As he continues to mull over the possibility of resuscitating his 'breakaway' threat, Luca di Montezemolo has contended that F1 could survive under a different name – and insists that the rule-makers must not 'give up everything that made our sport for the sake of costs'.
di Montezemolo has been one of the most fervent opponents to the drive to cut expenditure in the top flight in recent years, and on several occasions has raised the spectre of forming a 'breakaway' series with like-minded rivals – a notion that F1 commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone has rubbished as 'complete nonsense'.
Two years ago, it was Ferrari who led the outcry against then FIA President Max Mosley's controversial budget cap initiative – and with the terms of the governing Concorde Agreement due to be debated this year ahead of a new one being signed in 2012, the Scuderia's
ever-outspoken President argues that now
is the moment to bring about genuine change and urges that the ball is very much in the teams' court.
Somewhere along the line, a long-term compromise needs to be struck between F1's three principal factions – the FIA, Ecclestone's Formula One Management (FOM) organisation and the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA), of which di Montezemolo is a founding chairman – but the Italian has hinted that the sport's owners, private equity firm CVC Capital Partners, could similarly play a pivotal role.
“We need to think about what to do,” the 63-year-old told German magazine Auto Motor und Sport
. “It cannot go on as it is now. It cannot be that we give up everything that made our sport for the sake of costs – F1 is about extreme innovation and technology. Do we need the name 'F1'? I believe we could go on with a different one.
“Theoretically-speaking, we can have one of three alternatives. One is that we renew with CVC, but only with better financial conditions. For how many years, we have to discuss, but I am in favour of many years because I don't want to be back every three or four years. So, assume five-to-eight years. Second, we want to ensure that Bernie will remain in a strong position. How long? I hope for a long time. It is not a new choice; it is to continue as it is.
“The next option is that we find a different company [promoter] and start discussions. Third, we can establish our own company. At this point of time we would theoretically offer to Bernie to be chairman; more than honorary chairman – a chairman. We put a very strong marketing-oriented mind, nothing to do with the teams, to manage it and think of new and modern methods for marketing, as they did in the NBA. Only in the first case would we insist on Bernie, because I don't want to discuss with people that I respect but who don't know anything about F1.”
Hailing Ecclestone as central to his vision for the future of F1 due to the Englishman's 'passion [for] racing and not the stock market', di Montezemolo added that one more alteration he would like to see made is to the start time of grands prix, suggesting the sport is missing a trick and potentially sacrificing television viewers the way things are.
“I don't think it's good that in July or August the races begin at 2 o'clock when most people are lying on the beach,” he told German publication Sport Bild
. “Football games don't get started until 5 o'clock or later.”