September 5, 2014

Why would Ferrari want to retire Luca di Montezemolo?

Talk of the week end is the possibility of this being the last Italian Grand Prix with Luca Cordero di Montezemolo as Ferrari's president.

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.  

Montezemolo always had the support of Gianni Agnelli, FIAT's boss and someone who had great admiration for Enzo Ferrari and appreciation for Ferrari's independence from its corporate bosses.

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.

Sound familiar?

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.

Officially it was done because seats were needed for Americans but without an ulterior motive, you don't keep someone responsible for a $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.


  1. ethiad owns something like 5-10% of ferrari and it's going to buy Alitalia, which is one of the worst managed activities in italy, close to public administation efficiency.. probably they want someone they thrust to give some kicks and make this business work, instead of losing something like 400 milion of € per year of activity

  2. I think it would be crazy for FIAT to push him out, can you really see Lapo Elkann dealing with Bernie, Ron Dennis and the like? LOL

  3. It would be satisfying for di Montezemolo to be pushed out the door in the same way he did it to Schumacher/


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