Addressing the rampant rumors circulating the paddock at Monza this weekend, the hereditary Marquis of Montezemolo (pictured above at the unveiling of the 458 Speciale in Frankfurt last year) insisted that he is not about to leave Ferrari. Not before 2017, anyway, having signed as recently as this past March to stay on another three years. (After that, it's anyone's guess, with some suggesting that controversial Fiat scion Lapo Elkann could take his place.) But in dismissing the rumors, the affable and long-serving Ferrari chairman did reveal some new product plans.
First of all, according to racing site Autosport.com, Luca confirmed that the Prancing Horse marque "will present a fantastic new car" at the Paris Motor Show next month, widely expected to be a new variant of the 458: either the new Speciale Spider or the turbocharged 458 M. While he was at it, though, Montezemolo also revealed a new limited edition model to be presented in California.
For presentation an upcoming owners meeting in Los Angeles, the company is "preparing a unique and unbelievable car" to be limited to just ten examples. It may be too early to say just what form it will take (though our money's on a roadster variant of one of its existing models), the October event is expected to draw some 600 Ferraris from across the United States in celebration of the marque's 60th anniversary in America.
Monza, 6 September – Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo made his traditional Monza visit today, saluting the fans from pit lane, getting a very warm reception from all those in the grandstands, waiting for qualifying to begin. Naturally, he also spoke to the journalists, addressing various topics. "Of course I'm happy to be at Monza," he said. "This track has a unique atmosphere and for me and for Ferrari it holds many great memories. It was here in 1975 that I won my first title as Sporting Director and assistant to Enzo Ferrari, with Niki Lauda driving. We went through amazing times here with Michael Schumacher, to whom I send all my heartfelt best wishes and in this I also speak on behalf of all the men and women at Ferrari. And it was also here that we enjoyed Fernando's victory in 2010."
As for the rumours doing the rounds in the paddock regarding the long term future with Ferrari, the President was brief in his comments. "I think this rumour is kicking up rather too much dust. Last March, I made it clear I was available to continue in my role for a further three years and if anything changes, I will be the first to let it be known." Montezemolo then spoke of the work still to be done this year, talking about a year with record profits and other matters relating to the road car business, such as the new car that will be launched at the Paris Motor Show and events that are being prepared for October, to celebrate Ferrari's 60 years in the United States.
When it came to the topic of Formula 1, the President had this to say: "We are working with the new Team Principal, Marco Mattiacci, to revitalize and reorganize our race team. There is still a great deal to do and we must do our best back in the factory to get back to the top." Then, moving on to another racing topic, Montezemolo returned to the subject of how Formula 1 must change to be centre stage again as far as the media is concerned. "I have told Mattiacci to talk about the regulations in the appropriate environment. We need to put the fans and enthusiasts who watch the races on TV and at the tracks in centre stage. The priority therefore is to put in place simple rules that the public will find easy to understand. We must return to channeling excitement into Formula 1 and to make it clear that this sport is also a form of research. We must stop lowering the level of Formula 1. If someone doesn't want to go testing, then don't do them, if someone has excellent simulators they don't have to do it, but this tendency has to stop. Yes, controlling costs is invoked but this year we have ended up with the most expensive engines of all time."
The Ferrari President also met with the two drivers and, when asked by the media about Alonso's contract, he replied, "Fernando has a contract with us to the end of 2016 and wants the same things I want and that the fans want, namely a competitive car." As for Raikkonen: "I am happy that he is beginning to feel more at ease with the car and I hope that on Sunday he will be able to have another strong race, like he did in Spa-Francorchamps."