Ferrari should be protagonists, not extras – Montezemolo

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In the round-up: Former Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo is disappointed the team are no longer championship contenders.

In brief

Ferrari shouldn’t be ‘extras’ – di Montezemolo

Di Montezemolo joined Ferrari in 1973 and ran the team during its championship-winning years with Niki Lauda. When he returned as president in 1991 he appointed Jead Todt to his former role which led to the team’s dominant success with Michael Schumacher in the early 2000s.

But having left his position nine years ago, Di Montezemolo is disappointed the team has not come close to winning a championship since. “As a fan I dream of a Ferrari not that always wins, but that fights for the title until the last race,” he told Quotidiano Nazionale. “As in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2008, 2010, 2012. You can lose, but as protagonists, not as extras.”

he said the team should retain the services of Charles Leclerc, whose contract is due to expire at the Hend of next year. “He’s good and I don’t think there are free riders stronger than him. But in the present who drives the red is the least of the problems. As president I had built a dream team, from Schumi to Todt, from Brawn to Byrne.”

Legal row ‘must have been hard’ for Palou – McLaughlin

IndyCar driver Scott McLaughlin, who lies 142 points behind championship leader Alex Palou with four races remaining, says fortune has been on his rival’s side this year.

“I would just like to have some of the luck he’s had,” said McLaughlin. “If he can drop some of that off here, that’d be fantastic.

“But he’s doing a phenomenal job. He gets the opportunity and he takes it. You can’t be angry about that or whatever is what it is. We’ve seen Dixie do it over the years, we’ve seen Josef [Newgarden] have it, Will [Power] had it last year. When things are going right, you’ve got to take control of it and he’s done that and you can’t be upset about that, you’ve just got to work harder and be better.

“I really enjoy trying to be better and try to make my team to be better. I think he’s making us do that. It’s a good thing.”

Palou is on course to regain the title he first won in 2021 but lost last year, during a season dogged by a dispute between Ganassi and McLaren over his services.

“We always knew he was going to be strong after he got through all this sort of legal drama and whatever was going on last year,” said McLaughlin. “That must’ve been pretty hard on the head. We always knew he’s going to be really strong.”

Ex-Raikkonen McLaren up for sale

Ex-Kimi Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes MP4-21

A McLaren MP4/21 driven by Kimi Raikkonen during the 2006 season will be offered at auction by Bonhams during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend. The chassis Raikkonen used to score three podium finishes during his final season at McLaren is expected to fetch up to $3.5 million (£2.75m).

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Comment of the day

George Russell has proved himself highly capable alongside one of the best drivers Formula 1 has ever seen, reckons David:

Russell is up against a Formula 1 all-time great who is still around his peak. I’ve been impressed, even if Hamilton proves stronger as the seasons unfold (hardly a novelty in any season of his career). What’s most evident is Russell’s consistency, relative pace and ability to fight on track. Lots of teams would (or should) pay big money for that. He’s been more consistent than rivals like Leclerc and Sainz, and way, way beyond Pérez. I’m not sure he has the natural adaptability of a Hamilton (or Verstappen or Alonso). But who has? Those three are among the best drivers the sport has ever seen. Difficult to tell with the car he’s been given by Mercedes, but currently I’d place Russell as the next best (fastest and most consistent) driver on the grid bar those three.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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27 comments on “Ferrari should be protagonists, not extras – Montezemolo”

  1. They’re only really ever protagonists when Montezemelo is around. Maybe he has one more stint in him.

    1. True, it can’t only be a coincidence that ferrari stopped fighting till last race right after montezemolo left, although nowadays there’s more races, which reduces the chance of the last round being the championship decider.

    2. In my opinion Ferrari needs a Lauda or Schumacher to get back to winning. Some one who takes the lead, has little consideration for what the team wants and does but takes them into a winning direction by telling them what to do. From the current grid Max could do it (preferably when he gets rid of some excessive cursing) attitude wise and skill wise but I do not think he will be very interested in doing it. Changing team bosses won’t work as they all are hierarchical pleasers (and some of that on top also money driven). You need a character that really doesn’t care about all of that.

      1. “Lauda or Schumacher” type drivers are genertional talents in their time and for those 2 especially, with different abilities. F1 today is just too complex for 1 person, or one driver to change everything. Taking years to put together a teams as Mercedes and Red Bull have done is the way to go. There in I fear is Ferrari’s major weakness. On average, for almost 15 years they have had upheavals and departures of skilled personnel, many with Ferrari in their veins. It is hard to replace so many good people and recruit replacements as the new hires have their own ideas and those may not be the right ones and indeed they invariably are not. Until the higers ups leave managers to actually manage their f1 team, this is just a merry go round to nowhere. They might luck it into a winning formula or they might not.

        1. I meant 15 months

    3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      11th August 2023, 13:12

      “But in the present who drives the red is the least of the problems. As president I had built a dream team, from Schumi to Todt, from Brawn to Byrne.”

      He does have a point. I guess the real question is “Can a top manager make all the difference in the world?”

      For instance, would Red Bull have been as successful without Helmut Marko to bring in Christian Horner and the rest?

      Would Mercedes have been as successful without Toto Wolff?

      We know for a fact that Chelsea are less successful without Tuchel.

      My opinion is that these teams would not have been as successful without Wolff and Horner.

      1. Compared to Ferrari and Red Bull examples, Toto’s case seems more like just being at the lead position after the team was set up for success. He did contribute to extend the winning period, but that doesn’t really compare to building it from scratch.

  2. Admittedly, I’m surprised how early tickets have tended to go on sale for the last 3-5 years, given they used to go on sale about 7-8 months in advance.

  3. Still the McLaren MP4/21 was a cool looking car with those viking horns :)

  4. There are three WDC drivers on the grid, and all there (still) at the top of their game. The next three I’d currently rate slightly different than the CotD, with Norris on top, followed by Russell, with Leclerc an ever more distant third.
    How frustrating that Ferrari tries to vie for a main role with only the sixth driver in this (mine) ranking.

    And then there are the Aussies. One was WDC material, but doubtful if he’ll get back to it. The other is growing fast and I think he’ll join the top six above soon.
    But neither of them is racing in red.

    Sainz has proven throughout his career that he can be fast, but I never had him in my top six. His performance at Ferrari has only shown the relative shortcomings of Leclerc.

    Ferrari should (have been more serious in trying to) hire Hamilton, or make a serious move at Norris.
    Also they should start making some advances towards Piastri and Palau, and see how those two develop (rather than waiting for the next Giovinazzi).

    1. Norris remains hard to judge. He gets a lot of bonus points from the F1 press as a result of being English, but he wasn’t particularly impressive against Sainz, and is now increasingly having to fight off a rookie just halfway through the season.

      That Leclerc isn’t emphatically the better (not saying quicker, which he is) of the two Ferrari drivers is a problem. Rather than building on 2022 it seems this season is more of a regression.

      Leclerc increasingly reminds me of Häkkinnen. Very quick at times, very much capable of duking it out with the best of them, but not a huge presence on track or someone that rallies an entire team around himself.

      1. Norris remains hard to judge. He gets a lot of bonus points from the F1 press as a result of being English, but he wasn’t particularly impressive against Sainz, and is now increasingly having to fight off a rookie just halfway through the season.

        I think you’re letting the British media thing cloud your judgement. Norris\Sainz was years ago and Lando has shown big step improvements every season. Sure Piastri is doing well but he’s still being beaten by Norris. Even if it was closer, Piastri is one of the biggest talents from F2 for a long time so it’s not really surprising.

        Just because media can be biased doesn’t mean they don’t have a point…

      2. I agree. On the Norris thing; he’d rather show it quickly as Piastri is approaching his level at the moment. Although I still believe in him, as you said: hard to judge. As to the original poster and cotd I don’t think Russell belongs in the list. He should be further ahead of Lewis by now to be in the list of next talents. So my list would be Leclerc, Piastri, Norris. So Ferarri would do good to replace Sainz at the earliest convenience for Piastri or Norris. Not that it will make a big difference as their main issue isn’t their driver line-up. They need an outside person with a gigantic disregard for legacy and current hierarchy to turn the boat around. Good luck finding that unicorn.

        1. He should be further ahead of Lewis by now to be in the list of next talents.

          I see your point, but as Hamilton is part of the elusive group of F1 super talents, I would not discard Russell that quickly (he narrowly outperformed Hamilton last year when considering the whole season).

          And shouldn’t Leclerc be further (and constantly) ahead of Sainz to be allowed a place on this ‘list of next talents’?

          1. Not sure whether Lewis is part of the elusive group. His number if WDCs is colored by the Mercedes dominance. Without it he could be at 2 or 3 titles on merit. He had some good fortune for a long period of time. Certainly a great driver but not an exceptional one.

        2. The problem is that the outside person needs to arrive with other outside people – otherwise it’s a Vettel-like situation of a new driver hitting a brick wall of Ferrari tradition (unlike Schumacher + Brawn). Or indeed Alonso.
          But I remain hopeful Ferrari improve. So far they’ve been wasting an excellent driver line-up.

    2. Thanks for the reply (and Keith for COTD). In evaluating Russell, it depends where you currently place Hamilton on his own spectrum and in terms of driving talent in general. Difficult to judge as the Mercedes has been so bad in 2022 and 2023 and – I think – we have to factor in some demotivation from how 2021 ended. Hamilton would clearly loved to have rerun the same battle, on roughly equal terms with Verstappen, but it didn’t happen due to the disastrous Mercedes car design. Even so, the way he picked up in 2022 and this year shows he is still fast when motivated. If so, Russell is still doing Rosberg-level OK when he’s beaten by Hamilton.
      Leclerc I considered even quicker than Russell some times, his qualifying pace is sometimes outstanding and unmatched, even by Max. Also, like Russell, he can fight well on track, attacking and defending. But I have a personal theory that he’s less able to ‘feel’ car balance and the limits of tyre adherence than say Verstappen or Hamilton, which explains his relatively mediocre performance in wet conditions and when pushing – which is often when we see those mistakes happen. Maybe there’s some other explanation. But if so, it will always be a limiting factor to Leclerc’s driving.
      Norris, I’m not convinced yet. I expect Piastri to start outpacing him more consistently – Piastri, I agree, already looks a big talent. Sainz is one of the fastest reacting/sensitive drivers on the grid, a lot of rally-like skills, for understandable reasons, which means he’s good in wet weather but there’s a limit to his pace since reactive driving isn’t the quickest.

  5. They are protagonists of memes and clown shows, which is half of their reputation anyway, isn’t it? You think of Ferrari and two very different ideas pop to mind: a glorious looking fire-ball at the side of the track on lap 3 and the biggest successes in motorsport ever.

    1. For me, it’s Plan A,B,C,D,E,F etc etc and still dropping the ball.

      1. Copy. We Are Checking

      2. And I suppose the italian race engineer with the unhelpful comments doesn’t help either, question?

    2. Electroball76
      11th August 2023, 20:00

      Ferrari is the hapless, but lovable, comic relief in a show about the battles between the Red Bull and the Silver Arrow.

  6. That seems a minimum requirement, more is needed.

  7. I’d give my left wotsit for Kimi’s old McLaren!

    1. Coventry Climax
      11th August 2023, 17:42

      I doubt anyone is interested in your wotsits, be it left, right, middle, top or bottom.

      1. Speak for yourself. This is Sonny Crockett we are talking about. The man has his own theme for crying out loud.

  8. It is a misconception that a driver can take a team to the top step. He talk of we need a schumi or lauda etc. Is nonsense. It’s a combination of good leadership at the top, excellent engineers, very good strategists, and good drivers that can perform consistently above the average on most days. And of cos while limited now vast amounts of money. These are what wins championships.

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