Ferrari's abject form thus far in the 2009 Formula 1 World Championship campaign is the joint product of the sport's 'bad rules' and an overly 'presumptuous approach' within the team – that is the view of Luca di Montezemolo, who nonetheless insisted that he is 'confident' of a swift recovery.
Prior to the Bahrain Grand Prix at the weekend – the fourth meeting on the 17-race schedule – Ferrari had yet to register its first points of the season, its worst record since all the way back in 1981. Thankfully for the Scuderia
, Kimi Raikkonen spared scarlet blushes by bringing his F60 home in sixth place in the desert kingdom – a race the team had won for the previous two years in succession – to save the squad from suffering its worst start in history. That notwithstanding, there must be changes, di Montezemolo insists.
“I think that inside the team there has been a little too much of a presumptuous approach,” the Maranello-based concern's president is quoted as having said by British newspaper The Guardian
. “We started to work on this car late – which is a pity because it came in a year when all the rules are new – and sometimes when you win too much, you think you are the best and that staying at the top is easy.
“I want a different attitude. Sometimes to put the head down to the ground is useful to looking ahead. Sometimes having your whole head, feet, everything on the ground, and even more underground, is better.
“Of course I am totally unhappy, but since 1992 the stability of the team and confidence in the team has been my main goal. This team is exactly the same team that crossed the line in Brazil a few months ago winning the championship, so there is no problem. When I know the reason for the problems I am confident; when I don't I am worried. I know the reason, my people know the reason and they are fully committed, so I have confidence in our team that we will get back to where we were soon. Not immediately, but soon.”
Indeed, though the team may be the same one that brought constructors' glory home to Italy at Interlagos back in November, it is not the same one that led Ferrari to its sustained period of success during the 'Schumacher Era', with team principal Jean Todt, tactical genius Ross Brawn and design guru Rory Byrne all having departed the fray, making way for the new guard of Stefano Domenicali, Chris Dyer and Luca Baldisserri respectively.
Whilst some fear a return to the wilderness is in-store for the famously mercurial outfit, di Montezemolo contends that once a level playing field has been restored in the top flight – following the 'double-decker' split-level diffuser row that has resulted in seven teams, Ferrari included, being left on the back foot and playing a desperate game of catch-up in order to try and take the battle to Brawn GP, Toyota and Williams – Ferrari will be back, as he criticised the way in which the sport's latest significant regulations upheaval has been handled by those in charge.
“I want to understand why we are in the middle of a black tunnel, and there are three reasons,” argued the Italian, also president of the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA). “Number one is the very badly-written rules – what I call grey rules – which have led to different interpretations. If teams who have won the last few championships – Renault, Ferrari and McLaren – and then another very important team in BMW, as well as Red Bull, have done one interpretation, it means the rules are not so clear.
“Very unclear rules means different interpretations, means polemics, means different cars on the grid. We have KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems), which is meant to have a link between Formula 1 and road cars in terms of saving energy, being green [and] innovation. We have done KERS, which has meant a lot of money, a problem with safety [and] reliability and gives you a completely different car, as many teams have done.