Fighting Shadows: Luca Cordero di Montezemolo

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If the tifosi are properly represented on social media, then we can assume few of the red team’s fans are mourning the loss of the ex-Ferrari chairman.

Yet Luca de Montezemolo was the man who dragged Ferrari out of the doldrums in the 1990’s by recruiting Michael Schumacher, Rory Byrne, Ross Brawn and Jean Todt. This ushered in an era of unprecedented dominance of Formula One by any team in the history of the sport.

To an Italian motorsport fan, Luca de M. is the spiritual heir of Enzo Ferrari.

But time and tide wait for no man, and since Malaysia 2015, the tifosi now acknowledge – the King of the Scuderia is dead – long live King Arrivabene.

What a difference a win makes.

But had the SF15-T morphed into the son of Satan – ‘666’ as was leaked by Ferrari personnel during last autumn – maybe the fans of the red team would feel differently. But in the present, Luca will be remembered for his unparalleled achievements – but ‘the now’ – belongs to the charismatic man from Marlborough.

Meanwhile the eloquent and distinguished Montezemolo remains part of the F1 fixtures and fittings following his appointment by CVC to the board of the Formula One Group of companies. And Luca continues to speak his mind, recently calling for CVC to build a team of ‘competence’ around Ecclestone, in order that the sport may be managed better.

Whilst the transition of power in Maranello is now moving along smoothly, the pain associated with ruthless manner in which Luca was betrayed, must still linger.

“Ferrari has been lucky this year”, Luca declares to La Repubblica. Montezemolo reminds us all that this Scuderia racing machine entry, was the fruit of his loins. Il Padrino though does cordially thank his successors. “Marchionne and [Maurizio] Arrivabene have done very well, we should congratulate them, but I honestly think they’ve been lucky”.

It’s not necessary to resort to sentimentality to recognise credit should be noted, where credit is due – and Il Padrino alone recruited the people who designed and built the 2015 Ferrari. Luca had begun a revolution long before Mr. Good Hello slipped out of his smoking jacket and into the red overalls.

The ex-Ferrari president reveals an interesting story from over a year ago, during winter testing in Jerez 2014. He called the recently departed Felipe Massa to congratulate him on securing a drive with the Williams team.

Massa cryptically observed, “Mr. President – the disaster is not just the engine.” Montezemolo states in that instant he knew 2014 was gone. Il Padrino’s response was to call Stefano Domenicali to immediately start the 2015 project.

In true Italian style the coded detail creates a story whose narration has mystical properties, yet the intention is clear. This narrative is rooted in Montezemolo’s need to claim recognition and for self-justification.

Further, Luca is stating, the Ferrari V6 Turbo Hybrid engine was not the problem in 2014.

But there is a touch of the unnecessary to all this raking over old coals; stating the obvious and fighting a battle which has been now lost. This does not represent the Montezemolo we ought to remember.

And by means of comparison, another great man left Formula One in the same year as Luca. But from this man – we’ve heard nothing for over twelve months.

This man knows his legacy speaks for itself.

17 responses to “Fighting Shadows: Luca Cordero di Montezemolo

  1. Why haven’t you commented on the second part of that interview with La Repubblica?

    “Williams has not improved, the Red Bull has imploded (I know that Mateschitz is considering selling, “or convince the Audi to enter – told a mutual friend – or I’m leaving “), and the McLaren is in crisis”

    http://m.repubblica.it/mobile/r/sezioni/sport/formulauno/2015/05/05/news/montezemolo_tifo_sempre_ferrari_questa_rossa_e_nata_dalla_staffetta_tra_noi_e_il_team_marchionne_-113551784/

    • I think that RBR-Audi quote was the most interesting part of his interview

      • Audi will not be jumping into F1 anytime soon – 2019-2020 maybe…. So on that basis Mateschitz will be gone already

        • Even as an engine supplier to RBR/STR? Maybe even trade STR title to offset the R&D costs?

          There are definitely some different permutations.

          • After Honda’s experience this year? And given at least 2 years of development time necessary before hitting the track? Just in time for 2017, at the earliest, when new engine rules will maybe-couldbe-unlikelyto kick in and a whole new unknowingly exciting and spectacular formula will dawn… Oh, let’s add that by that time all other manufacturers will have had 3 years of on-track testing as well as some 5 years of development, whereas the new entrant will get a scrawny 8 days worth of pre-season testing…

            Given the experimental and poorly understood technology they’re dealing with, sounds somewhat unlikely to me. Of course one may argue that Audi knows a thing or two about hybrids from WEC, which is true, but this still sounds like a very risky endeavor…

    • That part of the interview demonstrated why Marchionne was wise to cut LdM loose from the SF.

      A single example… Contrast LdM’s assessment of Williams’ 2015 performance, (“Williams has not improved,…”), vs what Pat Symonds just told Sky:

      Sky -> “…is this year’s car not as good as last year’s?”

      Symonds -> “…we’ve taken steps forward. In fact, we know from measurement that we’ve taken steps forward; we know from Barcelona performance [in pre-season testing] we’ve taken steps forward. And, to be honest, we know from driver comments that we’ve taken steps forward. But obviously those steps are not as great as those that Ferrari have taken.”

  2. “the King of the Scuderia is dead – long live King Arrivabene.”

    Oh no no no no! Luca is dead, all right, but the new king is Sergio Marchionne. Arrivabene is nothing but a puppet in Marchionne’s hands!

  3. “Mr. Good Hello ”

    Yeah, Judge, Mr Arrivabene translates as: Mr Arrive Well…

    • I thought Mr ‘Come-Good’ was more appropriate for what is being done at Ferrari after so long in the wilderness.

      • Yeah, Mr Come Well would work alright. I think Mr Come Good works only for our
        Murican friends…

  4. “Massa cryptically observed, “Mr. President – the disaster is not just the engine.” Montezemolo states in that instant he knew 2014 was gone. Il Padrino’s response was to call Stefano Domenicali to immediately start the 2015 project.”

    Since LdM’s lullaby stories about his calling Marco Mattiacci at 6 am (or similar) and proposing him the Team Principal job, when in actuality Marchionne force MM onto the hapless LdM when he hacked Domenicali’s head and started the 2014 Maranello bloodbath… Since that event, I don’t take LdM’s public musings too seriously. Especially those that sound too self-serving…

    People here tend to grill Ron Dennis for being a liar. How would you call di Montezemolo then?

    • Is it just me who saw Arrivabenne in the Ferrari garage during last year’s Bahrain GP standing next to LdM and Stefano?

      If memory serves me correct he’s even in the background during LdM’s parting sneer.

      I really do believe the deal had been done at that time, and that MM was scripted to be LdM’s hatchet man as all in the know knew full well LdM would follow him and no disgrace would come across the new management.

      • Could be. Sounds plausible to me. But Arrivabene is nothing more than a glorified marketeer, or simply Ferrari’s Chief Marketing Officer. Sergio Marchionne will be calling all the important shots…

  5. “And by means of comparison, another great man left Formula One in the same year as Luca. But from this man – we’ve heard nothing for over twelve months.”

    Excellent point, Judge. How’s Brawn’s fishing: trundling along?

  6. “The pain associated with ruthless manner in which Luca was betrayed”, I disagree.
    “Luca de Montezemolo was the man who dragged Ferrari out of the doldrums in the 1990’s by recruiting Michael Schumacher, Rory Byrne, Ross Brawn and Jean Todt” is the key to understand Luca. He was under pressure so he accepted to hire people who, unlike him, could do the work, and gave them freedom to do it. When the job was done he got rid of these people to be the star of the show, “the man who rescued Ferrari”. The reality is he was always the problem in Ferrari.
    I have seen these people in my professional career, they are all the same. The CEO of the company where I had the most successful period of my career was a perfect copy of Luca: political, egocentric, stubborn, useless for all practical decisions. He was always right -he was almost never right in reality- not because he was capable but because he was the great ____. Like Luca he was a rich kid. A group of us developed a successful business unit, got fired when it was well established, after that this guy reported five straight years losing money with it and finally got fired a few months ago. This happens all the time in industry, including F1.

  7. “Yet Luca de Montezemolo was the man who dragged Ferrari out of the doldrums in the 1990’s by recruiting Michael Schumacher, Rory Byrne, Ross Brawn and Jean Todt.”

    Luca Montezemolo (Luca de Montezemolo is wrong as you cant add the de without also adding the Cordera, as its meaningless according to Italian aristocratic pageantry) actually went against the grain and got lucky when he recruited Todt who then shipped in the whole Benneton posse

    All along Luca was trying to fill Enzos shoes by sticking to his favorite pastime of attempting to create an Italian national pride outfit to stick it to the Brits.
    He cleared out Todt Bryne and co after their success and tried to implement an Italian employees only built around Aldo Costa. He even declared Ferrari would be Italian on US tv. Then Aldos clique fell victim to the usual politics and he was canned, and took his ex Italian uni student team with him (eventually to Merc). And then Luca abandoned the ‘Italians only’ policy and knee jerk shipped foreigners Fry and co in.

    Aldo Costa is possibly the only Italian to be discriminated against by an Italian ‘national pride’ firm for being Italian lol

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