STOP PRESS— THE FERRARI “BOMBSHELL”
by the Continental Correspondent THE big question of the past few weeks has been the truth behind the statement issued by Ferrari that his cars will not officially compete any more. At the time of writing he is adhering to that statement, giving the Modena race a miss, and yet the drivers and organisation do not give any appearance of being perturbed by this announcement. Briefly the reason behind this withdrawal can be put down to one of finance, for it is well known that the Ferrari team live by their racing, which is just one reason why they have been competing in every possible event for the past few years. During that time the Ferrari team have had a virtual monopoly in the racing field and could ask as much as £1,000 per car for starting money, and expect to get it, for without them there would be no race. Similarly, they could reasonably expect to pick up another £1,000 in prize money, plus unknown thousands of lire in bonuses
from Pirelli. Englebert, Shell, Weber, Mondial, and so on, for advertising their successes. In addition to this the amount of racing equipment they received from accessory firms without having actually to pay the bill must have been enormous. A set of carburetters for one of the 41-litre cars would cost £150, while it was quite normal to see them unload £2,000-worth of tyres and wheels at a race meeting, for which no doubt the bill was conveniently overlooked. While Ferrari was collecting a lot of money for his racing he was also spending a lot, for a team of top-line drivers and as many as fifteen mechanics at each meeting had to be paid for in cash. While he was enjoying a monopoly this system was selfsupporting, but, looking ahead, with Mercedes-Benz, Alfa-Romeo, Lancia and Maserati joining in the fun, Enzo could no doubt see the ending of his years of ease. While he was alone the accessory firms could afford to overlook his bills, but with four or five firms in the game they would probably be forced to suggest that their gifts would have to stop, added to which organisers would not have any more money to give away and starting and prize money would have to be shared. Indication of this was given at the recent Monza meeting. when Maserati started to demand the same price as Ferrari, pointing out that without the Maserati team the race would not attract the public. In the coining years this equalling out is going to result in everyone having to be content with less, rather than more, and the big firms will be able to stand the strain, for a firm like Alfa-Romeo. or Lancia can afford to put aside a vast sum of money at the beginning of the season into which the racing department can dip their hands when they are running short. Ferrari, with his minute output of saleable cars, has no such kitty to fall back on, so the whole matter can be boiled down to the simple one that he is looking for financial backing. It has been pointed out that since the war he has. done more than any Italian firm to keep the name of the Italian car industry at the top, and through his successes, Fiat, Lancia and Alfa.Romeo have been able to enjoy increased sales, and that the Government have been able to benefit accordingly from the exports, so that it is time someone helped him. Much as the Government would like to help, it is not in their power to make him a gift of untold money, but via the clubs he may receive indirect help. At Monza he collected 7,000,000 lire for starting two new models in the race, and a further 10,000,000 for having the first new car to finish. So far no definite offers of help have been made, but it is quite likely that some wealthy Italian family will finance Ferrari racing next year.
Profiting by the proposed withdrawal, Mercedes-Benz team chief” Neubauer was busy at Monza discussing prospects with the Ferrari drivers, but it is most unlikely that the whole Ferrari organisatioa will wind up. Those readers who can recall the early 1930s will remember that in 1932 the Alfa-Romeo team of 2.6-litre cars were supreme in Grand Prix racing and then, during the ensuing winter, Alfas coolly announced that they would not race any more. Many people rushed to Milan to try and buy the Monopostos, but in 1933 the complete team a cars were racing again tinder the banner of the ” Rampant Horse.” for EV20 Ferrari took over the whole of the Alfa-Romeo racing activities, the factory still supplying the cars and spares and doing the development work. It is more than likely that 1954 will see the same result to this withdrawal by Enzo Ferrari, with some other young and enthusiastic Italian taking over the running of the team.