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Speaking at the annual Ferrari end of year media conference, Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo has said that while other car makers saw profits and sales plummet in 2008, Ferrari has ignored the trend and recorded its best ever year for sales, earnings, profits and achievements in motorsport.
“Enzo Ferrari said to me in the 1970’s fuel crisis we'd always find 1,500 people crazy enough to buy a Ferrari. Adjusting the numbers for 2009, I think that we'll continue to find 6,000 people crazy enough to buy a Ferrari!” explained Mr Montezemolo, who is also the chairman of the Fiat Group.
“But in the Group as a whole, we're holding back launching cars already developed for better times. But we'll definitely launch the Fiat 500 Cabrio and the Alfa Romeo 149 in 2009,” he added
As far as the decisions taken by the FIA a couple of days ago are concerned, the President said that with regard to the idea of a standard engine for all teams would have been "the occasion to leave F1. If the standard engine had passed, at least four or five teams would have abandoned Formula 1. And I mean four or five besides Ferrari. That is all of them."
“The FIA did well and Max Mosley did a good job to talk about the problem of cost cutting. But he was thinking about 2010, that's in the future. The effects of the actual crisis will be felt in 2009. Last July we had the first meeting of all the teams here in Maranello, founding the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA). There was a great atmosphere of unity. We were able to reach a 50 per cent cost cut on engines as of the next year. According to our plan from 2012 a cost cut of 50 will affect the whole budget."
"Since our first FOTA meeting here in Maranello we've made some major steps. As of 2009 we'll save 50 per cent as far as the engines are concerned and as of 2012 we'll save 50 per cent of the whole budget."
Asked about his opinion as far as Bernie Ecclestone's and Max Mosley's roles in this crisis are concerned, the Ferrari President said: "Time goes by and in a few years I will retire too. The crisis might accelerate a process of renovation in Formula One. I've known Ecclestone since '73 and I think he's done a great job. A few years ago we argued. I called him greedy, because of the revenues, which were distributed 70 percent for him and 30 percent for the teams. Now it's 50-50. We'll have to do more though. We'll see. What's certain is that the time to divide and conquer to rule in F1 is over."
As far as the drivers are concerned the President said: "Lewis Hamilton? He's great. But with all respect I will not change him for Felipe Massa.”
What about replacements or purchases? "Usually Ferrari chooses. I'm convinced that it's the Prancing Horse which makes a driver popular."
"Raikkonen came to Ferrari and won the World Championship. That Massa didn't win this year was our fault. It took Schumacher years and when he left everybody was cheering for him. Felipe is extremely popular, as a man and as a driver, but also for the way he coped with the defeat in the Championship."
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