Just hours before his Ferrari team's home Italian Grand Prix, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo on Sunday launched an impassioned campaign for a cost-cutting Formula One overhaul.
As the teams made their final expensive preparations for one of the calendar's classic races in perfect, beautiful late-summer sunshine at the historic Autodromo Nazionale in Monza's former royal park, di Montezemolo looked to the future.
“We want an F1 with less cost,” he said.
“Tell me why we have to spend a huge amount of cost to spend 24 hours in a wind tunnel to do a small wing flap that, for the public, has no interest, for the television is zero and for me as a road-car manufacturer it is less than zero - because we will never use this for the road car?
SUCCESS IS CRUCIAL
“Ferrari has been in F1 for more than 60 years. The success in F1 is crucial. Ferrari will remain in F1 if F1 is F1 and not a race for electric cars or games.
“It is innovation and technology and, if you have to spend money, you spend it for the advanced research and not for something that is nothing to do with competition.”
On a weekend when one of the sport's most famous old circuits boasted rows of empty seats that reflected an Italy in the grip of economic crisis, his words appeared to fly in stark contrast to the paddock's towering modern motor-homes from which the teams operated and entertained their corporate backers.
On Friday, di Montezemolo hosted talks with F1 commercial ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt, the current president of the sport's ruling body, the FIA, at Ferrari's Maranello headquarters.
His statement at Monza appeared to be the outcome and included a swipe at some teams which, allegedly, have failed to honour previous agreements on cost controls.
“I want to have rules that permit us to spend less, because I don't think if you say, this is (an area) limited to spend (on), how can you control this? I think in the recent past, somebody cheated on this.
“So I prefer to have clear rules that allow (teams) to spend less, particularly in something that is not crucial for the spectators or the competition.”
He added that he wanted sweeping changes in many areas.
“Looking at young people, the races are too long. Perhaps, I am wrong. Maybe, I am, but I think we have to look very carefully at what we can do to improve the show of F1.
“I give you one example - one and a half hours is a long time for young people - Maybe it is good instead to have the race in two parts. Maybe it is a mistake, but we have to think of something, we cannot stay always the same.
“We have to be innovative without losing the F1 DNA, like technology and innovation. Now, in the last 10 laps, if you are in the lead, you take care of the tyres and because maybe you don't arrive at the end, you take care of your engine.
“This is not F1 extreme - It is something we have to look at. Maybe we maintain the race, maybe it is something we change for the future.”
He suggested also that the F1 races could be switched to start at different times, notably during the European summer.
“I don't think it's good to race in July and August at 2pm, when the people are in the sea, or on vacation - Soccer plays at six, seven or eight o'clock. F1 has to see this and make a change too.” -Sapa-AFP