The mythical and magical name, the essence of Formula 1 and Motor
Racing, Scuderia Ferrari, is threatening to leave the big show.
By Nasir Hameed
Mention motor racing or red cars to any racing aficionado, or the prancing horse, it only means one thing – – Ferrari. The blood of Italy, and dream that flows in every young driver aspiring to be world champion. The legacy and legend left behind by a man who endured the triumphs and tragedies of the sport in his “terrible joys”.
Those were the days
Scuderia Ferrari takes pride in competing in the FIA world championship since the beginning, 1950. A little piercing of history books will show the prancing horse failed to gallop to the inaugural round at Silverstone that year.
But the history books will also reveal the success of this team is unmatched. When the curtain came down on the 1958 season in Casablanca, Ferrari had powered the first British world champion in Mike Hawthorn. Three years later it would take Phil Hill to the top of the world as the first American world champion. The second American world champion, Mario Andretti, drove a Lotus in his glory year, 1978, but seven years earlier his first taste of F1 victory came in a Ferrari at Kyalami.
Each and every round of the 1950 season, excluding the Indianapolis 500, was won by Enzo Ferrari’s ex-employer and then arch rival from Milano, Alfa Romeo.
In round five of the second season, July 14th. is the day that will remain in Ferrari-famy. It was “Pampas Bull” from Argentina, Jose Froilan Gonzales, who gave prancing horse its first Formula 1 victory in the 1951 British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
“That day I felt like I stabbed my own mother”, such was the impact of this victory on Enzo Ferrari. One has to wonder how he felt when his own fellow Italian, Alberto Ascari, gave him back to back championships in 1952 & ’53.
Fury & the future
The halls of FIA head office are not immune from financial meltdown the world is enduring these days. The sport’s governing body has decreed budget caps for next season, teams that comply with this will have greater technical freedom than those who wish to spend what they deem is necessary for their operation.
This two-tier Championship has shades of turbo and non-turbo cars era.
Luca di Montezemolo, man in charge of the most symbolic of F1 teams and history, has lashed out against new regulations and wasted no time in proclaiming Ferrari will leave Formula 1. He has the support of his team’s board of directors.
Piero Ferrari, Enzo’s flesh and blood, has also come out and spoken in support of his team’s decision to depart from the top league. He told the British newspaper The Guardian: “This is not a war of press releases”. The Scuderia maintains it’s not possible to control budget cap.
The younger Ferrari continued, “They’re not acceptable at all. Everybody on the grid has to start with the same rules, otherwise there’s no competition and it’s somebody else deciding who’s going to win."
Flavio Briatore, the colorful team boss at Renault, was very clear where he stood on the matter, “Our aim is to reduce costs while maintaining the high standards that make Formula One one of the most prestigious brands on the market.
"We want to achieve this in a co-coordinated manner with the regulatory and commercial bodies, and we refuse to accept unilateral governance handed out by the FIA”.
John Howett of Toyota and Red Bull billionaire, Dietrich Mateschitz has also taken a stand against Max Mosley’s idea of cost control. Their anger stem from Max’s modus operandi where the participants in the billion dollar show have no say in how the stage is set.
BMW’s Dr. Mario Theissen also feels FIA’s ruling is not healthy for the sport.
The missing link is the power behind the current world champion and championship leader, Mercedes-Benz. The Star of Stuttgart has been tarnished in the past two season by shenanigans by their F1 partner, McLaren and both only recently escaped multiple race ban following the
“lie-gate” episode in Australia.
McLaren’s silence may be golden for Max and his group. A united front from FOTA (Formula One Teams Association) members will force his hand to agree to their terms and conditions.
Will prancing horse leave the barn?
Bernie Ecclestone was right on the money, as he always is on such matters, when he said Ferrari and Formula 1 is a marriage made in heaven. Can anyone even imagine the separation of Vince Lombardi and NFL, Mohammed Ali and Boxing?
Ferrari enjoys the same stature when you hear the sound of racing engines.
It will be a sad, sad day when the sound of these magnificent machines from Maranello is no longer heard going into Parabolica at Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, or dive into Eau Rouge at Spa-Francorchamps.
Luca can look into sports car racing and re-visit the glory days of Le Mans 24-hour race. Then there is always the last hope, the lucrative American market where Tony George would give Luca a princely welcome to the pagoda.
Boys will be boys. Let’s hope they grow up by the May 29, 2009, the deadline for entering the 2010 FIA Formula 1 World Championship.