September 5, 2014
Why would Ferrari want to retire Luca di Montezemolo?
di Montezemolo has been with the Scuderia and FIAT on off since 1973 when, in his mid twenties, he became Enzo Ferrari's assistant and was put in charge of Maranello's Squadra Corse. Ferrari won the 75 and 76 constructor championships.
When at the end of the 1980's Ferrari was in desperate trouble, not having won a championship in over 20 seasons, di Montezemolo, by then a successful businessman, was brought back to revolutionize and reorganize the Scuderia.
LDM hired Todt, Brawn and Schumacher and the rest is history, di Montezemolo not only galvanized the racing part of Ferrari but also rescued the foundering road car division, starting with the 360, to the point where it now produces not just "Ferraris" but cars set the bar for the competition like the 458 and the F12.
There are some who fault di Montezemolo for agreeing with the changing regulations and giving away one of Ferrari's greatest assets, the ability to use Fiorano for tests. I'm not sure he had a choice.
di Montezemolo is of the same "professional " generation as Bernie Ecclestone, Frank Williams, Ron Dennis and you could argue that that is one that is being replaced slowly. The new generation is Toto Wolff, Horner and Mattiacci a generational shift is happening, despite Mr. E's apparent immortality.
Frictions are increasingly mentioned between di Montezemolo and the new generation of leadership in Torino, at FIAT. While for Gianni Agnelli, Ferrari was a precious jewel, for John Elkann and Sergio Marchionne, 90% of Ferrari is another asset seen in terms of the merger with Chrysler.
di Montezemolo had desperately wanted to take Ferrari public, to insulate it from Torino but he was never able to. Once on the board of FIAT, he was crucially not named to the new board of FCA this year.
$285 million profit last year on the sale of under 7000 units.
Would the new generation from Torino, John Elkann, Andrea Agnelli, maybe Lapo Elkann know how to run Ferrari, both road cars and race team? Will they understand and preserve its DNA or will they try and make it into say, another Red Bull?
Would that be a bad thing?
Time will tell.
Forty one years have told a lot.