Montezemolo says F1 should follow Le Mans’ lead

F1 Fanatic round-up

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In the round-up: Luca di Montezemolo tells Bernie Ecclestone to improve F1 races and responds to his criticism of the team for its ‘clarification request’ to the FIA.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Ferrari call for flair and fun to save Formula One (The Independent)

Luca di Montezemolo: “Three years ago, I was so impressed when I was invited to open Le Mans. It was a party. You go to the pits in some circuits in F1 and it’s like a desert. Do you think it good that we race in the middle of nowhere? Without the public, without the fans, the flags, the passion, it is cold. I don’t like it.”

Luca di Montezemolo: “It’s not a case of replacing Bernie…” (Adam Cooper’s F1 Blog)

“Interpretation of flags, be they yellow or blue is nothing to do with [Bernie Ecclestone] and he used expressions that I do not accept. Our behaviour in this instance was not only transparent, but perfect, and maybe he would do better to think about attracting bigger crowds and more youngsters, and to discuss more with the television stations and the media.”

Ferrari want Vettel (The Telegraph)

“Di Montezemolo admitted that he could not imagine both current Alonso, 31, and Vettel racing for the same team. ‘Alonso and Vettel, that would be difficult,’ he said. ‘When you have the best driver in the world, you must offer optimal conditions.’”

What in the world happened, Jenson? (The Sun)

“After five races I thought we would win the championship. We seemed very competitive and at that stage I wouldn’t have said Red Bull would win.”

Official: Thailand likely to host F1 in 2015 (Bangkok Post)

Sports Authority of Thailand governor Kanokphand Chulakasem: “An F1 race is likely to take place here in early 2015 instead of in 2014 in our initial plan.”

Domenicali: “Two coordinators for the 2013 and 2014 design projects” (Ferrari)

“As regards the design, we have decided, particularly in light of the unusual demands we will face in 2013, when we will have a completely new project to work on for the future, to have two coordinators: Simone Resta, an engineer who has developed his career in Maranello and is very effective, will work on the 2013 car and Fabio Montecchi, will deal with the one for the following year. Nikolas Tombazis continues as chief designer.”

Force India aims for fifth for 2013 (Autosport)

Deputy team principal Bob Fernley: “We’ve had two seasons where we’ve been slow out of the box. It’s caught us out. Hopefully in 2013 that won’t be the case.”

Ricciardo optimistic for 2013 (ESPN)

“There was only so much James [Key] and the guys could have done for this year. Once the car is there, it’s there and you can bring some updates that can help, but a lot is in the chassis and in the mould. There are a few things that came through in the last few races, but in terms of revamping the car it was always going to be pretty difficult after the summer break and that’s why it was best to spend most of our time looking forward to next year.”

Nicolas Todt: “Bianchi a une vraie chance” (RMC Sport)

Jules Bianchi’s manager Nicolas Todt believes his driver has a “real chance” of driving for Force India in 2013.

Monti set to join political battle (FT, registration required)

“Mr Monti indicated his intention in a meeting on Wednesday with Pier Ferdinando Casini, head of the small UDC party, and Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, the head of Ferrari who has launched his own civic movement in support of the prime minister, according to three sources close to the talks.”

DielpisFormula1 Project (YouTube)


Comment of the day

Were Ferrari right to keep Massa? @ArmchairExpert thinks so:

Yep, it was the right decision, because I don’t think there are many drivers out there who are fast, but without ambition, happy to take a gearbox penalty for benefit of their team mate.

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On this day in F1

On this day last year the BBC confirmed its controversial deal to share the F1 rights with Sky would save it £150m following the government-imposed freeze on the licence fee:

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66 comments on “Montezemolo says F1 should follow Le Mans’ lead”

  1. Le Mans is great, a historic European race with great history and passionate fans – not unlike Spa, Monza or Silverstone, it’s no surprise Luca is a fan. The full Le Mans series, WEC, is having a 2014 rule change like F1 – but it will be a fair bit more open than F1’s tight regulations. This engine, aero and hybrid freedom has been able to entice a couple of new manufacturers into the series with Toyota joining this year and having some great success, and Porsche due to compete again in 2014 with the new rules, in addition to LMP1 mainstay Audi. Logically the more open rules of Le Mans would suit Ferrari more than F1 if they believe it’s too constrictive. But they would never give up the lucrative loyalty payments they receive for being the longest running team in F1.

    1. Formula 1 must quickly start to lose some of its elite status if they want fans to continue to visit circuits – one of my main criticism for years regarding this side of the sport.

      If you visit Le Mans once, you’ll notice the difference – the open atmosphere, the lack of super stars, the ability to talk to anyone, literally anyone, the ability to walk around the paddock without security guards to push you away, without having to pay enormous fees, the ability to take photographs everywhere.
      You want to have a quick chat with Allan McNish and Timo Bernhard? Sure, they are available.

      1. But that is almost disgusting ! You mean, you want Bernie to get in contact with people who 1.don’t work for him directly not indirectly 2.earn less than $ 25 000 a month 3.maybe don’t even have a Monaco residency ?

      2. @k-v, I wouldn’t expect to be able to have a chat with the drivers, at least not on saturday and sunday, but then with the cost of tickets I’m not likely to be there in the first place.

    2. Luca is spot-on with his observations on F1.

  2. That Dielpis project is quite nice! Shame it looks a bit too far-fetched.

    1. There is actually plenty of space on the waterfront to build the circuit. The real challenge is the Greek economy.

      Also, the two hairpins at the end of the lap look ridiculous.

      1. That’s what I meant with far-fetched. Greece is in no position to host a race for now.
        And yeah, I do agree, but the fast section looks pretty.

        1. It would take at least two years to build the circuit to FIA Grade-1 standards. Assuming construction started tomorrow, then a Greek Grand Prix could only happen in 2016 at the earliest. That gives the government two years to turn their economy around, so it should be possible to get some growth going.

          I still doubt it will happen at all, though.

          1. It will be a good shot in arm to the economy if the funding is available, as it would generate jobs for the masses. If its a private investor, it will be a win win situation for the government, so I would think this move should be encouraged. The track itself looks great, many flowing fast corners.

            The only problem would be, in the current state of the economy, how many local would actually be able to dish out hundreds of Euros to attend?

          2. At this point, building the circuit is more important than holding the race. During a recession, construction jobs are an easy way to fuel growth, because they need relatively little on-the-job training, allowing you to turn around unemployment. The circuit would see thousands of jobs guaranteed for two years, which will help the Greek economy (but the government needs more than just the circuit). By the time the first race comes around (if that is the plan), Greece could very well be back in the early stages of economic growth.

          3. @prisoner-monkeys That’s like saying Greece government should hire people to move rocks in a big pile and worry later what to do with them. That would fuel the economy for a while.

            Constructing a road during a recession is smart, if it must be constructed sooner or later anyway. Constructing a boat is smart if someone will buy it. Constructing something that doesn’t have to be built and doesn’t pay itself back one way or another isn’t smart just because the money will end up in somebody’s pocket.

            Yes, it will fuel economy temporally, but acting like that is exactly what got them into this mess. Eventually themoney will have to come from somewhere.

  3. I agree with Luca to an extent, however it seems Formula One is already trying to make GP weekends more like a “party”. In Singapore, there are fireworks at the end of the race; in India we saw a short presentation before the podium.

    One thing Formula One really should do it make the Monaco Grand Prix feel more like the biggest event on the calendar. I imagine there a many people who don’t even realise that it is supposed to be the “big one”, as it is usually treated like any other weekend. Monaco is supposed to be F1’s “Superbowl”, but it never feels like it.

    1. But Monaco has as many points on offer as any other F1 weekend. To me, Sao Paulo is more like the ‘superbowl’ than Monaco, due to all the recent Championships that have been decided there. I can’t see how F1 can raise Monaco’s profile any more – it’s already iconic. Other than doubling the points on offer there or placing it at the end of the calendar (neither appealing to me) what more can be done?

    2. Monaco is just one of those races you have to go to rather than watch on TV.

  4. I never thought I’d say this but I absolutely agree with Di Montezemolo: F1 should open it’s regulations, ditch the fanatical obsession with money over fans and stop this needless overspending in the wind tunnel. Having unlimited money doesn’t show talent: design genius does. Newey I feel would still prove excellent and some of the current midfield teams would be able to show their stuff.

    His most sensible point though is relating to the desert races: why arrive at a deserted, unused Tilkedrome with no fan presence in a political war zone when there are many great European and Amercan tracks crying out to be driven on; more importantly fans with a passion for Formula 1.

    I feel it’s about time F1 stopped focusing on money and starts to return to the gold old days of being about a team and driver competing to win through merit of their skill with thousands of passionate fans cheering them on!

      1. @vettel1, don’t give up the rant Max, I am totally with you.

        1. I’m continuing it now @hohum ;)

    1. @vettel1 Thing is, the moment you open up those technical regulations, you introduce a new problem: safety. To a certain extent, I think the reason F1 has been so safe is that the regulations in general have changed little since 1994. There’s a lot of changes with tyres and car width and wings, but the chassis itself has stayed very similar.

      To make things worse, it doesn’t solve the money problem. It just means teams will spend more of it to find more advantage. I remember here Honda’s 4-car-design development in 2008 which spawned the 2009 Brawn GP car. They were creating multiple cars in parallel to see what would work best.

      1. @journeyer – obviously you’d need restrictions, such as cockpit side heights a retain a certain thickness of carbon fibre in the survival cell but if the base platform remains similar that would allow the teams I develop elsewhere as they please.

        Then restricting wind tunnel hours, terabyte usage, no. of parts used, minimum lifespans of components etc. would hopefully bring the costs down; allowing every team a near equal opportunity to compete for the titles.

        Obviously there are challenges to overcome but who says it can’t be done?

      2. @jouneyer, no-one is suggesting compromising safety, saftey as it currently stands is due to the strength of the “tub” and fuel cells, not to the engine, gearbox, suspension or brake design and most definitely not the aerofoils.

        If formula1 is the pinnacle of motorsport then it is going to need deep pockets to run a team, the car manufacturers are the most logical participants and they can afford the cost, BUT they need to gain from the expense even when they are not winning, this they can get from engine and geartrain developments IF the rules allowed it but they do not. It is not necessary to develop the most powerful engine in F1 to learn lessons in the reliability and longevity of parts and metal alloys!
        So I ask you, what is wrong with a company like Honda spending hundreds of millions building and testing F1 cars if it means they can extend their warranty and avoid expensive re-calls?

        1. Exactly – I’d rather see real development rather than this insignificant aerodynamic tinkering. I’d prefer to see manufacturer engine battles than constant refinement of front-wings.

          Personally I’d like to see budgetary restrictions in some sense to allow reg smaller teams to compete but that is the only respect in which I disagree with you @hohum but you’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head.

    2. The exact opposite would open. With more open regulations, 1 or 2 teams will dominate the sport. Look at Williams in the early nineties, they were about the only team able to afford the state-of-the-art electronics that they used. Besides, once a team finds something incredible that wins a second per lap compared to the rest of the field, the cards are dealt for the entire season and we’ll be bored every weekend. The only reason F1 is so exciting these days is because of the tighter regulations. You could argue it makes F1 the most expensive spec-racing series in the world, but I think FIA is doing an excellent job at walking the thin line between regulations and leaving room for invention. The cars are similar, but not the same at all. They’re trying to prevent the sort of domination that made the Ferrari years so boring, those were the times when spending money automatically meant being at the front. Not denying Red Bull spends a lot of money, but so does Ferrari and it’s been 5 years since Ferrari last won a championship now. Adrian Newey is to thank for 3 titles since then and they’re down to designing skills entirely. Besides, since the rule changes in 2009 we’ve seen the double-diffuser, the f-duct, the blown diffuser, double drs, shark fins… you’re complaining like teams are left with a standard chassis, barely being able to think of their own front wing and it’s simply not true. There’s plenty of new ideas and the only reason they’re being banned is because they’re constantly trying to level the field. WITH SUCCES!

      Now that’s my rant over as well!

      1. @roald – that’s why we need effective an effective RRA in combination. I wouldn’t mind seeing one team dominate if it were a team that had earned it upon merit of heir skill and not their budget – Lotus and Clark in the 60’s for example (but obviously much safer).

        I’m not saying that the cars are identical, they are just too similar for my liking. I mean really, the cars are practically identical and I’ve never been truly excited by any if the innovations in the past few years – the EBD is hardly a match for the fan car for example!

        1. @vettel1 You’re just glorifying anything from the past as if it’s better per definition. Besides, with the introduction of the RRA you’re going to get the reversed effect, no one will be able to spend enough to introduce innovations. Allow them to spend more and we’ll get the same situation we have now, the bottom lot don’t have enough money to even reach that limit.

          Lotus and Clark look fantastic on paper but such dominance is terrible for the sport we love. We were lucky to have had great racing last year despite Vettel running away with the championship, but if we wouldn’t have I’m sure a lot of you would’ve complained. It’s not the 60’s anymore when papers printed a short summary of the race, of course a heroic win looked fantastic printed in words. It’s the twenty-first century and there’s television now, it’s important for Formula 1 to be entertaining these days. I’ll say it again, it’s a compromise between allowing innovations and keeping teams competitive. In my opinion they’re doing a great job. I do not WANT Formula 1 cars with 6 wheels or fans at the rear just for the sake of it, it’s stupid and it makes the cars look terrible.

          1. @roald – I’m not glorifying the past, I’m giving my personl opinion. I personally believe the team’s are perhaps even more important than hey drivers and so restricting their freedom is not good from a technical aspect. I’m not suggesting giving total freedom to the designers as that would be stupidly dangerous, just loosening up the rules so that the cars may diverge form being near carbon-copies of each other.

            If you value the excitement of eh racing that is absolutely fine and I respect your point of view but I equally value the technical aspects of F1 and would like to see F1 designers given greater opportunities to show their worth, without budgetary or extreme technical hinderances.

          2. @roald, “I do not want F1 cars with 6 wheels or fans at the rear JUST FOR THE SAKE OF IT, it’s stupid and makes the cars look terrible”

            Really ? that simple fan achieved the same result as the double diffuser, the exhaust blown diffuser, COANDA and all the other stuff the teams have been spending hundreds of millions of dollars on every year trying to achieve the same results, it was also unaffected by dirty air from the car in front. I am not proposing we go back to old designs but fan-derived downforce is cheap, reliable and easily copied, it also looks no worse than the “barn doors” that currently festoon F1 cars.

      2. @roald, as you point out, we now have 1 dominant team RBR, we now have massive costs, what we don’t have is any useful spin offs from these costs. At least when tobacco money had no-where else to go (and it was not just Williams) we got the traction control that makes modern cars so much safer . What benefits do we get now, zilch ?!

        1. I’d hardly call Red Bull dominant. Their cars were unreliable in 2010 and were usually less fast than the McLaren’s in 2012. The fact they won championship’s says nothing about their dominance.

          1. @roald, remind me again if RBR do not win in 2013, then I might have to re-think.

        2. @hohum not “dominant” but definetly the most successful in the last three years.

          As @hohum points out, I think you are having a rather close-minded approach @roald . The Williams FW08b for example is a six-wheel car (albeit one which was banned before it could be raced due to the very fast testing times it had set) that isn’t in my mind either ugly or unnecessary.

          The fan car also wasn’t “stupid”, quite the opposite actually. It was a very clever idea which was so effective the idea has been used on the Red Bull X-1 concept by Adrian Newey, who knows a thing or two about aerodynamics.

          I get the impression that you could very well be pro-DRS; is that the case @roald?

  5. “We are approaching a time when we need to think about the future, because all eras must inevitably come to an end, as happened to us when Todt, Brawn and Schumacher left. It’s not a case of replacing Bernie and in fact I do not like doing to others what I would not want to happen to myself.

    I would love that the other Ferrari shareholders gave Montezemola a coup d’État, man that will be fun

  6. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    21st December 2012, 0:58

    Ferrari may finally have Vettel in some years from now on… You don’t need to have THE top car to have a top driver (Mercedes – Hamilton) … Ferrari always gets a good car no matter what they say. It is a good car, but of course the Italian team wants the best one (who doesn’t?) What I’m trying to say is that nobody could have imagined sour grapes between Hamilton and McLaren a couple of seasons ago. Nobody imagines Vettel getting tired of RedBull, but it can happen. And if Ferrari are clever enough, they will grab Vettel as soon as they can, no matter if Alonso is on the other seat.

  7. “If I could have tomorrow, Porsche engines, Honda, Audi that would be good. But if you cannot develop your engines it is not possible. It is one of the main problems that we face. We have 100 people working only in the wind tunnel. Why? It is a joke. We don’t do any mechanical research. We don’t test any more. We are not in a position to give young drivers opportunity in a competitive way. We are not in a position to organise events for sponsors. Yes I’m in favour or reducing costs but I’m not in favour of not testing at Mugello, or for somebody else not to test at Silverstone just because some teams cannot afford it. If you look at the small teams after five laps they are out of the competition. They are better off in GP2.”

    Luca di Montezemolo pretty much summing up the main problems with modern F1.

    1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
      21st December 2012, 1:26

      You mean HIS problems with F1

      1. Exactly – everything Luca says will ultimately benefit Ferrari first and Formula 1 a distant second. Even if his suggestions make sense, implementing them would give him power, which he would then use to make more changes, and these changes would naturally benefit Ferrari. I’m not saying that Formula 1 should not do what Luca is suggesting, but rather that the sport should be keenly aware that he has his own agenda, however much he tries to hide it.

        1. I happen to agree with Luca on this. I ask you, what type of F1 does the world need more? An entertainment, or one that puts our brightest engineers to work solving problems of relevance to the automotive industry?

        2. Yet these are valid points for all of F1 rather than just Ferrari for once.

        3. Power is relative. If you take it away from 1 person, another person steps up to take it. Taking testing away has obviously shifted power to other teams and results suggest the power is imbalanced as one team has won three years in a row.

          I do agree with him though. Costs will always be a problem no matter how far they cut it down. But what is an even greater problem is preventing innovation by restricting testing and risky experimentation. Preventing the best drivers from moving upwards because #1 they cant buy a seat, #2 they dont get the opportunity to test/prove themselves and #3 the teams stick to older/slower drivers simply because they cant risk going with an unknown (due to being unable to develop the newbs).

          Imagine if all football teams were only allowed to practice for a match for 6 hours the day before because some teams were too poor to afford to rent/build their own football fields…

        4. @prisoner-monkeys, as the biggest name in F1 Ferrari will benefit from whatever benefits F1, but also it will be the biggest loser from F1s decline. All the teams long term interests are tied to the continuing success of F1 so naturally they express their concerns, if they feel strong enough to do so.

      2. No Mr.Pepper, F1 has problems, Fiat/Ferarri are doing very well under Montezemolo mgmt.

    2. Why not develop his engines by putting them in some Ferrari sportscars? Le Mans is allowing Formula 1-sized engines from 2014, and that rule seems to encourage using the World Endurance Championship as a test-bed for new F1 technology.

      Luca gets his party, mechanical research and testing – and it’ll give Massa somewhere to go.

      1. Well I guess the manufactures could use their F1 budget to do that. Thats what BMW, Honda and Toyota decided to do.

      2. @bullfrog, the very question Luca is asking ! Have you thought about the logical outcome of this ?

        1. F1 and logical outcomes don’t mix well…

          1. @bullfrog, exactly my point, but in the end the logical outcome will prevail.

      3. perfect plan, I am all for it @bullfrog!

  8. Luca makes a good point. As a fan, I would like to see a bigger party atmosphere at tracks. I have only been to Sepang and Singapore, while the former is a bit sterile in terms of atmosphere, the latter is a really great.

    As a fan, I too would like to see the top manufacturers back in F1, it would be great to see the likes of Porche, Audi/Volks, BMW, Honda, Toyota back in the fray. No need for works teams, just engine suppliers even. I’m surprised that Hyundai or Kia have shown no interest in F1 yet, or maybe even some of the Americans. For a company like Hyundai, who have improved their road cars by leaps and bounds in the last 10 years, F1 would be a perfect marketing ploy for them. They have deep deep coffers, so its intriguing as to why they havent been interested yet.

    1. because from their perspective, f1 is stagnant and irrelevant. hyundai, et cetera has nothing to gain by re-inventing that wheel and teaming up with a backmarker just to prop up f1 group/cvc. there is no way honda or toyota are going to repeat that mistake.

      if le mans/WEC fufills its promise, that will be where the innovation and great racing will be. i hope its success will provide the impetus f1 to come back to planet earth.

      1. @jaymenon10 I think @f1yankee nailed it. F1 is so irrelevant to road cars now, but hopefully that will change. If Bernie wants to see more established names/brands entering the sport, the regulations will have to be changed to make them more relevant to every day cars. Hopefully it happens, soon!
        (the turbo V6s are a step in the right direction)

  9. I really hope Force India gets a few podiums in 2013. They hv been out of luck when it comes podiums

  10. I’m not so sure about GrandPrixDiary’s Christmas card. It seems to imply an old white man is about to get carjacked and robbed by a young black man. Is racism rife in F1? ;-)

    1. Only according to Lewis! ;-)

    2. Bernie’s Christmas cards are one of the best traditions in F1, long may it continue!

  11. There was an article I read about Luca, Ferrari and Vettel, he said he wanted Vettel more than Hamilton as it would be Hamilton’s 3rd team, well Luca if you do the maths you would also know it is Vettel’s third team and if you count the race with BMW Sauber his 4th team, he also said if you get into your 3rd team you are in your second half of your career.

  12. Clearly the apocalypse is incoming, the end of the world is nigh, dogs will eat cat food and humanity is doomed.

    Luca di Montezemolo is actually making sense.

    1. COTD!!!! Surely!

      1. But… if the world ends there won’t be a COTD tomorrow :(

    2. I’m just waiting for a soundbite from Bernie to try and divert everyone’s attention from the end of the world.

  13. Thanks for the mention Keith!

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