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SBD Global/September 27, 2013/People and Pop Culture

Why Longtime Ferrari Chief Luca Di Montezemolo Has Mellowed At Age 66

Luca Cordero di Montezemolo said racing is the best advertising for Ferrari.
For the past 22 years, a third of the company's history, Ferrari SpA "has been in the hands" of Chair LUCA CORDERO DI MONTEZEMOLO, according to Joshua Robinson of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. A "successful, outspoken businessman," he is "about as close as you can get to Italian royalty these days." Montezemolo, after all, was appointed Ferrari's sporting director in '74 by ENZO FERRARI himself. He "isn't quite as obsessed as he was." There was a time, he said, where he could only think, "If Ferrari comes second, it's a disaster. It's a disaster! We are obliged to win." At 66, "he is mellower." Although that is "not to say he isn't involved with the sporting side." Earlier this season, he gave driver FERNANDO ALONSO "a public dressing-down for criticizing the car." Montezemolo sat down with The Wall Street Journal to "discuss Ferrari's legacy of Formula One racing."

On Ferrari's legacy of racing infusing every aspect of the company...

Montezemolo: There is no other company in the world with such a long history in racing. There is no other company, or team, in the world that has been so successful. One reason is, for sure, this for us is promotion, communication. We do not invest in advertising... So racing is the best advertising for Ferrari. Second is that Formula One, since I've been here, is the best advanced research center for Ferrari.

On how the integration of KERS, which was originally designed to give F1 cars a burst of speed at the touch of a button, comes about in cars for general sale...

Montezemolo: It's very simple. Since 23 years, I put three people from GT and three people from the racing department to dialogue every day... And despite ridiculous rules [governing F1 technology] we've been able to always to try to transfer something. In terms of materials, or in terms of electronics, or in terms of engines. So there is day by day a transfer of ideas, transfer of experience, transfer of technology. So this is how we work.

On manufacturing just 7,000 cars a year...

Montezemolo: I'm proud to say that this year, I told to my people, "I want to do less cars." Why? Because for me, it's important that Ferrari will remain a dream. I always repeat to my people, "We don't sell a car, we sell a dream..."

On also trying to keep Ferrari exclusive...

Montezemolo: I always say to my people, "If you don't sell a Ferrari to a football player, you make a big present to me." Really. Because they buy to just show off. I don't like.

On the need, simultaneously, to develop new markets...

Montezemolo: I sell 3% of my production in Italy. Three percent. But thank God, in the last 10 years, China, Taiwan, we send 200 cars a year to Singapore, and the United States (WSJ, 9/25).
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