Bernie Ecclestone has never been one to hide his admiration for Ferrari, especially in the Schumacher years, and has wasted little time in lending his support to Felipe Massa's 2009 F1 world title bid.
Swathed in a scarlet Ferrari jacket, Formula One's ringmaster addressed the media on a surprise visit to the Scuderia's annual Wroom event at Madonna di Campiglio, and used his push for an overhaul of the sport's current scoring system to admit that he would like to see Massa triumph in 2009.
Despite welcoming Lewis Hamilton's achievement in becoming the latest F1 world champion, Ecclestone has repeatedly claimed that the sport should reward the most committed drivers by offering the title to the man with the most wins at the end of the season. Promoting his vision of an Olympic-style medal system - with gold, silver and bronze rewards for the top three in each race - Ecclestone claimed that Massa would have been last year's moral winner, and deserves to win the title this season as recognition for that effort.
Massa finished just a single point behind McLaren rival Hamilton in 2008, but won one more race than the Briton, earning himself the right to be champion under Ecclestone's new regime.
"I hoped that Felipe would do something last year, so let's hope he does it this year," Ecclestone, whose daughter Tamara was on hand to conduct interviews at the event, told reporters, "Lewis had back luck the year before and won the championship, Felipe had bad luck last year, so I hope this year he recovers. He deserves to, he is a gentleman."
Although Ecclestone's plan remains on hold pondering a World Motor Sport Council decision based on greater 'market research', he remains keen to see success on track given greater credence that under the current point system, which allows just a two-point differential between first and second place. While admitting that the present scheme often promotes last-race showdowns, Ecclestone is not happy seeing a driver able to race for fifth place - as Hamilton could - in order to take the crown. If the Briton had had to win the race, the ringmaster insists, the Brazilian Grand Prix could have been even more exciting that it was.
One thing that Bernie is keen to shrug off, however, is the insistence on using the term 'medal' in his proposed overhaul of the system which currently rewards the top eight finishers. The phrase was quickly picked upon by the media and fans alike, and Ecclestone clearly feels that the connotation may do more harm than good.
"Forget the word 'medals'," he insisted, "I just think that the guy that wins the most races should win the championship. I don't think a guy that is second who's got a lot of points should be world champion, that's all. I hope that the idea of the winner [of most races] being champion will mean the drivers will race to win - this year, a lot of them sat there, being second and not trying to win, because there was only two points at stake."
Ecclestone admitted, however, that he was not confident of his system being implemented for 2009, mainly because of scepticism among those taking part.
"It's up to the teams to really push it through, [and] I hope they have enough sense to agree," he shrugged, "Some of the drivers don't agree because they don't understand, so it is up to the teams to push it through. They have all entered the championship and it is a change of regulations, so we would need them to agree."