In the past 20 years Ferrari has tripled its sales, built a theme park, and enjoyed the Schumacher F1 era.
As a child Enzo Ferrari dreamed of three things that he wanted to be: an opera singer, a sport journalist and a racing driver. While he didn't accomplish his first dream he did realize, in a way, the other two. He became a racing driver, though not as great as he hoped to be, with a few successes to his name. When he became a team owner in the 1930s, he carefully documented the team's progress and issued team annuals.
In later years he kept his love-hate relationship with the media and hosted journalists for an annual lunch before each season's start. Luca Di-Montezemolo, who 20 years ago this month became the company's president and heir to Ferrari, never had the founder's childhood aspirations. During his business career that has stretched back almost 40 years, however, he was always been under heavy media scrutiny. When you are an Italian and integrated into the Agnelli dynasty, therefore involved with the Ferrari brand, public exposure is part of your everyday life.
So it wasn't surprising that Di Montezemolo was mentioned as a candidate for the Italian Prime Minister's job. He has since dismissed the rumor, though you never can believe a politician. And this past week he hosted journalists for his annual media bash at Maranello. The food was without a doubt exquisite. At the dinner table he was joined by old Ferrari's son, Piero, and the F1 team Principal Stefano Domenicali. Although the atmosphere was ceremonial, Scuderia Ferrari's failure last season made the atmosphere gloomy. "A very disappointing year, with the only great moment coming with the win at Silverstone," said Montezemolo.
"Alonso had a great season: he is the best driver in Formula 1 and that's nothing new. Massa is the first to admit disappointment at the way his year went, a feeling we share, but I hope and believe that with a faster car and one that warms up its tires better, Felipe will be competitive once again. We should not forget he was often quicker than Michael or Kimi, when he was teammates with them." The conclusion for his 20 years as Ferrari president was much livelier. "In 1991 we sold 2,300 cars, today it's over 7,000. We exported to 20 countries which have become 58, with a tenfold increase in turnover," said Di Montezemolo.
"We have a theme park in Abu Dhabi and we are negotiating the construction of a further two. We have to be very pleased with what we have achieved and the next twenty years will see a Ferrari that is still very innovative on the road car front and that will continue racing as long as the races, Formula 1 first and foremost, provide the opportunity for advanced research for our cars." Di Montezemolo also led Ferrari during the Schumacher era, in which Scuderia Ferrari won six consecutive F1 manufacturers World Championships and Schumacher won five consecutive driver titles. However, now it looks as though the theme park business is more successful.