New rumors say Montezemolo stepping down (2nd Update)

UPDATE #2 (GMM) Luca di Montezemolo was coy on Saturday as he played down swirling speculation about his future.

The long-time Ferrari president arrived at Monza for his traditional qualifying visit amid intense rumors that it will be his last.

Some reports suggest the charismatic Montezemolo, 67, is at loggerheads with fellow officials over policy, while others think he is poised to quit Ferrari to become the new chief of the Italian airline Alitalia.

"Alitalia?" Italian reporters quote Montezemolo as saying at Monza. "I hope to take one one of their planes tomorrow afternoon," he joked.

"The rumors about me? I have seen a great fuss in recent days, but I have found it excessive.

"I'm here to work — today, tomorrow, the next months.

"We are preparing a big event for Ferrari in Los Angeles in October, for the Paris motor show with our cars, and I gave my commitment to shareholders and to the people of Ferrari in March to stay another three years.

"If there is any news, I will be the first to tell you," Montezemolo insisted.

Meanwhile, in what looked like a photo opportunity, Montezemolo gave Ferrari's lead driver Fernando Alonso a long embrace in the Ferrari garage before qualifying.

It could have been a message to rival teams, like McLaren, who have been eyeing the Spaniard.

"He has a contract until 2016," said Montezemolo, "and wants the same thing I want: a more competitive car."


Luca di Montezemolo

(GMM) Rumors are gathering steam by the hour that Luca di Montezemolo's regular visit to Monza on Saturday will be his last as Ferrari president.

Germany's Bild newspaper said the Italian is at loggerheads with officials over key policy directions.

Italy's Autosprint reports that he looks set to be accompanied to the Italian grand prix on qualifying day by Sergio Marchionne, the Fiat and Chrysler chief who is tipped as Montezemolo's successor.

Initially on Friday, the visiting Flavio Briatore – a guest this weekend of F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone – played down the Montezemolo rumors as "lies".

But he then had to acknowledge that the speculation is echoing around the paddock with "increasing insistence".

"We are used to identifying Montezemolo with Ferrari," Briatore is quoted by Autosprint, "so it would be a big change.

"But it's not as though if Montezemolo leaves Maranello, Ferrari will simply get better.

"If he really is leaving, I think it will be his choice and for his own personal reasons.

"Marchionne in his place? I don't know how it can be done when he is already working 22 hours a day," Briatore added.

Meanwhile, after it emerged recently that Briatore would chair a new 'popularity working group' in F1, the former Renault chief on Friday said reports of his return to the grid were ultimately wide of the mark.

"I'm too much of a genius to be a formula one consultant," he smiled. "They don't deserve me. Let them make a mess of it themselves."

Finally, Briatore commented on speculation surrounding his protege Fernando Alonso's future, as he was asked if the Spaniard should stick with Ferrari or move elsewhere.

"I don't know, I don't know," he is quoted by the Spanish daily AS.

"I really don't know," he insisted, when pressed. "It's true, I am not clear what he should do. He wants to win and he must win."

He then aimed a barb at the Maranello team, amid rumors Ferrari is setting up the 2016 entrant Haas as a sort of 'Ferrari B' team.

"It's not necessary," Briatore said, "as the Ferrari we see is already 'Ferrari B'."

09/05/14 (GMM) Speculation is rife that Luca di Montezemolo is on the verge of announcing his departure as Ferrari president.

Rumors Maranello's long-time and charismatic figurehead is stepping down to head the Italian national airline Alitalia were rejected only recently.

But multiple authoritative Italian sources and insiders are now reporting from Monza that Montezemolo's annual visit to the Italian grand prix could be the scene of an official announcement.

Others, like the highly respected La Gazzetta dello Sport correspondent Pino Allievi, say Montezemolo could then make his post formally vacant at a Ferrari board meeting next Thursday.

The rumors – with some even suggesting Ross Brawn will become team boss while Marco Mattiacci steps up to the presidency – have even reached Ferrari's top driver Fernando Alonso.

"I don't know. I have only heard rumors," he told the Italian news agency Ansa.

"I have not heard anything from him (Montezemolo)," said Alonso. "He has always been the president since I was here.

"If it did happen one day that he is not there, then we will talk about it, but it would be something totally new."

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