Three figures from completely difference corners – Max Mosley, Michael Schumacher and Tony Fernandes – have come out swinging to support Richard Branson’s rebuke of Ferrari’s latest outburst that questioned the future of F1 with the introduction of four new teams.
In its opinionated Horse Whisperer column on the team’s official website, Ferrari went to town: slating USF1’s continual claims that it can make the 2010 grid, likened Stefan GP to “vultures”, suggested the other new teams Lotus and Virgin Racing will “limp into the start of the championship”, and attacked the “holy war” on manufacturers led by then-FIA President Max Mosley.
The tirade upset a few key figures in F1, and Virgin Racing owner Richard Branson was quick to rebut the comments, where the British billionaire described Ferrari as “sad” and “foolish” in its criticism of the new teams, who he felt would ultimately be able to compete with the established outfits in the coming seasons.
“Ferrari should be welcoming new teams because they make the sport much more exciting,” the flamboyant billionaire is quoted as saying. “Once the budgets for the established teams come down…then we will see a much more equal playing field. We are not used to writing out big cheques for successful, established companies; we like to start things from scratch. We have created 200-to-300 new jobs, we have new technology [and] a new team with Virgin branding. It is much more exciting that way.”
Ferrari’s most successful driver, Michael Schumacher, has also gone against the opinions of his former employer.
“Actually, I think they are doing reasonably well,” he said. “I have seen new teams come into Formula 1 and I have seen gaps of more than five to six seconds. Here, we probably see two to three-seconds. For teams that have started completely from scratch, I think they are doing a very good job.”
Lotus Team Principal Tony Fernandes – who has enjoyed a friendly rivalry with his airline-owning rival Branson – wrote on his Twitter feed: “Wonder what Ferrari would be like on Virgin’s budget?”
Max Mosley has also come out on the offensive and defended the FIA’s selection process for the new team applicants.
According to former F1 commentator, James Allen, who lunched with the former FIA President, Mosley described Ferrari as “middle-aged woman who is jealous of the attention new beautiful women around her are getting” and described Ferrari’s likening Virgin Racing and Lotus to a shambles as being very hypocritical.