Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo appears to be revisiting an old tactic in a bid to pressure the powers-that-be within F1 to mould the sport more towards his way of thinking.
Over the years, the threat of a Ferrari withdrawal has been used to good effect in gaining concessions or benefits, and Montezemolo clearly believes that the time has come to try the same move over again as he seeks to gain changes within the sport that would play into his company's hands.
Speaking via the team's official website, the Italian at least admitted that F1 would probably not fall apart without the Prancing Horse, but insisted that he would be afraid to withdraw from the sport if the research Ferrari was putting into its road and race cars continued to be overshadowed by the reliance on aerodynamics. Likewise, he called for a return to in-season testing - something the Scuderia could clearly afford where others couldn't - and repeated his belief that running a third car would only be of benefit to the sport as a whole.
“F1 is still our life but, without Ferrari there is no F1, just as, without F1, Ferrari would be different,” he said, “We can be very patient, but there are precise conditions for us to continue with our work. We race not just for the publicity it brings us but, above all, to carry out advanced research aimed at all aspects of our road cars: engine, chassis, mechanical components, electronics, materials and aerodynamics, to such an extent that the technology transfer from track to road has grown exponentially over the past twenty years.
“What is not so good is that 90 per cent of performance is now based exclusively on aerodynamics and another negative is that ours is the only sport where no testing is allowed. We are building cars, not helicopters, rockets or planes. Sure, we must not go back to the excesses of a few years ago, but neither should we be in a position where we can't provide opportunities for the youngsters we are bringing on in the Ferrari Driver Academy.
"Finally, there's the issue of the third car which, mark my words, we support not so much for our own interests but more for those of the sport in general. We believe the interest of the fans, media and sponsors could increase if there is a bigger number of competitive cars on track rather than cars that are two or three seconds off the pace, being lapped after just a few laps. As an example, remember, in 1961, Giancarlo Baghetti won the French Grand Prix at Reims with a privately-entered Ferrari. There you are, it would be nice one day in the future to see one of our cars running in American colours, or Chinese, or maybe those of Abu Dhabi.”
Aware that he is likely to come in for some opposition, Montezemolo insists that he is views are just that - his views - but maintained the belief that F1 needs to look at the way in which it currently operates.
“We will support our views as we see fit, in the best way possible but, let's be clear, for those who agree, that is fine, but otherwise they will just have to accept it is our position," he concluded, "If F1 still wants Ferrari, it must change and go back to being at the cutting edge of research, while always keeping an eye on costs. We are not in F1 as sponsors, we are constructors.”
Veteran F1 journalist Joe Saward, meanwhile, raises the point that Montezemolo may just be using his views on F1 to raise his profile in other areas.
"While stirring up trouble in F1 with remarks about Ferrari quitting the sport, Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo may simply have been using the F1 as a way to keep his name in the newspapers," Saward wrote on his personal F1-themed blog.
Montezemolo is thought to be leading the race to replace current Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi if and when his government falls apart, and last week called for a 'government of national salvation' to save Italy from a possible debt crisis, putting forward a five-point plan to save the country from financial ruin.