27 May 2010
Ferrari president expresses US team interest
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has said that he would be interested in seeing an American-run entry from the Prancing Horse.
Despite being one of the more scathing opponents of newcomers diluting the Formula One pool, and of the stillborn USF1 project in particular, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has revealed that he has dreams of American involvement in the top flight.
Only this week, the Italian claimed that F1's new teams should have been made to serve their apprenticeship in feeder series GP2, preferring instead to see the sport's more established outfits allowed to run a third car, as he had suggested repeatedly last winter when the various carmakers - BMW, Toyota and Renault - debated their futures in the top flight following Honda's exit and the crippling economic downturn.
"In the 60th year of F1, Ferrari is celebrating its 800th grand prix and let me say with pride that no-one will be able to match this record," di Montezemolo told Italy's Tuttosport, "For us, it is a source of great satisfaction and pride because is represents that Ferrari has been here even in difficult times, while other teams have come and have gone. I repeat that F1 without Ferrari is not F1, and this year there are many teams that should be racing in GP2."
While details emerge of no fewer than 15 teams bidding to fill the void left by the non-appearance of USF1 in 2010, the Ferrari president is still keen to see third cars run out of the sport's strongholds, and admitted that the Prancing Horse would look favourably on an American tie-up.
His words lend credence to the latest F1 project to see the light of day in the US, with the hitherto unknown Cypher Group having expressed an interest in pursuing the 13th grid slot despite the failure of USF1. However, it would seem that di Montezemolo is not advocating that the team comes in with its own car.
"I dream of a third Ferrari, managed by an American team, with the stars and stripes flag," he told Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport, mindful of the restrictions on teams using 'customer cars' that forced Ferrari-powered Scuderia Toro Rosso to build its own entry this season.
Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali has apparently spoken to YouTube founder Chad Hurley's representative Parris Mullins, both of whom have admitted to being involved in a new American F1 programme despite having their fingers burned by the fall-out from USF1.
"This is the legacy of the holy war waged by the former FIA president [Max Mosley]," an acerbic piece on the Ferrari website claimed prior to the 2010 season getting underway, "The cause in question was to allow smaller teams to get into F1. This is the outcome – two teams will limp into the start of the championship, a third is being pushed into the ring by an invisible hand and, as for the fourth, well, you would do better to call on Missing Persons to locate it. In the meantime, we have lost two constructors along the way, in the shape of BMW and Toyota, while at Renault, there's not much left other than the name. Was it all worth it?'
The same piece went on to slam hopefuls Stefan GP, which was ultimately denied a shot at replacing USF1, despite having shipped equipment to Bahrain for the season-opener, but is understood to have re-applied for 2011 even though its deal to use Toyota's unused cars and workspace has now fallen through.
Ironically, the team understood to be leading the charge for the 13th grid slot has strong links to the Ferrari camp, with French outfit ART Grand Prix boasting Nicolas Todt, son of former team boss-turned-FIA president Jean and manager of Felipe Massa amongst others, involved in its day-to-day running.
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