Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has made a strategically timed intervention in the saga of what happens next with F1′s commercial rights.
It comes as rumours intensify that Montezemolo will meet with Daimler boss Dr Zetsche (ultimate boss of Mercedes) and Dietrich Mateschitz, who owns Red Bull as well as a representative of McLaren (likely to be Mansour Ojjeh) in Stuttgart this weekend to discuss the team’s next move.
“We renew with CVC, or we theoretically – as the basketball teams did in the U.S. with great success – we create our own company, like the NBA. Just to run the races, the TV rights and so.
“And third, to find a different partner. Bernie Ecclestone did a very good job but he has already sold out three times, so he doesn’t own the business anymore. It is CVC that will sell. It will be the teams’ decisions.
“At the end of 2012, the contract will expire, so theoretically CVC doesn’t own anything. I think it is important to have alternatives. We will see. We have time to do it.”
He dodged the question about Ferrari’s role in the background of the News Corp/Exor deal, suggesting that Ferrari is in the same position as all the teams and he certainly paints a very positive picture of the team’s position, which corresponds to the noises coming from some of them in Istanbul last weekend.
Throwing out there the possibility of doing an NBA and setting up their own company to run the sport – perhaps in conjunction with a media consortium like News Corp/Exor is the elephant in the room in the negotiations which lie ahead.
Up to now, Montezemolo has not shown his role in the evolution of this situation. This interview places him at the heart of it, as was only to be expected after the way he played the 2009 breakaway threat and subsequent negotiations.
The CNN interview closes off an area of interest – whether Felipe Massa’s position at the team is safe for next year. Montezemolo said, “Yes. Yes. He has a contract with us for this year [and] for next year. So absolutely yes, no question about it.”
The president also had some warm words for his lead driver, Fernando Alonso,
“Alonso is very, very strong,” he said. “He is one of the best drivers I have seen in my career, very strong in the mind, very pushing with the team, but in a constructive way, but also very close to the team. So I want to have a long time Alonso.”
Watch it here: CNN interview