Piero Ferrari carries the loudest surname in motor sport but is one of its quietest figures. Today, however, in the wake of the Scuderia Ferrari’s announcement that they are prepared to leave formula one rather than tolerate Max Mosley’s imposition of a budget cap and a new set of technical rules in time for the 2010 season, the sole surviving son of the company’s founder emerged to emphasise that the declaration is not a bluff.
“This is not a war of press releases,” Ferrari told the Guardian on the phone from the company’s headquarters in Maranello. “This is a statement from a board of directors who have a great deal of experience.”
Piero Ferrari, who turns 64 next week, was brought into the company by his father in 1965 and remains on its board. Although he seldom attends races, he lives in his father’s old house in Modena and retains ownership of 10% of the company’s shares, the majority of which are held by Fiat. He was present on Tuesday when Ferrari’s 14 directors took the decision to end their 60-year involvement in grand prix racing if Mosley refuses to amend regulations that will impose a budget cap of $40m (£26m), along with technical limitations on teams who refuse to observe it.
“Our first objection is to the budget cap, which we don’t believe it’s possible to control,” he said. “The second is that it is wrong that a team accepting the budget cap has more freedom and different technical regulations. If we are on the starting line of a grand prix, we have to stay within the same regulations, the same technical specifications.
“It’s like soccer. In Italy we have Internazionale, who are winning, and they spend huge amounts of money for the best players. But in Serie A you also have a team like Catania, who have no money. So do you say to Catania, ‘You can play with 12 players,’ and to Inter, ‘You must play with nine’? It wouldn’t be fair. But this is what the new formula one rules are like. They’re not acceptable at all. Everybody on the grid has to start with the same rules, otherwise there’s no competition and it’s somebody else deciding who’s going to win.”
Ferrari’s president, Luca Di Montezemolo, is also the chairman of the Formula One Teams Association, whose members have been working on cost-cutting proposals and were shocked when Mosley announced the new proposals after a meeting of the FIA’s world motor sport council two weeks ago. Toyota and Red Bull indicated their disapproval before Ferrari made their voice heard, and today Renault condemned the two-tier regulations. According to Piero Ferrari, Mercedes and BMW have also indicated their solidarity.
“This is not because we want to spend money,” he said. “We want to save money. All the constructors are keen on reducing the formula one expenses. But you can reduce the expenditure without having a budget cap. And it’s not enforceable, anyway. It’s difficult enough to enforce the technical rules, as was proved recently by the business of the diffuser. So how can you enforce or control a budget cap?
“A better way is by controlling the expenses on the technical side. We are doing it on engines, and it will be done next year on the gearbox. We can even introduce limits on material costs – carbon fibre, maybe. I have good friends racing in Nascar in the United States. They control the costs – the number of mechanics, for instance – and the teams are racing with the same rules for everybody. We could do something like that.”
Mosley, he claimed, had ignored not just the formula one commission, which is supposed to have a say in such matters, but the existing rules on technical stability. “He forgot any way of consulting what you might say are the actors of the show. I know that the economy is a problem for the world, but this kind of attitude and changing rules in this way is not going to save the economy.”
Ferrari believes that the company, which employs 3,000 people in its ever-expanding factory at Maranello and sells around 4,000 of its exotic road cars around the world each year, could continue to exist without formula one and would switch to racing in other categories.
“Why not? I strongly believe that if you look at the past of Ferrari, today’s image is born from victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and sports and GT racing. Racing is in the DNA of Ferrari.
“My father started the business making and selling racing cars. We cannot forget our beginnings, and the passion of my father is still in the company. Everybody in the company loves racing, but we want racing with clear rules and starting from the same point. The same rules for everybody.”
Asked if Mosley was the right person to be telling the formula one teams what to do, he replied: “Please don’t make me answer that. I’ve known Max since the 1970s and I don’t want to say anything about that. I know that the decision coming out from the world council is not correct for us and we will fight against it. And we are not joking. We are talking seriously because really and truly Ferrari will not be in the next championship if they stay with these rules.”
And, given the similar attitudes of the other major manufacturers, he would not rule out the revival of plans to mount a breakaway series to challenge the FIA’s formula one at the pinnacle of world motor sport. “We cannot say as of now,” he said. “The situation is developing very fast. Now we say the ball is in the field of Max. We will see.”
What he is sure of is that his father would share his views. “He was a strong person, always fighting to make a deal, and he would never accept what Max is trying to do now, imposing new rules.”
Back in 1986 Enzo Ferrari reacted to a similar disagreement with the governing body by threatening to leave formula one and compete in the Indianapolis 500 instead. “I flew to America to sign a contract,” Piero Ferrari said. “My father even built a car for the race. You can see it today. It’s in our museum.” It never turned a wheel because, as usual, old Enzo got his way. “He wasn’t bluffing,” his son said. “He was serious. And so are we.”
he’s serious.. Ferrari out of F1? where’s the fun then… article from Guardian.