MONZA Italy (Reuters) - Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo addressed rumors about his future on Saturday by emphasizing his continuing commitment to the Italian luxury sportscar maker and indicating he had no immediate plans to step down.
Speaking to reporters on a brief visit to the Italian Formula One Grand Prix, Montezemelo recognized there was speculation about his possible exit from Maranello.
“I’ve heard a lot of rumors regarding myself. This is often happening in the summer in Italy, maybe this time is a little bit too much,” he said.
“I am working, I am here not to have a vacation, I am here because we are working very hard,” added the 67-year-old, who has been involved with Ferrari since the 1970s.
“We have in front of us very important months, we will present a fantastic new car in the Paris motor show at the beginning of October,” he said.
Montezemolo reminded the media that he had been re-appointed as chairman in March and had told shareholders and employees then that he was ready to serve three more years.
“The women and men in Ferrari to me are the most important part of my life and I took a commitment with them,” he added.
”We are preparing an historic record at the end of this year in terms of financial and economic results. Ferrari is facing a fantastic moment.
“So that’s it. If and when there will be some news about me, I will be the first – I emphasize the first - to let you know.”
Montezemolo had been talked of as the possible next chairman of Italian airline Alitalia when a tie-up with Abu Dhabi-based carrier Etihad is completed.
However, Alitalia said on Friday it had designated Silvano Cassano as CEO of the new company when it is formed.
Ferrari have had a troubled Formula One season, with their car outclassed by the dominant Mercedes.
The sport’s most successful and glamorous team, and the only one to have raced in every season since 1950, replaced principal Stefano Domenicali with Marco Mattiacci in April.
Previously Ferrari’s North America chief executive, Mattiacci is seen by some in the paddock as being closer to the bosses of Ferrari owners Fiat than to Montezemolo, who acknowledged on Saturday his affection for Domenicali.
Montezemolo, an outspoken critic of Formula One’s new rules and quieter V6 turbo hybrid engines, also returned to that subject.
“We have to put the spectators – the people that watch the television and the tifosi in the circuits – at the center of our attention,” he said.
“We have to do rules that are less difficult, less complicated. We have to work with the stakeholders of Formula One, sponsors, television, media, promoters to try to do something to improve the promotion, the marketing, the attention of young people.”
He called also for the lifting of a freeze on engine development and a return to more in-season testing, something he has long advocated.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Tony Goodson