Ferrari open to breakaway championship
|By Jonathan Noble||Friday, May 13th 2011, 10:28 GMT|
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo says Formula 1 teams will be open to the idea of forming their own championship from 2013, on the back of interest from News Corporation about getting involved in the sport.
A tie-up between News Corp and Italian investment group Exor, which has strong ties to Ferrari parent company Fiat, has prompted speculation that Ferrari could be evaluating the possibility of a breakaway series.
Now, in an interview with CNN, di Montezemolo has said that all options are open at the minute - as he suggested that there was no reason to feel the teams had to recommit to working with F1 owners CVC and Bernie Ecclestone beyond the end of the current Concorde Agreement.
"I think we have to be very pragmatic. At the end of 2012, the contracts of every single team with CVC will expire. So, we have three alternatives," di Montezemolo said in an interview broadcast on CNN on Friday.
"We renew with CVC, or we theoretically -- as the basketball teams did in the U.S. with great success -- we create our own company, like the NBA. Just to run the races, the TV rights and so.
"And third, to find a different partner. Bernie Ecclestone did a very good job but he has already sold out three times, so he doesn't own the business anymore. It is CVC that will sell. It will be the teams' decisions.
"At the end of 2012, the contract will expire, so theoretically CVC doesn't own anything. I think it is important to have alternatives. We will see. We have time to do it."
Di Montezemolo was also scathing of the current state of F1 – suggesting that new rules had made grand prix racing not as pure as it was in the past.
"We have gone too far with artificial elements. It's like, if I push footballers to wear tennis shoes in the rain. To have so many pitstops - listen, I want to see competition, I want to see cars on the track. I don't want to see competition in the pits," he explained.
"In the last race there were 80 pitstops. Come on, it's too much. And the people don't understand anymore because when you come out of the pits you don't know what position you're in.
"I think we have gone too far with the machines, too many buttons. The driver is focalizing [focusing on] the buttons, when you have the authorization to overtake. We have gone too far.
"Ferrari will push a lot with the authority - with the respect that we have to the federation and the other teams - to avoid going too far with F1. Because I think it can create problems for the television people and on the racetrack."
Di Montezemolo has backed calls from other leading F1 figures for the sport to do more to improve its promotion – and to embrace new media much better than it has up until now.
"We have to invest in the U.S. We have to improve new technologies in F1 for the people watching the television, for iPad, for the Internet. So I think we are in front of a very important moment," he said.
"We will race in Russia and India. F1, thanks also to Bernie Ecclestone, has become a worldwide sport. Now we have to find the best solution. It is important to invest for the future and the other teams."