Luca di Montezemolo has a habit of playing down Ferrari's chances of success each time the Scuderia unveils a new Formula One contender but, this year, the president insists that it is more than superstition keeping his feet on the ground.

Speaking as the new F2008 took to the track for the first time in the hands of Kimi Raikkonen, di Montezemolo outlined various reasons why he was refusing to build up the team's chances of retaining the two world titles it secured last season - although he admitted that repeating that success was naturally the aim of everyone at Maranello.

"The aim is to win again, but it will be very difficult," he insisted, "I'm not saying that because of superstition [but], first of all, because there are new rules - traction control, the gearbox has to be used for four races in a row, the McLaren [electronics] system, the new qualifying - which mean that things really change.

"Then there is our fierce competition, the biggest car manufacturers in the world. This is the big difference to the Formula One that we knew in the last millennium. There will be fierce competition, which will make especially the start of the season very exciting.

"The third point is that we have to deal with a championship where everybody tries to beat Ferrari. Ferrari has won seven championships in nine years [and], obviously, our aim is to win eight out of ten, but that also means that we need to work hard on our partners, on simulation, the team and all the details. I want to underline that we have a lot of humility and we do not think that we will win easily."

Despite reportedly being at odds with the Todt family, and therefore not necessarily convinced of Felipe Massa's place in the team, di Montezemolo insisted that the driving strength was a key to the chances of success in 2008, as was the way in which the new-look technical line-up gelled.

"We can count on two very strong drivers," he insisted, "This year, the driver plays a much more important role and we have two drivers plus one, with Michael, who has done some tests during the winter with the new car and who can give us some important support, thanks to the experience he has driving cars without traction control.

"There is an intensive programme and the team is concentrated and motivated. Raikkonen, who won the world championships in the first year with Ferrari - something only Fangio managed to do before him - now knows all the men and the team, while Massa showed in his last race that he knows how to win, but also thinks of the team. The team is our priority, because the strong point of Ferrari has to be the team.

"This year too, the team takes its last steps in terms of reorganisation, as confirmed by [Jean] Todt by the end of 2006. That year, there was the first change, while 2007 was full of surprises - and we didn't have Michael anymore. At the end, we managed to win both world titles. Already, during the sabbatical year of Ross [Brawn], we had young and capable people at the track.

"This year, Stefano Domenicali is head of track operations, next to the three key players Aldo Costa, Mario Almondo and Gilles Simon. This second step takes the team to where it will stay for the next years without any traumas happening, rewarding those who knew how to manage our team during difficult times. Our team manager will be [Luca] Baldisserri and there are many people working in the simulation department. Further, we can count on the precious collaboration of Rory Byrne and [Marco] Fainello's experience. For that, I want to thank Jean Todt, to whom I had given only one aim - the dynamic stability of our team, to leave people at the top, able to take their own position."

As for the president himself, he is looking forward to a season where his own role within the company will alter.

"It will be an important year for all of us, for me personally and, I hope, also very important for Ferrari," he commented, "I think, in two-and-a-half months, I'll be much more present here, when I finish my other duties.

"The company is growing and we have a new site to build road cars, young engineers who follow a programme of three months where they work in the works, while Formula Uomo is still a huge challenge for Ferrari. In 2007, we finished a record year in terms of turnover and we are working with the knowledge that there are many opportunities for Ferrari all over the world.

"Considering the races we want to win, we will give it our all because, as we have seen, at the end of last year and with the first laps of our new car, the rules for this season make the car really different. Personally, I think that this is a positive change for our sport - I've been with Formula One for 30 years now and the nice thing in this sport is the continuous research in innovation."

Finally, di Montezemolo had one wish for the 2008 campaign that did not necessarily refer directly to the Scuderia, but harked back to the unpleasantness that scarred 2007.

"At the beginning of the season, I want to add that it will be one without mysteries," he said, "and I have to acknowledge the Federation's efforts to ensure that Formula One didn't lose credibility this year thanks to taking the right decisions."

 

Comments

Loading Comments...