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Ferrari threatens to quit F1... again


Not for the first time, Ferrari has threatened to turn its back on F1, as company president Luca di Montezemolo vents his frustration.

The more sceptical might that say that frustration has more to do with his team's current position in the championship - third and under pressure from Force India, McLaren and Williams - but Montezemolo insists it is all about the direction the sport is taking.

"Formula One isn't working," he told the Wall Street Journal. "It's declining because the FIA have forgotten that people watch the racing for the excitement. Nobody watches racing for the efficiency... come on."

Not for the first time, Montezemolo is unhappy with the new rules. Indeed, he wrote to the Tifosi on the eve of the start of the season effectively warning them not to expect too much due to the complexity of the new rule package and all that it involves.

"People watch racing to be entertained," he continued. "No one wants to watch a driver save gas or tyres. They want to see them push from here to there. It's sport, yes, but also a show."

Now speaking on behalf of all fans of the sport one wonders why Montezemolo, if his feelings are so strong about the move to a greener F1, didn't speak out sooner and louder.

With Fernando Alonso due to wave the tricolour that gets the Le Mans 24-Hour race underway today, the Ferrari president hinted that Endurance racing might be the answer.

"Of course," we cannot do sports-car racing and Formula One," he warned. "It's not possible."

And yet, in days gone by that is exactly what Ferrari did. Indeed, Enzo Ferrari participated in Formula One merely to finance his beloved Sports Car programme.

Between 1960 and 1965, the Maranello outfit enjoyed a run of six successive wins at Le Mans, finally beaten in 1966 by Ford, the American manufacturer having sought to buy the legendary Italian a couple of years earlier.

Over the years Ferrari had won all the classics on its way to taking thirteen Sports Car World Championship and International Championship for Makes titles.

After a brief hiatus at the end of 1967 it returned in 1970 for an epic battle with Porsche whilst in 1972 its 3-litre 312P was almost unbeatable.

Though Ferrari produced the 333SP for customers between 1994 and 1998, by now Sports Car racing was changing, certainly compared to the days of Enzo Ferrari.

Despite constant dabbling with the rules by the FIA that infuriated and alienated fans and manufacturers alike - where have we heard that one before - Endurance racing finally began to settle down, attracting manufacturers who found the technology more relevant to its road cars, less expensive yet highly challenging. Endurance racing was also leading the way in terms of the move to more environmentally challenging racing.

Indeed, in all honesty, as one ponders this latest 'toys from the pram' outburst from Ferrari one has to wonder if the Maranello outfit could be any more successful in Sports Cars than it is in F1 at present.

The fact is, the rules are the rules and Ferrari accepted them. It has the opportunity to voice its opinion at the various committees that dominate the sport these days and enjoys unique privileges, not only in terms of money but its power to veto certain moves, all because of its long, long history in the sport.

However, the sport is changing and, as we know, in the eyes of the money men that control it there is no place for sentimentality.

Whilst Ferrari has and does bring much to the sport some might tire of this constant whinging, especially from a team that is under pressure to retain third place.

The man astride the prancing horse would do well to remember the little boy who cried wolf.

Chris Balfe


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1. Posted by Paul C, 20/06/2014 20:39

"Does Luca want to leave but not leave at the same time? Relabel the F1 team or the LeMans team as Maserati."

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2. Posted by The stogie, 19/06/2014 0:40

"Time for the spoiled brat(s) to take their ball and GO HOME. They are correct that F1 has problems but airing things in public is NOT the way to go about things."

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3. Posted by karel, 17/06/2014 10:18

"He is right, F1 is about being fast, spectacle, development but what do we get: pls save your tyres, oh the fuel consumption , can you slow down, no this is not what F1 is about, so if more teams would take this decision just maybe we can move back to real F1. A spor which should be much closer to the people as it is theser days"

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4. Posted by Willy, 17/06/2014 3:08

"I fully understand what Ferrari are saying and can't agree more. The sport has lost any form of excitement that it had in the late 90's or earlier. The early 2000 seasons were more of a procession with Schumacher winning on pitstops and were boring. The rules of no refueling has taken some strategy out of the mix due to trying to appear more environmentally conscious.
Lets get the driver back to actually driving and making decisions instead of lights and beeps telling them when to shirt and brake.
If my vehicle had those I would rip out the system.

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5. Posted by scf1fan, 16/06/2014 2:39

"(Ok, I'll have to admit. Maybe the Corvettes aren't so bullet proof this year . . . LOL (But I can still afford one of them! ;-))"

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6. Posted by kiwi2wheels, 15/06/2014 22:06

"Graham G, I would have agreed with your comments.......except for this !

" Look at Le Mans as a superb example of what can be done with fairly straightforward regulations allowing completely different approaches with more relevance to the real world than anything F1 has come up with. "

The Le Mans regs are as big a fustercluck as F1. And the cars are fugly, over complicated POS. We want RACE cars that look like race cars and can race, screw the economy runs. I stopped watching sports cars years ago and F1 this year.

From someone who worked in Can Am , CART and IMSA GTP."

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7. Posted by Frieda, 15/06/2014 14:53

"Maybe, what Di Montezemolo, FIA, Bernie and anyone else involved, seems to forget is that the current generation don't want to pay to watch casually. Social networks and Internet accessibility are their new playgrounds. By making everything unaccessable they are losing the casual viewer. Also they are losing less committed fans by the very unaccessability. Also, by making the gaps between the better off teams and those lower, means the racing isn't as close as the viewers would like. Compition is what the viewers really want!"

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8. Posted by scf1fan, 15/06/2014 7:41 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 15/06/2014 10:30)

"Typically I don't respond to other responses, but since I, as well as others, am being (pejoratively) called out for our opinions on this topic . . . I'll offer a rebuttal. Most of us (who are being called out) are saying that Ferrari (Montezemolo) is off the mark! And I will still stand by that comment. I won't argue that F1 ratings aren't down; though that is relative. Now, can anyone (including Monte) demonstrate that it's the formula that's causing the dip? The ratings went down when Schumacher and then Vettel were wining the majority of the races too. I take it the formula was more to some of your likings during those periods?

Almost all racing formulas have limits these days; first and foremost to save lives! Secondly; to make the competition meaningful; and that can be defined in a lot of ways. Can the current formula (1) be tweaked and improved? Certainly! I'd be first in line to vote to remove the 100 kg/hr max fuel flow limit. This would raise the operable max engine RPM toward the existing limit. (Which would raise speeds and have the knock on effect of increasing the "noise!" (Not a big thing for me actually, fast is fast! Noise is just wasted energy! If you want loud, well, there is always a Ted Nugent concert.)) I would also like to see the total fuel capacity raised slightly, or the engine capacity decreased slightly further - either way to make the durability of the engine versus the power output the limiting factor, not (I'll agree) in trying to keep some gas left in the tank. (Unless a team made that choice to take that risk.) But I would make those changes to increase the technical emphasis of the formula - not to make it more entertaining. (Though as a side benefit, I do think the changes I proposed would make it slightly less confusing to the casual observer.)

Frankly, as long as I can watch it somewhere, I don't care what the ratings are, or if Ferrari is a part of it. I use to watch a lot of Indy car racing, and there was nary a Ferrari to be seen. There was a Foyt though, along with a few Andrettis, and a lot of Unsers . . . With Novis and Coyotes.

F1 rules are also no where near as restrictive as what NASCAR runs. NASCAR drivers will run to "save gas" at times, but when they run out, that's considered exciting! They also have numerous tire, engine and spoiler rules. Yet NASCAR has the ratings; at least in the US . . . Riddle me that?

Ferrari's problems though are Ferrari's problems; they would be losing at this point with any formula. In some ways, they probably should build endurance sports cars - that is closer to where their market is. But I suspect that Audi and Porsche (and Corvette! :-) would beat Ferrari at that game too. (Does Monte realize that leMans has its own "eco" rules?) But Enzo built road cars to support his F1 racing, not the other way around. (What Ferrari actually needs is to find another "Killer B!" (Like Byrne or Brawn!))

You can call that bitching . . . LOL! I'd call it good advice. 'nuff said. (And oh yeah, I do watch the Solar Car challenge, and the America's cup, and Pike's Peak, etc., etc. I have lots of racing to fill my days . . . . Some of it is just a little harder to find than others. I am not a (Nielsen point) number! ;-)"

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9. Posted by Redmist68, 14/06/2014 23:40 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 15/06/2014 10:30)

"Montezemolo's comments might be motivated by frustration with the lack of results for the Scuderia, but similar comments were expressed by Red Bull's Adrian Newey

F1 is loosing its fan base in massive proportions. F1 has always been about extreme. Extreme acceleration, cornering, braking and first and for most about technology. If I go to the watch drag racing I want to see the Top Fuel drag cars, if I want to see fuel saving I go and watch the Solar Car Challenge. Imagine going to watch drag racing with Supercharges replaced with Turbo Hybrid. When I go to watch F1 I want to see racing from start to finish, not fuel saving for half the race then a 10 lab sprint to the end. I have watched F1 since 1982 and and I can tell you that the restrictions that are placed now on F1 Teams are at dangerous levels. More races and less engines, less fuel, less aerodynamics. control, control, control WTF! I don't blame Montezemolo for wanting to go to Le Manns Racing. I for one have been turned of F1 since the beginning of this year but I am loyal to the sport. However Fi is losing fans and if they don't pull back some of the restrictions, it will get worse "

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10. Posted by ape, 14/06/2014 17:50 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 15/06/2014 10:30)

"Montezemolo ? ..- YAWN ..."

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11. Posted by Carugatese, 14/06/2014 17:49

"The same old stuff, but the WEC suggestion is growing for a lot of reasons, with the usually suspect timing due to awful results. Anything new?

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12. Posted by AR15, 14/06/2014 16:35

"@GrahamG Totally agree. The negative posters here keep missing the point. If they would do a bit of research they would see that F1 ratings have been dropping steadily since the end of the V10 era. This year ratings have had their worst drop, with reports claiming a loss of 10% viewership, this before the world cup started. Monaco was done almost 30%. Fans don't care anymore, so why should Ferrari stay when the company is making record profits and yet F1 is doing nothing in terms of ratings.

@scf1fan, @gturner38, @F One - If Ferrari does leave, what will you consume your day with when you have nothing else to bitch about?"

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13. Posted by scf1fan, 14/06/2014 16:06

"So he doesn't think he'll mind being behind Audis and Porsches? (Who also tout the benefits of efficiency through alternate and hybrid technology . . . )"

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14. Posted by gturner38, 14/06/2014 13:07

"It's time for Ferrari to either leave or shut up. For starters, there has been plenty of action on track this year. Of course, not every race has been a classic, but that's normal for any racing series. The way the races have played out, if a casual fan tuned in with no idea that the drivers were saving fuel, they'd have no idea that anything was different from any other year, so if they would just get on with the racing instead of slagging off the series, the entertainment factor would be just fine. What it really comes down to is Ferrari got flat out beat by Mercedes on the engine front and Red Bull on the aero front, so now they'll whine and complain and threaten to take down the sport until they get their way. After all, if they don't think people care about efficiency and don't think it makes a good show, going to do endurance racing in a series that is pushing efficieny even more than F1 doesn't seem like a logical choice."

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15. Posted by F One, 14/06/2014 11:23

"Don't forget to close the door on your way our Ferrari."

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