Former Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has blamed the Italian team’s management for their own poor form and the bungled departure of four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, who is set to leave the team at the end of 2020.
On the eve of the Italian Grand Prix, in which Ferrari are widely expected to struggle to avoid another embarrassing and uncompetitive weekend, Di Montezemolo said Vettel carried no blame for his and the team’s struggles, adding that the team was not prepared for the sport’s move to hybrid turbo engines in 2014.
The man who organised Italy’s hosting of the 1990 World Cup football finals and led Ferrari through the glory years of success with Michael Schumacher told RTL that Vettel had lacked support in his time with the ‘scarlet scuderia’.
Vettel could not in any way be blamed for the outcome of his six years with Ferrari, said Di Montezemolo.
“He has never caused any problems and always works from the team point of view,” he explained.
“And he has won many races that other drivers would not have won.
“I am therefore not happy with the way Vettel has been treated. The timing was not right and the way it was done was certainly not right.”
He added that Vettel had, like Schumacher, needed support from the team.
“Those drivers need an environment where they feel at home and supported. That was the case with Michael when Jean Todt was at the helm and I did it with Niki Lauda,” he said in reference to his earlier days as team manager under Enzo Ferrari.
Referring to F1’s switch to hybrid power technology in 2014, Di Montezemolo added that Ferrari had paid a “very high price” for the change and had struggled to master the complex technology.
“We underestimated the complexity of the new power unit project,” he told RTL.
“Compared to Germany, there was no hybrid culture here in Italy.”
He added that Ferrari’s problems were made worse by a management crisis following his departure and then that of Stefano Domenicali.
“After that, the people had neither experience nor competence for Formula One,” he said.
In particular, he said, it was a serious mistake to allow technical boss James Allison to leave the team. Allison later joined Mercedes where he is technical director.