No sooner had this column last week disclosed that the question of third cars being made available by the major teams to customer squads would become a hot topic ahead of negotiations to extend the 2010-12 Concorde Agreement, than Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo alluded to the matter during the weekend's Ferrari World Finals event at Mugello.
"Finally, there's the issue of the third car which, mark my words, we support not so much for our own interests, but more for those of the sport [Formula 1] in general. We believe the interest of the fans, media and sponsors could increase if there is a bigger number of competitive cars on track rather than cars that are two or three seconds off the pace, being lapped after just a few laps," said the Italian, tipped by many to succeed Silvio Berlusconi now that the scandal-engulfed prime minister has agreed to stand down.
The concept of major teams selling kit to minnows is not novel, nor is it Ferrari's idea, having been around since the first world championship F1 race back in 1950. But for three years now the 64-year-old Bolognese - who masterminded Niki Lauda's first world title in 1975 - has been pushing for the rules to accommodate third cars.
Just as there are many ways of skinning a cat, so there are many ways of multiplying a (prancing) horse, with the primary consideration being one of principle: should third cars at all be permitted? Only in the case of an affirmative would decisions be taken about the modus operandi: whether these are run by the 'works', farmed out to contractors to run on behalf of the major team, sold/leased, or just made available to customers.