Ferrari’s president, Luca di Montezemolo, is not a man for few words. He’s also not a man who minces what words he offers. In a lengthy interview with Corriere della Sera, Di Montezemolo offers some interesting insight into what he thinks of the current state of Formula 1.
In particular, he believes that the credibility of F1 has diminished with the recent testing and subsequent wrist-slapping that Mercedes engaged in this year:
“Formula 1 also has to be a clean sport without any of the monkey business we have had to put up with in recent years. From next season, we will have a completely different F1, finally less dependent on aerodynamics. I build cars not planes. We will finally have testing again and not a farce like what we saw this year with one team doing illegal testing without even paying the right penalty for it. In this case, I would have expected more clarity and courage from the FIA. On the other hand, the benefits gained by the team that carried out the secret banned testing are watched by everyone: before then, it had not won a single grand prix, then after the test it won three out of five races. These are the sort of serious incidents that affect F1’s credibility and alter the championship.”
The fortunes of Mercedes from the first part of the season to the last five races have been good. From scoring a handful of points in the beginning (72) to a bucket load in the last 5 races (136), Mercedes has done the complete opposite of what Ferrari have done over the same timeline.
Another interesting topic is that of aerodynamic regulations. I asked the Ferrari team, over lunch, about the reliance on aero at the moment and they did have a measured response. It went something like this: Aero wins races right now and that’s the rules we have. It also teaches us how to develop aero better and while we are not using these levels of aerodynamic design on our road cars, we design better road cars by understanding the aero design more thoroughly.
What does Luca think?
“I’ve been around in F1 for quite a while, since the Seventies, so I don’t envy anyone anything. With the current regulations favouring aerodynamics, Red Bull was clever in getting a great designer, Adrian Newey, to get the most out of all aspects of the regulations. I will digress: this aspect of the rules is, in my opinion, a mistake and therefore needs changing. Luckily, the hoped for changes are coming. We don’t make drinks and I say that with all possible respect for those who make drinks, we are not a sponsor, but we design and build cars of the very highest order. We will stay in F1 as long as it can be considered a test bed for advanced research, the highest technology and worthwhile for a great company like Ferrari, which is known and appreciated around the world. “
It is a tough year for Ferrari as they were quick straight away in Australia but have seemed to suffer with what they call the development war. It is a grueling pace to keep the development of the current chassis competitive if you consider that every two weeks 5-10% of the car will be changed with new development pieces (as McLaren’s Peter van Manen says). Ferrari were hoping this year’s car would secure the championship given its out-of-the-box pace but has since slid to a pace that has seen them lose 2nd in the constructor’s championship to Mercedes.