The Italian media seems to have come up with an explanation as to why Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo is always going on about the Italian team being allowed to run a third car. According to reports in Italy, Montezemolo has the desire to see four Ferraris on the grid: the third and fourth being run in US and Italian colours.
Reports suggest that Montezemolo recently met with Parris Mullins, who used to be a Ferrari salesman in Silicon Valley, but who has been employed of late advising Youtube founder Chad Hurley on his F1 investments. Hurley wasted in the region of $20 million on the USF1 debacle, but is now trying to build a Ferrari project for 2012. This cannot happen until the end of the current Concorde Agreement – unless the majority of the teams agree to it, and there is no reason to suggest that they will.
The word is that Alejandro Agag, the boss of the Barwa Addax GP2 team, is also involved in the talks. Agag has long had F1 ambitions and is well-connected, having married into the family of Spain’s former Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar. He has also been a business partner of Flavio Briatore.
The plan appears to be to have a team of two cars: one dressed up in the stars and stripes and the other in Italian national colours for Italian uber-biker Valentino Rossi. Montezemolo sees the idea as a good way to increase Ferrari sales in the United States, Ferrari’s biggest market. While it all makes perfect sense for the Ferrari president, it is hard to see why anyone else would agree, although having a US involvement in F1 is a good idea. The quickest way to achieve that is to sell a fast car to a rich American. Getting Rossi into F1 would presumably increase TV viewing figures, and might attract a younger audience, who currently follow bike racing. The 31-year-old Rossi, who has won nine Grand Prix World Championships in motorcycling, is currently recovering after breaking his leg badly in an accident in practice for the Italian GP at Mugello. He has taken part in six Ferrari tests since 2006, most recently in January in Barcelona, where he drove a 2008 car.
He has also tried his hands at rallying on several occasions. In January, Rossi said that he wants to go into rallying when he finishes his bike racing career saying that “by the time I finish MotoGP, I will be too old for F1.”
All of this makes perfect sense for Ferrari and indeed for F1 as a whole, but this is not how it will be viewed by the midfield teams, who will see any customer Ferraris as simply being a way of pushing them backwards on the F1 grid. And, in any case, if Ferrari is allowed customer cars, then McLaren, Red Bull, Mercedes, Renault and the rest of them will all be asking for the same thing.