young engineers who follow a program of three months, where they work in the works, while Formula Uomo is still a huge challenge for Ferrari. With 2007 we finished a record year in terms of turnover and we are working with the knowledge that there are many opportunities for Ferrari all over the world, while we have to keep an eye on the finances, considering that exclusivity is our strong point, which pays well. Considering the races we want to win! We will give it all. There is an intensive program and the team is concentrated and motivated. Raikkonen, who won the World Championships in the first year with Ferrari, something only Fangio managed to do before him, now knows all the men and the team, while Massa showed in his last race that he knows how to win but also thinks of the team. The team is our priority, because the string point of Ferrari has to be the team.
"What did you have to delegate over the last years and what will you take back into your hands," one journalist asked. "Todt had a minimum of contact to me over the last years; maybe once per day via phone; Todt and Felisa knew very well how to manage the activities and share with me some decisions of medium or long range. It will be different once I'm physically back to Maranello, because I am convinced that the development of the company is still very strong and has to be expressed in some way, especially outside of Europe and North America, the regions where Ferrari was represented most until now. Today, when you're in Macao or Abu Dhabi you can see new shops and we will also have new models, apart from the fact that I want to stress the internationalization and not only in the area of the automobile. The theme park we are setting up is a good example, and also the Internet will become more and more important also in terms of commercialization. We are working on a world-wide internet shop and the possibility of simulations via Web at the Fiorano race track and a virtual visit of the works in Maranello.
Ferrari CEO Jean Todt added as far as the new role of Stefano Domenicali is concerned: "In October 2006 I became General Director of the company and interim Director of the races; so I held this position just for a certain period of time. Domenicali is a bright, intelligent man with many years of experience in administration, human resources and races. He has no technical experience but his role doesn't need that. We prepared him very well for his new role."
As far as the fans are concerned the President added: "I've been to New York for three days and there were many Italian and Spanish Ferrari fans, who stopped me on the street. Winning 8 out of 10 is something we have said already in the year 2000: feet on the ground, hard work. The fans are the most wonderful thing in our work and they've always been there, even in difficult times. I want to underline that we have a lot of humility and we do not think that we will win easily."