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Why don’t Italians drive for Ferrari and other questions at FOTA Fans Forum, Italy
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Posted By: James Allen  |  07 Sep 2011   |  5:24 pm GMT  |  51 comments

The fourth FOTA Fans Forum took place today at the HQ of Pirelli in Milan. It was the first FFF to be conducted in a language other than English.

An audience of 200 Italian fans interacted with a panel comprising Ferrari boss Stafano Domenicali, drivers Nico Rosberg and Jarno Trulli, Sauber engineer Gianpaolo Dallara, Toro Rosso aerodynamicist Niccolo Petrucci.

Veteran Italian journalist Pino Allievi was the master of ceremonies and it was a lively discussion ranging across many subjects.

Fans had a wide variety of questions for the panel on topics from the cost of tickets for Monza, young drivers and 2013 technology to changes to Pirelli tyres next season.

Hembery said that he would be aiming for a gap between the soft and medium tyres of around 0.6 to 0.8 seconds next season and would improve the colour markings of the tyres to make it clearer which is which.

Domenicali faced several questions about why the Ferrari seems to struggle with the harder compound tyres, as we saw in Spa. Fans argued that this is a problem Ferrari has had for some time.

He said that his engineers were working hard on it, particularly for next season.
“It is a historical problem,” he said. “The warm up of our tyres has been a problem for a decade. Conditions change, tyre constructions change. It’s always been a problem. This year after a significant change of supplier from Bridgestone to Pirelli that’s been even more of a problem for our car. Bridgestone matched our car better, but Pirelli has done a splendid job. Obviously some tyres can benefit some cars better than others and we need to tune our cars.”

The panel all agreed that it was important for F1 to go to Japan, despite concerns voiced by bike racer Valentino Rossi that it isn’t safe after the nuclear power plant disaster. Rosberg said that the GPDA has conducted its own research and has concluded that it is safe to go.

There was an interesting discussion about teams being able to choose which Pirelli compounds they run at Grands Prix; “We may let them do that,” said Hembery. “This is what we did in WRC where teams chose a few months ahead of the event. We are very happy with what we’ve done so far so we shouldn’t exaggerate. We received a memo from the drivers asking us to review the tyre allocation, normally they are left with one new set of tyres of the harder type and it would be good to see if we can allocate differently.”

Hembery was asked if he could provide four or five different compounds. He said it was all about logistics, as it is Pirelli takes 1,500 tyres to every GP and they have to cut up any unused tyres at the end of each weekend as they have to glue the tyres to the rims.

Fans wanted to know how long the drivers sleep the night before the race. Rosberg said that he sleeps up to nine hours and revealed that he always feels anxious on the morning of the race. Trulli, who says he has no idea how many races he has started (it’s 245) sleeps only 7 hours.

Trulli said that Ferrari is the symbol of Italy and they are all very proud of it, but at the same time it makes it hard for Italian drivers to get noticed and get support.


Domenicali acknowledged this in an answer about why Italians don’t get to drive in F1 for Ferrari. He said that he has started the Ferrari Driver Academy, which has a number of promising Italians in it, and he wants to help prepare them better for the life of an F1 driver. “We think it’s time to invest now because these young men will nourish us in the future,” he said.

There was a nice exchange where a fan said that he felt Trulli hadn’t got out of F1 what he deserved, to which he said he always tries his best, but noted that Rosberg is a “great, great driver” and suggested that Domenicali should have a chat with him.

I’m sure the idea has crossed his mind before today..

The final chat was about the cost of tickets, given that 50% of the price goes to teams. One fan said he would like to argue with his wife that it was worth 500 euros to him to attend Sunday’s race at Monza, but was sure he would lose the argument.

Domenicali agreed that the cost of entry is a barrier to fans, but said that the organisers pay a high fee to FOM and they pass it on to fans, to cover their costs. He said that when the Concorde Agreement ends in 2012 and is renegotiated, this is one of the main items on FOTA’s agenda. He spoke about possible “grants” to organisers to allow them to lower the prices. He also reminded the fans that teams need revenues, as the costs of competing are high. But he said that at the same time, it’s important to have the venues full.

He said that F1 needs to work hard to attract new fans. Everyone agreed with that.

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51 Comments
  1. Raymond says:

    James will the forum be downloadable somewhere?

    1. James Allen says:

      Videos will be available via http://www.pirelli.com, I believe

  2. rfs says:

    Why don’t Italians drive for Ferrari?

    I think a more interesting question is why there aren’t more Italian F1 world champions. Italy has had 101 different F1 drivers, yet only two of them were champions. And they were from way back in the fifties. Compare that with Finland, who have only had 8 F1 drivers, and three of them were champions.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Formula_One_drivers#By_nationality

  3. zenmeister says:

    I tried to follow the forum live and it was a waste of time unless you speak Italian. It was conducted in Italian, but they had an English version with a woman translating what was being said. She was very good, but it made nonsense of the fact that all those involved, except for a few questioners, were men!
    It was much easier to follow via James’s tweets, which were very helpful. As an aside is the Dallara man the son of the founder of Dallara?

  4. Randy Torres says:

    James any chance there will be a similar event in the US (preferably NY!) in anticipation of the USGP (which should also be in NY)?

    1. James Allen says:

      I think it’s high on the priority list to do one in USA ahead of the US Grand Prix.

      1. Jo Torrent says:

        I would very much appreciate a forum in Tunisia as well. #daydreaming

      2. Galapago555 says:

        Any chance for Spain? Now that CEPSA will be sponsoring Toro Rosso, maybe something could be done…

      3. James Allen says:

        I’m sure it’s on the list

  5. wayne says:

    Seems a shame to suggest F1 avoids Japan because of the tragedy they have suffered after all the support F1 has received from Japan in the past. Now is the itme to support them not boycott them.

    1. James Allen says:

      Which is precisely what they said they would do

      1. wayne says:

        Heartwarming and encouraging news indeed.

      2. Divesh says:

        Quite pleased that F1 is being so positive about going to Japan.

        I find the response of the MotoGP paddock very condescending towards the Japanese, especially considering that Japan provides all the bikes they race on except for Ducati.

        Casey Stoner flat out said he won’t go, and he’s Honda’s factory rider!

        Good on ya F1!

      3. wayne says:

        Divesh, if what you say is accurate, they should be ashamed of themselves acting like spoilt premadonnas. Every time they get on a bike they risk much more than they would be spending a weekend in a recovering but proud and honorable Japan.

      4. Kit says:

        With Japan facing national crisis and issues, MGP won’t be missed. This is an extremely good chance for F1 to increase their PR factor. Having all the drivers going around 1 lap on an open roof truck with a banner “We Are Here Because We Are With You!” sounds like a good idea to me.
        Acts of kindness and showing support, no matter how big or small, they will not forget….

        Get well , Japan!

    2. Nkamath says:

      Mr. Wayne. If you have read today’s post, Ferrari and its issues related to Tyres have been acknowledged and that’s what I was alluding to in my post yesterday. McLaren was the best car in 2008 season given that most races happened with low track temps or variable weather conditions that season.

      If you get chance watch the race videos again and see how well the McLaren used to handle while Ferrari struggled miserably. Not to mention the gaffes they made in reading weather conditions.

      With final three races to go and title down to wire, Ferrari Boss had publicly implored on his team to resolve the handling issues under variable conditions.
      And the team responded the way Massa won brilliantly in the final race….

      So my argument has been substantiated by the fan forum question :)

      1. wayne says:

        I understand that your opinion differs from mine and I am happy with that.

      2. wayne says:

        Dear Mod, this post has been modded to and no indictaion in the post to say so. If you mod a post and do not state as much you change the meaning, tone or message without acknowledging that you have done so. You select the part of the message that you ‘approve of’ and the message becomes yours not mine. You have every right to mod everything that is posted on this site but you really must state where you are doing so (as you sometimes do).

      3. James Allen says:

        Apologies. We usually do indicate where it’s been modded. We’re having to do it quite a bit with yours lately… ; )

        - Mod

      4. Nkamath says:

        @Wayne
        passing superficial comments without substantial data/research should then not involve slandering drivers/teams because you like some other team/drivers.

        Its okay to be fan of team/driver, but if you are expressing your opinion about them use facts and not “opinions” and don’t make random comments on other competitors, coz the these opinions would then be baseless allegations. And in case you are not aware blogs have been subject of legal proceedings around the world.

  6. Andy says:

    If they want to attract more fans, then Bernie’s Sky deal shot that desire down in flames!!

  7. goferet says:

    Interesting forum & Oooo I would love to hear our very own James speak in Italian.

    Funny that despite all the time Schumi spent at Maranello, I have never heard him speak Italian too.

    Anyway, I wonder why Ferrari are even bothering with a driver program when we all know they’re the Manchester United/ Real Madrid of Formula 1 i.e. Poach the best drivers from other teams.

    And isn’t it ironic that the Italian tyre manufacturer’s hard & medium tyres are a pain to the only Italian team on the grid – That’s the Italian curse at work right there same reason why Italian drivers almost never make great Ferrari drivers.

    Now I understand why the unused tyres are shredded by Pirelli after the race – The rubber is glued to the rim so the rims are re-used throughout the year, Yes?
    I was wondering earlier why they just didn’t auction them off on ebay.

    Now F1 drivers shouldn’t sit too high on their Ferrari horse over the Japan issue for Suzuka is all the way on the in the south of Japan – over 400kms away from Fukusima while the moto gp track is just 100kms for the crippled nuclear plant.
    No prizes for guessing who is more at risk.

    Funny, that drivers sleep at all before a race, myself I spend the night tossing & turning especially when Hammy is near the front of the grid.

    I once heard Schumi (during his Ferrari days) always used to be the last driver to leave the circuit on Saturday night & in most cases would leave his engineers at 2am

    1. Chris C says:

      Schumacher does speak pretty good Italian. What is probably not well known is how many of the racers speak Italian even though they have no connection with the country or either Ferrari and Toro Rosso.

      I currently live in Italy and I often see the broadcast of RAI. The majority of drivers with the exception of the English ones plus Webber discuss live with the commentators in Italian. Not sure what prompted them to learn the language.

    2. Jo Torrent says:

      I heard Schumi speak Italian. He even hired a teacher but he’s not a Rosberg.

    3. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

      Ferrari need an academy to avoid the epic fail that occured after Massa was injured.

      1. James Allen says:

        That was when they started the FDA

    4. Andrew Halliday says:

      These days it seems Webber is that last to leave the circuit. I asked him in Hungary what he was doing for so long – “Just chilling” he replied with a big grin! He’s a class act!

      1. Grayzee (Australia) says:

        hehehe…that’s “our” boy!

  8. Michael says:

    Do the teams really get half of the ticket sales? I thought that was the only money that the race promoters got, that the rest went to Bernie and company.

    1. James Allen says:

      The teams get half the money Bernie charges the circuits

      1. Jo Torrent says:

        The circuits & fans are badly squeezed but it is the track responsibility to solve that. If European historic tracks unite in a union, they can negotiate a better fee & Bernie won’t be able to get rid of all of them (Silverstone, Spa, Monza, Hockenheim, Nurburgring).

        It’s up to them to find a solution. The teams are greedy & look only to their own interest. They will never sacrifice money just to please the fans.

        In that respect, Whitmarsh was against F1 going on pay per view in UK yet he seemed happy when the Beeb lost half of them.

      2. unoc12 says:

        James, where does the other half go?

        At 30 million for a race, that’s 15 million going to admin?

      3. James Allen says:

        No, 50% to FOM ie Bernie and CVC, then 50% to the teams

      4. iceman says:

        Does the 50% that goes to CVC include covering the costs of the FOM TV production, or is that paid for by other means?

      5. James Allen says:

        That is paid for by the rights holding broadcasters around the world

  9. AlexD says:

    The most encouraging speech from Domenicali is this one: Domenicali says Ferrari is building an ‘unbeatable structure’
    LINK: http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/94304

    It is extremely important to decode it, James and I hope you will put an article about is. We, Ferrari fans, are waiting for this moment to come and I really hope that Domenicali is right!

    1. unoc12 says:

      I think he’s talking about Alonso again!

      More talk from Ferrari lets just home their is some backing to it this time

  10. Mark V. says:

    Hey speaking of Ferrari, Italian drivers and Rossi, is there still a chance he will switch to F1?

    1. James Allen says:

      No. Was at a Shell thing recently with Surtees and Domenicali. Surtees said if you are going to switch you need to do it on way up in your career and Domenicali agreed.

      1. Divesh says:

        James, do you not think there may be a chance that Rossi might get a season in one of the smaller teams where Ferrari could evaluate his potential.

        Someone like Torro Rosso perhaps or even Sauber who use Ferrari engines if Koba moves on maybe, the media exposure alone for a small team would be tremendous.

        If he has a poor season then everyone will be satisfied he got a try and we can move on.

        Just watching him this season in MotoGP, the bike is struggling and I think he would seriously consider a switch to F1 now.

      2. James Allen says:

        I think Surtees is right – you only make a move like that while you are still on the upward curve of your career

  11. james b says:

    Lewis is still young and learning. Think how good he will be in 5 years time when he puts together a season of Nurburgring performances?

  12. Alejandro says:

    “Bridgestone matched our car better”… that’s a bit rich…

  13. Gregory says:

    “The panel all agreed that it was important for F1 to go to Japan, despite concerns voiced by bike racer Valentino Rossi that it isn’t safe after the nuclear power plant disaster. Rosberg said that the GPDA has conducted its own research and has concluded that it is safe to go.”

    Apparently the researcher the GPDA hired never bothered to visit http://www.fukushima-diary.com

    It might be fairly safe to race at Suzuka, but Tokyo and northern Japan are on the verge of becoming uninhabitable due to ongoing cesium, strontium, and plutonium contamination.

    I’d bring my own food too. The Japanese government has abolished “prefecture of orgin” labeling as a means of helping the farmers in the north sell their unsafe products to an apathetic public.

    Just a friendly FYI to anyone that is willing to listen…

  14. Darren says:

    James,

    An interesting topic was touched upon here, that of the teams choosing their own compounds for each GP. To me this would add even more spice to the strategy side of things if teams were able to choose the two different compounds they had to use during a GP. What do you think?

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s worth evaluating. Need to see what the risks to the racing might be. Most times they’d use the same two compounds most likely

  15. Stuart says:

    Bought my Suzuka ticket a long time ago, never did it cross my mind that F1 wouldn’t come to Japan. Only a month to go…….seriously excited!!!

    Just wondering, are there any plans to do a FOTA Forum in Japan?

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, but it will be in Japanese! There are some discussions

      1. mattoz says:

        Would be great to have one in Melbourne to kick off the season!

  16. Mark in Australia says:

    Cutting up those beautiful Pirelli slicks. What a waste!!! I’d gladly take some for my little MK2 Cortina weekend track day warrior… Not that I’d get them close to a working temp, but we can all dream…

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