Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo came out with lots of interesting quotes yesterday, none more so than his declaration that Ferrari would love to have MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi in one of his scarlet chariots in 2011.
This isn’t the first time di Montezemolo has openly expressed his love of the most recognisable face on two wheels and he is now banging the drum again to champion Rossi’s cause for a 2011 seat – should third cars be allowed in the regulations.
We want a third car and I would do everything to have Valentino. When he wins this year’s MotoGP, enough is enough, he must also win in Formula One.
It’s the usual heavy handed language we’ve come to expect from one of Italy’s most influential men, but you have to question whether there are any legs in this. If we assume for a moment he wasn’t sounding off simply for column inches, then it’s interesting to work out the possibilities of such a move happening. As di Montezemolo alludes to, Rossi has already won a mammoth nine titles and a tenth would be an astonishing achievement and a nice round figure to leave the motorbike world on. One could also imagine Bernie Ecclestone would be well behind such a move with the buzz and hype and F1 likely hit fever pitch if Rossi joined a grid consisting of other famous racing names like Alonso, Hamilton and Schumacher.
However, third cars are likely to be hit with great resistance from the smaller teams. Whilst the marginal cost of bringing a third car to races isn’t enormous by F1 standards, the points system in F1 is a major factor in the distribution of revenue at the end of the year and they would be loathe to jeopardise their ability to score points further by accommodating another fast car onto the grid.
Rossi has always started he wants to take up rallying after he hangs up his leathers, but could he be tempted into giving F1 a go? Unlike Schumacher’s recent comeback, there would be no pressure on him to instantly perform well, though I wonder if Rossi would be comfortable in an unfamiliar environment where he isn’t considered the number one man to beat.
With Felipe Massa’s contract negotiations on ice and rumours of Robert Kubica catching the attention of those in Modena, it’s a busy time for Ferrari’s management. The idea of an Alonso/Massa/Rossi super team is a mouth-watering prospect though.
The news comes as di Montezemolo announced he will step down as chairman of the Fiat group, having presided over a turnaround in financial fortunes in recent years.