Luca di Montezemolo was in fighting mood today as he rallied the Ferrari troops and made it clear that the team intends to make amends for 2010.
He also suggested that there is still some flexibility in the FIA’s plans to have a 4-cylinder engine in 2013, something that will no doubt ruffle a few feathers.
Intriguingly he also took the opportunity to dampen recent speculation about Ferrari’s interest in Sebastian Vettel. Just as in the past he’d vehemently denied any interest in Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, et al. No smoke without fire…
Here is what he said in an interview issued by the team tonight.
Q: Chairman, you have asked for a car which can immediately win.
“Yes, I asked the team that with trust in the work we’ve done in the wind tunnel, setting the goal for improvement regarding last year’s car.”
Q: Aren’t you worried that maybe some rules this year might limit Formula 1?
“Let me use this question for a constructive discourse concerning the Federation, where we recreated a good climate. Historically Ferrari has always been collaborative and has respected the rules. I think that last year, without triggering a revolution, we had an intense season with unforeseeable results. I think that we have to concentrate on three fundamental points: first, Formula 1 is based in an excessive way on aerodynamics, which is the point, which makes the difference. In the 1970s it was more about the engine and mechanics, now it’s all about aerodynamics. Second, it’s about the tests: a sport on such a level can’t continue with such an absurd limitation regarding testing, in terms of development and in terms of safety, for our new drivers, who have to involved and have to be able to test. Last but not least the technology transfer. Formula 1 has to be more and more also a laboratory, a centre of advanced research for innovative technologies for tomorrow’s cars.
“The KERS is very important in this context and Ferrari as a manufacturer had and has extraordinary support in Formula 1. Just think about the F1 gearbox, modified chassis, electronics, flat underbody and many more in the road cars. It’s mainly about expenses and the permanence in Formula 1. Formula 1 will always have high and strong investment. Who can’t make these investments will race in other series. Limited expenses are easily to avoid, we have to continue on the right track reducing costs, while the real DNA of F1 doesn’t change. But if we’re heading towards an equalisation towards the bottom of performance, then this is not good and the engines can’t be the same for all. Naturally costs are fundamental, but without losing the sport’s essence. With serenity and dialogue you can improve a Formula, which already today is really extraordinary.”
Q: What about the future? The rule regarding 4-cylinder engines can still be changed? We know that Ferrari is engaged for a 6-cylinder engine.
“Yes, that’s true. I spoke to Todt and I’m glad the there is a different climate of dialogue than in the past. We’re engaged in technological challenges such as the FF: a 4-cylinder Ferrari seems absurd to me. We’ve not even built a 10-cylinder Ferrari and I’m still thinking that a 6-cylinder would have been more in line with the Formula 1 positioning on the market.”
Q: It’s paradoxical saying it, but calling a car today F150 and showing the Italian flag is a very strong signal. Don’t you fear that this might cost Ferrari some sympathy?
“Over the last 20 years we’ve always sported the Italian flag on the car. And personally I always thought that it is important. 2011 is the year we are even more Italian and we’re proud being it. When we’re listening to our national anthem after a victory of our country it’s always very emotional. I’m not talking about politics, we want to concentrate on sports. Just like many sportsmen are moved by competing for the Italian flag, we are happy to show it on our car. It’s the symbol of a winning Italy, united in sports. I want to add that it is an important signal for an Italian company, which is moving ahead with the deep conviction of being it.”
Q: Sergio Marchionne said that he doesn’t exclude that Alfa Romeo might come back into motorsports: do you consider a synergy with Ferrari?
“As far as Alfa is concerned, everything is possible, the brand is extremely sporty and connected to Ferrari since the early days of motorsports. There are many possibilities.”
Q: A question regarding the drivers: who of Fernando and Felipe will have more advantages from the Team’s new organisation?
“I’m glad that you’re asking, because it is since 1974 that I am asked this question, since Lauda and Regazzoni. I told you last December that there won’t be a revolution and we worked on two points: First, we don’t insert too many people from the outside, only a few, with specific competences, culture and a way of working in very specific areas. Second, improving the facilities and the tools today’s rules bring with them, so more investment in aerodynamics and tests in the wind tunnel for example.
“This doesn’t have any particular effects on the drivers. The drivers can give recommendations, talk about their impressions, can ask the car to be set up for their driving styles. But we have to put both drivers in a condition with the bets possible car. We restructured the organisation of the single teams, hoping that Massa will be competitive right from the start and Alonso with the same capacity as last year, where he showed that he is the best driver in the world.”
Q: In Germany they are talking a lot about Vettel coming to Ferrari: does that mean that someone contacted him for the future or is that pure fiction? The next Ferrari driver will be an exceptional driver from the market or a driver from the Ferrari Driver Academy?
“I hope that he will come from the Ferrari Driver Academy, because that would mean that he’s a “top star”. Naturally Ferrari puts a driver in the car able to win. One of the ideas of the Academy is to have the next Scuderia driver in-house. There is absolutely nothing going on with Vettel, apart from the congratulations for a wonderful season and the fact that he knew how to benefit from the last race in Abu Dhabi.”