Thursday November 15th, 2001
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo marked a decade at the helm of the Formula One team on Thursday by recalling past struggles and again raising the possibility of taking a year off.
"I have achieved the objectives," the 53-year-old told the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper. "At times, I had thought they were dreams. Ferrari has left its mark on the last year of the old millennium and the first of the new one. It has won against BMW, Mercedes, Renault, Ford, against the world's great powers.
"Now I ask myself: but is it really worth it? I can only lose. In the best case scenario, you can win again. I am thinking a lot about this. They have been 10 years of total and absolute dedication. It is a job that involves you totally and life goes by so quickly. The ideal would be a year's sabbatical.
"I thank my colleagues but also my family has paid a high price," said di Montezemolo.
The Italian has three children from two marriages and first raised the subject of a sabbatical last year after Michael Schumacher won Ferrari's first driver's title in 21 years. Montezemolo, who had worked as the team's sporting director under founder Enzo Ferrari for three years from 1973, returned as president of Ferrari on November 15, 1991.
The team was unsettled after the dismissal of French driver Alain Prost and was also uncompetitive - they did not win a single race from the end of 1990 until 1994. Frenchman Jean Todt was hired as sporting director in 1993 and Schumacher signed on at the end of 1995.
Ferrari have been dominant in the Constructors' Championship for the past three seasons and Schumacher has taken the drivers' title for the last two. The German, who will be chasing a fifth title in 2002 to equal the late Juan Manuel Fangio's record, and key technical staff such as Todt are on long-term contracts.
"He (Schumacher) has a contract with us until the end of 2004 for $30 million," said Montezemolo. "Ferrari would be different without Schumacher but also he would not be the same without Ferrari."
The president said Ferrari would change a lot on their car next season but that the team would stay the same.
"What will we change in 2002? A lot on the car, no people. We will have a completely innovative car; the engine, chassis, gearbox. The aim? To stay at the peak that we reached in 1997. There are many dangers, we cannot make any mistakes.
"We don't underestimate our rivals' great strengths. Once more it will be Ferrari against everybody."
Published at 12:20:38 GMT