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Ferrari obliged to win, says president

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo rarely attends Grands Prix, but the team's home round at Monza is the traditional time of the year for the Italian to meet the press and discuss the latest developments

This year, di Montezemolo naturally focused on the close championship battle with Renault, team orders to help Michael Schumacher win his eighth crown, and the highly anticipated announcements on the German's future, Ferrari's driver line-up, and management structure next season.

Luca di Montezemolo: "We are obliged to recuperate some of the points we lost in the first three races of the season, we are obliged to win.

"Of course, I am a little bit disappointed to lose the pole position for two thousandths of a second at Monza, but on the other hand the drivers are both very pleased with the cars.

"We have the two Ferraris in the first two rows, and for the moment our main competitor Alonso is on the third row so the race looks promising.

"As I said a few months ago we will announce Sunday afternoon because I wanted my team to concentrate on the race, the team of next season and as usual at the end of the year we will announce the entire Ferrari organisation.

"I have been working on the new organisation for many weeks and at the end of the year we will be ready to announce everything, Ferrari looks ahead.

"We have got one year of long vacation last year and now - after a long vacation in the middle vacation of the first races of the season - we are again totally concentrated, and since Imola on we have been by far the best team.

"So I look at the last four races with good possibilities, and for me it was important to have Ferrari again at the top, than win or not win, and I am happy that Ferrari is back again."

Q: What will you miss most about Michael when he quits?

Montezemolo: "I hope he continues for 15 more years, because he is the best driver in the world. I can say he is an important part of my life - we have been together since 1996 at the beginning in difficult moments, we have faced fantastic moments and difficult moments.

"But he has always been very loyal with the team, very close to the team, he has always pushed with the strong determination in every condition even when the car was not competitive, and he is a driver who until now has won more than anybody else in Ferrari history.

"For human elements and for professional elements, whenever he will stop I will miss him, and I will do my best to maintain with him collaboration of course in a different way, a link contact with Ferrari for the future."

Q: So he is more than an employee

Montezemolo: "Of course. Absolutely."

Q: Can you compare Niki Lauda and Michael?

Montezemolo: "You know, this is a good question because I am sure you will believe me. I quite often thought about Niki and Michael, because it is always difficult to make a comparison, but for sure that there are two elements to comment.

"First of all, big professionals, attention to detail, concentration and drivers very, very close to the team in terms of assistance, with the technicians and with the mechanics.

"The second is that they are drivers who have always an approach with a lot of determination, until the last metre of every race they are fighting to try and win.

"For me, Michael is definitely stronger and I have never seen in my life in the race - I have never seen a driver with a modern race, races are often divided into two or three sectors with a pit stop, able to drive like for pole position for 70 laps. Always at a high level without an up and down.

"Michael has been the first driver in the world to work hard on his physical conditions, to be fit, to be ready physically means to be fit in the head. This is something that has always impressed me.

"Having said that, Michael has done and is doing and will do something unique for Ferrari. Nobody else has won until now what Michael has won and I think that I have no doubt that he is the best driver in the world for many, many years."

Q: How much of a distraction has the driver speculation been this season during a close world title fight?

Montezemolo: "This is a very good question. This is the reason why we decided not to do any announcement Friday or Saturday, because I hope doing this tomorrow night we can protect a little bit this attention.

"Having said that, Ferrari is always under pressure and this morning coming from Rome in the plane I was reading the Italian newspapers and I see many people in the pits are saying, this will be the next team for Ferrari next year; Ferrari will do this, Michael will do that.

"So Ferrari is always in the middle, but this is our life. We are very, very expert with the pressure, we have got pressure when we were not competitive in the 1990s and we have pressure since we have been competitive since 1999, so this is our life and I think Ferrari without pressure is not Ferrari anymore.

"Having said that, can you imagine, Monza, crucial race for the championship, an announcement of the new team and Michael's decision, there are many ingredients involved as well. There would be a lot of pressure.

"Even without Michael's decision, Monza is big pressure for Ferrari and this season Monza is crucial, because we are obliged to win. As we were obliged to win in 2001 because we arrive in Monza and then we win in Indianapolis, and then we won in Brazil and we won the championship."

Q: What are your main aims when trying to work out new organisation?

Montezemolo: "Maintaining an important stability with some new entrants that are important because particularly for the younger people in the team and to try to improve every year.

"If you look back at the last 10 years, Ferrari has done some not big but important injection of fresh air in the team. This is for me important, maintaining stability, maintaining the spirit and maintaining the group of 80/90 percent of the people.

"Having said that, this year is particularly important because many, many contracts will expire after many years. So we need...I am looking for a good balance between innovation and stability."

Q: how much pressure did you put on Michael to make his decision by Monza?

Montezemolo: "I think that it doesn't change a lot why. All of you, even without our decision to announce, for many weeks you are writing, thinking, looking at the new team of Ferrari, so if we don't announce we have to accept that we will be under pressure because of your opinion.

"Will Michael retire? Somebody will join Ferrari - maybe Alonso? He will buy out his contract with McLaren and join Ferrari?

"At this stage of the season anyway announcing or not announcing the new Ferrari team is the news for the future, so I think it is better to maintain the commitment to say in Monza that we will announce, as we have done normally in the past.

"I am very pleased because I want to win of course but whoever will win this end of the is very, very tight and very good for the public and I am very happy after last year's vacation to have Ferrari ready to win after six titles running. I am happy. For me it is always important to have Ferrari very competitive and this is competition.

"I am pleased with Massa. We hired him in 2001 as a young talent, then he went to Sauber, then he was with us as a test driver, he knows the people, he knows the technicians, he is young, he is quick, he is doing well, and I am very happy for him not only as a driver but also as a member of the team.

Q: The race in Turkey, were you wrong to not sacrifice Massa at the pitstop?

Montezemolo: "We are again talking Ferrari because if we stop Felipe and let Michael go then people will go, 'oh, Ferrari, ah Ferrari, why?' If we maintain the position to give the young driver the possibility to win - but why do they do this?

"My opinion is exactly the same after we asked Barrichello to let Schumacher past. For me F1 - I am older than all of you, because my first race was the Silverstone Grand Prix in July 1973 as a young Ferrari team manager - For me F1 has got three ingredients: extreme research, sport, first of all sport so it is a competition between drivers, men, so it is sport and third it is particularly now with the team and pitstop, a sport of team.

"Because to win you need two drivers who are very competitive, you need the car, you need the team, you need the tyres, you need strategy, you need a lot of things.

"While I am the chairman of Ferrari, and I have been there for 15 years, and I am the oldest chairman of a car industry in the world, for me it is a team - if one driver has a better chance to win the championship then that is normal, like in the bicycle when somebody goes in the front and then at the end, it is a team.

"I want Ferrari to win. I want the two drivers to work for Ferrari, if not they can organise their own team. So I think it is normal in a fair way, to have a team strategy in a team. That is absolutely normal, if you do this official. I don't understand why people say why they have done this? If a driver can have the possibility to get points and win, why not do this?

"It is normal in any sport of teams. And F1 is a sport of team, you can have the best driver in the world but if you make a mistake with tyres in the pitstop, strategy or reliability of the car then you don't win.

"Anyway I was happy for Massa to win because psychologically it is important. But having said that, in the last four races of the season the entire team will be totally focused on helping Michael as is normal. It should not be normal if we do something different."

Q: Why are you not able to announce the driver line-up at the same time as the new structure of the team? Could they have been announced at end of season?

Montezemolo: "No. Drivers also means to give an answer to you about Michael's intentions, his contract. We always make the announcement only of drivers.

"I want to have more time until the end of the year because Ferrari team and Ferrari company, it is not a question of one driver or two drivers, it is more complicated and I want to give a complete announcement.

"We have always done this every time because the organisation is different."

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