Luca di Montezemolo arrived in Bahrain this morning to give encouragement to his Ferrari team, which has endured its worst start to a season for over 25 years. He talked of the team making the mistake of thinking it is the best and being caught out and called for a fresh attitude
He also talked to representatives of other teams and manufacturers about the current state of F1.
This is a huge week for the sport, It is essentially being restructured with new rules for 2010 due to be ratified on Wednesday at the FIA World Council meeting which has been called to hear the McLaren disciplinary case.
By the end of this week the budget cap will be a reality with a set value on it. The start point is £30 million, excluding drivers salary and marketing. It is likely to go up by Wednesday, but nit by as much as teams like Ferrari, McLaren and BMW would like.
Montezemolo, as president of FOTA as well as Ferrari is not happy with the way the FIA has introduced the concept of the budget cap. The teams have a meeting set for May 6th in London, but the FIA timetable is more urgent than that and it could all be done and dusted by then. A fight is in prospect, although with six teams in favour of a budget cap slightly higher than the proposed figure it will be interesting to see how unified the teams are and how much of a fight they put up
Montezemolo sat in the baking sun in a blazer and blue shirt and spoke to the media this morning.
What is your feeling about the start Ferrari has made to this championship?
“We have won eight world championships in the last 10 years, three of the last four. I want to understand why we are in the middle of a black tunnel. There are four reasons; we have seen some very badly written rules, grey rules, with different interpretations. This means polemics.
“Second was KERS. KERS represents a lot of money, something which has been introduced to have a link, between F1 and advanced research for road cars in terms of energy in terms of green, in terms innovation which I like. We have done KERS even though it means a lot of money, means problems with safety and reliability. But we have been surprised to see that KERS was a suggestion and not real rule.
“Today we face a strange an not positive situation; we have three different F1 competitions on the grid. Cars with KERS, cars with no KERS and with a different floor, and a third competitor with no KERS and no floor. This is bad and is one of the reasons why we are forced to invest time and extra money at a difficult time.
“Also we started to work on the new car late at a time when the rules are new. And the last reason, inside the teams there has been a little too much presumption in the team. Sometimes you need to be level headed.
“We are working hard and I have a big confidence in the team.”
What do you mean by presumption?
Well sometimes when you win all the time, you think you are the best and I want a different attitude. And sometimes we think that maintaining the top is easy. We have done ten years at the top, but this year if we had interpreted the rules in a different way with no KERS and with a different floor we would be talking about a different Ferrari.”
How long will your patience last?
I’m totally unhappy. But stability of the team and confidence of the team since 1992 has been my main goal and I will continue. This team is the same one which crossed the finish line on Brazil a few months ago, winning the championship. So no problem. I know the reason my people know the reason. When I don’t know the reason I’m worried, when I know the reason I’m not worried.”
What is the state of unity within FOTA at the moment after the row over diffusers?
“Unity is good, We will have a meeting in London on May 6th, because here we are and we don’t yet know the rules for next year. “
What is going on with Michael Schumacher’s role?
“Michael’s position is very clear, when he stopped I said to him, Do you want to be the manager? Do you want to be the right arm of Jean Todt for one year and then take over, yes or no? And he said no. I’m sorry because he has a very good mentality, but his life is different. So we said ‘Why don’t you come to some races?’ But his main job has been on development of the road cars, Scuderia, California he has done some very good work. He will come back to some race but he has no role inside the team because he has no time to come to Maranello. He is in good relations with Domenicali and he makes suggestions.”
How do you feel about Ross Brawn winning with his own team
“I like Ross very much because he was in our family for many important years and has mad a very important imput. Is see a Honda car with the Brawn name, of Honda which has invested a he amount of money in two wind tunnels, deciding very early to concentrate on a completely new car and decided at the end of the year to stop. This is Honda with one of the biggest budgets in F1. They had a different interpretation of the rules, due to the grey areas.”