Formula 1 and Ferrari are 'a marriage made in heaven, one of those super things that work well', Bernie Ecclestone has contended – as the sport's supremo endeavours to quell the simmering row brewing between the Scuderia's
President Luca di Montezemolo and FIA President Max Mosley over the unpopular new budget cap.
After the details of the optional £40 million cap were revealed following the FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting in Paris a week-and-a-half ago, di Montezemolo branded the initiative 'fundamentally unfair and perhaps even biased' and liable to create a two-tier hierarchy within the top flight, going on to hint that F1 is 'not a never-ending story' for the famous Italian marque.
Mosley swiftly hit back by insisting that 'the sport could survive without Ferrari' and pressed on with his plans to introduce the cap in 2010, a move that threatens to alienate the big-spending manufacturer-backed teams in particular and potentially risks seeing some of them withdraw from the championship altogether.
Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive Ecclestone – a long-time friend, ally and business associate of Mosley's – has tried to quash the dispute by reasoning that 'the trouble with Max is he's not capable, like in the past, of wrapping things up nicely with a pink ribbon and things' and that 'the trouble with Luca is that you shouldn't let Max ever be in a position where he can start a debate or an argument – he's reasonably clever and you won't win' [see separate story – click here
“I don't think Max really meant what he said,” the 78-year-old suggested in an interview with international news agency Reuters
in Barcelona this weekend. “He was just having a go at Luca a little bit. Formula 1 is Ferrari and Ferrari is Formula 1. It's just a marriage made in heaven, one of those super things that work well.”
Mosley himself has previously courted controversy in admitting that the Maranello-based concern – F1's longest-serving and arguably most loyal entrant as the only one to have competed in every season since the official inception of the world championship all the way back in 1950 – is the most important team in the sport.
However, whilst the scarlet brigade may be the most successful outfit in F1 history, they are struggling in 2009, enduring their worst start to a campaign in almost three decades in having had to wait all the way until the fourth grand prix in Bahrain before getting onto the scoreboard, and even then it was a low-key sixth place for former title-winner Kimi Raikkonen.
“They'll catch up,” Ecclestone argued. “I think with [former team principal Jean] Todt gone, we've gone a little bit back to the way it was before Todt went there. When you think about it, who would have been talking about Brawn and Red Bull the way they are talking about them now? You don't see much about Ferrari.”