Montezemolo takes early leave as Bahrain thriller exposes Ferrari weaknesses
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  07 Apr 2014   |  5:54 am GMT  |  506 comments

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo left the circuit with 12 laps of the Bahrain Grand Prix still to go, missing the final sprint finish after the safety car, but having taken in enough to know that his team is once again in trouble.

The new hybrid turbo era has not dawned well for Ferrari, with Montezemolo forced to admit that, “To see this Ferrari is painful.”

Earlier the president had called F1 “Formula Boredom” and complained that the fuel regulations were incomprehensible and made for dull racing, where the drivers were forced to trundle around like taxi drivers.

Few would support those sentiments after Sunday’s race, a thrilling pageant of motorsport, which sprung up after two admittedly less than exciting races in Australia and Malaysia.

Was Bahrain a one off or will the new hybrid turbo formula spawn other races of this quality? Time will tell.

There was plenty of overtaking as teams went for different strategies, used the ERS in increasingly imaginative ways to attack and pass, the DRS was a powerful tool but by no means the only way to overtake and the conditions played to the strengths and weaknesses of different teams in terms of tyre degradation. It added up to a cocktail of racing which was hard to resist.

But the painful truth for Ferrari was that they were not at the races this weekend. Bahrain exposed the weaknesses of the Ferrari which are, lack of traction out of low speed corners, lack of top speed at the end of the straight and high tyre degradation.

It meant that the two world champion drivers Alonso and Raikkonen trailed home in 9th and 10th places, unable to compete with the Force Indias, Red Bulls and Williams cars.

The budget Force India outfit moved into second place in the Constructors’ Championship and its driver Nico Hulkenberg now lies third behind the Mercedes pair in the Drivers Championship.

Ferrari is the fifth team in the pecking order at the moment, although Alonso doggedly hangs on in the Drivers’ table in fourth place, largely through others not taking full advantage of their competitive situation, such as the Williams drivers, for example and the misfortunes of Ricciardo prior to yesterday’s race.

“I don’t like seeing Ferrari in this condition,” said an angry Montezemolo to the Italian media as he left. “The engine people at the factory need to work to make a big leap forward in quality. I didn’t expect much from this race, but I did expect a bit more than this. To see a Ferrari this slow on the straights is very painful.”

Montezemolo had travelled to Bahrain to meet with Bernie Ecclestone and with FIA president Jean Todt to discuss changes he would like to make to the rules, to improve the show.

But Todt was adamant that, apart from working on raising the decibel level of the sound, there would be no changes.

“This is not a banana republic, where someone turns up and says, ‘Let’s change.’ IF you want changes, it has to be done through the regulatory framework,” he said after the meeting.

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I’ve heard Alonso has an escape clause that would allow him to jump ship if Ferrari isn’t even among the top 3. Which is interesting, because if not for him, they wouldn’t make into top 3 in the last couple of years, and now they’re failing to do so even though they now have two top drivers rather than one.


I see an F14TB in the very near future…

vivek jacob john

its really sorry to say ferrari is going backwards, its having big budget , racing heritage, hired top management and technical staff, manufacatures the sports car lastly best driver pairing .. this year mercedes all the way..


Ferrari had without a doubt the quickest package up until Montreal last year and you could make a case that they had the best package on balance up until the mid-season break.

A lot of overreacting here.


Mercedes chief designer Aldo Costa has built a fantastic car for Mercedes. Had Ferrari not fired him, Ferrari would be winning and Luca’s pain with formula boredom would be somewhat less.


Mercedes chief designer Aldo Costa hascreated a fantastic car for Mercedes. Had Ferrari not fired him, perhaps Luca DM would be hurting a bit less with this new Formula Boredom.


James, here is a suggestion for an analysis.

From what I have gleaned, Bahrain was towards the top end of fuel required for a race, and in the middle for the fuel rate used.

That is quite encouraging because it tells us that the drivers were racing hard for most of the race and yet fitting with the fuel requirements.

Looking forward, which races are likely to be taxi drives because of extreme fuel demands (Montreal being the lowest fuel requirement and Circuit de Catalunya being much the highest according to last year’s figures from Williams) and also the rate of fuel use, with Monza being the one that is most likely to be affected by the rate cap and Monte Carlo being the least.

You should be able to predict which are likely to either be dull, or have some extremes with the Ferrari’s with their poor fuel management being most exposed.


How demoralising for the team. Perhaps he thought if he stayed to the end and talked to everyone, he’d say too much.


In my opinion, there’s just no way Ferrari is going to sit around spending a fortune on teensy-weensy electric toy cars for some hopelessly confused little guy in Paris.

If a caffeinated sugarized soda pop outfit wants to do it, fine, let them do it. I’d bet anything there will be a big announcement from Ferrari that they’re pulling out of F1, and so they should.

By now Ferrari, being forced to pay a small fortune to water down their brand of real honest machinery, has to be really just sick and tired of dancing to the nut-bar tune of some guy in France who has no idea what a real race car is.

I bet Ferrari will announce they’re out of it, and not a moment too soon. They don’t need this bizarre FIA formula.


LDM is one of the most passionate and experienced ambassadors of Formula 1…..And as has always been the case, teams who are on the back foot try hardest to win at all costs….this is nothing new…

Although being a Ferrari fan and particularly an Alonso fan, I sympathize with the state Ferrari finds itself in, but there is a clear reason why its not winning, and its not to do with money or resources….

The reasons are as follows:

1) For the last decade two types of teams have won: one with a clear genius designer like Newey or Murray…who can make a beautiful aerodynamic “story” for their cars…OR one that has built its structure under a cohesive leader like Brawn, who can identify and recruit the right people using money, persuasion etc…step by step each year…culminating into a championship victory…including a few novel design concepts..or innovation….FERRARI HAS HAD NEITHER FOR THE PAST FEW YEARS….Mercedes today is reaping benefits for such a structure..on chassis side which started with Honda/Brawn and engine side that started with huge money and facility from Ilmor/Mercedes in late nineties..with probably the best modern engine designer in the helm…Andy Cowell…ex-Cosworth…I AM sorry Domenicali does NOT even come close…McLaren has a similar problem btw….If you do not have a Brawn or a Newey…you dont win F1…between 1990 to 2014…

2) Secondly….Ferrari Aero side is poorer compared to RedBull, Merc and even till last year Lotus…The reason is Aero and F1 talent today resides in Motorsport Valley in the UK….between Northampton and Oxford…talented engineers are not ready to travel and live in Modena or Bologna…simply to try to make Ferrari win…Almost all great engineers…Prodromous and Bob bells…hail from British Universities Cambridge/Imperial….which Italian unis fail to produce…so Ferrai always has to look at Britain for talent….the old dogs stuck at Ferrari have thus found it easy to stay put….The ones that are there or gone recently are good enough to produce a decent car #2 say…but not a world champ car…solution: setup shop in UK…

3) Ferrari’s wind tunnel problems are well documented, especially for the last few years…I wont be surprised if they used British technicians to build and calibrate their new one…

4) Ferrari is too old fashioned in its approach…very restrictive…with LDM giving huffs and puffs at the start of every year…without truly understanding how to build a winning team like Brawn….Asking the same engineers to do same every year without any fresh thinking or team ramp-up as Brawn had done….They need fresh people and new ideas…they are not innovating anymore….this emotional/huff-nd-puff attitude led to firing of Also Costa after just one unsuccesful 2010 season…today his design is winning at Mercedes…whereas the Tombazis and co. have remained and do not seem to contribute to any innovative design from 2009 to 2014…If you cannot identify the right and wrong people…and take emotional decisions…forget world championships…

5) Ferari engine designer Luca Marmorini is a very capable designer…you can read SAE papers he published when he was a young lad doing his PHD…he was at the helm at Toyota F1 engines before…and is an expert on engine systems reliability …maybe enhanced by experience at Toyota…thus Ferrari engines have been single most reliable engine in the V8 era…not even Merc or Renault came close..However, during a techno revolution, you need someone like Andy Cowell.or Rory Byrne…who can think like a British “Garagist”…even though being part of a conglomerate like Merc…his roots are at a once innovative company called Cosworth….Marmorini is more academic in approach…so his engines might be reliable but not briliant…at this stage….later when this technology matures…Ferrari engines Im sure will be very good….Cant say same for Aero…BTW…Ferrai being a traditional company is not so good with Hybrid tech…Again….KERS and energy experise lies in Northampton UK…with firms like Williams Hybrid Power, Flybrid etc…Not surprised then that Merc built all of its Energy Recovery system for their car in-house…at their Brixworth factory……this leads to more integrated design approach for a power unit…something Ferrari will not have due to reliance on external suppliers…solution: nick people from Mercedes HPP….

Ferrari, McLaren, Williams and “Enstone/Lotus/Ex-Renault” are in F1 for the business of F1…Ask after 50 years which two teams will remain in F1…Its Ferrari and McLaren…Mercedes is winning now due to its investment in UK talent….Crippling people like Cosworth or Williams…but well have to judge their success over 20 years atleast…I feel they may leave as per whims and Toyota or Renault….Red Bull is a drinks company…that happens to employ Newey and very talented people….lets see the story after 20 years…

But no question…Domenicalli has to go….


Very well written piece deeppurple though it will be uncomfortable reading in Marenello!


As Albert Einstein observed:

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”

Ferrari needs to change something, I don’t know exactly what they need to change, but change must certainly start from their management.


First winless season for Ferrari since 1993. I bet ya


unless I’m missing something, there is no way Ferrari or Renault can ever catch up… the engines are now ‘set’, and the Merc engine is MILES ahead….

so, they can change aero and other pieces all they want, if they cannot upgrade the engine, there is no way Ferrari and Redbull are going to catch most of the Merc teams, especially on power-circuits…

Merc are on target I believe to win 15+ GP’s this year, they are 1+ second ahead of everyone else


While the engines have been homologated the manufacturers can still request to make changes based on reliability and safety. This request must be made to the FIA who will approve or deny the request. The other teams are informed of the request. For 2015 and onwards the FIA has a ‘sliding scale’ of development on the power units. Elements of the power unit are given a value leading to an overall value for the whole unit. Teams are then given a number of token to spend on development, a ‘budget’ for each year. This budget decreases with each year of the power unit’s lifecycle. For 2015 the budget is something like 50% of the total ‘token’ value of the power unit. How the teams spend their tokens is up to them.

Stephen Taylor

Christian Horner must become team principal for Ferrari!He would bring the energy the team needs-maybe he’d be able to give the Scuderia wings as well to help them fly past Mercedes.


As someone else said the Ferrari board needs to recognise that a paradigm shift is needed if they are to compete – week in, week out.

Their performance deficit is an indicator of the culture with the team and company. Other teams are simply out managing them rather than being better racers.

There needs to be a root and branch appraisal of the whole team and a Merc/McL type clinical approach taken if they want to win.

RBR recognised it and have moved away from the ‘party animal’ approach to race weekends, Merc have just upped the shift further and others will follow, McL have already started to change their management way of thinking.

Boring as it is, it’s the future


That seems fair comment. They look as if they could not organise a spaghetti feast in a pasta factory! Change will be painful but they need to do something.

German Samurai

The excuse last year was that just you wait and see when they have James Allison and Rory Byrne, yet they are still failing.

Maybe they need quicker drivers.

Look at what Vettel and Ricciardo have been doing with a slow package. Look at Hulkenberg who is third in the championship. The Ferrari is without a doubt better than the underfunded Force India.

A great driver makes more difference than people think. Look at the difference not having Hamilton has made to McLaren. Look at the difference having Hamilton made to Mercedes last season. Same can be said for Vettel going to Toro Rosso and then Red Bull.


Vettel and Ricciardo with slower Package? Are you in wonderland? RBR have turned up with much better car than Ferrari, Mclaren and Mid-field runners. In fact RBR have the second quickest package behind Mercedes.

Vettel was beaten by daniel and seriously underperformed in the first 3 races. Yes daniel looks quicker and have good potential.

Force India slower? Force India did not have top class Aero, yet with decent aero package combined with Mercedes PU they have scored vital points and a podium already. Whereas Ferrari are a manufacturer yet they forget how to produce Top class engine and PU.

Tthe lack of results are due to the Engine and PU differences between Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari. Ferrari pilots have done as well as they could.

Bottomline vettel would have not even scored a single point with such a ropey car F14T at his disposal and he has already showcased his petulance agianst the RBR team in pre-season testing and melbourne race


It must have gotten under your skin that it is Vettel who has 4 crowns and not Alonso.

German Samurai

“Vettel and Ricciardo with slower Package? Are you in wonderland? RBR have turned up with much better car than Ferrari, Mclaren and Mid-field runners. In fact RBR have the second quickest package behind Mercedes.”

Completely disagree. Red Bull is unreliable, slow engine, they do have two of the best drivers on the grid.

I put McLaren, Williams and Ferrari ahead of Force India. McLaren and Williams don’t have any top tier drivers piloting their cars. Red Bull similar or just behind Force India. The poor qualifying of Alonso and Raikkonen is really hurting Ferrari.

“Vettel was beaten by daniel and seriously underperformed in the first 3 races. Yes daniel looks quicker and have good potential.”

Vettel qualified second and finished third in Malaysia. It was an incredible performance given his poor equipment.

Rosberg is often quicker than Hamilton. I guess Hamilton is an accidental champion too.


I know Rory is a great designer, results speak volumes but he isn’t wizard, it takes much more then one person to get things right. After all his talent is not under the magnifying glass but there are so many other steps to get to the final result which should be put under the microscope.. Therefore in order to understand what is happening over there one just got to remember this latest incident with Alonso’s mixed tires. That should not even happen to a team in it’s rooky year never mind team that is in this business since the beginning of time. To me that is a typical Italian lack of discipline and here you go. Then they also have a leadership which does not believe in the mirror accountability.


I believe at least now people would have understood the incredible job Alonso did for Ferrari over the last 5 seasons, Ferrari have not come up with quickest package in the grid ever since 2008. In fairness ever since 2009 (Rule Changes) Ferrari were medicore and produced the ropey machineries time and time again with the exception of F10

Yet Alonso have delivered the performances and points which helped Ferrari to greater extent and masked the overall issues the team had to solve

When Fernando questionned about the team peformance and car Deficiencies last season LDM showed his political face and did nothing to solve the issue.

This has backfired in 2014 as well and Ferrari will not improve for considerable period of time from now on Forget the WDC & WCC. How many points Ferrari can score this season?


As long as teams are not winning everything is wrong bout the ruling, it’s been like that since F1 began. Ferrari didn’t do a good job, simple as that. They were really slow in Bahrain. I don’t see how they can improve for China and I sure hope I’m very wrong.

But last year Ferrari, Force India and Lotus had it right for the tires until others were exploding so they lost out after the change which favored Red Bull. Just plain bad luck as majority wanted the change.


Before the start of the season Ferrari come out and all but demand the the FAI ensure no one breaks any rule. And lo and behold, either rightly or wrongly Red Bull are penalised.

Now they would like to change the rules.

Cant have it both ways.


Any team that’s winning/dominating will always oppose changes, whilst those suffering will push for them. It’s just the nature of the sport…


ANY CEO would be upset/mad/furious if their team wasn’t performing. This time it was LDM. How many times has Dietrich Mateschitz threatened to pull the pin? Do yo think he would if RB was winning? Ron Dennis, Toto Wolff, etc would all react likewise given the same situation. Like any business, if something doesn’t perform or meet expectations, then eventually it needs to go. Maybe SD is next? It happened with Whitmarsh and Ross Brawn…

But most importantly, we mustn’t forget that fortunes turn VERY quickly in F1. Competitive one year, not the next, and vice-verse. Look at Lotus and Mclaren as examples


I wonder what rule change Ferrari think is going to put that car anywhere near the front?

It does not do anything particularly well.

More fuel would help both Merc and Renault, so no help there.

Only freedom to develop/fix their PU would be benificial and even then this would help Renault just as much.

Ferrari fans, don’t hold your breath for the software fix, if it was that simple the man would not be begging the FIA for help.

Matthew Cheshire

Great photo. Monte has the look of a man who has bought a lemon for $500M.


hey Luca,

bet ya wouldn’t be sayin’ these things if it was your two cars out front…anyway I digress. you want to go faster? two words, Ross Brawn

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