Luca di Montezemolo: "A very important goal reached"
"In all my years in Formula 1, I haven't seen such an incredibly exciting finish to a championship. I always said that we'd be fighting until the last corner of the last Grand Prix and that's exactly what happened at the end of a brilliantly tense competition.
Ferrari's winning its 16th Constructors' World title since its foundation is an important milestone not only because it is the fruit of the work put in by the team and the drivers throughout the entire Championship, but also because we will once again be able to put the World Champion symbol on our Grand Tourers. Winning for the eighth time in 10 years - a feat unequalled at world level in any other team sport - proves beyond a shadow of a doubt what an extraordinary group we are.
We won thanks to a team that has undergone many profound changes over the last two years, changes that have brought on many young people from inside the Company. There were mistakes and difficult times but we responded to both by remaining united and refusing to give in. For that I thank GES Director Stefano Domenicali and his entire team of collaborators.
We have two great drivers in Felipe and Kimi also, and they deserve all our compliments for a job well done. Felipe in particular is in my thoughts as he crossed the finish line yesterday as world champion only to see the title slip through his fingers a few seconds later. I can only imagine how painful that moment must have been for him. However, I would like to give him my very special compliments, not only for dominating the running out there on the track in front of his fans, proving he is worthy indeed of the world title, but also for his maturity and sportsmanship off the track. He's a great champion and a great man.
Lastly, I would like to send my congratulations to Lewis Hamilton, the youngest ever world champion in the history of Formula 1. He was a very powerful rival indeed and his win, close though it was, was well deserved. He'll have the number 1 on his car next season, but he can rest assured of one thing: we'll be doing our very best to put it back on a Ferrari."
Translated Q&A with Di Montezemolo:
Q: What gives you a stronger feeling: the dissapointment of Massa loosing the driver's title by a whisker or the joy of Ferrari winning the contructor's title for the eighth time in ten years ?
Di Montezemolo: ''Imagine how disappointed I was straight after the race. I've been in Formula 1 for a lifetime and have never seen a driver crossing the finish line becoming worldchampion to then still lose it in the lap of honour after a handful of seconds. But I'm equally calm: the team couldn't have done more in Brazil. It acted perfectly, just like the drivers. We've ended up with two Ferrari's in front of the McLarens, like we had to: Kimi didn't take the risk of overtaking Alonso thinking of the constructor's title. Unfortunately it was no longer in our hands: the title was dependent on a possible mistake from Hamilton.''
Q: Last year he did make that mistake, this time he didn't but was fortunate nontheless.
Di Montezemolo: ''Yes, he lost the title by a point in 2007 and this time he has won it on merit: even if it was by a hair's breadth. Being in the fight for the title for two consecutive years at such a young age means he really is a champion. Good and fast, my compliments to him.''
Q: Earlier in the season though Ferrari has thrown away a lot of opportunities...
Di Montezemolo: ''We certainly didn't loose the driver's title in Sao Paolo. We've paid the price for some reliability problems we've had related to the engine at the beginning and middle of the season, for example in Hungary. And we've made a few mistakes too many, like the refuelling incident in Singapore. But the aim was to fight till the last corner of the last Grand Prix (ironically this is what he's been saying all year indeed - AFCA) : we've been able to do that and I'm proud of it.''
Q: The balance of the post-Schumacher era so far ?
Di Montezemolo: ''An exciting one with three titles won out of the four that were up for grabs. The renewal in the team has worked.''
Q: And how much is the constructor's title worth ?
Di Montezemolo: ''It's the mirror of our power: this year again we will put the worldchampions sign on the Gran Turismo cars. The eighth time in ten years: no one has ever been able to achieve a similar undertaking. Don't forget we compete against strong teams which are the reflection of the best car industries in the world. The rivals change but we're always up there: since ten years we've been fighting for first or second place. And the advantage of 21 points over McLaren also means something.''
Q: So everyone within the team goes on to the next class ?
Di Montezemolo: ''You don't change a winning team, eventhough each year some small changes are being made. But I'm very satisfied with the work of Domenicali, Costa, Baldisserri, the whole team. People that have worked their way up within our group, which has shown to measure up to the work in hand. I've phoned them after the race to say thank you.''
Q: Massa has passed his exams. What about Raikkonen ?
Di Montezemolo: ''Felipe has shown to be a great driver and, for his behaviour, a great man also. He's been unlucky, but he's a worldchampion for us now. He has the technical quality and the personality of a leader, he's very mature. Some said he'd be going like a rocket in qualifying to then lose out in the race: he's demonstrated the contrary.''
Q: Yes, but Kimi ? He seemed demotivated...
Di Montezemolo: ''That means we'll motivate him. Firstly, up till Sunday morning he was a worldchampion too. I expect him to return to the extraordinary performance level from last season and the beginning of this one. On some occassions Hamilton made mistakes also, for instance at Spa: he was just lucky to end up in the gravel and not in the barriers. Raikkonen must not be debated, his points have been precious for the constructor's title.''
Q: So no Alonso...
Di Montezemolo: ''No. Ferrari has the strongest driver pairing of the whole field, I wouldn't change it with any other one.''
Q: But in the future ?
Di Montezemolo: ''Well, in the future anything can happen. Also that I retire. With Massa and Raikkonen we want to regain the driver's title next year and we are full of confidence to succeed in doing that.''
Q: Let's talk about the regulations. What would you change ?
Di Montezemolo: ''To begin with the amount of points that a race winne is rewarded with: Massa has won six Grand Prix', Hamilton has won five but is worldchampion nevertheless. I thought of 1976 again, that year we lost the title with Lauda by...half a point.''
Q: In reality a lot of other things will change, the aerodynamics to start off with.
Di Montezemolo: ''To me it seems that for a long time now Formula 1 has been in the grip of mindless and excessive changes. It's right to pursue a reduction of the costs, but it should be done with common sense. The new regulations on KERS are a folly like they are: they require enormous costs: in this case a single supplier could have been considered.''
Q: You don't want that to be considered for the engine though...
Di Montezemolo: ''It's unthinkable having a standard engine for everyone: it would be a contradiction: Formula 1 would lose its fundamental values that inspire the sport: competition and research.''
Q: Are the teams at war with the FIA now ?
Di Montezemolo: ''No, we have to collaborate in a positive way. Today, before flying to New York for the elections I will meet up with Mosley in London for a technical meeting to shed light on the new regulations. Apart from lowering the costs it's necessary for the revenues of the teams to go up.''