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Ferrari boss fails to see the bigger picture

NEWS STORY
03/12/2012

Mat Coch writes:

In a week in which HRT closed its doors, Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo has voiced his disdain at the miserly path Formula One has taken, slapping dozens of recently unemployed Spaniards in the face in the process.

One of the sport's richest teams, Ferrari has long advocated a return of testing, oblivious to the financial hardships being suffered by those around it. In-season testing was banned in an attempt to safeguard the sport from ever rising costs, preventing teams like Ferrari turning lap after lap developing its cars to the detriment of rival teams at the far end of the paddock.

However, Montezemolo seems oblivious to the position in which the sport currently finds itself. "It cannot be that in this sport you can't test," he complained at the Ferrari World Finals in Valencia. "We've been saying this for a while and we will repeat it in the appropriate places so for the moment I don't want to add anything else, but our patience has run out.

"Someone needs to think about whether they want Formula One still to have companies that invest and consider it the most advanced research bench for its own cars - as Ferrari has always done since 1950," he continued.

"There are things that aren't going well in this sport and the moment has arrived to clarify these once and for all in the appropriate places."

There are few who will sympathise with Ferrari's abundance of funds and willingness to spend. Caterham has recently taken on more debt while Marussia is in search of new investors, a lack of which meant the end for HRT. Even Force India has acknowledged that to remain competitive it must invest heavily.

The abundance of cashed-up pay drivers throughout the Formula One field is a clear and simple indication that financially the sport is not as affluent as it once was, yet even their finances are being tested. Vitaly Petrov has lost the backing of Russian industry while Kamui Kobayashi has asked his fans to lend their financial support to keep him in Formula One next year.

"We are constructors, not sponsors," argued Montezemolo. "I'm no longer happy that we can't do testing on tarmac and that you can't give any chance for young drivers to emerge.

"Since some people have used the expression 'it's a joke' in recent days, I would like to say that this is the real 'joke'," he added, a clear swipe at Bernie Ecclestone who last week laid into the Italian team when it called on the FIA to clarify Sebastian Vettel's overtake of Jean-Eric Vergne during the Brazilian Grand Prix

However Montezemolo seems to be twisting facts to suit his agenda. Ferrari has no history of developing young drivers; the last rookie it promoted was Arturo Merzario back in 1972.

Ferrari enjoys an affluent and privileged position in Formula One. Identified by Ecclestone as key to the sport's success it enjoys a 2.5% share of Formula One's profits, a luxury not afforded its rivals. It means that even though Ferrari only finished second in the championship it still received £65.5m, more than champions Red Bull. It's a figure those at HRT can only dream of.

The world is a very different place to what it was a decade ago with more financial uncertainty.

Next season Formula One will feature just twenty-two cars - if those at the front are allowed to spend freely it is not difficult to imagine that becoming eighteen, or less, by 2014. Montezemolo should be less concerned with its own desires and focussed on the needs of those at the other end of the pit lane, for without them there would simply be no Formula One.

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