Luca di Montezemolo says there is no correlation between Ferrari's successes as a business as opposed to success in formula one. After 23 years as president, the Maranello marque's iconic leader is stepping down to be replaced by Fiat-Chrysler chief Sergio Marchionne.
Defending his position, Marchionne said that while 67-year-old Montezemolo should be applauded for growing Ferrari as a road car business, the downwards trend of success in formula one needs to be addressed. The implication is that, ultimately, Ferrari overall will suffer.
But, in an interview to be aired by Italian broadcaster Rai 1 later on Tuesday, Montezemolo challenged the view that Ferrari's road car and F1 successes can be tied together. "I often hear people say 'If you win you sell more, if you lose you sell less'," said the charismatic Italian. "My reply is that it is not so. Just think that the greatest growth Ferrari has had over the past 60 years was in the United States -- the country where formula one is almost unknown."
Montezemolo says that even applies to other markets. "It would be said 'take a German driver, sell more in Germany'. But we had outstanding victories with a driver like Schumacher, but we didn't sell any more in Germany," he insisted.
Meanwhile, as Montezemolo's decline is hotly debated in Italy and beyond, a member of the influential Agnelli family has backed the controversial news. Andrea Agnelli, president of the Juventus football club, said Montezemolo made a "profound" impact on Ferrari, including "incredible achievements" for the Maranello marque.
But he said responsibility for Ferrari's failure to win a title since Kimi Raikkonen in 2007 "applies to everyone". "Whenever you begin a process of renewal which relates to the medium and long term, it is right that it involves new people," said Agnelli, whose uncle was the great Fiat figurehead Gianni Agnelli.
"Ferrari must not be nostalgic but look to the future in a constructive manner with regards to the leadership," he is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I hope that Ferrari and Juventus win together perhaps already next year, as anyone who works in sports can set no other ambition than victory. Sport, from this point of view, is ruthless both on the football field and on the track," said Agnelli. (GMM)