Frosty Ferrari: Luca answers Sergio

Things continue to get a little dodgy over at the Ferrari camp this week as former Ferrari president, Luca di Montezemolo, has responded to comments his executioner and current chairman of Ferrari, Sergio Marchionne, said in recent days.

According to AUTOSPORT, Di Montezemolo responded:

“I did not intend to fuel this argument, for the deep love I have for Ferrari, for the respect deserved by those who work there now and who had worked and won there in the markets and on the circuits,” di Montezemolo told the ANSA news agency.

“These past weeks, however, I have heard reiterated, gratuitous, and sometimes unfounded accusations. I don’t want to fall for such provocations.

“The sporting successes, more numerous than those gained by any other team, the strength and prestige the brand has built in the world, and the financial results that have been fundamental for the FCA group and that this year are the best in the history of the company, speak for themselves.

“I trust that Christmas will calm down spirits and bring better judgement.”

While taking over Ferrari and ousting one of its legendary leaders was a bit of a coup, Marchionne most likely hadn’t planned on the former president gaining a role in Formula One Group as a non-executive director—a role he has held previously.

Gazzetta dello Sport quotes Marchionne as saying:

“The CEO is once again [Bernie] Ecclestone, but if we were asked for an opinion on Montezemolo we would have said no for a matter of good taste,” Marchionne said.

“In respect for the others, you can’t push for an ex-president of yours for such a role.

“You can’t do certain things for a matter of governance.

“And myself, as head of Ferrari, had I been around back then I would have said no regarding [Jean] Todt at the helm of FIA, despite his merits and capabilities.”

When Jean Todt left Ferrari, there was a chill in the air and while I believe that Di Montezemolo was making very difficult moves—parting ways with Todt, Schumacher and Brawn—I do know he was trying to build for the future proactively. In came Kimi Raikkonen and another championship.

At the time of the FIA presidential election (when Todt took over from Max Mosley), I was very vocal that while some felt Todt’s bias would be toward Ferrari, I knew that wouldn’t be the case. Todt was no Ferrari pundit by the time he left and the chilly air between the two (FIA and Ferrari) had to be managed correctly. I believe that Luca achieved that and that couldn’t have been an easy relationship-building exercise.

It will be interesting to see how Marchionne deals with a frosty former president as an FOG member as well as the FIA with Todt at the helm. Old wounds heal slowly but they can heal—just ask Ron Dennis and Fernando Alonso.


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