Di Montezemolo attacks new teams and calls for shorter races and more testing

Luca di Montezemolo is still dreaming of three Ferraris in an F1 race

Luca di Montezemolo is still dreaming of three Ferraris in an F1 race

Luca di Montezemolo has repeated his criticism of the sport’s new teams, calling them “a joke” in an interview with Autocar.

The Ferrari boss said:

There is a need to have competitive teams. F1 is like soccer. It needs heroes and it needs big teams. You cannot equalize everything. We need to avoid having too many small teams as it means too many compromises.
Luca di Montezemolo

As shown here last week, the new teams have made considerable progress since the start of the season, reducing the gap to the midfield teams by more than a third.

Di Montezemolo repeated his argument in favour of three-car teams and argued for sweeping changes to race weekends:

Do we need to race at two in the afternoon when everyone is at the sea? Could we have two races per meeting? Do races need to last so long? F1 is not an endurance race. We need races to be short and tough.
Luca di Montezemolo

But yesterday McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh admitted having three-car teams “hasn?t been discussed recently” by the Formula One Teams’ Association. Whitmarsh added:

If you introduce a third car McLaren, Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes would all be, probably happy to have it. But I think in fairness to the smaller teams it would only disadvantage them further.
Martin Whitmarsh

In a poll of over 4,500 F1 Fanatic readers in February, 62% were against three-car teams.

Di Montezemolo also urged the return of in-season testing – hardly a surprise given Ferrari’s difficulties keeping up with the pace of development this year, while owning a test track its F1 team cannot use for most of a year.

And he said Ferrari would consider entering a series of Le Mans-style endurance races if enough manufacturer interest could be found.

Much was made of di Montezemolo’s visit to the Le Mans 24 Hours last year during the height of the conflict between the FIA and the teams, when he participated in the ceremonial start of the race.

New teams and three-car teams

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131 comments on Di Montezemolo attacks new teams and calls for shorter races and more testing

  1. MouseNightshirt said on 9th June 2010, 11:15

    He’s just sore the new teams are improving 2-3 times faster than his team.

    Mad was a perfect prefix for Max. Loony Luca is seeming more and more appropriate these days.

  2. rampante said on 9th June 2010, 11:16

    His feelings about smaller teams is echoed by many fans. It is not about keeping smaller teams out it’s about letting the bigger teams get on with what they do best. Red Bull have shown that you can win in a very short time. They would never have done that without spending a reasonable ammount of cash to pay the right people to come up with the goods. At no point in 5 years were they slower than GP2 cars. Force India is another example where vast sums have not been spent but they also were never slower than GP2. The 3 new teams are slow and this cray love for Lotus is just beyond reason. The great team of Lotus has nothing in common with a Malasian team who bought the name. If we all put some cash together as a group and buy the Hispano-Suiza or Duisburg name does that mean we have their history and greatness? Maserati shows that some things should be left alone, they may look good and drive well but because they are part of a group that make a whole host of cars they can never be what they were. Ferrari would not allow it and that makes it all wrong.Lotus are pulling on emotional strings trying to evoke a time now passed. They were light, fast and very good looking British sports cars with a great racing tradition and pedigree. The same cannot be said now.

    • Nick said on 9th June 2010, 11:25

      You need to drive an Elise.

      • rampante said on 9th June 2010, 11:43

        I have not sadly but I have driven several older ones. I don’t doubt that it’s good to drive but my point was is it really a Lotus?
        Far too many cars have lost any true identity they ever had and sadly Lotus are one.

        • Ilanin said on 9th June 2010, 12:17

          The Elise (kerb weight 725 kg at launch, the lightest production car for decades) was very definitely a Lotus. It was in fact far more of a Lotus than anything launched since Chapman’s death. Proton have rather definitely been the best owner for Lotus Cars since Chapman, they’ve brought them back to performance through light weight and it’s glorious. It’s pretty much for that reason I’m happy to accept the new F1 team as Lotus.

      • Robert McKay said on 9th June 2010, 11:45

        Neither Red Bull nor Force India started from scratch.

        Red Bull nee Jaguar nee Stewart.
        Force India nee Spyker nee Midland nee Jordan.

        I remember plenty people slamming some of those other names at times for being slow.

        Argument does not make sense on this basis.

    • PJA said on 9th June 2010, 13:49

      The new teams were granted there place in F1 less than a year before the season started of course they are going to be slow this year.

      Red Bull and Force India took over existing F1 teams who had established factories, design teams etc so it would be have surprising if they had been significantly off the pace.

      It is only in recent years that the F1 grid as a whole has been so close together that is why the teams pace has stood out as much.

  3. Fer no.65 said on 9th June 2010, 11:20

    “everyone is at the sea” ????

    yeah, right, keep them coming Luca!. Like Southern Hemisphere people like going to the sea in the winter.

    You’ve been trying night racing so “Europeans get easier” to watch the race. You tried different times schedules at Australia and Sepang with hardly good results so “Europeans get easier”.

    Like the rest of the world doesn’t exist.

  4. Sam said on 9th June 2010, 11:21

    I have been a ferrari fan since 96 but this guy doesn’t know what hes talking about most of the time. Although i do agree with him there should be more testing, hard to maximize the car without that. if anything races should be longer, not shorter. as someone mentioned before its toward the end of the race this year that challenges occur, or someone catches the front guy but runs out of laps. the timing change would be welcome as well, in america it sucks waking up to watch races at 6-7am 80% of the season.

  5. TMFOX said on 9th June 2010, 11:24

    Luca has more teeth than brain cells.

  6. PJA said on 9th June 2010, 11:25

    I would prefer it if Di Montezemolo would stop coming out with all his rants.

    New teams are almost always going to be off the pace in their first season especially when you consider when the current new teams were granted their place in F1.

    This continued criticism of the new teams is going to make it all the sweeter for them when they finish in front of Ferrari in a race, and it will happen eventually because even top teams have bad days sometimes, just like when Ferrari and McLaren were caught out in qualifying at Malaysia earlier this season.

    F1 has always had small teams and teams off the pace, so I see no reason why this is a problem now.

    F1 fan surveys come up with results such as it isn’t broke so don’t fix it so why does he want to change the format so much. I am defiantly against shorter races. Di Montezemolo is right that F1 is not an endurance race but a GP lasts at most 2 hours not 24 hours.

    In the recent Hammond meets Moss BBC program, Sir Stirling Moss mentioned in his day races would last a minimum of 3 hours, while I wouldn’t extend a GP to that length again I don’t want to see them shortened. Although I wouldn’t mind seeing a sprint race for the third drivers, but that would mean bringing a third car to races.

    As mentioned in the article of course Ferrari want in season testing brought back when they have their own test track and they seem to be losing the development race at the moment. If in season testing is re-introduced I think it should be like in MotoGP and on the Monday after selected races.

    The one thing I did like the sound of was the possibility of a works Ferrari team racing at Le Mans. I would like to see some F1 teams race in other series and allow their drivers to compete in non-F1 races, so Ferrari could have a Le Man entry with their F1 race and reserve drivers.

  7. Nutritional said on 9th June 2010, 11:26

    There’s always a ranting blow-hard somewhere. Since Luca di Montezemolo is the top man at Ferrari, I guess Fiat needs to be the one to yank on the leash and tell him to shut-up and focus on fixing Ferrari before its hits a slump like it had from ’91-’93. I will say one thing though: Formula One with no in-season testing is sort of silly. Traditionally all motor sports have allowed teams to test at will. It’s only recently rule-makers have got this idea in their head that restricting testing will tighten fields up. For my money, the inability to test during the season has not actually tightened the grid up. The teams with the most money are still winning all the races. With that thought in mind, its seems to me banning in-season testing possibly lends more to one of the top teams simply holding an early-season technical advantage longer into the season as than it does to keeping the teams closer. If a team comes into a season with a technical advantage other teams can’t test possible gap-narrowing innovations except once every two weeks during the race weekend. That’s a snail’s pace compared to having in-season testing. If a team can therefore maintain a lead that would mean the run for the championship is not as close and you get less ratings and interest. Beyond all that, if banning in-season testing is such a great idea, why did they have to inflate the points system to make the championship seems closer (beyond all the other crap they’ve done)?

  8. UneedAFinn2Win said on 9th June 2010, 11:33

    Shorter races are a bad, bad idea. Take WTCC for example, their “race” in Marrakech this year was an embarrassment on top of a joke. First of all, the scheduled length was 11 laps, they had two flagged-by false starts, had a crash that took the inadequate organizers 6-7 laps(!!) to clear so they ended up “racing” for one or two full speed laps. And all WTCC races are that short because it fits a TV-timeslot. I’m not saying all stock cars should go NASCAR (watching 3 to 4 hours of turning circles is a feat on its own) but come on, give the drivers a chance to make a mistake, give the mechanic gremlins a brakeline to chew through.

    but i digress…

    • HounslowBusGarage said on 9th June 2010, 13:08

      I was thinking about WTCC too, and not just in relation to Marrakesh (which was utterly farcical). It all seems a terrific waste of time, effort and money to stage two 10 or 15 lap races in a weekend for a ‘World Championship Series’.
      But on the main point – Luca – he doesn’t do himself any favours, does he?

      • Bendana said on 9th June 2010, 17:57

        TO be honest, street races never seem to work well for the WTCC. the cars are just too big for tight street circuits to produce good racing.

        If you look at the BTCC though, they add laps on during safety car laps to maintain as much race ditance as possible.

        • HounslowBusGarage (@hounslowbusgarage) said on 9th June 2010, 22:37

          Well yes, but it depends on the street circuit. The seem to do well at Pau (as long as the safety car doesn’t do a jack-in-the-box move like last year) and they would do well at Norisring (where the DTM monsters get the max from the streets).
          I agree that Marrakesh was pathetic, but that was largely because the organisers and marshals were unused to dealing with crashed cars (compare to those at Monaco) and took too long to remove the wrecks. Also, they positioned the cranes at the chicanes, whereas a crash that started in a chicane actually ended 100 metres further down the track due to the speed of the cars involved. And of course, the track was very badly laid out.
          I thought that in Marrakesh the Race Director *did* add two laps to the second race so that it could end under green flag race conditions, but was unable to add any more because the cars would have run out of fuel. Pathetic, eh?
          I think WTCC has a major credibility problem because it just looks inferior and amateur when compared to Aus Supercars and DTM.

  9. Sven said on 9th June 2010, 11:51

    Why not let the teams test according to the points tally in the manufacturer championship. More testing allowed for the teams with less points would serve to give them a chance to catch up with the leading teams with better and closer racing as a result.

    • HounslowBusGarage said on 9th June 2010, 13:27

      Interesting idea. But wouldn’t you have to divide the season up into thirds or quarter or whatever so that at the end of each part you work out how much testing each team is allowed in the following part. Of course the last part of the season, would be irrelelvant because testing entitlement would be worked out only when the season had ended . . .
      But you *could* allocate testing time according to the results of the previous season, with any new teams allocated in-season testing equal to the least successful existing team.

  10. The Genuine Jim said on 9th June 2010, 12:03

    2 races per meeting? Which one’s the grand prix then, Luca?
    Also, race length should be increased. A clean race at Monza last little more than one hour. I want MOAR!

  11. BasCB said on 9th June 2010, 12:16

    I Suppose this has a lot to do with not being able to brag much abou this own team at the moment.

    They started focussing on the car more then a year ago, were good at the start, but failed to bring uptdates in time and with the right focus to stay at the front.

    The new teams started from scratch, compared to RedBull, Force India and Torro Rosso (and Mercedes/Brawn) all carrying on with an existing team. Still, all of them took several years to get where they are now. A couple of years ago Minardi were a lot slower than the new teams are. Good job for getting where they are and i am looking forward to having them try to go forward from that.

  12. dsob said on 9th June 2010, 12:29

    A grand prix was originally 10 hours, minimum. When the Commission Sportive Internationale defined a new formula, Formula A in 1946, it contineud on primarily with the pre-war grand prix regulations, though races were more around the 5 hour range.

    When in 1950 the World Driving Championship was established and Formula A became Formula 1, races were shortened to 500km/300 miles. Beginning with the 1958 season, races were shortened further to the current 300km/200mile distance.

    When di Montezemolo speaks of history and heritage, he refers to Ferrari and seemingly is quick to (conveniently?) forget the history and heritage of Formula 1.

    If he wants shorter races, then let him buy GP2 from Ecclestone & Briatore, and he can run in all the short races he wants. Leave Formula 1 alone–it isn’t broken, Luca, don’t try to fix it !

  13. Horacio said on 9th June 2010, 13:23

    IMO, Montezemolo needs to drop the spliff.
    But I agree that F1 needs competitive teams. Maybe Ferrari could do something about it.

  14. Icthyes said on 9th June 2010, 13:41

    Here’s an idea, Luca: come to terms with he fact that you’re not Bernie and concentrate on getting your team back to the top again.

  15. Rob said on 9th June 2010, 13:53

    It looks to me like his problem is that Ferrari don’t compete in any series where the races are less than 1 1/2 hours, and the GT races where Ferrari cars compete are both longer and get less media coverage and public attention.

    An alternative is to enter competitions with either shorter races or comparable prestige – unfortunately for him GP2/GP3/F2 take away most of the manufacturer element as they are pretty much spec series.

    Le Mans Series LMP-class would be an option, as he says, but the ‘manufacturer support’ thing smacks of making excuses. Audi, Peugeot and Aston Martin are already involved; Porsche, BMW and Mercedes have all competed in recent years, and possibly would return to compete with Ferrari. I suspect he knows that Ferrari would get badly beaten until they had been running a car for a few seasons. And again the general coverage outside the 24 hours of Le Mans is minimal.

    His only options are to throw tantrums until F1 changes to suit him or put up and shut up. I think we can tell which route he has chosen to travel.

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