“It’s not easy…” were the words with which a visibly moved Luca di Montezemolo began his farewell address to the employees of Ferrari’s GT Division last afternoon. He was, unsurprisingly, interrupted several times with long applause from the assembled audience.
In recent days, in fact, the women and men of Ferrari had asked on several occasions for a farewell meeting and embrace with Mr Montezemolo before he leaves Maranello after 23 years. Although clearly unable to speak with each employee individually, Montezemolo was eager to meet with them as a group, having already spoken to the Gestione Sportiva Formula 1 Division before the team’s departure for the Japanese and Russian Grands Prix.
The result was that two thousand people gathered in a large marquee at the factory yesterday afternoon. After two short introductory speeches from Vice-Chairman Piero Ferrari and CEO Amedeo Felisa plus a film documenting Montezemolo’s hugely successful 23 years with Ferrari which had as its soundtrack the Gino Paoli song “Una lunga storia d’amore” (“An enduring love story”), Mr Montezemolo took the stage.
In his address, the Chairman underscored the importance of the Maranello workers several times: “You are the power behind Ferrari, the most beautiful company in the world. You are the real architects of its triumphs. You are Ferrari”. He recalled too the marque’s triumphs in Formula 1, in which Ferrari remains the most successful team ever, as well as the success of the Prancing Horse’s GT cars the world over. Mr Montezemolo also told the assembled workforce that he was “proud to have lived these marvellous years with you”. He reiterated that he was certain “the future for Ferrari, which builds not cars but dreams, will remain bright because all of you are here”. He then had affectionate and emotional words to say about both Michael Schumacher and Jules Bianchi, the young Marussia driver who came up through the FDA ranks and is now fighting for his life after a dramatic accident at Suzuka.
After Mr Montezemolo’s address, representatives of the women and men from the factory joined him on the stage for a symbolic embrace. As he left, the Chairman was engulfed by a large crowd of admirers wanting to shake his hand, take selfies with him and generally express their enormous affection and respect for this “enduring love story”.