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Luca Montezemolo: History Man

Friday 27-December-2013 14:26

Luca Montezemolo held his pre-Christmas lunch at Maranello for chosen members of the motorsport press. It's a traditional thing, like the Queen's Christmas speech, only more F1-oriented than Her Maj.

This year Luca took on the nominal role of F1 monarch by calling for a summit of teams in January to discuss Formula 1's "problems".

"I have the intention to invite [the teams] to Maranello, not to discuss a single point that maybe can give an advantage to one team or another, but to talk about the overall approach to Formula 1," he announced to the press that includedAutosport's Jonathan Noble.

"I think the people do not have enough opportunities outside of the tough weekend of races - where you have to prepare the car for the races, the sponsors, the television, the public - to have one day peaceful talking each other to look ahead."

Luca, it appears, is not very happy in the direction that F1 is headed and hates the gimmickry of a double points final race. As the longest serving F1 team, Ferrari have a greater interest than most in keeping the integrity of the formula intact.

"There has been this decision to give a lot of points at the last race, but I am not enthusiastic about it. It looks too much artificial."

Now if anyone should be the spokesman or the guardian of F1 history, Ferrari have earned that right. But the summit he wants to hold would discuss many more things that are of concern to Luca. He doesn't like the amount of money being spent on simulators and with a budget cap looming thinks he might get a bit of support for going back to old school testing.

"It is a joke. We have been forced to invest a huge amount of money in these terrible machines, artificial, instead of testing here [the Fiorano test track at Maranello] and Mugello. Testing is also a good opportunity for the sponsors, to call the public. And tests are less expensive than building and developing every month the terrible simulator. This is something we have to discuss for the future."

As Ferrari own two test tracks, one right next to the factory and one not so far away in North Italy, it's not surprising that Montezemolo should push for a return to testing.

Montezemolo also wants the subject of three-car-teams put back on the table, something that was bypassed when the FIA announced they were asking for more teams to join the grid.

His call for a summit and for the teams to get together to sort out the future of the sport, away from the interference of the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone's media influence/commercial partners sounds a bit like what FOTA were trying to do.

The Formula One Teams Association were actually working in a constructive way to steer the sport when Red Bull and Ferrari left. With the teams divided, FOTA's influence immediately waned and now it is more like a lobbyist than a decision shaper.

It's all very well for Montezemolo to start calling for team summits when the sport heads off on a direction he doesn't like, but with a bit of selfless thinking from Red Bull and Ferrari, the teams would have been far more in control of their own destiny.

As it is Ferrari could have used their 'rules veto' to quash the double points decision. Because of their unique place in the sport (and because they bargained individually with Bernie) they still have the opportunity to block any rule they don't like. They didn't use it.

"I think Ferrari's veto right has to be used if it is necessary on something that is more important and more deep for Formula 1," Luca said in answer to that question. "But I will not be surprised if this decision in the future will be changed just as F1 changed many times the qualifying approach, to give an example."

Montezemolo wants to review customer cars, testing, wind tunnels and the points system away from Bernie and his lackies.

Luca wants an F1 teams' summit. Andrew Davies thinks that the Ferrari boss is the last one who can play the 'unity' card.

"I would like it to be in a very constructive way, without discussing anything relating to competitiveness, to discuss the nature of F1 with the teams. We have to make proposals to do something, without putting anyone in the corner - and not [doing deals] under the table. I want to do it in a very open way."

As many of the other team bosses might say - Montezemolo only ever wants unity when it suits his own purposes. The minute he can see a competitive advantage he cuts how own deal. Which is great if you have that kind of power to wield, but may well fall on deaf ears. As McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh said ruefully before Christmas about his role in FOTA: "To be frank I spent too much time trying to be the good citizen in the sport, and no one is ever going to thank you for it. I probably ought to concentrate on other things these days.

Montezemolo's goal is a good one, but he only cares to bring up history when it suits him. The history of Ferrari's frequent deals-on-the-side seems to have eluded him.

Andrew Davies

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