Luca Montezemolo celebrated 20 years as the president of Ferrari with a Christmas lunch this weekend for the F1 team’s employees, sponsors and drivers.
Montezemolo began the year by saying that Ferrari had to win this season, but that didn’t work out and the team was third best after Red Bull and McLaren. He did not dwell on this too much in his speech to the staff, instead focussing on the future and asserting his confidence in the technical team under team principal Stefano Domenicali.
Ferrari ends 2011 in a place where it has been before, somewhat isolated as it now stands outside of the teams’ association. This gives it flexibility in the coming year, which will be a complex and difficult one, with negotiations over the share of the commercial spoils from F1 in the new Concorde Agreement. F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, an old adversary of Montezemolo, will want to pick the Scuderia off with a large golden hello payment. But will Ferrari take it this time, or will they move back closer to the other teams?
Ferrari, as the sport’s oldest team, has special rights and a larger share of the revenues, but how far will Montezemolo want to push it? Will he judge that the best thing is to come back into the teams’ association or evolve a FOTA 2 with different objectives?
“My life is here and, after my family, this company is the most important thing to me.” he said in his speech. “There are people I want to thank for the help they have given me over all these years. Some are here with us today, such as Piero Ferrari, Amadeo Felisa and Mario Mairano. Others are no longer with us, such as the “Avvocato” Agnelli: I owe him so much, both on a personal level and professionally and, seeing some of these images again, I can’t help but think of how close he was to Ferrari through the many difficult years. Others still have chosen to move on, such as Jean Todt: I cannot forget the great job he did with us and with Michael Schumacher, who won like no one else has ever done in the history of Ferrari and with whom we went through many dramatic and amazing moments.”
“I want to be optimistic, because I can see the concentration and the attention to detail which characterises the efforts being made by Domenicali and his people, by Fry, Marmorini, Lanzone and Tombazis,” said Montezemolo. “Work is going on in all areas to improve: from the design of the new car, to the simulation work, from preparing for the pit stops, to the starts and so on. We cannot be happy with the way this year went and there is a great desire to redeem ourselves, because results don’t come on their own, they are not delivered by a stork: it will take hard work from every one of you, it will come from the ability to be perfect, to start from pole position and that ability is the strength of this company. Behind amazing products there are amazing men and women.
“All the ingredients are in place to start winning again,” he continued. “Great things are also expected from our drivers for next season. Felipe knows next year is very important for him, but it is up to us to give him a competitive car. If we manage it, then I am sure we will rediscover the Felipe who delivered so much and who could be quicker than Michael and Kimi. Fernando has had an amazing season, even though he did not have a competitive car and he made us all happy at Silverstone, with an emblematic victory, given it came at the same circuit and in the same month in which, sixty years ago, Ferrari took its first ever Formula 1 win. What I like about our drivers is their ability to work with the team: I knew that about Felipe and it was a pleasant surprise to find out the same applied to Fernando. I don’t like drivers who turn up at the track with their briefcase and do not share in the daily life of the team: they are not Ferrari people.”