Former Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo says fans of the team must remember its own history before criticising Mercedes for using Valtteri Bottas to help Lewis Hamilton win the Italian Grand Prix.
Bottas holding up Raikkonen. Getty Images
On Sunday Hamilton denied Ferrari the chance to end a drought at its home race stretching back to 2010. Although Hamilton passed both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen on track, he was helped by teammate Bottas holding up the latter at a crucial point in the closing stages of the race.
That has led to criticism, with Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene — defending he decision to allow Raikkonen and Vettel to race freely — suggesting his team would never employ a driver to be subservient to another.
In quotes printed by La Gazetta dello Sport, which claimed Ferrari had scored an “own goal” with its strategy, he said: “We employ racing drivers, not butlers. A team order from the start would have been dangerous and crazy.”
Di Montezemolo, who was president of Ferrari between 1991 and 2014, has criticised this viewpoint, saying the team’s most recent championship victories all came at a time it employed one driver to help the other.
“I can tell you we won a few championships [this way] when I was the chairman and CEO — with Kimi and Felipe Massa, with Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher, with Michael and Eddie Irvine,” he told BBC Sport. “So this is part of the history. And Bottas did not make anything incorrect or a foul. He made his race.
“When I have heard somebody make criticism… This is normal. In life it is difficult to win, but it is more difficult to accept when you don’t win. So, yesterday I was not happy for what I have seen, from the public.
“Mercedes made its job. If I was in charge of Ferrari in the same condition as Mercedes, I would make exactly the same choice. So, finito.”
Hamilton credited his performance to the Ferrari fans who had booed him during the weekend, saying he harnessed the “negativity”. Di Montezemolo has criticised those who opted to respond to his win in that fashion.
“Lewis is a fantastic champion, has always been very correct, and he made a fantastic race. Full stop.
“What happened was very, very bad and I am really upset.”