Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo says Formula 1 needs a “more modern view” and hinted that the Bernie Ecclestone era may be close to coming to an end
The Italian is of the opinion that the sport needs a change in direction - one that would no longer involve Ecclestone, it seems.
“We are very close to opening a new page in the future of F1, acknowledging the good work that Bernie has done but moving on,” Di Montezemolo said.
“I always say to Bernie the one-man show in life is finished.”
Di Montezemolo made the remarks at Ferrari’s traditional pre-Christmas media lunch at the team’s base in Maranello.
While there few surprises amongst the issues he chose to highlight, like his ongoing distaste for the four-year-old ban on in-season testing and the overwhelming importance of aerodynamics in F1, he did appear to go further than ever regarding his feelings about how the sport is currently run.
“We are slowly approaching the end of a period characterised by the style of one man who has done significant things,” said Di Montezemolo, 65.
“It’s a bit of a similar case to what will happen to me: within the decade I will face this question, but when I am 75 not 82.”
In a talkative mood, Di Montezemolo even brought up Ecclestone’s problems in Germany, where the state prosecutor is considering charging him following the conviction of a banker for accepting a bribe from the F1 boss during the sale of the sport.
“First of all, I hope for Bernie and F1 that nothing will happen,” Di Montezemolo said. “If Bernie is accused under process I think he will be the first to step back in the interests of Formula 1. This could be bad for F1.”
The Ferrari president also wasn’t happy with Ecclestone getting involved in the controversy about whether world champion Sebastian Vettel had made an illegal overtaking move in the title-deciding Brazilian Grand Prix.
Ferrari questioned the move, but the FIA confirmed the world champion had done nothing wrong - a view Ecclestone clearly shared, calling Ferrari’s actions “a joke”.
Di Montezemolo said: “Every so often, Bernie likes to play the boss and gets involved in matters that don’t concern him - godfathers no longer exist, at least not in Formula 1.
“Interpretation of flags, be they yellow or blue, is nothing to do with him and he used expressions that I do not accept.
“Our behaviour in this instance was not only transparent, but perfect, and maybe he would do better to think about attracting bigger crowds and more youngsters, and to discuss more with the television stations and the media.”
Other issues Di Montozemolo raised were his dislike for new races to be held at circuits he felt were in the middle of nowhere and had no atmosphere, his dismay at the lack of engine manufacturers, concern over F1’s ageing audience and the lack of opportunity to develop technology relevant for road cars.
“If I could have tomorrow, Porsche engines, Honda, Audi that would be good. But if you cannot develop your engines it is not possible. It is one of the main problems that we face,” he said.
“We have 100 people working only in the wind tunnel. Why? It is a joke. We don’t do any mechanical research. We don’t test any more.
“We are not in a position to give young drivers opportunity in a competitive way. We are not in a position to organise events for sponsors.
“Yes I’m in favour of reducing costs but I’m not in favour of not testing at Mugello (Ferrari’s test track), or for somebody else not to test at Silverstone just because some teams cannot afford it.”
On testing, he added: “It’s getting close to ridiculous. The FIA is not opposed to it, we are not, and so what is the reason for it?
“There are teams who have put a lot of funding into simulators as have we, while at the same time we have invested heavily at Mugello, which is now one of the nicest circuits in the world.”