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Ferrari calls for meeting to discuss future of F1

Jun 15, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

Canadian F1 Grand Prix Getty Images

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has written a formal letter to the ruling powers in Formula 1, calling for a meeting to discuss the future of the sport following a “wrong turn”.

Montezemolo was quoted earlier this week as saying that Ferrari may consider its future in F1, only for the team to claim that his words had been misunderstood. It is common knowledge that the marque’s president is unhappy with the direction that the sport has taken, largely due to the new ‘efficient’ regulations, and now he is looking for firm action.

As part of the discussions, Montezemolo would like to focus on younger markets and fans, and has cited companies such as Google and Apple as being examples to follow.

The statement from Ferrari reads as follows:

“Ferrari has had Formula 1 coursing through its veins for over half a century and that’s why it has decided to make a move to turn the sport away from the wrong turn it appears to have taken.

“The Maranello marque has decided to do this through the means of a formal act, which is a concrete proposal, in the form of a letter from its President Luca di Montezemolo to the Formula 1 rights holder, Bernie Ecclestone and to Donald McKenzie, the president of the company that owns Formula 1.

“It is not an ultimatum, nor a threat, but a proposal to call together all the key players in the sport to sit down around a table and come up with new ideas that will see Formula 1 continue to set the benchmark in motorsport, on level terms with global events such as the Olympics and the football World Cup.

“The President wants to see a collective brainstorming from the group to act for the good of Formula 1. Contributions from all areas are of value; teams, sponsors, promoters and media, so that the key values of Formula 1 can be reestablished. President Montezemolo would also like to see other high-end players invited, those who are currently not involved or only partially so; new media, social networks and colossi such as Google and Apple.”

“Formula 1 has to be based on technical innovation, research and development, but this must all be done with sustainable costs and above all, must be moved forward as part of a product that can put on a show. Because it is the show that draws in the commercial partners, the sponsors and, above all, the fans, who are the real end users of the Formula 1 product.

“Finding the right mix of these ingredients will be vital for the sustainability and the future success of our much-loved sport.”

Montezemolo was highly critical of the new regulations that saw a greater focus be placed on efficiency, including a downsize from V8 engines to V6 turbocharged power units. In Bahrain, he called the new F1 “taxi cab racing”, only for the on-track action to be some of the most thrilling in recent years.

Formula 1 has been known to be adverse to non-profitable activities, such as investment in social media which – despite being highly valuable – does not provide an immediate return on investment. However, if the sport is to attract the new, younger generation, it might be in its interest to heed Montezemolo’s words.

That said, the on-track action is certainly still keeping fans glued to TV, with the 50m fall in global viewership largely coming as a result of the change in broadcasters in France and China.

If Ferrari was dominating the sport in the same fashion that Mercedes currently is, it would be interesting to see just whether Montezemolo would be so vocal about its future.

  1. kitnamania13 - Jun 15, 2014 at 12:06 PM

    In a related story, the Washington Redskins have called all of the NFL teams together to talk about the wrong turn pro football has taken. The Chicago Cubs are rumored to have scheduled similar meetings for baseball.

  2. hkfan5 - Jun 15, 2014 at 3:04 PM

    Leave it to Ferrari to blame the entire sport for Ferrari’s failure to field a competitive car.

  3. thefutureofoil - Jun 15, 2014 at 4:02 PM

    Yes, Ferrari would not be bitching if it was dominating, but there is a problem. I prefer to see the pinnacle of motor racing, not the most fuel efficient. Drivers being told to coast into turns to save fuel half way through the race [Rosberg/Canada and others] and engines revving to only 11,000 to 12,000 rpm?

    That’s not F1. If Mercedes is threatening to leave, let them win everything this year and then go. F1 hardly needs them.

    Adrian Newey has said the same thing as well. While it was boring watching Red Bull win everything, at least it was real racing. It is up to the other teams to catch them, not legislate away their advantage.

    • stephenwh - Jun 15, 2014 at 4:42 PM

      The rules are the same for everyone – you have Newey and Ferrari complaining, both of them losing. Duh.

    • redrock81 - Jun 15, 2014 at 10:28 PM

      I agree with thefutureofoil. The rule changes has made it so that teams have to look out for the fuels, the tires and drivers are told to back off to conserve instead of attack.

      While I think Montezemolo’s intentions are self-serving but he does have a point.

      • testover6370 - Jun 16, 2014 at 12:50 PM

        Having to look after the car has always been a requirement in some form or another. They’ve had to look after the fuel ever since refueling was banned. There’s nothing really all that new or sacrilegious about the need to look after the fuel and the car now, it just takes a different form.

  4. techmeister1 - Jun 15, 2014 at 6:46 PM

    Actually while I don’t necessarily agree with some of Montezemolo’s POV, he’s a pretty smart business man. Just because the authur of the story believes that Ferrari is complaining because they have posed an open letter to all involved in F1, does not make it so. The meeting per se doesn’t appear to be about the current formula but more about the continuing operation of F1 as a sport and profitable entertainment proposition.

    If you actually read the letter Ferrari is looking for all stake-holders in the sport to determine it’s future because Bernie ain’t going to be around much longer rather he’s in prison or dead. Thus having the stake-holders in charge of their future with a continuity plan NOW is a very important step in succession of the sport after Bernie.

  5. testover6370 - Jun 16, 2014 at 12:54 PM

    What is profitable now is not necessarily profitable in the future. Cable TV is on the decline and in time if they don’t change direction F1 will be the last remaining entertainment offering that is pay-TV only. How many fans are loyal enough to subscribe to pay TV for nothing other than F1? Not many, and that revenue will dry up.

    Marketing is never immediately profitable, it is an up-front expense for later profit. If they ignore marketing (and social media is a form of marketing) then they forfeit those future profits.

  6. manik56 - Jun 17, 2014 at 12:39 PM

    You cannot make snap judgments when we are roughly half way through the first year with the new rules. Teams will continue to develop the new car; it just takes time. In the meantime, we can just watch awful racing like we saw in Canada.

  7. worknman24hours - Jun 19, 2014 at 12:06 AM

    I am continually amazed at how the FIA finds new and exciting ways to make producing and maintaining the race cars for Formula One as expensive as they can possibly be done.

    There is a good reason to have semi primitive racing cars.

    They are cheaper to make and easier to keep legal.

    They also put the emphasis on the drivers skill and not the latest wiz bang power system.

    I wonder what the true production price tag of those Mercedes race cars is?

    Ten million-twenty million dollars a piece?

    Before Lewis or Nico even gets in them to race.

    Anyway, F1 seems dedicated to putting itself out of business in this respect until the next version of F1 rises from the ashes of the old one probably not too soon after Bernie passes away.

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