Maranello, 20 December –The Christmas dinner is also the time to look ahead to the future, not just for the Scuderia, but for Formula 1 as a whole, especially going into 2014, a year of major change in terms of the regulations.
“There will be a lot of changes, some strongly supported by us, such as the return, albeit partial at the moment, of testing,” said Luca di Montezemolo. The design of the new powertrain was very demanding, but it’s really fascinating. It is vital that the factors that make the difference are rebalanced: it’s impossible for Formula 1 to keep going with aerodynamics counting for 90% of the story. Next year, reliability and the ability of the drivers to manage the race in a very different way to the past will be vital.
It was actually on this aspect that Montezemolo expressed some concerns. “I think races will be even harder to follow compared to what they have been in the past. It concerns me that one could see in some parts of the race, that the drivers will seem more like taxi drivers than racers, with all due respect to that role. What happens on track will have to be well explained if we are not to run the risk of seeing the number of spectators decrease still further, both in the grandstands and in front of the television. Is all this a good thing for Formula 1? I don’t know. We will see how it goes, however it’s important to have some fresh air.”
Among the changes for 2014 is the allocation of double points for the final race of the season, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Montezemolo was blunt in his opinion of this: “I can’t say I like this idea very much as it seems rather artificial and not very sporting. I think the time has come to all sit around the table with the other teams to discuss the overall approach to Formula 1 and, with that in mind, I want to organise a meeting in the second half of January, here in Maranello. I want to talk constructively, without discussing anything to do with competitiveness but putting forward proposals in a transparent manner, without any under the table agreements. There should be more dialogue between the teams when it comes to discussing the problems affecting Formula 1.”
One of the topics on today’s agenda was that of costs. “We are in favour of a three year plan to reduce costs, which should be achieved in a gradual manner, taking into account the characteristics of each team,” said the Ferrari President. “The theme of the third car is back in the news: for example, we know that there’s an American team that would be ready to come into Formula 1 if it could use one of our cars. On this topic, we cannot disregard the USA when thinking of the future, just as we cannot think of doing without some of the historic races.”
Between pasta and pork there was also talk of two men who feature on the Formula One Management Christmas Card, Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt, seen symbolically brought together in matrimony by Montezemolo himself.
“I expect, now that he is well versed in how the Federation functions, in his second term, Todt will push for its modernization, as there is a need for innovation, even in this sector,” said Montezemolo. “I speak with Bernie Ecclestone often: as long as he’s there, there will always be a certain type of management but when, sooner or later, his time will come to an end, then the structure will also change. There will no longer be a number one, but more of a structure with someone at the top filling the role similar to that of a company managing director. It’s true we now have a commitment to the end of 2020, but we are already on the eve of 2014, so there is not that much time left…”