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Thursday, 13 September, 2001, 08:48 GMT 09:48 UK
Ferrari pays its respects
BBC motor racing correspondent Jonathan Legard explains that Ferrari celebrations will be sedate if the Italian GP goes ahead after terrorist attacks in the USA.
This should have been the weekend when Monza staged a Ferrari fiesta in honour of the team's second successive world championship double.
Michael Schumacher, after all, is now the most successful driver in the history of Ferrari and Formula One.
But the shockwaves from Tuesday's horrifying terrorist attacks on New York and Washington have hit Monza as powerfully as they have all around the planet.
"We can't tell people not to come but we can say that Ferrari will approach Monza not as a party, not as a happy event but as a normal racing event.
"Unfortunately we live in a crazy world and we cannot predict the unbelievable events like yesterday."
The team has cancelled its traditional dinner for the world's media on Saturday night because in the words of the president: "It would have meant nothing now."
But while acknowledging the shock and the mood of restraint, Di Montezemolo made clear his belief that Formula One should continue as normal and not opt for cancelling races.
"Life has to go on. I am very close to the United States. I did my university studies in New York and I admire that big country, [and] the democracy in the United States."
"But we have to look ahead and do our best in our own activity, honestly with passion and with respect."
If, however, Formula One's governing body, the FIA, decided to call off the Italian Grand Prix as a mark of respect, the Ferrari president said he would fully endorse the decision.
Even if Monza does go ahead this weekend, there is a growing feeling within the sport that the next race at Indianapolis in two weeks would be an insensitive intrusion.
Frank Williams and Ron Dennis in company with all the team owners are due to meet at Monza on Thursday when the issue is sure to be raised.
Di Montezemolo, for one, is already less certain about the American event than the Italian race.
"This is a different case because of the logistics," he said. "I think it is too early to say if we will send people. We will wait for guidance from the FIA."
He will also be mindful of the USA's money-spinning importance to Ferrari as the leading market for its road cars over the last 25 years, ahead of Germany and the UK.
He believes a breakthrough will come in the near future.
"China will be the most important market for everybody, not just car manufacturers. It has to be the objective in the next three or four years," he said.
By then he believes the manufacturers should be well set to assert themselves as the governing power in Formula One when the Concorde Agreement binding the teams and Bernie Ecclestone expires in 2007.
There are fears that F1 could be split in the battle for power, leading to a breakaway series similar to the divisions in America between Cart and IRL.
But Di Montezemolo made an impassioned case in defence of unity and parity.
He insists teams can renegotiate a new contract with Bernie Ecclestone's successor - the German media group, Kirch - as leading shareholder that will keep F1 intact.
A management group from the manufacturers would organise "this modern formula", reporting to the FIA, whom Di Montezemolo claims would sanction it.
"Four or five manufacturers will not decide to do something else - not at all," he said.
"All the manufacturers involved in Formula One are close to each other, working in a constructive way, without polemic but with strategic decisions."
He likened the new set-up to football teams who control advertising, TV rights and sponsorship within their own league.
For the moment, however, the demands of the present outweigh the challenges of the future - in America, as much as Formula One.
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