A summit at the summit?
Honda F1 website
Honda website

JANUARY 17, 2009

A summit at the summit?

Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo turned up unexpectedly at the Wrooom event in the Italian ski resort of Madonna di Campiglio, meeting Bernie Ecclestone (who was on a similar "surprise" visit over lunch in one fabulous chalets in the area.

"I came to be close to our main sponsor, Marlboro, which has been close to Ferrari for many years," he said "I also wanted to greet our drivers, as I didn't have the opportunity last Monday at Mugello.

Montezemolo spoke briefly to the media.

"I think that this sport has four S's: stability, seriousness, spectacle and sustainability," he said. "Stability means not changing the rules every six months or every year. We need to plan ahead and the spectators remain puzzled by too many changes. Seriousness, because you need a lot to be able to deal with difficult moments: we need to stay united and humble, without ever giving the impression that we're divided. Spectacle means attention to the circuit layouts, to enable overtaking, to the sporting rules, but also to the use of new technologies such as the Internet, high definition TV and much more that you can introduce in this field. Sustainability, because no company can stay alive if costs and earnings don't balance."

Montezemolo and Ecclestone are at odds over the distribution of the sports revenues.

"We've done some incredible work, cutting costs significantly already as of 2009 and we'll systematically do the same in 2010 and 2011," Montezemolo said. "We'll also confront the issue of earnings: we've got an agreement until 2012 and we've got all the time we need to improve the show and increase income, thinking about the future. We think that Formula 1 has to be a normal sport that is not connected to single people. There must be a triangle: at the top there are the teams, who invest and innovate, today more than ever before; then there's someone who manages the commercial aspects, a type of super agent, just like Ecclestone has been doing; last but not least a sporting and political authority, which takes the teams' unanimity into account and protects the sports nature. My commitment as president [of FOTA] has been asked by all the teams: it won't last long, but I'm glad that I managed to convince everybody that we can be competitors on the track and work together off the track. We've reached some extraordinary results, cutting costs without doing something stupid, something Ferrari could have done, such as leaving a Formula 1 without competition and innovation. For us Formula 1 is our life: it's not a coincidence that we've dedicated our new car to the 60th continuous participation of the team in the World Championship. The company's history is interwoven with the history of Formula 1 and vice versa."

Montezemolo said that Ecclestone is "a person with great capacities, who has done a lot for Formula 1. I hope, and I say in the name of the whole team, that we share the same vision of our sport's future, from everyone's point of view. Today we found a good balance: you can't live far from reality. It will be fundamental to have a governance system, which doesn't create regular disputes, but points towards innovation and technology."

Montezemolo was also asked about longtime rival Ron Dennis.

"Despite all the polemics and the many clashes we had, Ron Dennis will always be a great person," he said. "He and his team have done some extraordinary work over the last decades. I don't think that he'll completely leave Formula 1. I appreciated the support he and all the others are giving to FOTA."

Other stories for JANUARY 17, 2009