Ferrari denies speculation suggesting it could quit F1

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Scuderia Ferrari has released a statement rejecting stories about the team’s future in Formula 1, saying that they have been misconstrued and misunderstood.

Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported comments from Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo that suggested the Italian marque could turn its back on F1 and turn attention to an expanded sportscar programme.

“Formula 1 isn’t working,” he said. “It’s declining because the FIA has forgotten that people watch the racing for the excitement. Nobody watches racing for the efficiency, come on.

“People watch racing to be entertained. No-one wants to watch a driver save gas or tires. They want to see them push from here to there. It’s sport, yes, but also a show.”

Montezemolo also said that it would not be possible to run both the Le Mans and Formula 1 programmes side by side. However, a statement from the team suggested otherwise.

“Some elements of the media have suggested Ferrari would quit Formula 1 to concentrate on the Le Mans 24 Hours and Endurance racing,” the statement read. “This is a bit of a stretch based on President Luca di Montezemolo reiterating that Formula 1 needs to evolve and renew itself, while also admitting that there is a unique attraction to the 24 Hour race.

“To say that after 2020, Ferrari could quit Formula 1 to concentrate on Le Mans and the Endurance championship takes his words to extremes. Plus of course, there’s nothing to stop Ferrari upping the ante and competing in both disciplines. So it’s just pure speculation.”

Ferrari’s recent struggles in Formula 1 has coincided with a revival for endurance racing. The formation of the World Endurance Championship has made it a more cohesive series, and the arrival of Toyota, Porsche and – as of next year – Nissan to challenge Audi has given it new life.

Montezemolo has flirted with the idea of entering the LMP1 class again with a works team, and the new regulations in Formula 1 have not been to his liking; in his eyes, it is “taxi cab racing”.

This is not the first time that Ferrari has threatened to quit Formula 1, but the sport does appear to revolve around the team to some extent, with the Concorde Agreement having Ferrari-specific clauses.

For now though, it appears to just be another empty threat. That said, a Ferrari LMP1 project in the future is by no means out of the question.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.