As the pressure builds in the powerplay between the FIA and the manufacturers, led by Ferrari, the Scuderia continues to push the idea that F1 is what it is today because of their unbroken participation over 60 years.
On the official Ferrari website they have posted a piece called, “The pride of making F1 great” and they go on to list all the great moments, which make up the sport’s history, of which Ferrari was the central protagonist.
The intro to the piece reads,
“Since the year 1950, when the modern Formula 1 World Championship was held for the first time, Ferrari has been part of it as a player, approaching opportunities and difficulties with sporting spirit. The Scuderia Ferrari is the only team that participated in every championship. It is the only team that conquered 16 Constructors’ World Titles, 15 Drivers’ Titles and 206 victories.
That is why the Scuderia is loved and respected all over the world. Loved by many of its friends and fans, respected by its competitors. These are the stages of this extraordinary history..”
Elsewhere on the site they have wheeled out the two drivers, Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen, one of nine drivers to have won the world championship at the wheel of a Ferrari, to support the team’s position, despite the fact that if they follow through on the threat to quit, both men will be forced to choose between F1 and Ferrari.
“I understand the motivation, why the Company got to this point, ” says Massa. “The idea of having a Championship with two velocities, with cars, which for example are allowed to have flexible wings or an engine without a rev limiter, is absurd. We’ve already seen this year that the rules’ uncertainty not only led to a lot of confusion for us involved, but mainly for the fans. Imagine what might happen with what has been set up for 2010.
“For a driver racing a Ferrari in Formula 1 is a dream and I made mine come true. Since I was a child Ferrari has been the synonym for racing for me; that’s why I’m convinced that even if the Scuderia is forced to leave Formula 1, there will be other competitions, where it will be possible to admire the Reds on the track.”
Raikkonen says, “It’s difficult to think of a Formula 1 without Ferrari. When I drove for McLaren, the Scuderia from Maranello was the benchmark, the competitor you had to be compared with. Since I arrived here I understood that it is much more than just a team, it’s a legend, perpetuated via its road and racing cars.
I always had the passion for racing with everything with an engine and I always thought of Formula 1 as the pinnacle of motor sports, in terms of competition and technology. Obviously if there really were rules like the ones set by FIA, it would be difficult to imagine a Formula 1 we had until today.
“I can’t imagine drivers racing each other on the track with cars built according to different rules; that wouldn’t be good for the sport itself or for the fans. If that should happen, it would be too bad and I understand that a Company like Ferrari is thinking about racing somewhere else.”
The threat to race somewhere else is central here as is the DNA question, to what extent can you differentiate the DNA of Ferrari from the DNA of F1?
Whatever the outcome of this -and I am virtually certain a deal will be done for them to stay in F1 – this has been a useful exercise in reminding everyone of Ferrari’s importance and its brand values.
I was in the Ferrari story yesterday in Regents Street, shooting a report for Italian RAI TV on this story. It sits on that street alongside Jaeger, Hamley’s, Hugo Boss, Apple. The company has decided to really leverage its brand and make some money out of what is one of the world’s most famous and distinctive brands. When you look at how the team has pushed the button on licensing, marketing and merchandising in recent years, led by head of brand Danny Behar, who did a similar job for Red Bull for many years, you see that this current exercise in challenging the FIA is also an exercise in reinforcing the Ferrari brand.
We have all been forced to reflect in recent days on what Ferrari means to us. Many people will be more inclined, as a result of that reflection, to buy a pair of Ferrari branded Puma trainers for £70 than they were last week.
Did Ferrari make F1 great? Or is it the other way around? Or are both statements true proving the veracity of Bernie Ecclestone’s statement that Ferrari and F1 is the perfect marriage.
Next week this debate will move on to the other brand F1 cannot do without; Monaco. It’s the only track which does more for F1 than F1 does for it.