TOKYO, July 4 (Reuters) - The decision by Formula One to switch to a V6 turbo engine from 2014 has given Ferrari added reason to stay in the sport, the company’s chairman Luca di Montezemolo said on Monday.
The Italian had been critical of earlier plans to switch to a ‘greener’ 1.6 litre four-cylinder engine, but those plans were officially dropped last week in favour of a new V6 1.6 litre turbo engine to replace the current V8 engine.
“I (will) do Formula One as long as Formula One represents for us the most important research centre,” Montezemolo told a small group of reporters in Tokyo, adding the sport had helped advance Ferrari’s gearbox, composite materials and other important technologies throughout the years.
“The decision of V6 is important because turbo-six is good for the future, not only for Ferrari but also for Mercedes and others,” he said, suggesting that a V6 Ferrari could one day join the brand’s product line-up.
The luxury sports car maker, a unit of Fiat SpA , now only sells V8 and V12 cars.
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and Italian financial holder Exor, which controls Ferrari’s Formula One team through Fiat, have teamed up to explore the possibility of creating a consortium to take over the sport.
Montezemolo himself said in May that Formula One teams could consider setting up their own series from 2013 when the sport’s current ‘Concorde Agreement’ expires.
Montezemolo, who welcomed the engine decision on Ferrari’s website on Friday, also said Formula One was gaining traction in more countries, offering another reason to stay.
“Formula One is really booming all over the world in terms of globalisation,” he said. “This year we will go to India, last year we were in Korea and (in 2014) to Russia. Formula One is really becoming a worldwide sport.”
The next step, he said, would be to have fewer rules on aerodynamics.
“Today, aerodynamics means 90 percent of the performance. But I think this is not good because we are not building satellites or airplanes; we’re building cars. Aerodynamics have to be less relevant in the performance of the car.”
Montezemolo is in Tokyo to launch the Ferrari Four (FF) four-wheel drive sports car in Japan, where Ferrari is auctioning off the first, custom-built model to raise money for Ishinomaki, one of the worst-hit cities by the March 11 tsunami. (Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim, editing by Alan Baldwin)