Ferrari’s Luca di Montezemolo has been making news of late with his public jab at Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone. When Ferrari asked the FIA for clarification on Sebastian Vettel’s passes during the final race of the season under yellow flags/lights, Ecclestone was quick to call it unbecoming of the Scuderia to taint an otherwise terrific season…I’m paraphrasing here.
Di Montezemolo wasn’t going to take that lying down and offered his own criticism on Ecclestone’s age and not knowing when to hang it up likening his tenure in F1 to the departing 7-time champion Michael Schumacher. Intriguingly, Ecclestone tacked on his public commentary about Ferrari suggesting that 12 teams in F1 is too many and ideally 10 teams would be the limit so long as one of them is Ferrari. Ecclestone is incredibly economic and politically astute with his words in the press and each utterance is issued with reason.
This week, however, Luca was still on the offensive as the Independent’s Kevin Garside reported. It’s an interesting read so check it out here.
“We need people with a more modern view. It is the same in my company. In a couple of years I will no longer be the person for Ferrari. Someone else will come. What I always say to Bernie is that the one-man show in life is finished. You need a team around you. We have to ask these questions in a positive way and look ahead. Sooner or later it will happen to Bernie as to me.”
Di Monetezemolo believes that Formula One needs to move forward and make decisions while it is still successful instead of making bad decision when the series is on the ropes:
“The time to make decisions about the future is when you have success. If you don’t, you are forced to make them when you are in trouble and that is bad. We are very close to opening a new page in the future of Formula One, acknowledging the good work that Bernie has done but moving on.”
He’s got a point. I’ve offered a few Op Ed’s about the future of F1 and how to appeal to the next generation. I’ve argued that the measures taken by F1 are weak in regards to attracting a connected consumer and that grey hair will not save F1 in the future. While I have a myriad ideals for how to better position F1, that’s only good if Mr. E asks me to come over and help out.
The most insightful comments came regarding the lack of mechanical development in Formula One. Ferrari have become, like many fans, tired of the aerodynamic race and would like to see mechanical development and testing. They feel the wind tunnel is fine for some things but the series shouldn’t be about aerodynamics alone. Luca said:
“If I could have tomorrow, Porsche engines, Honda, Audi that would be good. But if you cannot develop your engines it is not possible. It is one of the main problems that we face. We have 100 people working only in the wind tunnel. Why? It is a joke. We don’t do any mechanical research. We don’t test any more. We are not in a position to give young drivers opportunity in a competitive way. We are not in a position to organise events for sponsors. Yes I’m in favour or reducing costs but I’m not in favour of not testing at Mugello, or for somebody else not to test at Silverstone just because some teams cannot afford it. If you look at the small teams after five laps they are out of the competition. They are better off in GP2.”
Ouch. I must say, however, that our friend Steve Matchett has eluded to this notion several times. F1 is an expensive sport and removing the costs of F1 for small teams is really something that doesn’t play well with the spirit of the series. At least not it’s more modern character. In the old days, it was gentlemen racers but that ended in the 80’s (if not 70’s) and hasn’t been the same since. What do you think? Is Luca right? Is it time for a major overhaul of F1’s precepts and attitude toward racing? Bring back mechanical development, affordable races, flags, fans and flair?