Montezemolo Out At Ferrari
Sep 10 - Rumors proved true when Ferrari
president stepped down today.
Luca Di Montezemolo is an iconic figure in
motorsport and Italian public life, for his
many great achievements, for his charisma,
and for the theatre with which he conducted
His problem was that in recent years the play
was not very good and the acting had gone
Di Montezemolo has done great things with
the road-car side of Ferrari's business. Their
current range is arguably the best they have
ever had, and the company is poised to
announce record financial figures
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But Ferrari's brand image rests to a large degree on its
involvement in Formula 1, and there the company is in
Despite having Fernando Alonso, the greatest driver of
the era, in one of their cars, the F1 team has been slipping
backwards since the last time they won a world title in
Alonso has carried the team on his back, masking their
shortcomings with his incredible commitment and
consistency and the sheer quality of his performances.
Somehow, Alonso came within touching distance of two
world titles in 2010 and 2012, despite the inferiority of
Ferrari's car. But this year even he cannot make their
performance look acceptable.
Two podium finishes is all they have to show for 13 races
of unstinting effort. Their worst year since the dark days of
the early 1990s has brought things to a head.
Michael Schumacher, left, won five consecutive world drivers' championships
during Di Montezemolo's 23-year tenure
This year, it has all gone wrong for Di Montezemolo.
After backing the new hybrid regulations in F1 before the
season started, confident in the mistaken belief they would
enable Ferrari to become competitive again, he then
criticised them when Ferrari's failings became apparent.
He turned up at the Bahrain Grand Prix to bemoan the new
"taxi-driving" F1, only for the drivers to put on the best
race in years. But it was a race in which Ferrari had only a
Alonso and his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen struggled to
hold on in the frantic battle for the final podium position
behind the two Mercedes drivers. Time and again, the
Ferrari's lack of power was exposed, as Mercedes-engined
cars blasted past the red ones on the straight.
In the Ferrari pit, an exasperated Di Montezemolo glowered
at then-team principal Stefano Domenicali before
throwing up his arms and storming off before the end of
It is said that when he and Domenicali got back to base in
Maranello, Di Montezemolo demanded the head of the
boss of the engine department, Luca Marmorini.
Domenicali refused, offering his own resignation instead.
There are signs of hope, though. Domenicali's replacement,
Marco Mattiacci, is quietly making a good impression
among senior figures in F1 as a man who means business
and looks like he can deliver.
Mattiacci, it is said, has decided to back the team's new
technical director James Allison to the hilt as the
Englishman seeks to sort out the mess of the engineering
department while inevitably fighting the politics doing so
brings with it.
And Marchionne is a hard-nosed industrial manager who
gets things done.
But the big question is what effect Di Montezemolo's
departure will have on Alonso.
The two-time world champion was already considering his
future with the team.
He has a contract until 2016, but McLaren are desperately
trying to persuade him to join them in their new era with
Honda engines, and want him as soon as they can get him,
either next year or, more likely, for 2016.
Alonso spent an hour with Di Montezemolo at Maranello
on Monday, presumably picking over the bones of an
Italian Grand Prix that was even worse for Ferrari than that
Di Montezemolo cannot escape responsibility for this
decline, for all his success with Ferrari's road cars, or the
reputation he built up in organising the Italia '90 World
Cup, and as team principal in the 1970s rebuilding Ferrari
from another low into the dominant force it became with
Niki Lauda from 1975-7.
The fact is, Di Montezemolo had come to be seen as part
of the problem - as Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, who
will take over as Ferrari president, hinted on Wednesday.
"Our mutual desire to see Ferrari achieve its true potential
on track has led to misunderstandings," Marchionne said of
Di Montezemolo in the wake of his 'resignation'.
When it became clear in recent days and weeks that time
was running out for Di Montezemolo, a source close to the
team remarked sardonically: "Finally, Ferrari has a chance
to sort itself out."
Sergio Marchionne, current Fiat CEO will replace Di Montezemolo as Ferrari president
With that, Ferrari lost the chance to sign the architect of
Mercedes' dominant power unit, as Domenicali had been in
advanced talks with the German company's engine boss
Andy Cowell, who then got cold feet.
If Cowell was put off by the blame culture at Ferrari, he is
not the only one. At least two other senior engineers from
other teams have decided against joining this year for that
very reason. Marmorini went anyway, sacked later in the
Meanwhile, rumours that either former Mercedes team
principal Ross Brawn, or their former technical director
Bob Bell, could join the team continue to rumble, as they
have done all year.
The impression is of a team in chaos, just as it was in the
early 1990s before Brawn, Jean Todt and Michael
Schumacher arrived, presaging a period of dominance the
like of which the sport had never seen before.
But forget any claims you hear that Alonso has lost an ally
in Di Montezemolo.
In fact, they did not get on at all - and that is putting it
mildly. All the hugs in the garage, the urban handshakes in
the paddock, were for show - just like Di Montezemolo's
trips to the Monza pit wall to wave at the fans, when in fact
the grandstand was half-empty and responded hardly at all.
That scene, played out on Saturday morning, seemed to be
a perfect metaphor for Di Montezemolo's fall.
He gave a defiant news conference, even if what he said
was not exactly the denial it was presented to be. But the
writing was on the wall. And four days later, he is gone.
An era is over, an era in which Ferrari dragged itself out of
the doldrums only to slip inexorably back into them again.
For that, Di Montezemolo has been held accountable.
Charismatic and engaging figure though he was, his time
was up. And he has left his successors with an awful lot to
Marc Marquez Finally Goofs
Sep 14 - After winning all eleven races so far this year in
MotoGP, Marc Marquez crashed and was unable to win.
Italian great Valentino Rossi led a Yamaha one-two to
claim his maiden win of the season at the San Marino
MotoGP and launch his bid for a 10th world title.
Rossi, a nine-time world champion in all categories,
finished the 28-lap race on Sunday ahead of Spanish
teammate Jorge Lorenzo, with Dani Pedrosa, on a
Championship leader Marquez finished 16th after crashing
his Honda in the early laps and trailing at the back of the
field for most of the contest.
Lorenzo on Saturday had earned the 30th pole position of
his career, but first of the season, to top the grid just ahead
of Andrea Iannone on a Ducati, and Rossi.
But the Spaniard's bid for a fourth successive win in San
Marino was kept in check by a rampant Rossi.
The Italian eclipsed his mercurial form so far this season
with a composed and determined performance which he
admitted was helped by Marquez's misfortune.
"I'm very happy. It was a great race," an ecstatic Rossi
said. "Obviously incidents like the one affecting Marquez
don't happen very often.
"But today we knew we had a great chance to win this
race. I really enjoyed the race, so many people, so many
fans. It was a perfect day."
It was Rossi's 81st win in the sport's elite class, and the
35-year-old Italian became the first rider to reach 5000
Lorenzo, Rossi, and Marquez - who had a great start from
fourth - exploded off the grid and opened up a small gap as
early as the first lap, with Iannone, Andrea Dovizioso and
Pedrosa leading the chasing pack.
Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi speeds away as Honda's Marc
Marquez takes a tumble in the San Marino MotoGP
Rossi, however, soon had the thousands of local fans in the
stands on their feet when he deftly overtook Lorenzo.
By lap six, Lorenzo's gap to Rossi began to grow and three
laps later the Italian was given a further boost when
Marquez lost control on a bend and had to be helped by
officials to get going again.
As Rossi pushed on solo, Marquez slipped down the field
and dropped out of contention.
The Italian was left virtually unchallenged for most of the
remainder of the race but had to fend off Lorenzo in the
closing stages before crossing the line 1.57 seconds ahead
of the Spaniard, with Pedrosa completing the podium at 4.2.
With five championship races remaining, Marquez leads on
289 points but has seen Pedrosa (215) and Rossi (214)
close the gap to 74 and 75 points respectively.
F1 Bans Certain Communications
Sep 11 - The FIA has banned communication between
teams and their drivers relating to the performance of the
As part of the push to improve the overall product the FIA
has acted to ban communications which appear to make
driving in F1 seem too easy. The title fight between Nico
Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton this year has seen various
examples of each driver being fed information about where
the other is quicker in relation to their own lap times,
something which is commonplace up and down the grid.
Radio messages can also advise drivers where to make
changes to aid car performance but FIA race director
Charlie Whiting has written to all teams to say these
messages will be banned with immediate effect. The FIA is
citing Article 20.1 of its Sporting Regulations which states:
"The driver must drive the car alone and unaided."
The message from Whiting read: "In order to ensure that
the requirements of Article 20.1 of the F1 sporting
regulations are respected at all times FIA intends to
rigorously enforce this regulation with immediate effect.
Therefore, no radio conversation from pit to driver may
include any information that is related to the performance
of the car or driver."
This has been prompted due to fears the amount of
|Formula 1 race director Charlie Whiting
communication between drivers and their race engineers
during races makes it seem like drivers are 'puppets' behind
the wheel. One example which gained attention this season
was Rosberg asking his race engineer for "driving advice" in
Germany - a request not limited to the German but a
majority if not all of F1's drivers.
Teams will still have the freedom to advise drivers on
pit-stop strategies and safety issues,, while the FIA should
ensure dramatic radio conversations remain for TV
purposes. The ban is expected to be discussed further in
Singapore to clarify what is and is not permitted.
Jorge Lorenzo Grabs 2014 Win
Sep 28 - MotoGP returned to Aragon in Spain for the 14th
round of the championship. Marc Marquez dueled for the
lead with Jorge Lorenzo and team-mate Dani Pedrosa.
Valentino Rossi started the race from the 2nd row, but
crashed out and was taken away on a stretcher.
Late in the race, it began to rain. The Honda Repsol
team-mates stayed out while Lorenzo and others pitted for
bikes with rain tires.
As Marquez strived to tie the record for 12 wins in one
season, he pushed his luck too far, and with only 4 laps to
go, his bike slid out from under him and he ended up
finishing in 13th place. Pedrosa lost it during the prior lap
and finished in 14th.
American Nicky Hayden returned after sittiing out four
races due to an injury. He finished in 9th.
Lorenzo went on to win his first race of the season.