Luca di Montezemolo and Ferrari – beaten by Red Bull and Vettel yet again

Luca di Montezemolo

In the wake of the team's failure not only to halt Red Bull, previously mocked by Montezemolo as an energy drink manufacturer, but to hold on to the runner-up spot, the Italian media is unlikely to be in a forgiving mood in terms of what is seen as the nation's team.

Tonight, saw Montezemolo being questioned by RAI Uno's reporter Marco Franzelli, the Ferrari president covering a number of topics.

Asked about 2013, he was quick to admit that it was… "Definitely a year to forget, a disappointing season. There were three main reasons and they're clearly marked in my mind. The first was an inability to develop the car in the second half of the season: I want explanations as to why, because if we don't understand the reasons, then that's not good.

"The second is the tires, although I'm not looking to make excuses. We built a car to work with certain tires, with which we proved to be very competitive. Then the tires were changed, definitely proving to be a disadvantage for us and an advantage for others. Furthermore, there was an interpretation of the rules from one team, which one has to say was a bit strange and which incurred a punishment that, to say the least, had a touch of the Pontius Pilate about it.

"As for the first reason, we will discuss that among ourselves, regarding the second, we will talk about it in the most suitable places.

"Finally, we missed Massa's points for the Constructors' championship. Now we must find out exactly what happened this year and work better towards the next one."

Asked about Ferrari's political clout, something many within and outside the sport, are uneasy with, he said: "This story has been doing the rounds since I worked with Enzo Ferrari in the Seventies. We have reached an agreement with Ecclestone and the FIA and we are the only team with the right of veto: more political weight than that is impossible! We are aware of our strength in Formula 1, which without us, would be completely different. Having said that, it's true that weight also comes from having a winning car and that was lacking. The rest is all gossip."

And with that in mind, he was asked about the sport's 'rulers', (FIA president) Jean Todt and Bernie Ecclestone.

"Todt will be reconfirmed and I expect strong changes, because for too many years the Federation has always been the same and, as in everything, a change is required," he said. "Having said that, a strong sporting authority is always a priority for Ferrari. Ecclestone sees Horner as his successor? As the years go by, he more and more enjoys making jokes and I'm happy he still has the desire to do so…"

On Felipe Massa's penalty at Interlagos, Montezemolo remained just as feisty… "I think it was disproportionate and unjust, as was Hamilton's," he said. "If Felipe had stayed in fourth place, we would have been second in the Constructors' championship. Every so often, the gentlemen who come to the races to act as Stewards make decisions that are a bit ridiculous and anachronistic. One needs to be careful that we maintain credibility, for the work of the teams that invest money and for the drivers who risk their lives."

Though he had to be content with runner-up in the championship, 155 points adrift of Sebastian Vettel, for many Fernando Alonso remains the stand-out driver. Montezemolo agrees.

"He is right to be proud of second place: he had a great season. We must give him a quicker car and he will get the most out of it. Eight out of ten, instead of ten? My eight is worth a ten because it's a score I give as an incentive: I hope to give it to him next year and to give an eight, at least, to the team. For next year I would like to present him with a car that's even better than Red Bull. Let's not forget we know how to do that: one only has to think of the five year period from 2000 to 2004 and the wins in 2007 and 2008. I thank him for all his efforts and the determination he showed this year and for the fact he would have been prepared to let Massa get onto the podium last Sunday back in Brazil, as it testifies to the nice atmosphere in our team.

"Newey isn't his opponent," he continued, "there are the drivers, starting with Vettel, then Hamilton and Rosberg, who has improved a lot, and there's Raikkonen who will be trying to win, which will give us a boost and should bring the points we were missing this year."

Speaking of which, despite the warnings of others, Montezemolo envisages no problem with his fire and ice(man) partnership in 2014.

"Whoever has the honor and responsibility of driving for Ferrari must think of the team first and foremost and not of himself. None of our drivers could ever hurt the other one. Alonso is maybe the strongest race driver I've ever met, even if it is always difficult to make comparisons with the past. We have taken Raikkonen back for his experience, for what he has done over the past two years and because he is much loved inside and outside the team. I was very pleased to see the enthusiasm that greeted the news of his return, again both internally and externally. I am sure they will help one another."

And what of Mr. Vettel?

"Better than Senna? Ecclestone says what suits him but there is no doubt he is a great driver. He is a serious young man who has won a lot and therefore he deserves respect. I congratulate him and Red Bull. Vettel at Ferrari? Who knows what the future holds? But for now, drivers are definitely not a problem for us."

Looking ahead to 2014… "Our aim is to build a car capable of winning. We have carried out a very extensive reorganization and highly regarded engineers such as Allison have joined us or returned to us. There will be the new regulations which will give more importance to some areas, such as the engine, where we are very competent. We have good cause to be optimistic and all the ingredients to win are in place. We have come within a whisker of success too often and now we must win, I just hope there are no unclear aspects that could have an influence on things. Avoiding mistakes? That will apply to everyone."

Leave a Reply