Scary tittle-tattle in the Financial Times

It is worth reporting a passing comment, which appeared in today's Financial Times, which may strike fear into Ferrari hearts down in Maranello. The newspaper was commenting on the launch of the new Fiat Punto, a car which Fiat chairman Luca di Montezemolo sees as being the car that will revive the fortunes of the car company, which owns Ferrari.

"Success," remarked the FT, "is not only crucial for the company, but to silence the growing rumblings that some of Fiat's big Italian banks are manoeuvring behind the scenes to try to push the chairman out."

The loss of Montezemolo could be a disaster for Ferrari in Formula 1 as he, more than any other executive, protects the F1 programme. As a former sporting director of Ferrari in F1 and then the chief executive of the firm, Montezemolo, more than anyone, understands the finances of Ferrari and the problems these present to Fiat, which cannot afford to fund the racing against the giant car companies such as Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, BMW, Honda and Renault. Ferrari spends most of its current profits on racing and Ferrari shareholders are forced to accept this situation because Fiat retains control of the business. If Montezemolo were to depart, any new chairman would be likely to look less lovingly at Ferrari and F1. As finance becomes more and more of an issue at Fiat, so pressure will grow on Ferrari.

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