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Former Ferrari boss Montezemolo: "Arrivabene and Marchionne have been lucky"

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Former Ferrari boss Montezemolo: "Arrivabene and Marchionne have been lucky"
May 6, 2015, 8:41 AM

They say that failure is an orphan, but success has many fathers - Former Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo has found it impossible to hold back...

They say that failure is an orphan, but success has many fathers - Former Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo has found it impossible to hold back his feelings any longer on seeing Ferrari back among the trophies in Formula 1 and has claimed that the success of the team this year was based on work he did before he was ousted last Autumn.

He describes the 2014 F1 season as "the only real failure of my time as manager."

Montezemolo's reign at Ferrari coincided with Ferrari's greatest period of sustained success, with Michael Schumacher winning five consecutive world drivers' titles, Kimi Raikkonen adding another and the team winning eight constructors' championships in 10 years.

But last year, the first of the new hybrid turbo formula, the wheels fell off and Ferrari had its worst results for 20 years, with no wins and just two podiums. At the same time FIAT president Sergio Marchionne was looking to take Ferrari public with a share offering and his vision for the company didn't align with Montezemolo's. So he was ousted with a substantial payoff.

Now, Montezemolo has defended his record and says that he deserves credit for the Ferrari F1 team of 2015, which has won in Malaysia and been on the podium at every race. After four races they already have half the points they scored all of last season. It is, he says, the fruit of recovery work he set in place last year, one imagines especially on the engine side where the lead times are very long,

"Marchionne and (Maurizio) Arrivabene [Ferrari F1 team principal] have done very well. They should be congratulated, but I honestly think they've been lucky," he said. "This year, apart from Mercedes they have no competitor; Williams hasn't improved, Red Bull has imploded. I know that [Dietrich] Mateschitz is thinking of selling, a mutual friend told me he'd said, 'Either I convince Audi to come in, or I'm leaving'. And McLaren is in crisis. So basically Ferarri starts every race with a podium in its pocket.

"They've also been smart in not throwing out everything that was set up before they came along. Perhaps if I'd been in their shoes I would not have claimed last December that 2015 would be a revolution, that huge mistakes had been made in preparing for 2015 and that winning a couple of races would be a miracle. But that's water under the bridge now."

Water that Montezemolo nevertheless is stirring up now. He says he left Ferrari in great shape, with a couple of billion euro of liquidity, no debt and a perfect balance sheet for a flotation.

The tender process is ongoing with merchants banks to manage the flotation with Goldman Sachs among the favourites to land it. The flotation will see founder Enzo Ferrari's son Piero bank €260 million.

What has been impressive and it has been commented on by all their main rivals, is the way that technical director James Allison has managed to get a new team of engineers and strategists to gel very quickly, so that they not only have a quick car, but are also able to be aggressive in race operations and tactics and not make mistakes.

Soon they will be joined by Lewis Hamilton's former Mercedes engineer, Jock Clear, in a chief operations role and he is never one for holding back when aggression is called for...
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