There’s a very interesting little note on the Ferrari website this evening saying that the new Ferrari F1 car will be designated the F150, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy. The Italian flag, the “Tricolore” will be more prominent than before.
The 2009 Ferrari was designated the F60, to commemorate Ferrari’s 60 years in the sport, underlining that the team is the only ever present in the 60 year history of the sport. That was a political statement in F1 terms, reminding the FIA, FOM and the new teams who want to have an equal say in the running of FOTA and the sport in general, that Ferrari is the big beast in the jungle, the only one that has a track record stretching back to the very start, which is not to be underestimated. 2009 was a turbulent year in the sport with the threat of a FOTA breakaway, led by Ferrari.
Here Montezemolo, who has been getting involved in national politics lately, making strong statements against Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi and even starting his own political movement, “Italia Futura”, is aligning Ferrari with the nation, talking up what it does best at a time when the image of the government is in question, not least by Montezemolo’s allies. Italia Futura, an alliance of business people and intellectuals, talks about a “renaissance” for Italy, a “reconstruction” of a country which is “bogged down”, by the behaviour of Berlusconi.
Now the F1 team is being drawn into this scenario,
“Ferrari is the expression of Italian excellence, talent and creativity” said Montezemolo today. “All the men and women who work with passion and commitment at Maranello share the pride and responsibility that comes with representing our country to the rest of the world and it is with this spirit that we wanted to dedicate the new car to such a historical event, which is of such importance to the entire country.”
One of the key objectives of the final years of former FIAT boss Gianni Agnelli’s life was for Ferrari to make “Made in Italy” a badge of pride internationally as far as automobile manufacturing was concerned, as opposed to a badge of shame as it had become in the 1970s and 80s. The performance of Ferrari in the 1990s and 2000s more than achieved that.
Montezemolo was personally criticised by politicians on Berlusconi’s side after the debacle in Abu Dhabi, where Ferrari lost the championship on a bad pit call. But here Montezemolo is giving it back with interest, by reminding those who seek to criticise him that during his tenure as boss of Ferrari, how much has been achieved and how that achievement – played out in front of a worldwide audience – has benefitted the international prestige of Italy.
Fry has a rounded background having engineered David Coulthard, been senior operations engineer and designed McLaren F1 cars. His honeymoon period will be short; the first decisions from testing and the early races will be intensely scrutinised after what happened at the end of 2010. There is little room for error.