Former Fiat and Ferrari boss Luca Cordero di Montezemolo opens up on F1 Beyond The Grid podcast as he talks about the whole team and the key drivers in his tenure.
The podcast opens up with Montezemolo talking about his early days with Fiat and Ferarri, first as a racer and then moving on to the management role. He then talks about his meeting with Enzo Ferrari and the time that followed with the F1 team.
When asked about Enzo’s style, he said that he always put the car ahead of the drivers. On a personal note, Montezemolo revealed that Enzo never traveled in an airplane, neither he used lifts in buildings plus he never liked to be in grand prix weekends.
Since he didn’t want to face the media, that was one reason he wore black goggles in meetings. Montezemolo then discussed his presence in the team and the whole automotive side, which started to boom in the 90s after few years of struggle.
He talks about bringing in Niki Lauda in the team – which as we saw in the movie ‘Rush’ – was done through Clay Regazzoni. Once in the team, Lauda impressed everybody as he showed maturity, intelligence and supreme talent.
Montezemolo recalls the championship he lost to James Hunt in 1976 where Lauda decided to stop, which did not make Enzo happy but both understood the reasoning and felt the conditions weren’t suitable to have the F1 race.
Before he pressed on to Ferrari’s return to the top in F1, Montezemolo talked about going back to the behind the scenes work and moving away from the day-to-day running of the team which he entrusted Jean Todt with.
Hiring Todt was a big problem as well with him being French but his remarkable CV helped them make the decision – he revealed that it was Bernie Ecclestone who advised him to go for Todt, who had lots of wins under his belt in other categories.
Moving on to Michael Schumacher, he said it was Todt who wanted the German in because at that time it was only Schumacher and Mika Hakkinen as their choice, but the Finn was heavily involved with McLaren, leaving Schumacher as the best choice.
Amid the talks, they even had a meeting with Ayrton Senna on the Wednesday of the tragic Imola weekend with the discussion of joining Ferrari in 1995 or 1996. However, as we know the revival came with Schumacher as they had a dominant run in F1.
When the German left, Montezemolo said Ferrari still showcased its ‘best car’ formula with Felipe Massa coming close to winning, while Kimi Raikkonen actually doing it. He regarded the Finn as the best natural talent available.
Moving on to Fernando Alonso, Montezemolo had good words for the Spaniard as he ranks him well with Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. He even felt that Alonso is/was close to Schumacher in the race trim.
The only issue with Alonso was that he wasn’t too close to the team like Lauda or Schumacher, especially when the time was bad. He though admitted that Ferrari cost him the 2010 title and that he could have won in 2012 as well.
The talks then moved to Vettel, whom he hired but couldn’t really work with him. He recalls the meeting where the German brought Swiss chocolate for him and discussed the possibility to race for Ferrari, detailing of his situation with Red Bull.
He reveals Schumacher had asked Ferrari to take Vettel much earlier but they opted to sign Alonso instead. Talking about the current situation – from outside – he feels Vettel needs a whole-hearted support from Ferrari to be able to crack on.
He reckons the team could have won the 2018 title and are in a good position now to build on. He ends the podcast talking about what F1 is to Ferrari and vice-versa, while said his proudest moment was to see the whole team gathering at Maranello to bid goodbye to him.
Hear what David Coulthard said last week