Montezemolo says Mercedes not a real factory team
Mercedes are not a proper Formula One manufacturer and Michael Schumacher has only returned to racing thanks to Ferrari, the Italian team's president Luca di Montezemolo said on Thursday.
Seven-times world champion Schumacher, who has turned his back on his former team to come out of retirement with Mercedes, was not mentioned at the launch of Ferrari's 2010 car but Montezemolo failed to dodge questions afterwards.
"Let's not talk about Schumacher," Montezemolo told a news conference before being drawn into the differences between glamour team Ferrari and the new Mercedes outfit which bought world champions and former Honda-branded Brawn.
"I have great respect for Mercedes. I have said and I repeat it's good to see their full involvement in Formula One. But it's a different involvement to us," he said in a building on "Piazza Michael Schumacher" in Ferrari's spiritual home in north Italy.
"Their involvement is based in England. They bought Brawn."
Montezemolo is proud of Ferrari's Italian heart and the fact they are one of the few manufacturers remaining and the only team to have competed in all 60 F1 seasons.
He does not think Germany's Mercedes can reproduce that special atmosphere even if Schumacher has taken some tips with him, especially as he worked as a consultant on the new car.
"Honestly, I am no longer worried about what secrets leaked out with Schumacher," Montzemolo said before pointing out it was him who prompted the German's comeback given Ferrari had asked Schumacher to stand in for the injured Felipe Massa last season.
"It was me that put the idea of returning to F1 in his head," said the Italian, whose dream of seeing the 41-year-old back in a Ferrari was thwarted by a neck injury and continued opposition to the team's plan for a third car.
Schumacher has also appeared on German television in an advert for a red Mercedes sportscar, irking Montezemolo slightly before the season's first race in Bahrain on March 14.
"If there was the possibility of a third car, with great respect for Mercedes, Michael would have been promoting a real red Ferrari not a red Mercedes," he said.
Montezemolo also reiterated that MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi, who last week tested an old Ferrari and set stunning times, would be welcome at the team if a third car was possible in 2011.
The president also did not rule out Rossi racing in one of their two cars currently occupied by Fernando Alonso and Massa.
"Valentino is a potential champion in Formula One," he said. Yahoo Eurosport UK