Montezemolo: “Another season as contenders”
Maranello, 20 December – The Formula 1 year ended with second place in the two championships, secured at the very last race. Therefore so some sense of regret is inevitable and President Montezemolo certainly did not shirk from that fact during the usual Christmas meeting with the Italian and international press.
“You can see the glass as half full or half empty, but clearly there is great regret,” he said. “Because the outcome went down to the wire, because after that first lap in Brazil, maybe things could have turned out differently, because Fernando went on holiday at the start of the summer break with a 40 point lead over his closest challenger and because, when it came to collisions (the car in the centre of the tables was actually the one used by Alonso at Spa…Editor’s note) we were forced to retire, while others kept going as if nothing had happened. However, the biggest regret is that we did not have a car that was quick enough to win the World Championship.
“On the glass half full side, we had amazing reliability which allowed us to come second in the Constructors’ championship despite the fact McLaren was quicker than us and despite the fact that, in the first half of the season we pretty much only had Alonso’s points to count on,” continued Montezemolo. “There were those great starts and pit stops and the fact Fernando had an extraordinary season, the best since he has been in Formula 1. Next year, let’s hope we can say it was our best season, given that we want to give him and Felipe a car that’s competitive right from the start. The Spaniard is a mix of Lauda and Schumacher: like the former, he has the ability to drive every race lap as though it was qualifying, like the latter, he has the intelligence to know when it’s time to push and when it’s time to look after the car. The Brazilian improved a great deal in the second half: in fact in the first part, it seemed he’d gone on a round the world holiday! Joking apart, I think the decision to reconfirm his position was the right one: if we had changed, then one would need to take on someone who would make a difference and I can’t say I noticed many drivers around who would be quicker than Felipe. Also, we did not want to change the balance and the good atmosphere within the team. Domenicali and I told ourselves it was best to wait and I think that the facts proved us right. Towards the end, when Felipe was even faster than Fernando a couple of times, the points he scored played a vital part in securing our place in the Constructors’ championship.
“Once again this season we were contenders. We must start from this positive point,” concluded Montezemolo. “If we succeed and improve our performance then we can be winners.”