The Ferrari Owners’ Club
of Great Britain

Ferrari Chairman: We Could Leave Formula One


from the Wall Street Journal, 13 June.

When Ferrari Formula One ace Fernando Alonso waves the tricolore to start the 24 Hours of Le Mans on Saturday, he will be signaling to more than the drivers.

In an interview this week in his office in Maranello, Italy, Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo vented his discontents with the organizers of F1, the elite open-wheel racing series that dominates world motor sport, and suggested the company may enter sports-car competition instead.

“Formula One isn’t working,” he said. “It’s declining because [the Federation International d’Automobile, the sport’s governing body] have forgotten that people watch the racing for the excitement. Nobody watches racing for the efficiency, come on.”

FIA didn’t respond to a request for comment. Montezemolo stressed no decision has been made. A statement posted late Friday on Ferrari’s racing team’s website said “some elements of the media” had mischaracterized Montezemolo’s words. The statement said it was “a bit of a stretch” to say that Ferrari would quit F1, while also saying “there is a unique attraction to the 24 Hour race.” The statement also said “there’s nothing to stop Ferrari” from competing in both disciplines.

The Scuderia Ferrari team’s battles with FIA are well known and of long standing. The current dispute arises out of a new set of F1 rules for 2014 that are intended to make the sport greener as well as make it more affordable to the participants, with restrictions on the number of engines, tires and other technical resources.

In particular, Montezemolo complained about rules that forbid engine development during the season, a rule that has left Ferrari a distant third in the standings. “And we cannot touch the engine?” he said, visibly frustrated.

Montezemolo also complained about the restricted—some have said strangled—sound of the new engines. “People watch racing to be entertained,” he said. “No one wants to watch a driver save gas or tires. They want to see them push from here to there. It’s sport, yes, but also a show.”

Montezemolo suggested that his company could instead pursue endurance racing of the type practiced at Le Mans, perhaps as soon as 2020. Ferrari competed at the top levels of sports-car racing from 1947 to 1973, winning Le Mans nine times, but left the sport at the end of 1972, with founder Enzo Ferrari deciding to concentrate resources on F1. Ferrari has been a continuous presence on the Grand Prix grid for more than a half-century.

“Of course,” Montezemolo said, “we cannot do sports-car racing and Formula One. It’s not possible.”