Montezemolo rates the 2011 season over Christmas dinner

By on Friday, December 23, 2011

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo at the annual Christmas dinner

It is a tradition that dates back to the beginning of Luca di Montezemolo’s Presidency: the Christmas dinner with the Italian Formula 1 media always takes place in Maranello and is an opportunity to reflect on the season just gone and look ahead to the next one.

Joining Luca di Montezemolo, Piero Ferrari and Stefano Domenicali at the dinner table were around forty Italian journalists, following on from a lunch for around fifteen international media and they were all able to exchange season’s greetings, as they chatted over the meal, all under the red sign of Ferrari. It was also a special occasion as it was actually this week, twenty years ago, the 15 December to be precise, that Luca di Montezemolo took on the role of Ferrari President, a position he had been appointed to a month earlier by the FIAT Group. Therefore, to celebrate this anniversary, the dinner also featured a rather special game of bingo, with the ninety numbers this time linked to events or people that were part of the Scuderia’s history over the past twenty years: from the 1, the number Ferrari would love to see on one of its cars for the 2013 season, to 90, a number that in Italian bingo signifies fear and in this case was attached to the serious accidents suffered by Michael Schumacher at Silverstone in 1999 and Felipe Massa in Budapest in 2009.

When it came to opinions on the Scuderia’s 2011 season: “A very disappointing year, with the only great moment coming with the win at Silverstone,” reckoned Montezemolo, while as for the two drivers: “Alonso had a great season: he is the best driver in Formula 1 and that’s nothing new. Massa is the first to admit disappointment at the way his year went, a feeling we share, but I hope and believe that with a faster car and one that warms up its tyres better, Felipe will be competitive once again. We should not forget he was often quicker than Michael or Kimi, when he was team-mates with them. Luca di Montezemolo also did a rapid historical roundup: “In 1991, we sold 2300 cars, today it’s over 7000. We exported to 20 countries which has become 58, with a ten fold increase in turnover. We have a theme park in Abu Dhabi and we are negotiating the construction of a further two, one of them in Korea, even if nothing has actually been fixed yet. We have to be very pleased with what we have achieved and the next twenty years will see a Ferrari that is still very innovative on the road car front and that will continue racing as long as the races, Formula 1 first and foremost, provide the opportunity for advanced research for our cars.”

Clearly, the political climate and the future of Formula 1 also came up for comment. “We have left FOTA of our own accord and without consulting anyone else, because we were tired of the compromises dragging it down,” explained Montezemolo. “And let’s be clear, if one is part of a club then everyone has to respect its rules, otherwise what’s the point? However, I still believe that we can have a common vision between the biggest teams when it comes to the future and I will push to the maximum to seek out common objectives. All we want are clear rules and interpretations. Situations like the one in Silverstone must not happen again, when the rules changed three times over the course of a Grand Prix weekend: on that occasion, Ferrari decided to sacrifice its own interests to avoid a fall out that would have damaged Formula 1, with all the accompanying comments that we did not want the agreement because we were not competitive…However, there were some who preferred to only think of their own interests.”

The day at Maranello also saw the journalists being tested for their ability to drive a Formula 1 car, even if only in a virtual way. In the pits at the Fiorano track, the AllInSports simulator, licensed by Ferrari, was set up and the fastest three journalists were able to move up to try it’s big brother, in other words the simulator actually used by Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, as recently as last week, as part of the development of the car. Naturally enough, the virtual circuit chosen was Fiorano and victorious in this challenge against the clock was Radio Rai’s Giulio Delfino, who was clearly quickest on both the small and large simulators: everyone had an enjoyable time, with some training from a special tutor in the form of Andrea Bertolini, letting them get close to the actual reality of driving, letting them see how it takes just the slightest little thing to see pole position escape one’s grasp, or a victory missed or a championship move out of reach in a sport that is as competitive as Formula 1. As always, it’s down to thousandths of a second…

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