Rumours are gathering steam by the hour that Luca di Montezemolo’s regular visit to Monza on Saturday will be his last as Ferrari president.
Germany’s Bild newspaper said the Italian is at loggerheads with officials over key policy directions.
Italy’s Autosprint reports that he looks set to be accompanied to the Italian grand prix on qualifying day by Sergio Marchionne, the Fiat and Chrysler chief who is tipped as Montezemolo’s successor.
Initially on Friday, the visiting Flavio Briatore – a guest this weekend of F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone – played down the Montezemolo rumours as “lies”.
But he then had to acknowledge that the speculation is echoing around the paddock with “increasing insistence”.
“We are used to identifying Montezemolo with Ferrari,” Briatore is quoted by Autosprint, “so it would be a big change.
“But it’s not as though if Montezemolo leaves Maranello, Ferrari will simply get better.
“If he really is leaving, I think it will be his choice and for his own personal reasons.
“Marchionne in his place? I don’t know how it can be done when he is already working 22 hours a day,” Briatore added.
Meanwhile, after it emerged recently that Briatore would chair a new ‘popularity working group’ in F1, the former Renault chief on Friday said reports of his return to the grid were ultimately wide of the mark.
“I’m too much of a genius to be a formula one consultant,” he smiled. “They don’t deserve me. Let them make a mess of it themselves.”
Finally, Briatore commented on speculation surrounding his protege Fernando Alonso’s future, as he was asked if the Spaniard should stick with Ferrari or move elsewhere.
“I don’t know, I don’t know,” he is quoted by the Spanish daily AS.
“I really don’t know,” he insisted, when pressed. “It’s true, I am not clear what he should do. He wants to win and he must win.”
He then aimed a barb at the Maranello team, amid rumours Ferrari is setting up the 2016 entrant Haas as a sort of ‘Ferrari B’ team.
“It’s not necessary,” Briatore said, “as the Ferrari we see is already ‘Ferrari B’.” (GMM)